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With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 19 and 20

June 10, 2015 04:35PM
AN: Glad you are enjoying this story. Thanks for the comments
Chapter 19

In mid-January, Lydia and Miss Bosworth accompanied the Gardiners to their home on Gracechurch Street. Elizabeth removed to Jane’s home. Lady Stanford, Mr. Bennet, and Kitty all went to Stanford House on Grosvenor Square. Longbourn would be quiet that winter. Some winters, Sir Henry and his wife Eleanor would also reside at Stanford House. This year, she was expecting to add to the family in May and preferred to stay home instead. Lady Stanford would join them once her Season with Kitty was complete.

Jane was the first to arrive in town, leaving from Nelson Hall with Lord and Lady Nelson immediately after Epiphany. She had written to Caroline Bingley from Nelson Hall but had received no response. She left her card at the Hurst home on Grosvenor Street the day after she arrived in town but had not heard from Caroline. However, Mr. Bingley had called the day after she left her card. He was happy to see her again. They discussed how they had each spent the time since departing from Meryton.

Finally, Jane asked, “Did your sisters mention that I had left my card?”

Bingley frowned. “No, but luckily, I saw it on the table in the foyer when I called upon them. I take it they have not called upon you?”

“No, but then, after Miss Bingley’s note when departing Netherfield, I did not really expect them to. She made it quite clear that she did not intend to continue the acquaintance and that you were attached to someone else.”

“What? I hope you know that she is completely wrong about that.”

“Thank you. I had hoped that to be the case. I plan to call upon her after Lizzy is here so we can go together.”

“I am afraid I do not understand my sisters at all. I imagine that whatever they are thinking, it is Caroline who is the leader. Since she came out, she has completely dominated Louisa.”

“Think nothing of it. Her lack of warmth will not harm me.”

He continued to call approximately every other day, excluding Sunday, for the next week until Elizabeth arrived. He did not come that day in order that Jane and Elizabeth could have time alone while Elizabeth settled in.

After greetings were exchanged, Elizabeth asked Jane, “Have you heard from Miss Bingley?”

“No. I did not receive a reply to my letter and my card has not yet been acknowledged. However, Mr. Bingley has been a regular visitor. Shall we stop by and call upon her? I was waiting for your arrival,” answered Jane.

Elizabeth gave an impish grin. “I think that would be the polite thing to do.” As they were both thinking of the note from Miss Bingley, they felt their visit would be fraught with tension. Accordingly, they paid the visit and found both Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst at home. They stayed the requisite time, made polite conversation, and were told the letter from Jane must have gone astray. No mention was made of having received the card. It was now confirmed to Jane that Miss Bingley wished to discontinue the connection.

Unknown to Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley called upon Jane that same day in the afternoon. He was received happily and spent a wonderful visit with Elizabeth and Jane. During that visit, at his request, they all spent some time in the nursery with Meg, Betsy, and Allen. Mr. Bingley was more certain than ever of his feelings for Mrs. Nelson. He had discussed these with Darcy, and both had agreed that he needed to be quite sure of his feelings. He felt he must get to know the girls better before assuming the mantle of step-father, hence his request to visit the nursery. When they returned to the drawing room, he asked permission to call again the next day, and if the weather was as mild as it was this day, he would escort the ladies and children on a walk in the park which was down the street from the Nelson townhouse. All thought this a splendid idea.

Elizabeth said, “It was pleasant to see your sisters again. As Jane had indicated, we paid a call upon them today.”

Bingley frowned. “I hope they were at least polite.”

Jane answered, “Coldly polite. We will see how long it takes for them to repay the visit. I am not sanguine that it will be anytime soon.”

Bingley shook his head. “I am afraid I believe you are correct. Well, I believe I must be going. I shall see you tomorrow for our walk.”

After Mr. Bingley left, Elizabeth and Jane discussed the two visits of the day.

“Jane, do you now understand why I did not trust Miss Bingley’s friendship in Meryton? I thought she befriended you in Hertfordshire because none of the rest of us were even tolerable. However, in town, she has many more options. Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, looks very attached. I like his wanting to get to know the girls. It looks very promising indeed,” began Elizabeth.

“Indeed it does. I am sorry to say that I have to agree with you about Miss Bingley. If things do progress with Mr. Bingley, it will be unpleasant to have her disapprobation. However, there is nothing I can do. Apparently, she does not understand that we are of higher rank and that is why we haven’t encountered her in the past.”

“How will Robert’s family react to an attachment with Mr. Bingley?” asked Elizabeth.

“We discussed such an idea theoretically when I was visiting. As long as they remain an important part of Betsy’s and Meg’s lives, they support and approve me finding another husband. They have even offered to host a ball to show the family support. I am very lucky that they are such a warm, loving family. Betsy and Meg will never want for love and attention even if I never marry again.”

