Wholly Unconnected to Me, Ch 8 by Maria Grace

Wholly-Unconnected

Missed earlier chapters?

Read Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7

Chapter 8

 The next three days blurred together in an endless sequence of warm baths, cooling teas, meals of gruel and roasted apples. Miss de Bourgh would not eat until Elizabeth coaxed her. Afterwards, Elizabeth read novels until her voice was nearly too hoarse to cajole her patient to drink her medicines. They played cards when Miss de Bourgh was strong enough. At times when she was not, Elizabeth just sat at her bedside and held her hand.

Papa came and went, but Elizabeth stayed constantly. If she left for even a few moments, Miss de Bourgh called and cried for her like a lost child, confused and even delirious in her fevers.

Sometime in the early morning of the fourth day, Miss de Bourgh’s fever finally broke and she slept peacefully. Utterly spent, Elizabeth dragged herself to her room and collapsed on the bed, fully dressed, asleep before she even considered a night dress.

 She awoke, startled and disoriented, dressed in night clothes, hair braided down her back. Mid-morning sun shone through the windows. How had she gotten here?

But when had the maid come in to help her change? She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her temples. The shadows had been long then—it must have been late in the afternoon. 

Her stomach grumbled and pinched. Had she slept through the entire day and night? It was entirely possible.

She threw her head back into the soft pillows and groaned. Someone would surely be displeased with her for sleeping so long. That was not new. Someone was always upset with her.

No, that was uncharitable and most probably unfair.  Was it wrong to be a bit ungracious after such an ordeal? Probably.

She sat up. A tray of food sat on the small table near the window. Bless whomever thought to send it. Surely she would be more agreeable with something in her stomach.

She drew on her dressing gown and stretched her aching muscles. Definitely too many hours abed. She was not made for so much idleness.

Cheese and cold meat, compote, good bread and scones. Quite a tolerable meal. She sat down.

Her door creaked open.

“Papa?” She started to rise, but he waved her down.

“I am pleased to see you have finally awoken. I was beginning to worry you might be taking ill yourself.”

“I do not think so. Come sit with me and tell me of Miss de Bourgh.”

He sat, pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. His face was lined, his cheeks sunken. No doubt he had eaten and slept little himself.

“I am pleased to say her improvement continues. Her fever has not returned but neither has her strength. She will be many weeks recovering, I think.”

“That she will recover at all is a very good thing.”

He nodded and replaced his glasses.

“I shall impose upon your mother’s hospitality for some time longer though. I would keep Mr. Bingley and Mr. Wickham away from here at least a fortnight full.”

“Do you think that–”

“I am of no mind to take any risks. Your mother does not seem to mind the company—” he removed a letter from his pocket “—as she most eloquently informed me.” He opened the note to reveal another folded within. “I believe this is from Jane, for you.”

She took the paper. It was indeed Jane’s handwriting. A perfect sweet course with which to finish her meal. “What of Mrs. Jenkins?”  

“Her putrid sore throat has not yet abated. She has been removed to the parsonage to recover.”

“Removed?” she gasped. “I have every faith in Charlotte’s ability to care for her, but—”

He lifted his open hand and shook his head. “Every precaution, Lizzy. How can I allow her to remain in the same house as Miss de Bourgh when Mr. Bingley and Mr. Wickham have been removed? It seems Miss de Bourgh draws those drafts to herself and I believe keeping as much distance between her and disease the safest course.”

“So every servant who sneezes will be dismissed?”

“It is possible.”

She rolled her eyes. “Surely you would not support so drastic a measure? Think of what suffering this would cause among the staff.”

“They are not my primary concern.”

“But—”

Papa grunted. That sound that always presaged a stern conversation.

She sighed and looked down to her plate. “Scones, Papa?”

“Thank you.” He picked one up and bit into it. “In Mrs. Jenkins absence, Miss de Bourgh has requested you stay here as companion to her.”

“Her companion, Papa?”

“No complaining now, Lizzy. Lady Catherine wills it as well. It seems, despite your penchant for impertinence …” he peered over his glasses.

Why must he use that unsympathetic glare?

“… her ladyship is comforted by your presence as well.”

Elizabeth held her breath. She might well do herself an injury biting her tongue and not rolling her eyes. “Does not Mama require me at home?”

“With four other girls in the house, your mother can very well spare you, make no mistake. With all the favor Lady Catherine has to offer, it would be folly not to take full advantage of your situation here and oblige her small request.”

“Yes, Papa.” What choice did she have? In truth, Lady Catherine was little worse than Mama and the library at Rosings was far better than Papa’s. It might be not entirely disagreeable.

