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Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

December 07, 2020 05:16PM
Chapter 14


Early on, the hearing was going quite well – very much as Mr. Sutherton had predicted. When questioned by her solicitors, and at times, the magistrates themselves, Anne came across as a strong and sensible young woman. There was no question of her mental stability. The London papers exploited the theme of “poor little rich girl” and she quickly gained the sympathy and admiration of the public. However, the real issue of this hearing was, of course, Anne's inheritance.

Lady Catherine's attorneys naturally twisted everything that was said to suit their case. Their aim was to show that, although Anne was mentally stable, her immaturity and lack of worldly experiences made it impossible for her to function normally and safely on her own. She was, after all, terribly naive. The solicitors painted a picture of a childlike and sickly young woman who was rather gullible, and therefore vulnerable. This was not her fault, they admitted. A lifetime of being pampered and protected had prevented her from learning basic life skills and had left her unusually shy and introverted. Countless witnesses were called to testify that Anne hardly ever spoke when in company. She never shared an opinion or showed, what might be called, normal reactions to things that were said in conversation. Some questioned whether she actually understood what was being said. Others wondered if she was even capable of following a conversation.

“Indeed,” asked Mr. Preston, her Ladyships lead solicitor, “had it shown wisdom and maturity for a sheltered young woman to leave her comfortable home and venture out into the world on her own? Surely a clear thinking person would have sought the help and support of family and friends. Besides, Anne could easily have had a medical episode of one sort or another at any time. Her entire life had been a series of unpredictable medical episodes. It was to Lady Catherine's great credit that Anne had been able to remain at home, rather than be institutionalized, Mr. Preston suggested. Such a helpless person needed constant attention and care from those who loved her. In short, Anne did not have the capacity to understand what was best for her and needed her mother's watchful eye.

He went on to describe Anne as an immature adolescent striving for independence. Anne was only beginning to bloom at this very late stage in her life, he claimed, and could not be cognizant of the consequences of independence. Could such a woman be trusted with a large sum of money? Would she not mismanage the funds, fall prey to those who would take advantage of her or perhaps, simply squander her inheritance with some foolishness? Where would she be then, he asked. Between the excessive number of witnesses and the de Bourgh solicitors droning on and on about the history of Anne's health and vulnerability, the day wore to a close.

*****

The next morning, the hearing resumed with her Ladyships solicitors displaying an attitude of arrogant confidence. They routinely glared at Anne with a smug grin to unnerve her. Mr. Sutherton told Anne to igmore them, but it was not easy. He was seated to Anne's right and Darcy was seated to her left, as they had the day before. Darcy held Anne's hand under the table for reassurance. This would, no doubt, prove to be a difficult morning.

“Your Ladyship,” began Mr. Preston, when he called her to the stand once again. “have you ever used your daughter's inheritance from her late father for your own purposes? Indeed, have you ever withdrawn even a single shilling from the account you oversee for Miss de Bourgh?”

“Certainly not, and I shall never do so! My purpose in keeping control over the funds is to keep the money safe for my daughter's use when I am no longer here to protect her. She has no idea of the expenses she'll incur when her normal living expenses are not being taken care of.”

“So the only motivation you have for keeping control over the inheritance is her well being. Is that correct?” he repeated to emphasize his point.

“Certainly, it is. If Anne has access to those funds she might, on a whim, do something irrevocably harmful to her future,” said Lady Catherine with great conviction.

Mr. Sutherton now rose and asked to question Lady Catherine on this point, as well.

“Lady Catherine, I hope Mr. Preston is not implying that any of us believe you capable of using your daughter's funds for your own purposes. Miss de Bourgh's inheritance is but a pittance compared to the worth of Rosings. It would be ludicrous to think you care about the money involved.” Mr. Sutherton then slowly approached the witness box and gazed steadfastly into Lady Catherine's eyes.

“You have described to us, at length, the difficulties your daughter might face were she to have the use of her funds. Now I'd like you to tell the court how you believe her independence would affect you?” Lady Catherine made a show of appearing confused and did not reply.

