Chapter 14 - Over Tea
Posted on 2008-10-28
As the calendar turned to August, Georgiana regained enough of her health to return to life outside her chambers. Over the course of several days she began, in increasing increments, to spend time in the morning room basking in the summer sun.
"Well Lizzy, what do you think of my Pemberley?"
"Your Pemberley?" Elizabeth queried. "It is quite fine. I would expect nothing less. I find it a beautiful and charming home. I would love to explore the grounds more with you when you are yet better."
"We shall. Soon we shall walk until Mrs. Reynolds and my aunt despair of us ever returning. Did you receive letters from home today?"
"Yes, Georgie, I received several letters of interest. It seems there is much ado in Hertfordshire. Mama reports that her nerves are in a constant flutter. Jane reports that mama's nerves do not inhibit her near daily visits. Benjamin reports that pirates were spotted in the south pasture, but he routed the captain. Apparently he is now a Pirate King of the Ninety Isles. I am not entirely sure which isles these are, but it is a most auspicious title. My brother Bingley writes, but I have yet to learn the skill to decipher his writing."
Georgiana was highly amused. "Do not worry, Lizzy. My brother has been Mr. Bingley's friend for years and still finds himself troubled when reading Mr. Bingley's writing."
"Yes, I must be grateful that Jane has a neat hand to accompany her gift of writing fine letters."
A soft sigh came from Georgiana, "I do wish I had a letter from my brother. I am not aware of any correspondence from him since his departure."
"I am sure he is quite safe. Does not the proverb say that no news is good news?" Elizabeth offered. As she was yet unsure of the nature of the important business that called Mr. Darcy and his uncle away, she could offer nothing besides platitudes.
"True as your words are, Miss Bennet, I have just received news from the men of our family," Lady Matilda announced as she came into the morning room.
The two young women turned with undivided attention to Lady Matilda as she continued, "They have arrived safely in Jamaica. They were called there suddenly due to the holdings both the Darcy and Fitzwilliam families have there. While the sugar trade is abundant, there are challenges with the labor force. I do not have too many specific details, but the gentlemen assured me they are quite well and will hopefully return before to the winter months. They do note that since they hope to return quickly, we should not lay down hopes to receive any other letters prior to their return. I wish to send a few letters to other family members to apprise them of the situation. Please excuse me."
After Lady Matilda left as brusquely as she arrived, Georgiana and Elizabeth sat silently staring at one another. As they absorbed the news, they began, as all young ladies are wont to do, to talk it over.
"I had no idea that my family had properties in Jamaica," Georgiana started.
"I cannot say that I knew that bit of information about you either," Elizabeth said with a hint of playfulness. "In all seriousness, Georgie, learn about the details of your life. It is only through knowledge and understanding that we can make wise decisions. Invariably, times come when you will have to make unexpected decisions on matters you never thought you would need to concern yourself with. It is best to be as prepared as possible." Thinking of the effort she had exerted to learn the running of Longbourn. By putting forth her interest, she had helped to keep her father engaged in the improvement of the estate. While no significant tragedies tried her knowledge, the times when her father was feeling unwell or was focused on other issues allowed Elizabeth to foray ever so slightly into the role of mistress of the estate.
Elizabeth did not know that Lady Matilda was in the next room and heard her words through the partially opened door. Lady Matilda was inclined to see great wisdom in Elizabeth's words. She was also inclined to greatly approve of her.
Now that the ladies had a small amount of information on the happenings of the men in their lives, attention turned to more local matters. Or rather, local attention turned to the matters of the ladies.
Miss Georgiana Darcy was known to be a young lady of great stature and wealth. This inherently gave her the importance of being of great interest to all in the neighborhood. Within hours of the doctor first coming to attend to her, all the area knew of her illness. Further interest was aroused by the mysterious lady hastily summoned from the south. Much speculation was offered as to her identity and relationship, tragically the speculation was much more entertaining than it was true. Accordingly, upon the general relief the neighborhood felt when learning of Miss Darcy's recovery, people anxiously awaited hearing more from the great house of Pemberley.
The first to descend upon the fine house was Mrs. Ravensdale. Rather, she more accurately floated into it. Mrs. Ravensdale was one of those matrons of indeterminate age who never made an entrance into an assembly, but without whom the assembly was considered by all incomplete. Indeed, to society and Lady Matilda, Mrs. Ravensdale with her good sense and kind disposition made her an indispensable companion.
Mrs. Ravensdale was announced while Georgiana and Elizabeth were reading together. Lady Matilda was elsewhere in the house at that moment.
"My dear girl, how are you feeling?" Mrs. Ravensdale went directly to Georgiana.
Elizabeth reserved her judgement on this breech of conduct. Mrs. Ravensdale wrapped Georgiana in a warm embrace, then held her at arms length. She closely examined the girl as if she would not believe the doctor's diagnosis of recovery without her own proof. Finding the situation satisfactory enough for her maternal nature, she continued.
"Please pardon me. Georgiana, would you do me the honor of presenting me to your friend?"
"Of course, Mrs. Ravensdale, I would like to present my dear friend, Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
The two made the proper curtseys. Apparently Elizabeth was to be included in this woman's mothering, for soon Elizabeth's hand was grasped, "I understand you were so very important to Georgiana's recovery. Please let me thank you. I hope you did not tax yourself too much with your nursing. You need your rest, too."
Mrs. Ravensdale impressed Elizabeth as what her own beloved Aunt Gardiner might become in several years, she was instantly liked.
"I could not have done anything else. Georgiana needed me, so I did what any friend would do."
"Quite, I am sure any friend would traverse the wilds of England through uncertain spring weather, sit at a bedside for days on end, and then entertain her friend for weeks without tiring or complaining. Yes, any friend would do so indeed," Mrs. Ravensdale betrayed her wit before a soft smile regained its natural prominence. "Nonetheless, I am quite afraid you will forever find I am indebted to you. Now, Georgiana, here is something to help keep the chill off you. Though why you would gather a chill in August is beyond me, I cannot help but be worried."
Mrs. Ravensdale went into the satchel neither girl noticed her bring into the room. She pulled a lovely shawl of soft pink silk around Georgiana. It complimented the girl's gown perfectly.
"I could hardly let you go unthanked, Miss Bennet, and from the experience of raising two girls I know that gifts are best given in pairs." Mrs. Ravensdale offered a stunning emerald silk shawl and offered it to Elizabeth.
Completely taken aback at this woman's gesture, Elizabeth began to demure. "Mrs. Ravensdale, I thank you for your generosity, but this is far too much."
