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Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 12

November 23, 2020 02:38PM
Chapter 12

All the tensions of the day dissolved into sobs as Anne fell into Juliana's arms and allowed herself to be thus supported. Her small frame shook, but Juliana held her fast and tried to soothe her. She wept for what seemed an eternity, but when she finally caught her breath, she said with genuine feeling, “I could not have dreamt of a better place to be than with you, Juliana. I have so longed to know you! Did Simon arrange all this?”

“The plan was a magnificent joint venture, but your family relied on Simon's opinion and approval at every turn. Without him, I think you would have found yourself in a convent in Switzerland,” said Juliana, laughing. Anne's eyes became as large as saucers.

“Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Pritchett were instrumental in finding you, but it was actually Colonel Fitzwilliam who thought of sending you to me.” Here, Juliana smiled broadly, unable to hide how pleased she was with the decision. “Of course, the Darcys made all the arrangements.”

“Anne, they want you to know that they would not have interfered if your mother was not arriving in town with the intension of circulating your portrait. She will be offering a reward for information concerning your whereabouts and Simon felt the proprietors of the sweet shop would surely recognize you. And perhaps, even your landladies would feel it their duty to let the authorities know you had lived with them. People believe it their responsibility to help find a missing person.”

“No doubt they would!” replied Anne. “I now understand the urgency with which all this was done. Oh, but I am so grateful to you Juliana for being here to greet me. I was feeling so alone and frightened. Will you be staying with me for a little while longer?”

“Indeed I shall, Anne. My father has sent me here as a punishment, and you have been sent here for safe keeping, but together, I think we shall be very happy. I am certain you will make a wonderful companion, and I hope you will soon come to regard me as one of your dearest friends.”

Arm in arm, they made their way towards the lit doorway where another lady, an older lady, stood waiting. “Welcome, welcome,” she sang out, her arms outstretched in greeting. “I am Juliana and Simon's Aunt Helen, so you must call me that as well! I am so grateful to be of service to my darling boy, and to you, of course, Miss Anne. My home is yours for as long as you need it.” Helen ended her little speech with a gentle kiss on Anne's cheek.

“Thank you … thank you so much. It is very kind of you.”

“Come take a seat at the kitchen table, my dear. It is very late, I know, and you must be exhausted. Tea is ready, though. And I have also prepared some broth and small sandwiches. Are you at all hungry?”

“At the moment, I believe a cup of tea is all I need. I am very tired, or perhaps just overwhelmed; I cannot tell.” laughed Anne. “I don't believe I have ever had such a surprising, frightening, yet exciting day.”

They sipped their tea in silence, allowing the calm and warmth of the kitchen to envelope them. When Anne's cup was empty, Juliana took her by the hand. “Come, let me show you to your room. You can make yourself comfortable and get ready for bed. We needn't unpack, but I'll help you find your nightclothes.”

“I haven't brought any, I'm afraid. I was told not to,” said Anne. “Although, from the amount of baggage the driver carried in, I believe my cousins have seen to my every need.”

She followed Juliana up the stairs and entered a simple, but beautifully appointed bedchamber. Sitting down on the inviting bed, she allowed her hand to glide over the lovely counterpane.

“Oh, this is such a delightful room! So beautiful and cozy,” cried Anne. “And with two large windows for light and air!. I love it, Juliana. But are you certain that neither one of you have given it up for me. I would not have you sacrificing your own comfort for mine.”

“No, no, I assure you we have not. Indeed, the bedrooms in this cottage are almost identical. You shall see tomorrow.”

Juliana opened the smallest case and pulled out a stunning silk nightgown in the palest blue. “Well, is this what your family deems appropriate for a good night's sleep in a chilly farmhouse? I think I'd like to become a member of your family straight away!” said Juliana laughing heartily.

“Oh, I am sure it is just something Elizabeth had in her wardrobe. I imagine that the frocks are Georgiana's … as we are closer in size … but the other items are very likely Elizabeth's. She has such exquisite taste. And after all, they had no time to have anything made.”