“I would like to suggest that there may be yet another reason for you to withhold these funds.”

“Really, and what could that possibly be?” responded Lady Catherine with obvious annoyance.

“Without her inheritance, Miss de Bourgh would not have the means to leave Rosings and therefore, would be unable to leave you, madam. Is that not the case?” Again, Lady Catherine did not reply. “If she were to leave, you would be left all alone. I believe you keep your daughter tied to you for your own selfish reasons, madam. You have already cut yourself off from most of your family. Losing your daughter's company would prove devastating!”

It took Lady Catherine a moment to compose herself before answering. Her bottom lip trembled, but she soon found her voice.

“I would certainly miss my daughter's companionship, but I assure you that I can, and do, dine with any number of people any evening I choose. I am not in want of company.”

“Precisely, … any evening you choose. To be sure, your Ladyship, who could refuse you when thus summoned.” Mr. Sutherton slowly returned to his seat. There was audible murmuring in the gallery. The point had been made, not with evidence, but with the expression on Lady Catherine's face.

To turn this possibly damaging moment around, her Ladyship's solicitors decided to provided their client the opportunity to show what a sensitive, meticulous and caring her mother she had always been.

“Lady Catherine,” began Mr. Preston, “I am certain that looking after your daughter for all these years has not been without sacrifice. Would you describe for us how it has affected your life.

“Indeed, I have had to make considerable sacrifices to ensure Anne's welfare – not that I would ever complain. But my life has had to revolve around her everyday needs and I have had to be ever vigilant for changes in her health, her psychological well being and happiness. I have had to monitor her nutrition, her exercise, her medications and doctor visits. Since Anne is too weak to travel, it has prevented me from taking any sort of holiday. I would not think of leaving her on her own. And as Anne does not have the stamina for the activities enjoyed at house parties, I decline such invitations for myself, as well. London's various diversions are out of the question for us. Being among so many people in tight quarters is far too grave a risk. It can be a lonely life at times, but we get on so well together that it is of little consequence.”

This preposterous little speech provided numerous areas for Mr. Sutherton to challenge. He looked to Darcy with raised brows, and waited for his almost imperceptible nod. “I'd like to call Lady Matlock to the witness box,” he said calmly. He turned and nodded to the Colonel, who was seated beside his mother, knowing it would not be easy to get Lady Matlock to testify.

“Goodness me! No! It is not my place. I have not agreed to do this! Darcy please! Don't ask this of me. Besides, isn't a witness supposed to be prepared before giving testimony? I have not! This is altogether too sudden and surprising.” This heartfelt little display was a bonus Mr. Sutherton had not planned on. The convincing family struggle would make Lady Matlock's testimony all the more believable.

Darcy left his seat beside Anne and hurriedly came to offer his hand to his aunt while Richard supported her from the other side.

All the while, Mr. Sutherton continued to encourage her. “Lady Matlock, you do not need to be prepared. All that is required of you is to tell the truth. Being under oath leaves you no choice but to to do so. We understand that you don't wish to take sides. If your answer favors your sister-in-law you will hurt your niece and if you defend your niece, Lady Catherine will be upset. But we are, after all, here to learn the truth, and you are one of the few people close enough to both Lady Catherine and Miss Anne to provide us with much needed information. The truth should free you from any regret.”

How could she now refuse? Reluctantly, she allowed Darcy to lead her to the witness box. As she seated herself, she glanced at Anne and saw the glistening pools in her eyes. This new perspective gave Lady Matlock courage.. From her seat in the gallery she had only seen the back of Anne's head. Now she had to face her niece and prove her love for her.

“Now, Miss de Bourgh has provided us with information that we wish you to verify when you can. If you disagree with your niece's point of view or do not know enough to give a truthful response, do not hesitate to say so. Shall we begin?”

Lady Matlock straightened her back and nodded. She quickly looked to her husband expecting to see his disapproval, but instead saw a surprisingly calm and encouraging expression.

“Lady Matlock, please describe for us your relationship with your niece.”

“Well, I love her dearly. We get on extremely well. We do not see each other often enough, but when we do, we catch up quite quickly. Anne is the sweetest girl with the most caring heart.”