"Nonsense. I believe this is a perfect gift for you. I insist you accept it," as Mrs. Ravensdale insisted with a sweetness worthy of Jane, Elizabeth conceded.
Lady Matilda breezed into the room. "Evelyn! I did not know you were coming today." The two women also embraced. You could sense there was a longstanding relationship closer than many sisters. Elizabeth sensed such as she was deeply reminded of Jane at this moment.
"I have just made the acquaintance of Georgiana's friend, Miss Bennet," Mrs. Ravensdale said as the older women took seats on a settee across from the younger girls.
"She has become quite the fixture here. I wonder how Georgiana will manage when the Bennets call their daughter home," Lady Matilda replied.
"I think I will have to hide in a trunk and move into Longbourn with Elizabeth," Georgiana seriously rejoined.
Elizabeth was amazed by the relationship among these women. All were obviously the leaders of Derbyshire society, if not London. Anyone who heard anything of the life of the Ton knew the power wielded by Lady Matlock. Yet, here these women sat in a familial, relaxed attitude. They apparently accepted her as one of them. The exceptional situation she was in, finally struck Elizabeth. Thankfully, as always, her wit rose to the occasion.
"Oh, my dear Georgiana, I am afraid it would be quite an uncomfortable journey for you. The porters at the inns will hardly be gentle. I am afraid you would arrive very much the worse for the wear," Elizabeth shook her head sadly.
"Then I shall simply have to hold you hostage here," Georgiana stated looking ever like the queen.
Neither girl noticed Lady Matilda look to Mrs. Ravensdale. The women had the gift of communication that comes from a lifetime of friendship. Mrs. Ravensdale was a childhood neighbor of Lady Matilda. Lady Matilda was several years older than Mrs. Ravensdale, yet they formed a friendship, not unlike Elizabeth and Charlotte. Both of good, landed families, they chanced to marry gentlemen of means with estates reasonably near one another. Thus continued their friendship even when it was interrupted following Lady Matilda's marriage to the Earl. While Mrs. Ravensdale was not titled, the longstanding importance of her husband's family in the area and his wealth insured that society accepted their friendship as natural. One need hardly surmise that these two particular women would have continued their friendship heedless of society's approbation.
As Mrs. Ravensdale had recently seen her second and only remaining daughter married, she understood the development of young women. Indeed, her elder daughter had not too long ago married Lady Matilda's elder son. Quite convenient in the mothers' opinions. Both had worried over Georgiana. Being confident in the discretion and assistance of Mrs. Ravensdale, Lady Matilda had revealed the unfortunate incident at Ramsgate. Conscious that a second maternal figure would be beneficial, this was a wise decision. Both women were pleasantly surprised and relieved to see this dramatic change in Georgiana.
Never was she a vivacious child nor particularly outgoing in her manner as she grew. She was lively enough with family. Occasionally Georgiana would offer her witticism or keen observations. However, she tended to be muted in her response to life. Now, while still the thoughtful girl the two women knew well, Georgiana was lively. Her animation was astounding particularly in the face of her recent illness.
The simple look conveyed that surprise and to extent, relief between the women.
"You would first need to trap me. I do believe that there are enough places I could hide until you were asleep whereupon I could sneak out and run home," Elizabeth said.
"I particularly recommend under my brother's desk in his study. I hid there many times as a child," Georgiana confessed. Both girls broke their serious miens and enjoyed the ridiculous conversation.
As Georgiana recovered her composure, she nearly lost it again as she said, "Could you imagine my brother's face finding the two of us hiding beneath his desk?"
Elizabeth was struggling to make a good impression, however her dear friend was positively diabolical in how she was disabusing her aunt and Mrs. Ravensdale of any good impression.
"Before we need to begin assigning a servant to searching the various pieces of furniture in your brother's study, why do we not have some tea?" Lady Matilda suggested.
"Well, Matilda, you have had quite the exciting stay here," Mrs. Ravensdale declared.
"Far too exciting, even by our standards, Evelyn," Lady Matilda said with a hint of irony.
"What is your impression of Miss Elizabeth Bennet?" Mrs. Ravensdale asked.
"Now that is developing into the most significant question. I have never seen the like of her." Here Mrs. Ravensdale shot a significant look to Lady Matilda. "Evelyn, she has done what no one in the family could accomplish. Georgiana has found a way to grow beyond Ramsgate. She is more assured without coarseness. I cannot see any rational for this besides Miss Bennet. When Georgiana left for Hertfordshire she was still exceptionally shy and even more hesitant to participate in any sort of society."
"Yes, Matilda, the last visit I had with her prior to her departure for London she barely spoke three words to me. I have not seen her laugh since the Ramsgate incident."
"That would be sufficient for me to have a favorable opinion, but, Evelyn, what that girl has done for Georgiana here! You would think Georgiana was Elizabeth's very own sister. She sat up through the night. She did all that Fitzwilliam or I would do. I know that Miss Bennet is quite lively and is used to exceptionally lengthy times outdoors. I know she has curbed that behavior and only ventured into the gardens or shrubbery when Georgiana was resting. I almost fear when Georgiana is full recovered. The staff will need to spend all their time searching those two girls out when they venture too far from Pemberley."
"You can hardly complain of that, Matilda. Remember when we took a bit too much latitude on a particular trip to the shore?" Here the two woman laughed lightly.
"Furthermore, you will approve of this, Evelyn. Miss Bennet emphatically advised my niece to learn as much as she could regarding the estate and business matters of the family. I am curious to know what prompted Miss Bennet's particular education in that area as I gather she is quite knowledgeable regarding her father's estate. I was impressed. Society tolerates my interest in the family's business due to my rank. I would imagine that Miss Bennet would not be so welcomed. She likely must hide such things." A slight pause came upon Lady Matilda.
"What I am curious to know is the relationship that existed between Miss Bennet and Fitzwilliam. I gathered from some comments that were made that there was a bit of a clash between them. Georgiana though, chose sides with Miss Bennet."
"Are you certain? That is significant. She has always idolized her brother. Oh, your nephew could not have been pleased with that. Miss Georgiana Darcy is growing up."
"She has become so dependent on Miss Bennet's company. I wonder that even should Mrs. Annesley wish to return once her daughter's health and rigor returns, whether that is an ideal situation. I shall have to think on this."
The remainder of August passed uneventfully. Georgiana continued to improve. Soon the girls were found in the shade of the gardens. Their laughter filled the music room, the halls, and the very atmosphere of Pemberley. Mrs. Reynolds was pleased to have such mirth. There had been far too little laughter in the halls of Pemberley for far too long.