Juliana came to sit next to Anne, took her hand and said in a more serious tone. “You are so very fortunate – no, truly blessed, Anne, to have so many people care for you so deeply. I have Aunt Helen and Simon, of course; he is my strength and my joy, but until now I have always felt that we are alone in the world.”

“It was not always this way, Juliana, believe me! Until about a year ago, I lived in crushing isolation, with a mother who loved me … in her way... but denied me every happiness. Did not Simon tell you of my situation?”

“No, he only told me that you were having some family troubles and that you wanted some distance from them for a while. He would never divulge your secrets, Anne, not even to me.”

“Well, then we will have a great deal to talk about,” said Anne, giving Juliana's hand a squeeze. “I shall relate my unfortunate history, and you shall have to tell me everything you can about Simon – what he was like as a boy, how he came to choose medicine, what his favorite foods are, that is, when he is not pinching pennies ... everything!”


And so the time spent in the country went far more quickly than either Anne or Juliana expected. They spent their days helping out with simple chores, cooking and washing up, collecting eggs and working in the garden ... with Helen guiding them. Anne was responsible for little more than picking the ripe tomatoes and pole beans … nothing strenuous, but it felt so good to be contributing. The wife of a neighboring farmer came by twice a week to do the heavy cleaning and washing, leaving plenty of time for the young ladies to stroll among the fields and gardens, sharing stories and answering each other's questions.

Juliana was especially interested in hearing stories about Anne's cousins and their visits to Rosings each Spring. She begged Anne to repeat again and again, anecdotes from the time that Elizabeth visited her friend, Mrs. Collins. “Why do you think there was some rivalry between the Colonel and Mr. Darcy,” asked Juliana, fishing for details.

“Well, both gentleman found her very charming and very beautiful. But I believe that her sharp wit and artless nature was what they both admired most. Few women are so genuinely direct and forthcoming with their feelings as is Elizabeth. The Colonel, from the very first evening, appointed himself her page turner at the piano – just to be close to her, you know, and Darcy could not conceal his vexation. It really was quite humorous to observe. But Darcy has always been very shy and has kept his feelings close to his chest.

Richard spent far more time in her company. They took long walks around the park together, and he often went to visit the parsonage – though he did always asked Darcy to accompany him. But when he realized that his cousin's feelings for Elizabeth were strong, he graciously backed away. They have been as thick as thieves since they were boys and Richard would do nothing to damage their relationship. I believe he enjoyed Elizabeth's company very much, but I believe it was only a momentary flirtation. His feelings for Elizabeth must not have run very deep.”

Juliana sighed and smiled. It was exactly what she wanted to hear. Now she felt she could confide her feelings for the Colonel to Anne.

“Anne, dear Anne, I can no longer go on deceiving you,” said Juliana, looking a bit guilty. “I have met Colonel Fitzwilliam – several times, in fact.”

“Yes, I understand you taught him a lesson he will never forget,” said Anne, grinning.

“You know about that?”

“I do,” said Anne, her brows arching in playfulness. “And I also heard the tone of your voice when you told me the Colonel was responsible for sending me here to you. Am I sensing something ….

“Oh Anne. I am quite taken with him,” Julianna hastily interrupted. “I cannot deny it! But it is much too early in our acquaintance for me to assume anything. You know how charming he can be. These military men, do they not have a reputation for collecting hearts and then discarding them? Can I take what he says seriously? He is such an accomplished flirt, you know.”

Anne chuckled, picturing her cousin's handsome, but roguish face. “Juliana, Richard can be a disarming flirt, it is true. But he would never deceive a young lady into thinking that he cared for her more than he really did. He may flatter her and assure her that he was enjoying her company, but he would not put into words any feelings that were untrue. He is a good and honest man.”