“They are such a loving family. It is very kind of them to offer a ball for this theoretical celebration.”

“Perhaps I indicated that I had some expectations of developments this winter.”

They both laughed and headed to the nursery to spend time with their children. They enjoyed a pleasant hour before it was time for the children’s tea. They left them with their nurses and retired to dress as they had plans to meet with the rest of the family at Stanford House before they all went to attend a musical evening together. Music by Mozart and Haydn was to be performed, and both were favorites with the entire family.

Jane and Elizabeth joined Mr. Bennet, Kitty, and Lady Stanford at Stanford House where they had a light meal before leaving for the recital. The soprano and pianist were excellent, and the company was congenial, so Kitty enjoyed her first London social engagement. Lady Stanford always insured that the girls were first introduced in a small setting where they could become comfortable before moving on to the larger events by the time the Season started in earnest in late February or early March. The off time in January and early February provided the practice needed to gain confidence before the formal Season began. By the time they were presented in March, they would have the confidence they needed to face the Queen.

Before the music began, during the intermission, and after it was over, Lady Stanford introduced Kitty to many of her friends, their daughters, and a few of their sons. Jane and Elizabeth enjoyed renewing acquaintances with a number of their friends who were already returned to town. They made plans to call upon them or receive them in the next few days.

Kitty enjoyed the recital and started tentative friendships with two other young women who would be presented that season who were as nervous and excited as she. Over refreshments during the intermission, they discussed the terrors of the presentation, the strange dress required, and what it would mean for their futures. Bethiah Williamson and Rachel Gaisford promised to stop by together the next day to formally call upon Kitty at Stanford House.

As the Bennet family returned to Stanford House, Lady Stanford asked Kitty how she had enjoyed her evening.

“I loved it. I could understand some of the music, which was nice. Unless I am very much mistaken, I think I will have some good friends in Miss Williamson and Miss Gaisford. They are feeling very much like I am, so we have that in common. I hope there is more; there were hints of it. I am sure I could use some good friends this Season.”

Lady Stanford nodded her head and replied, “It is fortunate that you have already connected with two who might become friends. Will they be calling on us?”

“Yes, they expect to come tomorrow.”

Mr. Bennet spoke up, “I expect I will attend the club tomorrow after visiting Lydia. I will say that I enjoyed the music, but Bess, don’t expect me to attend many more.”

“I never would, Thomas. However, I do appreciate that you condescended to join us this time.”

They all laughed as the carriage stopped before the house. Jane and Elizabeth remained inside as the others exited, then the carriage pulled away again to leave them at Jane’s home.

Chapter 20

Everyone at the Nelson townhouse was happy that the next day was clear. Although cold, it was relatively mild for late January, so Jane, Elizabeth, and the children prepared for the outing to the park with Bingley. When Bingley arrived, they were surprised to see that Darcy accompanied him along with an unknown young girl. Darcy performed the introduction to his sister.

Miss Darcy was an elegant young woman, slightly taller than Elizabeth, and slightly darker than Jane in coloring. She smiled shyly at the party as she curtseyed following the introductions. While Bingley, Darcy, and Miss Darcy waited in the entry way, everyone else donned their outerwear for the trip to the park.

Bingley paid particular attention to Betsy and Meg, but everyone seemed to enjoy running around with the little children. Betsy was now four, and Meg two, and Allen was nearly two. Betsy’s speech was close to comprehensible, while that of Meg and Allen was still impossible to understand. However, all three could run and enjoyed sailing boats in the almost frozen pond in the park. Everyone assisted in the sailing endeavors and all played running games with the little ones.

Elizabeth had been surprised to see Mr. Darcy running around with the little ones. “I had never pictured you running with a two year old,” she commented to him after one short burst.

“I have some little cousins and so am accustomed to playing with toddlers,” he said. His usually stern visage sported a large grin.

Georgiana laughed and said, “Indeed, he is one of their favorites.” After this, she finally relaxed a bit and started talking with both Jane and Elizabeth. Up until then, she had merely smiled and made quiet responses to questions. Soon, she found herself much more comfortable with both Bennet sisters. She enjoyed the teasing among the sisters and their children.

The exercise and cold air put red into everyone cheeks, with additional red on noses as well. Finally, Meg and Allen were quite worn out and too tired to even be fussy, so it was time for everyone to return to Jane’s house.