Copious amounts of correspondence flew between Hertfordshire and Derbyshire. The Bennets of Longbourn were terribly interested in life at Pemberley though for distinctly different reasons. Mrs. Bingley missed her sister and had the antidotes of a young bride also learning to be a mother. Elizabeth tried to appease the interests of her sisters and mother. She attempted to offer witty and wise commentary for her father. To her elder sister she could write her heart.
Mrs. Ravensdale was happy to report, discreetly, to the neighborhood that Miss Darcy was quite well. Though many visitors inquired at the house, few were admitted. With Miss Darcy recovering, the house was closed to any summer tourists.
Lady Matilda continued her acute observations. She was as yet still determining the wisest course of action for her niece, Miss Bennet, and her family.
Chapter 15 - A New Journey
Posted on 2008-11-11
The first of September dawned clear and bright. As if the day knew it was the harbinger of autumn, it was decidedly cooler than the day prior.
Lady Matilda, as was her wont, was up with the dawn. Having long since prepared herself for the morning, she was in the sitting room in her chambers. She thoughtfully sipped her tea and pondered the situation regarding Miss Bennet and Georgiana.
The highly practical lady recognized that it was unlikely that the gentlemen would return to England before the weather made the trip nearly unbearable. Thus, Georgiana would need to be provided for, at least through the early spring. Furthermore, due to complications Mrs. Annesley's daughter experienced, the good woman asked to be permanently relieved from her duties. The good woman never had relied upon the position to maintain her existence. There was also the matter of Georgiana's studies. The various masters would be in London soon. If her studies were to continue, Georgiana would need to take up residence in town.
Knowing full well that she would need to remove Georgiana to town, Lady Matilda began to consider the particulars. If Georgiana were to stay at her home in London, a companion would need to be hired. After Ramsgate, the entire family was wary of such a task. Georgiana could stay with her at the rather impressive abode of the Earl. As that would throw her into the path of the Ton, this was not ideal.
Lady Matilda poured another cup of tea for herself. She knew that the answer was there and she was fighting against acceptance. She was going to ask quite a bit of Miss Bennet and create a highly unusual situation. The judmental Ton sought such situations to gossip about in parlors and clubs. However, Lady Matilda knew she held enough power in society that her approval and sponsorship would smooth the vast majority of dissension away.
Having resolved the difficulties and accepted the solution, Lady Matilda descended the stairs to wait for her niece and Miss Bennet.
Georgiana and Elizabeth entered the breakfast room arm in arm and deep in conversation. The two were discussing the latest book they were reading together. Lady Matilda was impressed at the studious nature of these two girls. Knowing how many young ladies lacked such dedication and insight, she appreciated her fortune.
"Good morning, aunt. I trust you slept well," Georgiana said as she took her seat.
"Yes, quite well, thank you. How are the two of you this fine morning?"
"I am pleased it appears to finally be turning to autumn. This is my favorite time of the year," Elizabeth turned slightly wistful.
"I agree. Though I believe you are turning your thoughts to autumn in Hertfordshire, Elizabeth," Georgiana softly said.
"Yes, I will admit I am thinking more often of home. Thankfully I have such charming companions here, I cannot be melancholy," Elizabeth concluded as she brightened.
Elizabeth and Georgiana began enjoying their breakfasts while Lady Matilda turned thoughtful. "Your well deserved wish to see your family may work well with some thoughts I have been brewing this morning, Miss Bennet."
Lady Matilda now had the undivided attention of the room. "As much as I believe Georgiana would wish to stay forever at Pemberley with you, it is nearing the time when she must return to her studies in London. However, I received a note from Mrs. Annesley yesterday. Due to the needs of her daughter, she wishes to be released from her duties here. This leaves you Georgiana without a companion for your time in London."
As neither Georgiana or Elizabeth could ever be called dull, it was here that they began to understand where Lady Matilda was leading. "Perhaps, Miss Bennet, we could persuade you to join Georgiana for the autumn in London? Her studies do not need to commence for a few weeks. Perhaps, also, you two might wish to visit Hertfordshire?"
Both sets of young eyes lit at this prospect. Elizabeth offered, "Just yesterday, I too received a letter from my elder sister. She offered to host Georgiana should she wish to visit. The exuberance of my family may be a bit much for someone used to the quieter halls of Pemberley."
"Oh, I would be able to see Benjamin again. I wonder how much he has grown!" Georgiana quickly gave her approval.
Lady Matilda smiled. "Well, then I believe your morning would best be spent directing the packing of your things. The sooner you are packed, the sooner you may leave, and the longer you will have in Hertfordshire.
Whether or not you would be surprised that the two young ladies were on the road to Hertfordshire the very next morning would be entirely dependent upon how charitably you viewed the ability of young women to behave rationally when excited.
The three women who had passed the summer at Pemberley began the journey to Hertfordshire at a more leisurely pace than Elizabeth had journeyed north. Elizabeth enjoyed finally seeing the countryside. She had looked through the carriage windows in the spring, but not seen what lay beyond the glass. Now she drank in the vistas before her. With very little effort she could find herself happy to spend her life in the north exploring the wild.
Lady Matilda would comment on the areas they passed. Whether the lady of that particular estate had a particularly poor example of a lap dog or the eldest son of that estate could learn from her nephew, the comment was always enlightening. Not all were negative. One Lady was said to be extraordinary on the pianoforte, but choose to focus her attentions on her children and her husband's estate. From Lady Matilda's tone, the younger ladies concluded she heartedly approved of such behavior.
Georgiana was predominantly enjoying the conversation and looking forward to seeing her young friend, Benjamin. Their bond was strong. Georgiana felt as if Benjamin was her particular charge.
With such company and matters to discuss, it is unsurprising that before the women knew it, their journey was complete and the doors of Netherfield opened before them.
Had the roles been reversed, Lady Matilda would have been slighted. However, Jane Bingley being more sedate than her sister curtseyed at the introduction to Lady Matilda. Then she warmly embraced Elizabeth with Georgiana receiving only slightly less attention.
"Oh, Lizzy, it is so wonderful to see you again. Are you well? You certainly look in good health," Jane said as hurriedly as she possibly could.
"Yes," laughed Elizabeth, "I am quite well. The journey was less exciting and I had a delightful summer in the north."
"Jane, you would be amazed, Lizzy hardly ventured out of doors until July! She was so well behaved," Georgiana commented.
"I am sure that Elizabeth was an excellent nurse. I have had the benefit of her care. Please forgive my manners; let me show you to your rooms, Lady Matilda and Georgiana," Jane said.