“I am so glad to hear you say it, Anne, for now I can openly press you with all the questions that have occupied my mind for so long! ”

Juliana recognized that having this time alone with Anne was a blessing, except that her being here prevented the Colonel from visiting the way he had promised. In the express that had come shortly before Anne's arrival explained that it was too risky for either Simon and the Colonel to join them at Aunt Helen's.


A day before the much awaited anniversary of Anne's escape, an express came addressed to Miss Fennimore. Her brother informed her that her banishment from London was at an end and that a carriage would arrive tomorrow to bring her home. Both ladies packed their belongings and physiologically prepared themselves for what was to come.

Juliana worried that arriving home without having been summoned would vex her father greatly, and more importantly, lead him to believe that her return was a sign of her surrender to his plans for her.

Anne, of course, was totally absorbed with the varying scenarios she might encounter on first speaking with her mother. Imagining every possibility, she practiced, again and again, the responses she might give. The most important thing was to speak calmly and intelligently, and show no sign of emotion. How in the world would she manage that?

Leaving Aunt Helen was a painful prospect as well. Her generous heart and good humor had endeared her so to Anne. She promised to visit Helen often and to have a guest bedroom reserved for her wherever she and Simon settled. Good-byes are never easy, but at least she was able to express her appreciation and give Helen a parting embrace. She thought so often of how hurt and bewildered Winnifred and Eugenie must have been at her leaving so abruptly. She couldn't wait for the day she could return and tell them everything.

The coach arrived at about ten o'clock in the morning with Hugo at the helm and three more burly fellows to protect the precious cargo they were transporting. Juliana gave instructions to be delivered to her parents' home first, for she instinctively knew that Simon would be waiting there for Anne. The trip in daylight was naturally far more pleasant, especially with Juliana there for encouragement and support ... but to Anne, it seemed an eternity before they finally arrived.

Long before the coach came to a stop, Anne saw Simon pacing back and forth in front of his childhood home. He came forward to open her door, but leapt inside instead and shut the door behind him. For a long moment, he held her face in his hands, searching it to see if she was truly well, then pulled her towards him for a long and ardent embrace that left her breathless. “I have missed you so much, Anne.” he whispered. “I don't think I could have borne our separation much longer! How are you, my love, how are you really? Tell me.”

“I am well ... very well now that you are beside me. But I am desperately frightened of this confrontation with Mama. Sadly, I know what she is capable of and I dread facing her. Where is she? Is she at that small hotel just off the Square?”

“No, no, she is with the Matlocks. Do not fear my love, Richard knows you are coming and is there waiting for you. He will defend and support you no matter what happens. I know you are ready for this, Anne. You have planned it out for so long. Trust yourself. The worst part will soon be over and I shall be waiting right outside the door.”

“I hope you're right, Simon. I pray you are right.” She leaned forward to kiss him, then suddenly pulled away laughing. “Juliana, forgive us! We've ignored you and behaved so badly.”

“Not at all! It makes me so happy to see you together. You make such a lovely couple. I shall go inside to face my father and leave you to talk. Anne, rely on your strength. You are in the right, and all will be sorted out in your favor in the end. I just know it will.” she kissed Anne's cheek, collected her things and bravely stepped out of the carriage.

The happily reunited couple spent the next half hour riding about and gathering strength from the tender affection they had so long been denied. But when Anne's anxiety became too great, she let Hugo know that it was time for him to deliver her to her uncle's door. “Thank you, my love,” she whispered, before kissing Simon tenderly once more. She then took a deep breath and stepped onto the cobbles.


The Matlock's maid knocked softly, opened the door and announced their unexpected guest.

“Miss Anne deBourge”

A sudden hush came over the room and reality was suspended for several moments. Lady Catherine, who sat facing the door, was quick to recover and said most coldly, “So, you have finally come to your senses.” She remained fixed in her chair, her back straight and chin raised, waiting for Anne to approach.

Lady Matlock, who's back had been to the door, did not hesitate to whirl around and rush from her seat to embrace Anne. “Oh, my dear, how glad we all are to see you! We were so worried about you. You have given us all a terrible fright.” Despite the implied admonition, Lady Matlock hugged and kissed Anne, genuinely showing her relief at her safe return. The Earl was close behind, echoing the similar sentiments while stroking her hand.