“So you find her easy to talk to?” asked Sutherton.

“Yes, I do. Most definitely. Anne is known for her quiet demeanor, but I believe she withdraws only when she does not wish to offend the person with whom she disagrees. She is a very sensitive young woman who tries to maintain family harmony.” Lady Matlock kept her gaze on Mr. Sutherton to avoid glancing up at her sister-in-law, though she ached to see her reaction to her words.

“Do Miss de Bourgh and Lady Catherine visit you often?

“Oh no. They never do. Anne does not travel well,” replied Lady Matlock.

“But they did join the family in Scotland for the Earl's seventy fifth birthday celebration. Did they not?”

“Yes, we were most pleased that they did. It was a rare treat for a very special occasion, I suppose.”

“I understand that not long after, there was another rather special occasion in your family … the marriage of your nephew Fitzwilliam Darcy. Did the de Bourghs attend that celebration as well?”

“No, they were not able to come.”

“Miss de Bough told us that you personally conveyed an invitation for her to be in the bridal party. Do you believe she wished to take part?”

Here, Lady Matlock could not help but cast a quick glance at her Ladyship. “Anne was most anxious to go and the Earl and I were ready to take her. It would have meant the world to her but she was forbidden to attend. Lady Catherine did not approve of the match.”

“I see. Miss de Bourgh must have been very unhappy about that.” Mr. Sutherton paused for a few seconds to allow the expression on Lady Matlock's face to be noted by everyone in court.

“Lady Matlock, your niece has given us this small box of letters written by various members of the family. Do you recognize them?” He handed her the open box and allowed her a few moments to look through them.

“Yes, I do. I brought these letters to Anne – one or two at a time – whenever we came to Rosings.”

“Why was it necessary for you to hand deliver them? Why were they not posted?”

“All the members of the family wrote to Anne very regularly after our return from Scotland, but she received none of them. When Anne did not respond to … then, Miss Bennet's, request for her to be in the wedding party, my nephew asked me to look into the matter. It was clear that Lady Catherine was confiscating Anne's post. She wanted Anne to have nothing more to do with the Darcys.”

“Your son, Colonel Fitzwilliam, told us that he and Mr. Darcy made a prolonged, yearly visit to Rosings each year. Mr. Darcy inspected and helped to organized the estate books, he worked with her Ladyships's land agent to solve all sorts of problems and advised Lady Catherine on a variety of issues concerning the estate. Is that not so?”

“Indeed it is. He is an exceptionally devoted nephew and often had to postpone his own business interests in order to support his aunt.”

“Yet, Lady Catherine would not attend his wedding or allow her daughter to go. I assume you visited Rosings some time after and told them all about it.”

“Oh no! We were not permitted to speak of it in her Ladyship's company. But Anne and I took many leisure walks in the garden, and I was able to describe everything to her in great detail. I delivered some letters, as well as a beautifully painted miniature of the bride and groom in their finery – a gift from the Darcys. Anne would not accept it, however. She asked me to keep it safe for her as she feared her mother might find it and throw it into the fire.”

“Lady Matlock, your testimony has painted a very sad picture of Miss de Bourgh's life at Rosings. Do you believe that she was very unhappy there?”

“Yes, I do. And I understand completely why she felt she had to leave. I think she was very brave to do so.”

“Thank you, Lady Matlock.

Given Lady Matlock's last remarks, Mr. Preston considered it best to refrain from questioning her any further. Her testimony had done enough damage already. Instead, he called on the man he was certain would secure Lady Catherine's success in this case. “I now call on Miss de Bourgh's personal physician, Dr. Cotswold. There was a murmur of recognition and admiration.

Mr. Preston took full advantage of his witness's celebrity and took the time to properly introduce him. “As many of you already know, Dr. Cotswold has the enviable reputation of being one the finest physicians in all of England. And that is precisely why we have summoned him here today to give his invaluable opinion on the matter of Miss de Bourgh's ability to manage without the care of her mother. “Dr. Cotswold, would you please tell the court how long you have been Miss de Bourgh's primary physician.”