Jane took the ladies to their rooms. While she was out of the parlor they had been ushered into, Elizabeth's brother finally appeared.
"Elizabeth!" he cried. "It is delightful to see you again! Have you been stranded by my wife?" With the emphasis on the word wife, it was obvious the months had not dulled his delight in that new appellation.
Elizabeth laughed, "Yes, Charles, she has already left me to my own mischief. You had best check your library to ensure I did not make away with any of your novels."
Mr. Bingley, now Charles, laughed in return. "If you may away with too many, you may not leave any library behind for Darcy to complain of when he finally returns!"
"Now we would hate to inconvenience Mr. Darcy. I suppose I shall instead have to leave behind some of those horrible romances my younger sisters insist upon reading. Perhaps then you will learn to improve your own collection?"
"Elizabeth, the mere prospect of seeing my friend's face upon discovering one of those gothic novels is so entertaining, I may do such a deed myself!"
Switching the train of conversation, Charles practically interrupted himself. "Has Jane told you the plans for your stay?"
"Charles, I will explain," Jane gently said as she came back into the room. "Lizzy, father and I thought perhaps you would like to stay here. You and I would be a bit more free to talk and you would be able to help Georgiana. I know you have been away from home for some time, but perhaps you would do me this small favor? I do miss you."
There are few things that are guaranteed to break down the formidable resolve of Elizabeth Bennet, the earnest pleading of her eldest sister is one such. "That sounds perfectly wonderful. Now, perhaps you should show me to my room?"
As the ladies arrived late in the afternoon, they took that night to recover from their journey and settle into Netherfield. When Benjamin awoke from his nap, he bowled over Elizabeth with tales of pirates and gypsies. Thankfully, Jane quieted him after the simple family dinner so the adults could occupy themselves with stories of their past few months.
Early the next morning, Elizabeth and Jane journeyed to Longbourn together. Lady Matilda and Georgiana were left at Netherfield to rest and play with Benjamin respectively.
"My dearest Jane!" was the first words heard as they removed their pelisses.
"Good morning mother," Jane said as she entered the morning room.
"Elizabeth, you are finally returned to us! I suppose you have nothing to show for your flight?" Mrs. Bennet apparently saw the only reason to go anywhere was in hunt of a husband.
"I am happy to report, Mama, that Miss Darcy is completely recovered. She and I arrived at Netherfield late yesterday. We did not want to disturb you so I waited until this morning to see you," Elizabeth knew there would be much the matter with her mother.
"You waited to see your own mother? Why, such an unloving daughter you are! Running across the countryside for a friend, yet you will not travel three miles in your sister's fine carriage to see your own mother. Oh, have you no compassion on my poor nerves?"
At this familiar line, Mr. Bennet came to join his wife and eldest daughters. "Lizzy, it is good to see you." He said as Elizabeth went to him. "Are you pleased with the warm reception you are receiving from your loving family?" he sardonically offered.
"Papa, please. I am happy to see you all again." Elizabeth failed to take the bait her father offered.
Mr. Bennet examined his favorite as she took a seat. Something most definitely had changed in his girl. Yes, there was still the wit and intelligence. That was clear whenever she spoke and in her unique expression. however, the edges were smoothed. Where his wit bit, hers was smooth. He smiled as a vision of a velvet covered hammer entered his mind. Apparently the wilds of the north refined his daughter as the wilds of Longbourn never could.
Mrs. Bennet, naturally, did not notice any change in Elizabeth. As the matron's thought predominantly focused on her own nerves and imagined mistreatment, little room was left for introspection.
When it became time for Mrs. Bingley and Miss Bennet to return to Netherfield for the midday meal, Mr. Bennet asked for a few minutes of Elizabeth's time over the next few days to discuss some matters of the estate. Determining much more could be accomplished at Netherfield, they set a time for the following afternoon.
As the sisters sat in the carriage on the way home, they had a poignant conversation.
"Jane, do you feel like you are still leaving home when you leave Longbourn after a visit?"
"No, Lizzy. I am almost ashamed to admit how quickly Netherfield became home. If it was not for some correspondence with Aunt Gardiner, I would be quite ashamed of how I now see home as anywhere Charles may be."
A few moments of silence were punctuated by the noise of the carriage. Jane, knowing her sister well, saw there was more to this question.
"Why do you ask?"
"I do not quite know. When we left, I felt as if I was truly just a visitor. Yes, they are my family and I love them so very dearly. However, it no longer felt quite like home to me. I know Netherfield and Pemberley are not home, and neither have that feeling for me. I feel as if I am floating without an anchor."
Jane would normally expect some witticism to follow such a serious, introspective statement. Elizabeth was merely silent as she stared through the plate glass. This, more than anything she had yet witness, testified to Jane that her sister was indeed changing.
Both the eldest Bennets matured quickly. Jane took a motherly role in the household, both to her sisters and mother. Elizabeth took the role of eldest son and lady of the house, at least when it came to relations with the tenants and servants.
Jane had found a place herself independent of her very dependent family. She finally was able to choose her own life and own roles in her household. She believed that Elizabeth now saw there were other ways to live than the way the Bennets existed at Longbourn.
The questions were tangible in the air.
Where would she find home? Would she recognize home when she saw it?
Chapter 16 - Importance of Buttons
Posted on 2008-11-18
Elizabeth's questions lingered. When alone Elizabeth would find herself constantly reflecting on them. Jane, as only an older sister can worry, found herself frequently turning her mind to them, too.
"Georgiana, would you care to walk in the gardens with me?" Jane asked one morning. Elizabeth had gone to visit Charlotte and would not return for some time.
The two left for the chilly fall weather armed with their pelisses, bonnets, and thick gloves. Sensing that Jane wished to guide the conversation, Georgiana remained silent.
"Have you noticed anything about Elizabeth lately, Georgiana?" Jane finally asked as they turned the corner by the covered roses.
"I cannot say that I have," Georgiana asked. She grew concerned, "Is something amiss?"
"It is difficult to put into words. It is more a vague sisterly intuition. She is quieter, more thoughtful now. She, well, she seems to be without an anchor in her life."
Georgiana wished to say she understood, but she was not quite wise enough or quite experienced enough in her own life to say that she truly understood.
"Longbourn no longer is her home. She is comfortable in my home, but she recognizes that too is not her own home. I worry for her. She has never been in such a situation before."
"Elizabeth is strong, Jane. She will find her way through this," Georgiana finally said.
