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With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 7 and 8

April 29, 2015 05:37PM
AN: I appreciate your comments and am glad you are enjoying my variation.

Chapter 7

Mr. Bennet had been captivated by a young lady whose father was a solicitor in Meryton who had left her four thousand pounds. She had a sister married to a Mr. Phillips, who had been a clerk to their father, and succeeded him in the business, and a brother settled in London in a respectable line of trade.

Mr. Bennet's property began as almost entirely an estate of two thousand a year, which, unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs male, on a distant relation; and their mother's fortune could but ill supply the deficiency of his. Realizing he would want to provide for the future of any children beyond his oldest son, even before marriage, Mr. Bennet had instituted a regimen of strict economy so that he might supplement any fortune from his wife and build a better income for his family. This had been difficult to maintain after his marriage, as Mrs. Bennet was inclined to spend above her budget, but he helped her learn to practice at least some economy. She had never had much instruction, and he strove to repair the deficiency. While she remained somewhat silly, she did become more practical thanks to his assistance. In addition, he had more earnestly applied himself to management of the estate which significantly increased his income. He had been able to purchase portions of Netherfield and other surrounding estates as their owners found a need for cash. He had also invested with his brother-in-law in some trade goods from Asia. These additions did not come under the restrictions of the entail.

Mr. Bennet now had income of almost double what he had inherited, and he continued to save from that increase. In addition, the income from the investments contributed to the dowries of his daughters. Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary had each had respectable dowries of a few thousand pounds which was what both Kitty and Lydia would also enjoy. Their settlements had left the widows, Jane and Elizabeth, in very comfortable circumstances. This elevation of income and circumstances for the Bennet family and the widows was not generally known in Meryton. Most still assumed that the girls had only limited dowries, perhaps supplemented by their generous aunt. They were unsure of the status of the two widows but supposed them to be in somewhat straitened circumstances.

The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt, to a bookseller, and to a milliner's shop just over the way. After studies and household work were over or when nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their afternoon hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment in the neighborhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.

Their visits to Mrs. Phillips were now productive of the most interesting intelligence. Every day added something to their knowledge of the officers' names and connections. Their lodgings were not long a secret, and at length they began to know the officers themselves. Mr. Phillips visited them all, and this opened to his nieces a source of felicity unknown before as Mr. Bennet chose not to know them. Kitty and Lydia could talk of nothing but officers in spite of the fact that Lydia did not attend any of the social events with the officers.

After listening one morning to their effusions on this subject, Mr. Bennet coolly observed, "From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced."

Catherine was disconcerted, and made no answer; but Lydia, with perfect indifference, continued to express her admiration of Captain Carter, and her hope of seeing him in the course of the day, as he was going the next morning to London.

"I am afraid I agree with your father," said Lady Stanford, "Your conversation about the officers is uncommonly foolish. While I agree that a young man in regimentals can look very smart, there is more to life than regimentals. If you marry a solider, you will be much on the move. If a smart young colonel, with five or six thousand a year should be interested, we would not say no. However, the younger officers do not have sufficient to enable you to live comfortably. It is best to admire from a distance and look to those more suitable for a husband, my dears. And you, Lydia, should not be so vocal in your admiration." Kitty looked thoughtful at both the rebuke and the information her aunt shared. Lydia ignored the instruction and continued to talk of officers, now without Kitty participating.

At this point, the footman entered with a note for Mrs. Nelson. The note was from Netherfield, and the servant waited for an answer. Jane read the note and shared, “It is from Miss Bingley,” and the read it aloud.

“My dear Friend,

If you are not so compassionate as to dine today with Louisa and me, we shall be in danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives. A whole day’s tête-à-tête between two women can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you can on the receipt of this. My brother and the gentlemen are to dine with the officers. Yours ever,

Caroline Bingley

“With the officers!” cried Lydia. “I wonder my aunt did not tell us of that.”

“Can I have the carriage?” asked Jane.

“Of course,” responded Mr. Bennet. “It seems likely to rain and we would not want you to come to grief.”

Jane sent her response, following later as invited. Jane had not been gone long before it rained hard. The rain continued the whole evening without intermission

When Jane arrived at Netherfield in the midst of the downpour, she was immediately shown to the parlor and a roaring fire that she might dry the dampness acquired when she had exited the carriage. Once assured that Jane was safe and dry, they had visited pleasantly until dinner was called.

As they talked, Caroline commented, “It must be a somewhat quieter at home with your sister and her son gone.”

Jane replied, “Only slightly. With so many of us, there is always something going on. However, it is pleasant that we can all be together.”

Louisa asked, “When did you lose your husband?”

“I left off mourning in August. He was killed the previous summer in a carriage accident.”

Louisa remarked, “Oh, how sad that must be.”

“Yes, it was quite sudden.” Since Jane was such a private person, she did not volunteer any details of the accident. Louisa could see her reluctance and so forbore to ask any further questions. Instead, she turned to mention of the militia being stationed in Meryton. Jane readily joined in the change of direction. In one reply, she mentioned, “It is amusing to see my younger sisters impressed by the uniform. While a uniform is nice, one wants something more than style in a husband.”

Since Louisa had looked only for a gentleman, she was puzzled, “Why, whatever do you mean?”

Since Caroline looked only for status and money, she replied, “Why, you must have means and rank of course.”

Jane said, “Oh, is that what you are looking for? There is not much of that here in Meryton. No, I meant that it is much more pleasant to have someone who has some degree of education, intellect and discernment. I could have interesting discussions with Mr. Nelson about things other than hunting, shooting, sport, our neighbors or food. We also talked of the war, of art, music, books, and the possibility of travel. Our conversations were always quite stimulating.”