Dr. Cotswold cleared his throat. “She has been in my care since she was a small child … five or six years old, I believe.”

“So then it is largely to your credit that Miss de Bourgh is sitting here with us today, is it not?”

“I would like to think so, but there are many others who deserve equal credit – none more than Lady Catherine.”

“And why did Lady Catherine consult with you in the first place. What concerned her about her daughter's development?”

“Miss Anne lacked the stamina normally associated with a five year old. She tired easily, became ill far more often than most children and had a very sensitive digestive system. On examination, it was clear that she suffered from a heart condition that would not allow her to lead a normal, active life. I therefore put routines and restrictions in place that would help to control ...to some degree... these symptoms, and prescribed a medication to strengthen her heart.”

“I see,” responded Mr. Preston. “Would you say that this medication was an essential part of her treatment?”

“Yes, indeed. I regularly send off a few months' supply so that she would never run out. If she were to discontinue its use – even for a short time – it would have devastating consequences for her health.”

This small bit of voluntary testimony was certainly unexpected! Preston chided himself for not managing his witness carefully. Dr. Cotswold had presented information that could prove harmful to the case at some point. He therefore determined it best to move on quickly. But before he could ask his next question, a small disturbance at the back of the courtroom distracted him, as well as everyone else. Darcy turned to see what was happening and immediately recognized James, his coachman, arguing with a court constable. He dashed towards the confrontation and soon returned to his seat to gather up a few of his papers. He handed Sutherton the note James had delivered and begging the pardon of the magistrates, raced out the door.

Mr. Sutherton asked to be allowed to approach and handed one of the magistrates the note. “Mrs. Darcy has gone into labor and requires her husband at home. Please excuse the disruption,” whispered Mr. Sutherton. Receiving an understanding nod, he returned to his seat and motioned for Dr. Fennimore to take Darcy's place. Anne was understandably troubled by the surprising incident until Sutherton lay the note in front of her to read. “Oh, poor Elizabeth! Alone with only the servants to comfort and help her.”

“May I proceed?” asked Mr. Preston rather sarcastically of Mr. Sutherton. “I assume your little drama is now over.”

“Indeed it is, and thank you for your forbearance, sir.” Mr. Sutherton smiled cooly.

“Well then, Dr. Cotswold, let us get to the heart of the matter. What is your professional opinion and recommendation concerning Miss de Bourgh's desire to live on her own, away from Rosings and all the support she has enjoyed until now?”

“Sadly, Miss de Bourgh's heart condition is chronic and will require constant monitoring throughout her life. No one can predict the future, of course, but certain health problems are more likely to arise in a person of her delicate condition. Small medical issues that are part of everyday life for healthy adults can become far more severe, even dangerous when combined with a weakened heart. It would be most unwise to risk the complications that could follow normal illnesses, for example. It is my strong recommendation that Miss de Bourgh remain at Rosings where she can be well looked after.”

Dr. Cotswold seemed very pleased with his testimony and believed himself excused. He rose to leave the witness box when Mr. Sutherton stopped him and bade him take his seat once more.

“Dr. Cotswold, it is of great interest to me how you managed this constant monitoring of Miss de Bourgh's heart condition for all these years. We were led to believe that Miss de Bourgh does not travel well, so I assume that you made regular trips to Rosings to examine her. Is that not so?”

“Well, no, not exactly. I worked in partnership with her local physician who kept me well informed of her progress.”

“Ah, so he reported the results of his regular examinations to you by post and you, I assume, kept these notes in Miss de Bourgh's file.”

“Yes, precisely,” said Cotswold confidently, though his countenance showed signs of the strain he was feeling.

“Well, we have asked Dr. Murray to come up from Huntsford to give evidence as well, so I would like to call him up at this time. But please do not leave the courtroom, Dr. Cotswold. I have a number of other questions to place before you.”

Dr. Cotswold left the box and reclaimed his seat. He had entered the box with an air of confidence and pride but left it now with stooped shoulders and his eyes fixed on his shoes.

