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Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

December 20, 2020 08:46PM
Chapter 16

“Juliana, my love, I will marry you right here, with all the family present tomorrow if you wish, but we shall not run off like desperate, rebellious children. There is no need for us to hide from anyone. You are old enough to be the mistress of your own mind. Your father may object, but he can do nothing to stop us.”

In the small parlor just off the foyer, Simon Fennimore sat beside his sister, his arm protectively around her shoulder. The Colonel had placed an ottoman directly in front of her, so close that their knees almost touched. He held both her hands in his. “Now, tell me how all this came about.”

“My parents did not approve of my coming to the hearing from the start. Father said I was unnecessarily connecting our family to scandal. I told him I was doing it to support Anne, and although he didn't like the idea, he did not forbid me to go.”

“When the Matlocks left me off last night, Papa was entertaining some gentlemen in his study and I didn't see him before I retired. Then this morning, I stopped by the breakfast room to say good-bye before coming here, but Papa ignored me, as if he did not hear. His head was still in the newspaper when he suddenly started raging about the shameless testimony of your Mama!”

“I will not have this family linked to someone who is willing to air her family's dirty laundry before the entire world,” she mimicked his gruff voice. “The woman does not know her duty to her husband and his sister! Such a woman will not be your mother-in-law, Juliana. What sort of up-bringing could your Colonel have received in such a house?” He went on and on and on! Finally, he looked up at me and made his proclamation, “I forbid you to marry him. Break it off immediately!”

“I ran upstairs, threw some belongings into this satchel and ran from the house. I am done with him, Richard, completely done!” Then turning to her brother she added, “And I am done with a mother who never stands up to defend me, who allows him to bully and abuse his children without so much as an objection. Richard, I came to let you know what has happened, but now must take my leave. Simon and I will share his flat until we wed. Please, let us not delay. I shall remain fearful until I am safely away from father's control.”

“But, you are not under his control, Juliana!” cried the Colonel.

“Indeed I am! I have no money of my own and depend on him for food, shelter and a bit of pocket money. Can't you see that, Richard? He has the power of the purse. When his sister, my sweet Aunt Helen, would not marry the old fool he had selected for her, he offered her only one alternative. He bought that small farmhouse for her and now sends her a few pounds a month ... only enough for the most basic necessities. He would not hesitate to do the same to me.”

“But you are my betrothed, and you will want for nothing, Juliana, before and after the wedding. Come here to me,” he said rising and opening his arms to her. She fell into his embrace, so eager for his affection.

It was at that moment that Anne and Darcy appeared at the open door. They had heard distressed voices coming from the parlor and were anxious to know what had happened.

“Richard, what is wrong?” Darcy hastily inquired, even before noticing Miss Fennimore in his cousin's arms. He bowed to her immediately, then added, “Forgive me for interrupting … but the door was open.”

“Darcy come in, come in. Juliana is upset, but it is not something that cannot be easily remedied. Ah, but wait, I don't believe the two of you have been formally introduced.”

“No, we have not, but I did see you seated beside the Colonel during the hearing. It was very good of you to come,” said Darcy.

“Well then, Miss Juliana Fennimore, I'd like you to meet my cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Mr. Darcy, my beautiful bride to be, Miss Fennimore.”

They bowed to one another and on lifting her head, Juliana immediately said, “Mr. Darcy, allow me to congratulate you and Mrs. Darcy on the birth of your daughter. This must be a very busy household just now and I do not wish to impose. I needed to speak to the Colonel for a moment but will now take my leave. My brother shall escort me …

“There is no need to rush off, Miss Fennimore,” said Darcy. “I have breakfasted with my wife and have come down for another cup of coffee. Georgiana is with her, so I know she is being well looked after. Won't you come and join us in the dining room. I know Richard would not want you to leave so quickly.”

“Nor would I,” said Fennimore with a playful grin, “I have not yet had my first cup of coffee, nor have I had a chance to speak to Anne. I won't let you whisk me away before I have done both. Now come, take Richard's arm and let us all go in.”

Once seated, Juliana did accept the coffee, but claimed to have no appetite. Nevertheless, the Colonel made up a plate for her and sat down beside her. He put his napkin on his lap before addressing his cousin.

“Darcy, I know you and Anne are curious as to what transpired before you entered the parlor. Well, it is no secret … it cannot be. Lord Fennimore has rescinded his blessing on our match because of the scandal created by the hearing. Juliana has left home and we would prefer to make our wedding plans as soon as possible. Could I impose on you to help us obtain a special license. The Darcy name expedites these sort of things more quickly.”