Caroline answered flatly, “I am sure that is fascinating.” From the comment about lack of rank and status in Meryton, Caroline inferred that Mr. Nelson, who she thought was a local, was likely not even truly a gentleman. Perhaps he had been a younger son but forced to work or was actually a merchant.

Louisa looked thoughtful and added, “I had never thought of any of those things. I can see that it would provide added variety.” She thought of Mr. Hurst’s interests in just those limited things. Since they never held any discussions on other subjects, she wondered if that was actually the extent of his interests or if that was just what he thought he could share with her. She decided to investigate to see if there was more hiding under the surface.

Caroline decided that Mr. Nelson must have been very dull for Mrs. Nelson to consider those to be recommendations. Not once did either of the sisters consider asking where Jane had met Mr. Nelson. Therefore, London, her presentation at court, and the Season never entered the conversation. Both ladies just assumed that Jane had always lived in the area and would continue to do so. They just assumed Mr. Nelson had been a neighbor from Meryton. They also never asked where Elizabeth had gone. They assumed it was someplace nearby but were unconcerned. Jane was too modest to bring up anything that might have enlightened them as she did not want to appear to be boasting. Nevertheless, they had a very pleasant dinner together.

When Jane recounted her evening at home, she determined she had enjoyed her dinner with the ladies. They were all that was charming. It had been a great success. When asked, she acknowledged that she had not seen Mr. Bingley on her visit, as she had left before the men returned from their engagement with the officers.

When Mr. Bingley returned home, he was disappointed to hear that Jane had been to dinner without his knowledge. He would have liked to have seen her.

Chapter 8

The next morning, Mr. Bennet remarked at breakfast, “I have reason to expect an addition to our family party.”

“Whom do you mean?” asked Lady Stanford. “I am sure I know of nobody that is coming.”

“The person of whom I speak is a gentleman and a stranger.”

Lydia responded, “A gentleman and a stranger! So it cannot be Mr. Bingley. Who can it be?”

After amusing himself sometime with their curiosity, he explained, “About a month ago I received this letter, and about a fortnight ago I answered it, for I thought it a case of some delicacy, and requiring early attention. It is from my cousin, Mr. Collins, who inherits when I am dead.”

“Ah,” answered Lady Stanford. “And what has he to say for himself?”

Mr. Bennet read aloud.

“Hunsford, near Westerham, Kent,
15th October.
Dear Sir,

The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honored father always gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him I have frequently wished to heal the breach; but for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, fearing lest it might seem disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with any one with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance. My mind however is now made up on the subject, for having received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavor to demean myself with grateful respect towards her Ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England. As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds I flatter myself that my present overtures of good-will are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the offered olive branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologize for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends,—but of this hereafter. If you should have no objection to receive me into your house, I propose myself the satisfaction of waiting on you and your family, November 18th, by four o'clock, and shall probably trespass on your hospitality till the Saturday se'nnight following, which I can do without any inconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my occasional absence on a Sunday, provided that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day. I remain, dear sir, with respectful compliments to your daughters, your well-wisher and friend,
William Collins."

"At four o'clock, therefore, we may expect this peacemaking gentleman," said Mr. Bennet, as he folded up the letter. "He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word; and I doubt not will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again."

Lady Stanford was chiefly struck with his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine, and his kind intention of christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners whenever it were required. "He must be an oddity, I think," said she. "I cannot make him out. There is something very pompous in his style. And what can he mean by apologizing for being next in the entail? We cannot suppose he would help it, if he could. Can he be a sensible man, Thomas?"

"No, Bess; I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There is a mixture of servility and self-importance in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient to see him."

She replied, “Thomas, you mock so. And it is true that he can turn out Kitty and Lydia. Of course, they would either go to the Gardiners or come to live with me or one of their sisters. Thank goodness the others are already settled. Do you think that his peacemaking will consist in offering for Kitty or Lydia?”

Lydia turned aghast at the thought, “You cannot be serious. I am not even out. He is not in regimentals and has nothing to recommend him. Papa, you must tell him I am much too young.”

Kitty turned thoughtful at the comment and added, “I do not like his style of writing, but if that is his intention, I will at least consider it. It all depends on what he is like.”

Mr. Bennet soothed them both, “We will see what Mr. Collins brings. Of course, I would not force either of you to wed if you do not wish it. Lydia, you are full young for such a thing but stranger things have happened. Be polite. Nothing more will be required of either of you. Jane, it seems your heart has already moved in a different direction. I will do what I can to deflect Mr. Collins’s attentions once he has arrived if that is truly his intention.”

Jane blushed at this mention of Mr. Bingley but did not correct him in his assumption of her heart being engaged.

Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the whole family. Mr. Bennet, indeed, said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself. He was a tall, heavy looking young man of five and twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been long seated before he complimented Mr. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters, said he had heard much of their beauty, but that, in this instance, fame had fallen short of the truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time well disposed of in marriage.

This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers, but Lady Stanford answered most readily, "You are very kind, sir, I am sure; and it has proven so for Jane, Elizabeth and Mary. With the way things are settled, we must ensure that their marriages provide for them."

"You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate."

"Ah! sir, I do indeed. It might have been a grievous affair to the girls, you must confess."

"I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate. But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them. At present I will not say more, but perhaps when we are better acquainted…"

He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins's admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture were examined and praised as was the dinner. His listeners wondered if it were flattery or the appraisal of a prospective owner. Nevertheless, the dinner was modestly successful. Mr. Bennet found it highly entertaining.

With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 7 and 8

ShannaGApril 29, 2015 05:37PM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 7 and 8

terrycgApril 30, 2015 06:09PM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 7 and 8

Lucy J.April 30, 2015 05:04AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 7 and 8

PeterApril 30, 2015 02:04AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 7 and 8

mpinneyApril 29, 2015 06:52PM


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