“Dr. Murray, first let me thank you for making the journey here from Huntsford. We appreciate your time and effort. Now, would you kindly tell the court how long you have been involved in Miss de Bourgh's care.”

“Yes, well I have been the de Bourgh's family physician long before Miss Anne was born. I have tended to all the family since I came to Huntsford thirty two years ago.”

“So you have been in partnership with Dr. Cotswold in the care of Miss de Bourgh since she was a small child.”

“Yes, well...you could say that. I send him my reports of her symptoms and treatments whenever she is ill. That occurred rather frequently when she was a child, but happily, now it does not happen often.”

“I see that you have brought along Miss de Bourgh's medical file, as we requested. Thank you. Can you look back and tell us how often you saw her in the year previous to the one just past?”

“Yes, of course. Miss Anne suffered from a bout of bronchitis about twenty months ago. It cleared up within ten days. I have no other illness to report for the rest of that year.”

“So you only saw her once that year? Do you not examine her regularly to keep abreast of her heart condition? How is Dr. Cotswold to know how his patient is faring without more frequent examinations?”

“Mr. Sutherton, I am only doing what I have been told to do. Lady Catherine has made it clear that Dr. Cotswold is Miss Anne's heart specialist and that I should only concern myself with the occasional illnesses that befall her. She instructed me to send my reports to Dr. Cotswold, which, of course, I do, but I have not once spoken to the man or had any communication from him.”

“I see. Thank you Dr. Murray. Please remain until I have finished questioning Dr. Cotswold as there may be a need for your further testimony. Oh, and before you go. Do you believe that Miss de Bourgh could successfully live on her own, given her chronic condition?”

Dr. Murray glanced up at her Ladyship and sighed. He knew his tenure in Huntsford would now come to an end, but he had sworn to tell the truth and considered himself a man of honor. Thank goodness he had decided to retire by year's end. “As long as she is living with a companion who is well aware of her condition and knows what must be done in case of an emergency, I do not think it would make any difference. Although I would discourage her from living directly in London. The air quality makes it more difficult to breath and would put an extra strain on her heart.”

“Thank you, Dr. Murray. You may take your seat. I now call Dr. Cotswold back to the stand.”

“Dr. Cotswold, earlier, you stated emphatically that Miss de Bourgh should remain at Rosings for the sake of her health. Professionally, on what do you base your opinion? More specifically, when was the last time you examined her to determine the state of her health?”

“I have far too many patients to submit such information to memory, Mr. Sutherton. I will have to consult Miss de Bourgh's file. Mr. Preston did not request that I bring it along so I shall have to fetch it from my surgery. I can return within the hour.”

“There is no need for you to go, sir. We shall send a court appointed constable … that is, if the magistrates agree.”

Magistrate Hutchins nodded and then ordered a much needed recess. Dr. Cotswold went white.

Mr. Sutherton hastened to speak to the constable assigned before he left for Dr. Cotswold's surgery. “Please make sure that the file is not tampered with in any way. Insist on being a witness to the removal of the file from the drawer and have it handed to you directly.”

He then returned to the table and addressed Anne in a whisper. “Come Miss de Bourgh, let us have a hot cup of tea and get some color back into those cheeks. I know these proceedings are terribly stressful.”

“Indeed they are, but at the moment I am thinking of Elizabeth. Simon, perhaps we should send Georgina home as well.”

“I'm sure that Dr. Morrison has everything well in hand. He won't allow her in the room in any case. And Nanny Henderson will have taken Edward out of the house as soon as the labor started. Do not fret, my love.”

*****

On his return to the witness box, Dr. Cotswold appeared to have regained his confidence. When the court clerk handed him Miss de Bourgh's file, he took it without any show of trepidation. He smiled, thanked the clerk and began to peruse its contents.

“So now that you have the file we may continue, Dr. Cotswold,” said Mr. Sutherton, coming to stand before him. “We were asking for the date of your last examination of Miss de Bourgh and the findings that formed your opinion on her state of health.”