“Naturally, Richard. But is there really a need for such haste? There is nothing Lord Fennimore can do to separate you, and quite honestly, it will be a great disappointment to many in the family. Your parents are looking forward to a lavish affair, I am sure, and poor Elizabeth would be devastated to miss seeing you wed. She will not be fit to leave this house for a month or more.” Turning to Juliana, he added. “Besides, is it not the dream of every bride to carefully select her wedding clothes, to find the perfect frock, and to plan a beautiful wedding breakfast?”

The young couple looked at one another but said nothing.

“Give it some thought … a few days at least. You don't wish to make a decision you will later regret. Be assured, however, that I will help and support you in every way possible no matter what you decide.”

Juliana gave Darcy a sweet smile and a nod, then thanked him for his kindness.

“Everything looks and smells so delicious,” she said, blushing. “My appetite seems to have magically returned.”

*****

“How lovely! Richard did mention that he had invited you to breakfast, Juliana.” exclaimed Georgiana, on entering the breakfast room. “I'm so glad you've come, and I hope you'll allow me to show off my beautiful new niece. She is presently with her mama having her breakfast. You will surely enjoy meeting her as she has the sweetest temper and allows everyone to hold her.”

“I do hope she'll outgrow that,” said Darcy, chuckling.

Richard now rose to offer his cousin his seat. “Your timing is perfect, Georgie. I must get to work but it has been hard to tear myself away from this table. Come take my chair and chat with Juliana. I shall see you all at dinner tonight.” He bent to kiss his bride and whispered, “Come to my office for lunch so we can talk. And check your reticule before you leave.”

“Wait, Richard, I'll come with you. Morrison is waiting for me as well.” Fennimore then turned to his sister. “Julie, if you wish to be escorted to my flat, I'm afraid this would be the best time to do it.”

“Oh no! Don't take her away now. We've only had a few minutes together,” said Georgiana.

Anne agreed wholeheartedly and suggested, “Juliana, spend the day with us and return to the flat with Simon tonight. He has been spending his evenings with us since my return. If you are waiting for him at home, he shall be torn between us. That would not be fair to him.”

“Well, if you put it like that, I would love to spend the day with all of you. But I do not wish to be a burden or get in the way of your caring for Elizabeth. Promise me you'll allow me to be of use when I can.”

“Good! It is decided,” said Fennimore, and hurried to catch up with the Colonel.

The master of the house now stood as well. “And I shall return to my wife and bring Edward in to spend some time with her. I leave you ladies to enjoy each other's company.”

Once Darcy had left the room, Georgiana was quickly made aware of the morning's sad events. “I am so sorry that your father holds society's opinion above your happiness, my dear friend. But you must know that you are joining a family that holds you in high regard and will care about your and Richard's feelings above all else. Now that I understand the situation, I do not see why you should move into Simon's small flat at all,” declared Georgiana. “It makes more sense for you to live here with us until the wedding. Anne, do you not agree?”

“I was thinking that myself, but did not want to suggest it before I had spoken to both Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth. It is not for us to say who takes up residence in their home. But Richard will have to give up his room for you, Juliana. I believe all our rooms are now occupied. He will not mind sleeping at the barracks, knowing that you are safe and with friends.”

“I could not impose myself in such a way on the whole household,” said Juliana, although she secretly wished it were possible. How wonderful it would be to be here, in this lively and supportive home rather than on her own all day in Simon's small flat.

“I have an even better idea!”said Georgiana. “Julie, what would you say to moving in with me. My bed is enormous and I have always dreamt of having a sister with whom I could share it. When I hear Elizabeth's stories of all the fun she had with Jane … whispering, laughing, sharing confidences in the dark, I am sorely jealous. Truly I am. Please say yes, please! You would be giving me a much longed for gift!”

Anne laughed. “Now, I am envious! You never asked me to share your bedchamber!” It was clear from the broad smile on Anne's face that she enjoyed teasing Georgiana. But she soon became serious again. “I believe we are getting ahead of ourselves. Georgie, you and I will speak to Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth this morning and see how they feel about the matter.”

*****

The Colonel had chosen a quiet eatery not far from his office. Several of his colleagues stopped by the table when they saw the lovely lady sitting with him, and he was extremely proud to introduce her as his betrothed.

“I have some wonderful news I hope you will approve of,” said Juliana. “Your cousins have invited me to stay with the family at Grosvenor Square. What do you think, Richard?”

“It is absolutely brilliant! How wonderful to know that we can be together a good part of every day. And … be spared the worry of your being alone all day in Simon's flat. So you see, my love, fate is on our side. Our union is blessed.”