"I know. I believe that it will help that she travels in a fortnight with you to London. She will be occupied with the life there, studying with you, and seeing the Gardiners. I believe I will write a note to Aunt Gardiner to apprise her of the situation," Jane seemed to return to her own thoughts.
"Jane, I know I am so very much younger than you and my judgement is not what it always should be. However, I assure you, I will do all in my power to help Elizabeth," Georgiana softly said. A fierce determination underpinned her words.
"Thank you, Georgiana. Elizabeth and I truly do look to you as one of our own sisters. I know you will do all you can for Lizzy."
The two continued to stroll through the garden in the cool autumn light.
The fortnight leading to Georgiana Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet's removal to London passed far too quickly for those in Hertfordshire who loved them.
On the night prior to their departure, Jane came to Elizabeth's room.
"Lizzy, I thought we could have a bit of a talk before you leave," Jane said as she crept into the room.
"Oh, dear, this sounds serious indeed!" Elizabeth jested.
"Lizzy, do be serious," Jane took the motherly tone that Elizabeth and Benjamin knew far too well.
"Very well then, what would you like to talk over tonight?"
"How are you?"
"Jane, you are starting with such a mundane question as that? I am quite well. I am looking forward to the sights of London. I do think it will be quite different staying at Georgiana's house rather than our Aunt and Uncle Gardiner's."
"Yes, you shall not be able to run through the house causing havoc," Jane smiled.
"Now you know very well I was playing with the children. I am always the soul of discretion," Elizabeth said with an amazingly calm expression.
Jane ignored the comment. "Lizzy, I have noticed you are not quite as you used to be. Now wait," she said as Elizabeth began to respond, "it is no bad thing. You have so much of our Father in you. His wit and cynicism are very much a part of what he passed to you. For lack of a better way to say this, you are softer. While still as witty as ever, you are more selective in how you express that wit. When we have visited Longbourn, Mother tempted you so many times with her nature. You tried to calm her and succeed so much more than before. You also did not contribute to Father's more biting remarks."
Both were silent. "You seem to be doing your very last bit of growing up, Lizzy. But I fear that you have grown out of Longbourn."
Elizabeth finally gathered herself, "Yes, you are correct Jane. About it all, I think. Perhaps it was the quieter atmosphere of Pemberley or Lady Matilda's presence. Perhaps it was countless influences. I do not know what has wrought the change. I do know, as you say, that Longbourn is no longer where I am at home. I truly do not know where I am or where I am going."
Glad to see her sister fully voicing the situation and her thoughts, Jane knew it was time to turn the subject. "Well, then it is quite good that the coachman is driving tomorrow. Else you would find yourself on the road to Brighton sooner than London."
Grateful for the change, Elizabeth continued the sisterly teasing until it was time for the two to finally go to sleep.
"I have not seen much of you two, so I fear we delayed this conversation to the last possible moment," Lady Matilda said as the coach journeyed on the road to London.
"I know you will be quite well looked after at Darcy House in London. I will either call on you or you will call on me daily. This will serve several purposes, not the least of which is to ensure you do not drive each other to distraction. I expect you, Georgiana, to be diligent in your studies. I hardly believe you, Miss Bennet, will be a problem in that regard. You are also welcome to join in any studies you wish."
"Aunt, may I tell her?" Georgiana had struggled thus far to be respectful and sit still. Apparently, this was the final moment she could restrain herself. A curt nod of acquiescence was given.
"Tomorrow we are going shopping, Elizabeth."
"I am sure we shall have a pleasant time. I never knew you were so fond of it, Georgiana," Elizabeth puzzled over her friend's sudden enthusiasm.
"No, Elizabeth, you do not understand. I am taking you shopping. You are getting new gowns, gloves, pelisses, bonnets, oh every possible thing!"
"Why? How is this possibly necessary?" Elizabeth was struggling to find the words to say she could not imagine how she could afford so many new items.
"Before my enthusiastic niece completely muddles the explanation, allow me to offer a voice of reason. Your father recognized that you may be mixing in company you are not normally accustomed to seeing. Not wishing you to feel out of place, he offered to allow you to purchase whatever items you needed. Your sister was part of this conversation. She in turn added an amount it. She spoke of it being the least of what she could do. They determined you would refuse so they enlisted me to not only supervise your purse, but your shopping as well. As I know the company you will keep, I am the best option. Furthermore, and please do not take this wrongly, we owe you so very much. A few baubles and gowns are the least of what I can offer. Therefore, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, you are to begin the challenge of finding a new wardrobe in the shops tomorrow."
Elizabeth had often been shopping with her sisters, her mother, even her Aunt Gardiner. She had shopped in Hertfordshire and she had shopped in London. Nothing prepared her for the excursion with Georgiana and her aunt.
Thankfully she had little idea the night prior what would be entailed. Thus, she was able to sleep comfortably and completely in her chambers at Darcy House. She woke, dressed, and went to find the breakfast room. All was as she expected until they descended from the carriage at the modiste of choice.
Finally Elizabeth understood what was intended by her friend and aunt. The shop which they entered was known to be one of the finest in the city. Known to have a clientele of not only the wealthy Ton, but also the aristocracy, you needed connections to become a patron of this particular shop.
Unsurprisingly the moment that Lady Matilda stepped into the doorway, she commanded all before her. Over the next several hours Elizabeth was given countless patterns to look over. She felt fabrics, ribbons, lace, and other trimmings. She compared colors and patterns.
Initially, there was a marked difference in how Lady Matilda and Georgiana were treated by the shop and the treatment of Elizabeth. However, quickly and subtly, Lady Matilda ensured that Elizabeth was acknowledged as her peer and thus needed all due respect accorded her.
In hindsight, this first foray into the shops of London offered Elizabeth her first lesson on the machinations of the Ton. The brilliance of Lady Matilda later became evident. Once others of society found Elizabeth to be provided for by this modiste, a certain level of esteem would already be earned. Furthermore, the shop gossip would share that Lady Matilda, the formidable matron of society, looked to Elizabeth Bennet as one of her own. That was an unheard of sponsorship that many coveted, but all knew near impossible to receive.
It would be some time before Elizabeth came to appreciate all that was done that day, beyond the wardrobe. The immediate evening gave way to her wonder at the cost, cut, and general splendor of the items she was acquiring. Georgiana and Elizabeth were both quite tired from the long day of looking at the shops for fabrics, bonnets, gloves, and all the items necessary for a young lady. The two went to sleep far earlier then they were wont to do in the country.
The next day began the pattern the girls would keep for well over six uninterrupted weeks. Their days were filled with lessons, educational excursions to museums, brief carriage rides to Lady Matilda's, or much simpler shopping trips with Lady Matilda.