“I'm afraid that legally, I cannot comply with your request. There is the simple matter of patient and doctor confidentiality. Lady Catherine does not permit me to share its contents with the court.” He smiled smugly but was surprised to see an equally self assured smile on Mr. Sutherton's face.

“You seem to be confused, sir. It is not Lady Catherine's permission that is required to open this file, but the patient herself, Miss de Bourgh. Now that she is of age that privilege is hers alone. Shall we ask if she consents?”

Dr. Cotswold said not a word while a court clerk took the file from his hands and placed it before magistrate Hutchins, who opened it and began to leaf through its contents. “Well, I can already see that there are very few medical notes or reports in this file. Most of these papers are receipts, marked paid, for the medication sent to Lady Catherine. I do see Dr. Murray's report in the bronchitis Miss de Bourgh had a while back, but nothing more recent. I am surprised! When was the last time you examined Miss de Bourgh, Doctor?” asked magistrate Hutchins.

“I am sure that my secretary must have been lax in her duties. I assure you that ….”

Mr. Sutherton would not allow these lies to continue, but decided to make one more … very important point before ruining Dr. Cotswolds reputation altogehter. “Yes, well as we have so many receipts for the medication you prescribe, let us turn our attention to that wondrous tonic. What is in thus drug that you are so proud of? We require a list of its ingredients ... its chemical composition, its herbs, etc.”

Dr. Cotswold began to laugh. “You can't be serious! It is my own special concoction, and if I reveal its contents it will be copied by every physician in England. I cannot be obliged to give you this information. It's ludicrous! Besides, the list of ingredients will mean nothing to any of you. Even most physicians would not understand the chemical reactions involved.”

“Well, then it is lucky that we have with us a man with just such credentials and the expertise to discuss it intelligently with you. May I introduce Dr. Simon Fennimore. I will let him continue in my place.”

Fennimore, Fennimore …where had he seen that name before? Cotswold just couldn't remember.

“Dr. Cotswold, may I ask you for the name of the laboratory you use most often when you need something analyzed,” began Dr. Fennimore. “...the one you believe has the highest standards and professional ethics?”

“Why, that would be Everett – Brown, just outside of London.”

“Excellent! I am so glad that you recognize its outstanding reputation, sir. Some months ago I sent them a sample of your so-called medication to be analyzed. Miss de Bourgh came to me to have it duplicated so that she could continue to take it as prescribed. You see,” said Fennimore, turning round to face Mr. Preston, “she was not as irresponsible or naive as you would have us believe. The report Everett – Brown sent back was most surprising … no, let me say alarming. For it contained a substance that had been banned from further use on human beings many years ago. It was proven to do more harm than good on the heart, as well as the liver. It is, however, still on the market today. A very small quantity is used in a tonic for hoof and mouth disease in cattle.” Dr. Fennimore paused a moment to give Cotswold time to respond, but he did not.

“I made note of the date on the bottle that Miss de Bourgh gave me in the hope that it was quite old, but it was not. It was sent only six months earlier from your surgery. I found this very surprising because every medical journal in the nation, as well as the larger newspapers in London, continue to print articles and advertisements stressing its discontinuation. At first, these warnings were published and printed on a very regular basis. Now, I see them once a month at least. I cannot imagine that you failed to notice them. So it was I, Dr. Cotswold, who sent you 20 clippings from various journals and papers to make sure you were aware of its harmful effects. I believe that as physicians, we all pledge to “do no harm!”

“This is utter nonsense!” cried Dr. Cotswold. “How could Miss de Bourgh be sitting there today with such a healthy glow if my medication had done her any harm? Answer me that!”

“Gladly, sir. You prescribed one teaspoon, twice a day when Anne was just six years old. The dosage was just right, you believed, for a girl of her size. As she grew, and you did not bother to examine her, the dosage stayed the same. It was therefore diluted in her system, and as she got bigger it had less and less of a harmful effect. As soon as I saw this banned substance listed on Everett – Brown's list if ingredients, I forbade Miss de Bourgh to take it. Even thus dilated it may have a cumulative effect and could produce all sorts of unknown side effects. She has been free of your wretched concoction for many months now. I naturally substituted a regimen of my own.”