“So what you are, not so subtly implying, is that there is no need to rush our wedding plans. Richard, I do understand that you wish to give your parents the gift of a grand celebration. They have been looking forward to it for so long. And Elizabeth's presence is of the utmost importance to you, as well. Your family is so loving and kind, I won't stand in the way of making everyone happy. We can hold off until Elizabeth is ready.”

Although they were in public, the Colonel could not help but lean across the table and kiss Juliana on the cheek. It was done so quickly that hardly anyone noticed.

*****

Catherine de Bourge fumed all the way back to Rosings. But her anger was nothing compared to her great humiliation. What would she say to her neighbors, her servants, her, so called friends? She had finally found her daughter but could not entice her to come home. Surely, the papers in Huntsford had printed all the mortifying testimony and all the village must have gossiped about it … probably with great pleasure. How was she to continue her reign without the respect of those beneath her?

Her servants knew their place and behaved normally. They were accustomed to Lady Catherine's odd ways. But behind closed doors, they marveled at the fact that their mistress could return home and expect life to go on as usual. Indeed, it did not. Nothing was the same. Lady Catherine now slept until eleven in the morning, barely touched her favorite dishes and no longer attended church. She secluded herself from neighbors and acquaintances, issuing no invitations, and refusing to see the one person who came to console her, Mr. Collins. What a fool that man was! She had tolerated him because he eagerly did her bidding, but now she had no patience for him. Mrs. Collins, on the other hand, was someone who might be of use to her. She regularly corresponded with that wretched hussy and might be willing to share some family news. However, Lady Catherine de Bourge was not yet ready to stoop so low as to ask anyone for news of her relations.

It had been about a month since she had returned to Rosings and she was beginning to think that her brother had also abandoned her. She would never forgive her sister-in-law for her damaging testimony, but was hoping to hold onto her relationship with her brother. She decided to extend an invitation and see what would come of it. To her surprise, the Earl's response was most encouraging. He and lady Matlock would be coming to Rosings the following week.

Although Lady Catherine treated her long awaited quests with civility, it was clear that the experiences of the past year had done nothing to alter her opinions or soften her heart. She continued to hold court, expecting even her brother, to sit and listen to her never ending complaints and outrageous ideas. Her tirades against her nephew and his undeserving wife was where the Earl drew the line.

“Catherine, I find your jealousy and hatred of Elizabeth unjustified, abominable and totally beneath you! If you insist on continuing to berate and malign her character, we shall have to leave. I will not sit here and listen to you spew your venom!”

“She seduced Darcy simply to improve her position in society and stole him away from Anne with her whorish ways. Have you no sense of family honor?”

“Have you?” retorted the Earl angrily. It was you who opted for a public hearing, condemning the entire family to horrific scandal and humiliation. Despite all you have done, your family has attempted to offer an olive branch, which you continue to reject. There is nothing more to say, except that I pity you, Catherine. Our dear sister Anne must be in torment watching your treatment of her beloved son.”

Offering his arm to his wife, he said, “Come my dear, let us pack our things and be gone.”

“Wait, dearest. We cannot leave without delivering the invitation.”

Lady Matlock rose, opened her reticule, and handed a thick stack of papers to her Ladyship. The top sheet was a letter from her daughter, the second was one from Darcy and the third was a richly embossed, formal invitation. It read:

Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy cordially invite you to a very special family celebration on June 25 at Pemberley.

Earl and Lady Matlock request the honor of your presence
at the wedding of their son,
Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam
to
Miss Juliana Fennimore
Daughter of Lord and Lady Fennimore

***

Mr. and Mrs. Darcy request the honor of your presence
at the wedding of their cousin
Miss Anne de Bourge
to
Dr. Simon Fennimore

A wedding breakfast and celebratory ball will be held in their honor.


Lady Catherine stared at the invitation for the longest time. “Well, I do congratulate both of you on Richard's finally finding a woman who will have him,” she said coldly. “But I shall not be attending. I shall not step foot on Pemberley soil as long as that harlot is residing there. You can tell Anne that she may visit me after the nuptials.”

The Matlocks shook their heads in disbelief and left the drawing room without another word.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

Gaby A.December 20, 2020 08:46PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

AntonellaMTCDecember 25, 2020 11:59PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

EvelynJeanDecember 27, 2020 03:56AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

AntonellaMTCDecember 27, 2020 03:40PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

LisaYDecember 24, 2020 04:52PM

too bad there is no jeopardy category on the 1753 Marriage Act

LisaYDecember 24, 2020 07:37PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

Gaby A.December 24, 2020 05:30PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

HarveyDecember 25, 2020 03:49PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

SaraleeDecember 22, 2020 02:37AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

AlidaDecember 21, 2020 09:25PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 16

EvelynJeanDecember 21, 2020 03:44AM



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