In between their discussions of history, literature, music, theater, and whatever else caught their fancy, the young women were visited most frequently by Lady Matilda. The Gardiners were often dining at Darcy House and the young ladies just as often had comfortable family dinners at the Gardiner household.
The Gardiners were surprisingly approved by Lady Matilda in very little time. She quickly saw the value of the elder Gardiners and the precociousness of the youngest. She also saw how Georgiana drank in the warmth of the family. Lady Matilda did nothing to inhibit her niece's regular visits with Gracechurch Street. Indeed, the Gardiners were invited to dine at Lady Matilda's table on more than one occasion. Some of the Ton may have raised their eyebrows at such company, but none would dare to give voice to such thoughts.
The weather turned colder and kept the girls indoors. Less activity led to more thought. Georgiana began to worry considerably for her brother. Knowing he would do all he could to return as quickly as possible, she began to fear he would do something insensible.
"Georgiana, your brother is hardly illogical or irrational. I have no doubt that Mr. Darcy will only undertake the journey home if it is as safe as can be. The best thing for you to do is not to worry, but to go about your day and say your prayers for him. He will return home safely to you sooner than you think. Then I shall hear you complaining how you cannot be rid of him!"
Elizabeth was most effective at helping Georgiana cope with her worries. The mixture of sound reason and soft humor tempered Georgiana. As the days of November wore on, Elizabeth began to find creative ways to distract Georgiana.
One particularly dreary day, late in the afternoon the two were ensconced in the library. The cold, driving rain beat at the windows and seemed to make the whole world grey and damp. Accordingly, Elizabeth had offered the idea of setting up the library for their use. A roaring fire was lit. After sitting, simply staring at the flames, suddenly Elizabeth was struck with how to entertain themselves for the afternoon.
"Why do we not read some of our favorite Shakespeare aloud?"
Georgiana was not particularly enthused. Worry for her brother and the general dreariness of the day oppressed her spirits. However, she agreed readily enough that Elizabeth did not feel compelled to offer an alternative activity.
Soon not only were the girls reading the monologues aloud, but they were acting out scenes for their amusement. Whether it was a heated battle or a tender love scene, they threw all their creative energies into the project. As the light dimmed they continued on, growing more foolish in their interpretations. Gestures flew more wildly and they were using the entire room as their stage.
Just as Georgiana was passionately calling to her Romeo, she interrupted herself, "O Romeo...oh, no!"
"Georgie, I fear you are in need of better lessons, Juliet's speech does not go that way!"
"No, Lizzy, I think that I just had a button or two fall off the sleeve of my gown," Georgie explained, looking about her for the errant buttons.
"Well, then from theater to sleuthing we shall go! Let us look for these rouge buttons!"
The two were soon looking throughout the room for the buttons as Georgina recalled hearing it fall and ricochet in some unknown direction. Finally they had searched throughout the room, excepting under the desk.
Georgiana let out a small giggle. "Lizzy, it seems we need to fit ourselves under there."
The desk was one of those imposing sorts. Meant to intimidate while conveying immense prestige it took up no small space. The front side of it was solid cherrywood. There were carvings of vines, trees, and such on the front. Anyone unlucky enough to face that with the stern visage of the Master behind it would be hard pressed to do anything but cower. The depth and width made this a behemoth feature.
The two young women found themselves on their hands and knees searching in the expanse under the desk for the final stray button.
"I remember hiding under my father's desk one time as a child. He was so startled he jumped. I found it wonderful. He found it worthy of sending me to my room," Elizabeth confessed.
Suddenly, the two heard the library door open.
"Quiet. If they do not hear us, the servants will assume we left the room and search elsewhere. Then we may extricate ourselves without embarrassment," Elizabeth was nearly inaudible to Georgiana.
The two remained silent in their uncomfortable position. They heard no footsteps. However the thick carpet could mute such things quite effectively. After what seemed an eternity, the door was heard to close.
Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief. As she was blocking Georgiana's escape from the depths of the desk, she began to turn around in the crawl-space. Just as she was facing the chair the girls had pushed back to access the desk, she saw a pair of well worn boots not two feet from her very own nose.
Chapter 17 - Packing Again
Posted on 2008-11-30
Elizabeth froze when she saw those boots. Knowing not to whom they belonged, she imagined various dreadful situations. As the last time she was discovered under a desk by an unknown person in boots, she was sent to her room without supper, she was not unreasonably nervous. Georgiana, not yet seeing the mysterious and forbidding footwear blithely said, "We seem to have escaped unscathed!"
Elizabeth neither spoke nor moved. Georgiana finally seeing what had stopped her friend, inhaled sharply.
"Whoever ‘we' may be, I would greatly appreciate you extricating yourself from under my desk," said the voice belonging to the boots.
One would imagine that there are only so many ways a young woman can embarrass herself in front of any particular young man. Apparently, one would be wrong. Elizabeth found herself crawling on hand and knees from under the desk and facing the knees of none other than Mr. Darcy.
With slow movements, in a futile attempt to regain some dignity, Elizabeth began to stand. Mr. Darcy reached a hand to assist her. Left with few other options, she took it. His hand was cold and rough. The coldness was likely due to the inclement weather he just traveled through. Elizabeth finally dared to meet his gaze.
Mr. Darcy was, as it has been said before, all astonishment. He had within the last few hours alighted from the ship that had traversed the sea, traveled the streets of London in a hired carriage, came directly to his library upon returning to his home, and found Miss Elizabeth Bennet hidden in his desk.
The mutual shock was so comical as was the fact that Mr. Darcy still had a firm grip on Miss Bennet's hand, that Georgiana did not immediately attack her brother in greeting. Instead a particular look crossed her face and, in a moment of great maturity, she giggled.
The sound was enough to break the moment. Mr. Darcy let go of Miss Bennet's hand. Miss Bennet straightened her skirts and inspected the carpet as she stepped away from Mr. Darcy. Georgiana flung herself at her brother in a warm welcome.
Elizabeth felt terribly out of place at this small family's reunion. The two quietly said words of welcome. She began to quietly leave the library. Just before she could step into the hall, she was stopped.
"Brother, I am sure you are surprised to see Miss Bennet here. She has been my guest and most delightful companion since I fell so very ill."
"You were sick! When was this? Are you quite recovered? Let me see you in better light," Mr. Darcy suddenly sounded like a concerned mother as he nearly dragged his sister to the firelight.