Richard stood leaning against the wall, his arms folded across his chest, amused by the entire scene. Clearly, he had forgotten to act surprised, which did not go unnoticed by his aunt.
She glared at him, then turned her attention once more to her wayward daughter. “And I suppose you believe an apology and some ridiculous excuses will get you back to Rosings and our good graces?”

“No, Mama, you are mistaken. I have not come to apologize, nor do I want to return to Rosings. But you are correct in believing that I have come to my senses … though not as recently as you may think. It was more than a year ago that you prevented me from visiting my cousins and welcoming my new nephew into our family. You then hid and destroyed all my correspondence and left me with no one to write to or even talk to. That is when I realized I needed my independence from you! Believe me Mama,” she now said more softly, stepping a bit closer. “I do not wish to be estranged from you. I only wish to live my own life, in a home of my own. After all, I am of age and with the inheritance that Papa left me, I would be of sufficient means to manage it. Please Mama, I beg you, release your hold on my finances and allow me to choose where and how I wish to live. Then you and I can start again and enjoy each other's company as never before.”

“Are you mad?” said her ladyship. “a home of you own? Even with competent servants, how will you ever manage? You have always been sickly and frail. And despite your age, I am still your mother – and responsible for your well being. You may think you know what is best for you, Anne, but you do not! That is now perfectly clear! What nonsense, what sheer nonsense! With your history, no physician in the country will allow you to be on your own and away from my care. Tell me, Anne, have you continued to take the medication Dr. Cotswold prescribed for you?” she asked with an annoyingly smug expression.

“You know I have not – for I had no way of getting it from you, Mama,” replied Anne. There was a great deal more that she wished to say on the subject, but Simon had made her promise not to divulge anything concerning Dr. Cotswold or their findings concerning the medication.

“There, you see! You are all my witnesses. She is not even responsible enough to continue this vital medication that has kept her alive all these years. No, Anne, your place is at home with me, where I can keep a close watch on your health. “Now,” said Lady Catherine in a rather matter-of-fact tone, “Your aunt will have a room prepared for you and after breakfast tomorrow we shall leave for home.” She was making it clear to all present that the subject was now closed and she would not be gainsaid. Anne was speechless for a moment, then murmured, “I must get my things from the coach. Richard, will you help me fetch them?”

“There is no need for you to go yourself,” said Lady Catherine, impatiently. “The footman will collect your baggage.”

“I must pay the driver, Mama,” replied Anne, nodding to her cousin. He immediately came to her side and placing his hand firmly on her back, ushered her out the room and out the front door. Upon seeing them on the landing, Simon quickly opened the coach door and the three of them were off to Grosvenor Square.


Anne was expecting an enthusiastic welcome, of course – a celebration of sorts. But when Mrs. Reynolds ushered the three of them into the small parlor and asked them to wait, it was clear that something was wrong. Bewildered and anxious, they sat down and stared at one another. Not a moment had gone by, however, before a darling, dark haired child came bounding into the room – his nanny right behind him. “Edward, be polite. Introduce yourself first.”

“Are you my new Auntie Anne? “ he asked excitedly. “I'm Edward.” He gave Anne his hand and continued. “Papa says he will be down as soon as Mama has had the baby. It's going to be a big surprise, you know. We don't know if it is a boy or girl. Isn't it silly, Auntie Anne? Mummy has been making this baby in her tummy for such a long time and she doesn't even know what kind of baby she is making.”

Anne brought her fingers up to cover her lips. She didn't want Edward to think she was laughing at him, but he was so adorable and at only eighteen months, obviously very verbal and clever. She reached out and took him onto her lap, hugging him to her, kissing his curls. “Oh, Edward, Mummy is not at all at fault. She cannot see inside her tummy, and besides, this way, we all have the fun of wondering and then being surprised together!”