The children were sent up to the nursery for naps while the adults entered the parlor where they found tea, chocolate, and biscuits waiting to warm them. Over refreshments, Elizabeth succeeded in drawing the shy Miss Darcy into a true conversation by discussing her favorite topic, music. While Jane seldom played the piano, Elizabeth enjoyed many happy hours at the keyboard. They were able to discuss their favorite works and composers. Elizabeth both played and sang, although not always up to her own standards. However, her efforts were always pleasing. Miss Darcy spent much time in practice and was known to be quite accomplished.

Miss Darcy’s favorite composer was Joseph Haydn while Elizabeth found herself very intrigued by the music of Beethoven. They spent an agreeable hour discussing the merits of their favorites and which music they didn’t enjoy as much. They also talked of the previous evening’s entertainment. Miss Darcy occasionally attended such with her brother.

Bingley and the Darcys left after a pleasant morning together. The tired children slept long and well that day from all their exercise in the park. Darcy was pleased to renew the acquaintance with Mrs. Raynor and at how well she and Georgiana had gotten along. He contemplated coming to know her better with great satisfaction.

Finally, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst returned the call to Jane. It had been some days since Jane’s call upon them, just long enough to indicate a desire to discontinue the relationship and indicate some disdain for the recipient.

It was apparent that Bingley had not informed his sisters of his visits to Mrs. Nelson. Neither were they aware that Miss Darcy had been introduced. Therefore, Elizabeth found the visit highly entertaining.

Miss Bingley began, “Mrs. Nelson, I am so sorry we were unable to call sooner. We have been so very busy-so many engagements going on that time just got away from us.”

Jane smiled sweetly, “Of course. We understand.”

Elizabeth added, “There are so many calls upon our time in town. It can be difficult to keep track of everything if one doesn’t have an active social secretary.”

Since none of the ladies used a social secretary, Caroline was not sure if this was an attack or not. “Surely none of us is quite that busy.”

Elizabeth just smiled at her leaving Caroline to wonder if Elizabeth really was that busy. The visit terminated shortly thereafter.

While the Bingleys and Darcys met at Jane’s home, Kitty’s new friends called upon her at Stanford House. Bethiah Williamson and Rachel Gaisford were in town for the season just as Kitty was. They had attended a ladies seminary together and were excited about the opportunity to spend time in London in the social scene. Their families were very close, as Bethiah’s older brother Jonathan had married Rachel’s older sister Lurinda some ten years previous. Thus, Lurinda was sister to both and was assisting both mothers in bringing the girls out that season. Jonathan had died some five years earlier, and Lurinda alternated her home between the two families. She accompanied the girls on this visit.

Mrs. Lurinda Williamson talked with Lady Stanford as the younger girls became better acquainted. The senior ladies discussed the perils of chaperones during the season while the younger speculated on the pitfalls of their upcoming presentation in court. All were happy at the new acquaintance that promised many interesting times together.

As they watched the younger girls talking, Mrs. Willaimson said, “It is good of you to assist your nieces as you do. My mothers are finding it a challenge to take my sisters everywhere they must be, and the Season has not even started in earnest yet. I fear that I will be the one at most events rather than either of our mothers.”

Lady Stanford laughed, “I can absolutely understand many of those challenges. The younger girls certainly have an abundance of energy. If I get too drained, I can call on one of my older nieces or their other aunt who lives in London for assistance. But you are still young and single, are you not also looking for a new match?”

“Perhaps. Not so young any more. I recently turned thirty. It would be nice to have my own establishment again. Mr. Williamson left me so situated that I can either live very quietly on my own, or live a little more comfortably by living with our families. I have chosen the latter, at least for now. Since both Rachel and Bethiah are the youngest, and our families live in Kent, I expect this will be my last season in London. There are very few eligible gentlemen in our neighborhood, so if I do not look this year, I may need to resign myself to the current situation.”

“I am sure I will need to reassess after my youngest niece Lydia comes out in the next year or two as well. I have assisted my older nieces when they had their first confinement and will be doing so with Kitty’s next older sister, Mary, this upcoming summer and my son’s wife in May. Once Lydia has her season, I am not sure how I will order my year. Besides their father, my brother, I have my son’s family. I have visited them in the summer in the past. I do enjoy the Season, so I expect I will continue to spend spring here in London. I know I will enjoy spending more time with my new grandchild. That will be very pleasant.”

The more they talked, the more Lady Stanford and Mrs. Williamson found in common. At the same time, the younger ladies found the same. Mrs. Williamson, in particular, had found a good friend, which she had wanted. She had never developed any close friendships during her season and had no friends in town. 

With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 19 and 20

ShannaGJune 10, 2015 04:35PM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 19 and 20

Lucy J.June 11, 2015 07:13AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 19 and 20

nastasiatJune 11, 2015 12:14AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 19 and 20

PeterJune 11, 2015 12:02AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 19 and 20

terrycgJune 10, 2015 06:39PM


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