"I am quite well! I fell sick just after you left Pemberley. By the time the seriousness of the illness became apparent, you had left port. Our aunt grew concerned and thought, given past conversations, that Elizabeth would be helpful. Our aunt was right, as she always is. After Elizabeth nursed me for several days, without any rest for herself, I might add, I began to recover. From that point, we have been inseparable."
Mr. Darcy seemed overwhelmed by the general situation. He had just stepped off a ship from Jamaica. He had found his sister and Miss Bennet under his desk. His sister's unusual and exuberant speech and her wonderfully cheerful manner. Slowly, he was able to take in all the general idea of what was going on around him. Finally, despite the exhaustion from travel, he was able to formulate enough coherent thought to speak to Elizabeth.
"Miss Bennet, it seems I am very much in your debt. You have done me and my family a most precious service. I thank you for your nursing of my sister and your companionship these many months."
Overcome by his emotions, Mr. Darcy made a courtly bow over Elizabeth's hand. His joy at reuniting with his sister combined with the sudden revelation of his sister's illness left him without words. Thankfully, Elizabeth seemed to know what to do.
"Mr. Darcy, I could do no less that what I did. As I have said to others, I believe any friend would do as I have done. Georgiana is as a sister to me and I accord her all the power to demand my affection and service that my own sisters wield. Please, do not consider yourself indebted to me."
Georgiana was so gleeful at her brother's return she began chattering, "Oh, I have so much to show you. I have been doing so well in my studies. I just painted a new view of the gardens at Pemberley. I also was working on a surprise for you. Please, wait here, let me fetch them!"
With that, Georgiana nearly flew from the room leaving an exceptionally awkward situation in her wake.
Gathering himself once more, Mr. Darcy spoke. "Miss Bennet, would you mind if we sat. I have had a rather long journey here and I think we both have had our share of shock for the night." He gestured to the same seats where the ladies had begun their Shakespearian afternoon.
"I am truly grateful for your help with Georgiana, Miss Bennet. While I left her in the care of our aunt, it is something else entirely for her to have the company of a young woman." Mr. Darcy picked up the volume laid aside earlier on the table, "You seem to have been well occupied."
Elizabeth laughed. Mr. Darcy sharply turned at the sound. He had forgotten how pleasant her laugh was. "That volume is the reason you found us under your desk!"
"Here I thought it was due to an impish plan you two concocted to startle me out of my wits," Mr. Darcy rejoined.
This time it was Elizabeth who was startled by Mr. Darcy's humor. "No, it all began simply enough, reading favorite monologues to pass this rainy afternoon. Then we decided to act out a few scenes. That then grew into more gregarious actions and the tragic loss of a few buttons on Georgiana's sleeve. We were hunting for the missing buttons when you found us."
"Explain all you wish, I still hold to my first impression," Mr. Darcy said with a small smile that completely befuddled Elizabeth.
At this moment, Georgiana bounded back into the room with the surprise for her brother. She handed him the package and nearly danced back and forth as she waited for him to open it.
"Georgie! I love this. Thank you so much, dearest," he said as he pulled his sister into another embrace.
Elizabeth smiled at the scene. The books Georgiana had found and the set of embroidered book marks were left on the seat. The two siblings fought off tears as they relished the joy of their reunion.
"How foolish of me, Fitzwilliam, you must be so very tired. Will you wish to have dinner or do you want to go to sleep directly?"
"As we have company, it would be most rude to avoid dinner. If you ladies will allow me to refresh myself, I will happily join you for dinner," Mr. Darcy said as he stood again. He paused as he looked thoughtful.
"I am sorry to bring this up, but with my return, Miss Bennet can no longer stay here without scandal."
"Do not worry, nephew, it is well in hand." Lady Matilda entered the room with her usual presence and mysterious ability to instantly command control of the situation.
"When my husband returned, I thought this problem would arise. He is scrubbing the dirt of the journey and taking a rest before dinner. Then he will join us here. I would imagine your housekeeper may need to know there will be three additional people for dinner, Georgiana." Georgiana went to make those very arrangements. After all, one does not argue with Lady Matilda. Said lady continued, "As I was making the short journey here, I saw your friend Mr. Bingley's carriage at his town house. Given the circumstances, I believe you will be welcomed by your sister and brother. As we are all within such an intimate distance, I have no doubt you will be able to continue with daily visits with Georgiana."
Mr. Darcy was still trying to grasp the fact that his sister and Miss Bennet were initially found under his desk. Georgiana was trying to contain her glee. Elizabeth was attempting to regain some semblance of understanding of the situation. Lady Matilda was again arranging life for those around her as she saw fit. After giving brief instructions to the servants she had called, Lady Matilda turned and surveyed the room.
The bewildered Darcy, joyful Georgiana, befuddled Elizabeth, and commanding Lady Matilda were not left to their own devices for long. The servants that Lady Matilda spoke with left the room and were just about overrun by the servant announcing the last dinner guest.
Elizabeth was too lost in thought to have caught names. Luckily the movement of the Darcys and Lady Matilda caught her eye. The familial reunion took precedence over the social conventions.
"And you must be Miss Elizabeth Bennet! I have heard so very much about you!" thundered Lady Matilda's boisterous husband. "Please, call me Lord Albert. It is my pleasure to meet you."
Wondering what had been said about her, Elizabeth made pretty bow and blushed ever so slightly.
Mr. Darcy left to dress for dinner and the company kept up pleasant conversation. Within moments of Mr. Darcy's return, they were called to the meal.
"Dinner is served," came the servant's voice.
The Lord and Lady walked in together happily talking. "Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to dinner, Miss Bennet?" Elizabeth was surprised yet again by Mr. Darcy. His honest tone and earnest expression left her more than willing. Mr. Darcy held his other arm out to his sister. "I now have the two most charming ladies in London on my arms!" Poor Elizabeth, she did not know what to say nor where to look. This Mr. Darcy was so strange for her.
As the meal progressed, the gentlemen were encouraged to speak of their travels.
"Jamaica is so very different. The first thing you see when you land is the white sand. It is as if the Cliffs of Dover disintegrated. The vegetation is so lush. The flowers there are terribly different. We would loose you in the gardens and forests, Georgiana, as I am sure you would wander with your sketch pad," Lord Albert said.
"It sounds so exotic and beautiful," Georgiana said.
"Yes, it is. There are coconut and cedar trees. You can also find rosewood and mahogany throughout the island." The subject of Jamaica obviously dominated much of the dinner conversation.
At a lull in the conversation, Elizabeth had the opportunity to ask Lady Matilda, "How did you come to be here this afternoon?"