“Ah, you see, he simply wants the revenue for his own concoction. None of what he has said is believable, “ said Cotswold angrily.

“I prescribed fresh fruits and vegetables, wholesome foods of all kinds, fresh air, moderate exercise and plenty of rest. This allowed Miss de Bourgh's body to heal itself and is precisely why she looks so well today. Her heart condition is naturally still an issue, but it is being managed by Miss de Bourgh's caution and common sense.” Here he turned to smile at Anne, who was overwhelmed by his extraordinary handling of Dr. Cotswold's testimony. The feelings her look conveyed could not be denied.

Dr. fennimore then turned to face Lady Catherine. “Your Ladyship, we are all well aware that you have been taken in by this selfish and immoral man and had no knowledge of the harmful ingredient in your daughter's medication.” Lady Catherine smiled and nodded, glad to have been vindicated of that at least!

“However,” continued Fennimore, “had you not been so complacent and asked more questions concerning your daughter's extremely infrequent examinations, Anne would have gotten healthier and stronger years ago. Forgive me, Madam, but you cannot claim credit for your daughter's well being.” There was a collective gasp from everyone in the room. Even Anne brought her hand to her mouth in surprise. Her future husband was letting her mother know that he was, in no way, intimidated by her.

Simon Fennimore returned to the table to stand beside Anne and addressed the Magistrates.

“Gentlemen, Miss de Bourgh snuck away from home a full year ago with the conviction that she could fare far better on her own then under her mother's repressive controls. She believed that she could prove herself capable of managing her own life and keeping herself well. This she has done beautifully. Being of age, sound mind and manageable health, she requests that you grant her full and sole power in the management of her inheritance. We thank you for your patience during this lengthy hearing.” He sat down beside Anne and waited.

It took the three magistrates only minutes to deliberate. Magistrate Hutchins stood to announce their decision. “It is the opinion of this court that Miss Anne de Bourgh is capable of living safely on her own and is entitled to have sole control of her inheritance. We will therefore assign two court constables to accompany Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Miss Anne de Bourgh to the bank in question and see to the legal transfer of the funds into a separate account in Miss de Bourgh name. Their solicitors will sign as witness and then return copies of these documents to this court. This case is now dismissed.”

The people in the gallery cheered and shouted their approval, while those directly involved sat quietly, unable to believe the ordeal was over. It was Mr. Sutherton who finally broke the spell saying. “Miss Anne, the constables are waiting to accompany us to the bank. Let us not keep them waiting.”

Simon put her cape about her shoulders and gave Anne his arm. They were now able to walk out as a couple for the first time. There was no longer any need to hide.

With the transfer complete and the papers signed, Anne made an attempt to approach her mother, but Lady Catherine would not acknowledge her. With her head head high she walked towards her carriage and was helped inside. To her utter surprise, it was Simon Fennimore who continued to hold the carriage door open, thus preventing her departure.

“Lady Catherine, you would not give your daughter your attention, but you will have to give it to me. Despite all that has happened between you, Anne would like to have you in her life. It is completely up to you. Know that we are ready to develop a new relationship with you if you so wish.” He closed the door and watched as Lady Catherine haughtily tapped the roof of the coach and shouted, “Drive on.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

Gaby A.December 07, 2020 05:16PM

Impatient for 15! Hope You post today. (nfm)

LisaYDecember 14, 2020 02:52PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

kath-jDecember 14, 2020 01:36AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

SaraleeDecember 10, 2020 04:38AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

EvelynJeanDecember 08, 2020 09:09PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

AlidaDecember 08, 2020 06:17AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

AntonellaMTCDecember 07, 2020 11:15PM

Was waiting for an update.....

TashaDecember 07, 2020 11:13PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

Gaby A.December 07, 2020 08:46PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

EvelynJeanDecember 08, 2020 06:08AM

What errors?

LisaYDecember 07, 2020 11:08PM

PS

LisaYDecember 08, 2020 12:03AM

Re: PS

Gaby A.December 08, 2020 05:11PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 14

Terri ElizabethDecember 07, 2020 07:25PM



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