She caressed his sweet face and exclaimed, “How beautifully you are speaking Edward! You are such a clever boy, and I am so happy to finally meet you.”

Richard came to kneel beside Anne's chair to ask, “Is Mummy really having the baby right now, Edward?”

“Well, not right away. Papa told her to wait until Dr. Morrison gets here.” The three of them laughed. “Yes, that sounds very reasonable and just like your papa,” chuckled Richard.

“Do you think I should go up and see if they need any help?” asked Simon, directing his query at Anne.

She did not answer him, but quickly turned towards Nanny Henderson and said, “Nanny, perhaps it would be best if you go up and say that Dr. Fennimore is here if they are in need of him. I don't want to embarrass Elizabeth unnecessarily.”

Nanny Henderson had not yet reached the stairs before Dr. Morrison came rushing through the foyer and bounded up the stairs. No one needed to show him around the Darcy home.
Georgiana's voice could suddenly be heard on the landing, and after greeting Dr. Morrison she quickly descended the stairs and flew into Anne's arms. “Anne, my darling cousin! How wonderful it is that you are finally here … and looking so very well.” Neither of them was eager to release the other from the embrace until Georgiana noticed the handsome gentleman standing protectively beside Anne.

“And this must be the famous Dr. Fennimore! Anne, quickly, introduce us before I embrace a perfect stranger!” she laughed, and stepping forward, gave him a brief, but heartfelt hug. “How can we ever thank you enough for all you have done for our Anne? Why, look at her! She looks healthier and prettier than I have ever seen her.” Here she turned back to her cousin and added, “ But I suppose it has nothing at all to do with the fact that she is in love!”

“Georgie, I've never seen you behave this way before,” declared the Colonel, “Embracing a man you've just met – embarrassing Anne by speaking so casually of love. I don't recognize you!”

“Well, this is an exceptionally happy day! Anne is back with her family and I am going to be an auntie again. We both are,” she corrected, giving Anne's hand a squeeze.

“But not today,” called out Dr. Morrison as he made his way down the last few steps. “Mrs. Darcy is not yet in actual labor,” he said, popping his head into the parlor. “Her body is simply practicing for the big event. No need to worry though; it is very common, I assure you. I think she has another week or two to go. Take good care of her my friends, and good night.” He was out the door before anyone could even thank him.

Fitzwilliam Darcy now descended the stairs rather slowly, his face revealing the strain and anxiety that had dominated the entire day. He approached Anne without the exuberance the others had displayed and simply took her into his arms. Hugging her tightly, he whispered, “Thank G-d you are safe, Anne. Thank G-d.”

“I am so happy to finally be here with you, Fitzwilliam and I am so grateful to have your unconditional devotion. I know this is not the time to talk, but we will, at great length, I am sure. And I hope you'll forgive me in time.” She pulled back a bit to look at his face. “Now tell us how Elizabeth is feeling. When did this come on?”

“In the middle of the night, I'm afraid, and she has been having substantial pains since then. Though I believe that the time between them is lengthening rather than shortening. That is a good sign, is it not, Fennimore?”

“Indeed it is. She should be feeling much better very soon.”

“She wants to see you Anne, and you as well, Fennimore. Come upstairs; she is waiting for you.” He then turned to the Colonel and taking his hand, gave it a strong, enthusiastic shake. “Thank you, Richard. We wouldn't all be together now had it not been for your efforts,” he stepped forward and embraced him, slapping him on the back several times.

“Well, as payment, I reserve the right to see Elizabeth first – for just a moment – as I wish to make a visit to the Fennimore home. My instincts tell me Juliana may be in need of my support. So good night everyone. I don't know how late I will be, so please leave me a cold plate of supper. I'm starving already!” Everyone laughed as he bounded up the stairs.

“My instincts are in line with the Colonel's,” said Simon, “but my involvement may do more harm than good. I am glad he is going.” Anne squeezed his hand, knowing how helpless he felt in these situations and how painful they were for him.

Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 12

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