"Miss Bennet, after greeting my husband and being assured of his well being, I shooed him off to clean clothes and such. As he assured me my nephew was simultaneously returning home, I knew you would need to be taken care of quite quickly. My first plan was to take you home with me where you would be a guest in my house. Should there be any difficulty in your staying with your brother and sister, then that will be the next step we take. I instructed a servant to see that a few of your things are packed for immediate removal and the remainder will be packed and brought to wherever you are staying tomorrow."
From just about any other person, Elizabeth would call such an arrangement officiousness. However, over the past months Elizabeth learned that this was merely Lady Matilda's manner of caring for others. She was such a capable woman used to not only the deference of those beneath her, but the responsibility that came with such power. Arranging for the care of Elizabeth and the protection of her reputation was a natural thought for her. Elizabeth was now within the realm of Lady Matilda's interest and active efforts.
"I am honored, Lady Matilda. Perhaps we could send a note to my brother Bingley? He could then be informed of the situation and he may wish to greet his friend. My sister often mentioned how her husband worried for Mr. Darcy's safety."
"Well, thought, Miss Elizabeth," Lady Matilda said. "When we finish the meal, why do you not pen the note. Knowing what I do of your new brother, he will either come immediately or write a somewhat incomprehensible note."
"I see that the truth of my brother's skills have spread. He is a faithful correspondent, even to me. Though I am still not nearly so skilled to read all of the blots accurately. Thankfully Jane translates in her letters."
Lady Matilda enjoyed Elizabeth's wit. As she only had her two sons, both off to their own adventures currently, she had missed such lively voices at her table and in her parlors. Though she would be loathe to admit it, she would love if circumstances necessitated Elizabeth staying with her. Lord Albert noticed the look in his wife's eye and shook his head. Correctly interpreting his wife's wish, he could only imagine what might happen in the days to come.
Just as Lady Matilda predicted, Mr. Bingley presented himself within half an hour of the note leaving Darcy House. He was all cheer and well wishes for the newly returned adventurers.
"Darcy! It is so good to see you. I trust you had a safe voyage. Was all well?" he earnestly began after the appropriate bows had been made.
"Yes, and I shall tell you more of the trip later. Right now we have a slight issue. Where is your new wife?" Mr. Darcy took hold of the conversation. He knew his friend well and knew Bingley would love to spend endless hours on the stories of the trip.
"Unfortunately I had to leave my wife in Hertfordshire. Benjamin has taken a cold and could not travel. I had to come to town to see to some business for a few days. Never have I been so miserable in town," Mr. Bingley said as his face fell.
The Earl and Countess of Matlock looked to each other. They remembered well what that first separation felt like. They also knew what the pain of a longer separation felt like; Lord Albert took his wife's hand and gave it an affectionate kiss. They approved of poor Mr. Bingley.
"Well, that does complicate matters. You see, I am afraid I have to turn Miss Bennet out of the house tonight. She cannot stay here." Mr. Darcy began in all seriousness.
"Now Darcy, you are like a brother to me! You cannot mistreat my sister so!"
For all his good and honest characteristics, Mr. Bingley was not quite as sharp as his friend. The needs of propriety had not yet intruded on his more happy thoughts of seeing his friend or his wishing his wife at his side.
"Bingley, Miss Bennet," here Mr. Darcy stressed the miss. "Cannot stay here now that I have returned. It would be unseemly. We had hoped that Mrs. Bingley would be with you and Elizabeth could return with you. If your wife is not here I would hazard you did not even bother opening up your house."
"Fortunately gentlemen, we ladies are always prepared. I will be bringing Miss Elizabeth home with me. We have more than enough room and the house is far too quiet with just the two of us aged creatures rattling around it."
"Lady Matilda, I will do my very best to make sure that you are well cared for in your old age and that you are not left with too much quiet and solitude."
"Oh, we are going to have a fine time together, Miss Bennet," Lord Albert said with a warm smile as he kissed her hand.
"You are too kind, Lord Albert," Elizabeth said with a curtsey.
"If I were not so pleased to have Fitzwilliam home, I would be begging to join you. I believe you will have a charming stay with my aunt and uncle, Elizabeth."
"You will have plenty of opportunities to visit in the coming days. Fitzwilliam you need a good night's rest in your own chambers after all this gallavanting around the world. Husband, the same for you, thus we are off to home and you would all do well to follow." Lady Matilda again directed the troops. One need not guess where her son's genius for strategy came from, Lady Matilda would give Napoleon a thorough routing.
Mr. Bingley made his farewells as the Matlocks left with Elizabeth in tow.
"Miss Elizabeth, we want you to feel at home here. You have been passed from one of us to another now for so long, I know you will adapt. However, I want you to be comfortable," Lady Matilda was depositing Elizabeth in the guest rooms as she spoke. "Sarah will be your maid. If you wish for anything, do not hesitate to ask. I am sure you understand that I wish to retire early tonight. I had some books brought from the library for you. If you wish to search out others, the servants will show you the way. There is also a writing desk with all the supplies you should need if you wish to send any letters. Is there anything you need? Do you have any questions?"
"Lady Matilda, I believe I am quite fine with these arrangements. I can entertain myself until I wish to sleep. Of course, I understand that you wish to see your husband. I am so happy for you that he has returned safely. I will see you in the morning for breakfast?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yes, my dear, we will both see you for breakfast," and with a squeeze of Elizabeth's hands, Lady Matilda was off to see her husband.
Dear Jane,To Be Continued . . .
What a day it has been! I have seen the following people, though not necessarily in this order: Georgiana, Lady Matilda, my brother whom you call husband, Mr. Darcy, and the Earl of Matlock! I am near claiming nerves and calling for salts.
The gentlemen returned from their travels and we had such an interesting conversation over dinner. Mr. Darcy and Lord Albert, Earl of Matlock, regaled us with tales of the plants, vistas, and people. Jane, sometimes I do wish I could travel to such places. Lady Matilda, as usual, had everything set so that my reputation would not be imperiled by staying in a house without a chaperone. While she thought I might be able to stay with you for she had seen your carriage at your town house, we soon heard from Charles that you were not with him. By the by, how is Benjamin? I do hope he is not too ill. I can only think of the trouble he must be causing.
Since I could no sooner stay with Charles alone than remain at the Darcys', the Matlocks carted me off to their house. Do be gentle with Mama should you relay this information to her. In deed, you may wish to simply let father know that I am to be at this house for a while yet.
Please let me know how all in Hertfordshire are faring. I miss you all, most of all, you my sister. London is proving quite interesting and I am sure I shall have more to send to you in the coming days.
All my love, etc.