“Whilst you are here, I have a task for you.”

She swallowed hard. “What is that, Papa?”

“I had an unusual conversation with Col. Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy. They mentioned a case for which they wish my consult, after Miss de Bourgh’s recovery. They refused to offer me any further details, though. In the course of your time here, I want you to talk with them. See if you can encourage them to reveal any details about the case. I want to prepare as much as possible for whatever they might ask of me. You know the colonel is the son of the Earl of Matlock. Connections to that family would be most beneficial to us all.”

Elizabeth grimaced. “But, Papa, I—”

“Do not become missish, Lizzy. I am not demanding you flirt or otherwise conduct yourself improperly. Simply, in the course of conversation—”

He would not be pleased if she sprang up and ran, but, oh it was tempting. “I believe those questions entirely too personal for the course of normal conversation.”

“You are a clever girl and a most observant one. I have every faith in your ability to find a way to accomplish this little favor for me.”

“You do not understand—”

“No more protests, dear.” He rose. “I need you to do this, not just for me, but for your mother and sisters as well. Remember, you have three younger sisters in need of husbands.  Think of the kinds of young men a peer might be able to put your sisters in a way to meet. You could help Mary do much better than a mere steward.”

“But…but what of—”

“Do not be only thinking of yourself, Lizzy. Though I am sure they might introduce you as well, they will have heard of your refusal of Mr. Collins and Mr. Wickham from Lady Catherine and may very well decide you too particular for your own good.”

“You believe I should have accepted Mr. Collins? I thought you yourself said—”

“No, I do not think you should have accepted him.”

“And Mr. Wickham? Mr. Darcy has told me—”

“That is not the point, Elizabeth! You must do this service for your sisters. None of you have the luxury of a large dowry. If any of you fail to make a match, you may have to depend upon one another’s charity for your future. It is in all your best interest to see each other well settled.”

She bit her tongue hard. What he said was true, but—

“Take your time this morning. No one will be expecting you until dinner.”

She nodded. Best she not speak just now.

“There is a good girl. I am glad I brought you with me, Lizzy. You are truly a comfort to your Papa.” He kissed the top of her head and left.

The door shut. She rose, fists clenched and trembling with the effort. It was good she had practice holding her tongue or she would certainly scream. Why did he choose now to be so much like Mama?

How could she obey when Lady Catherine forbade her—what was she thinking? Of course, she would to talk to Mr. Darcy if the opportunity ever came. Her stubbornness always rose when asked to do something, even if she wanted to do it. Mama called her contrary for a reason.

Still, she did not favor this whole means of obtaining information. She rubbed her hands along her arms and paced the room, finally coming to rest on the window seat. Jane’s letter called to her.  

 Dear Lizzy,

It has been very odd at home without you. Mama’s spirits have been very high of late—

 So Mama was flitting and fluttering and silly without Elizabeth to dampen her spirits. How comforting to know. No, that was unfair. Jane would never suggest such a thing.

I miss your company very much, but our guests have offered some consolation. Mr. Bingley’s company is quite agreeable. Had it not cost me your company, I would call it one of the pleasantest things to have occurred all year. Mama encourages us to keep in company, though she might perhaps stop us if she realized that I do like him.

That was ungracious of me. Please forgive me. I suppose it is the lack of your influence upon me.

Mr. Wickham has taken it upon himself to entertain all of our younger sisters. You might not think a single man could be up to such a daunting task, but he manages tolerably well. He endures his captivity with great equanimity.

Mama encourages Lydia, in particular, to make the most of her time with Mr. Wickham. I do hope you will not be distressed, but I believe Mr. Wickham prefers Lydia. I know Lady Catherine intended him for you—

 She tossed the letter aside. Gah! Papa still did not know of Mr. Darcy’s intelligence regarding Mr. Wickham. He would surely not believe her now. A dull throbbing began at the base of her head. Perhaps this should wait until the headache subsided. She climbed back into bed and slept until the next morning.

 *****

Darcy swung up into his saddle despite the daunting weather. So much more the reason to get out and ride now while the rest of Rosings Park still slept. This might well be the only opportunity to have some moments of quiet and repose.

Bingley’s dreadful sister had barely left his side, prattling on about one inanity after another. Even when she chanced upon something intelligent to say, it managed to sound like pure drivel when it left her mouth. Even Georgiana was at the end of her patience with Miss Bingley. Mrs. Hurst was little better, though she had the decided advantage of having very little opportunity to speak in the presence of her sister. Darcy cringed. What might that woman utter if given the opportunity, considering the ill-informed opinions of her husband?

Darcy rubbed his eyes. In the interest of protecting Georgiana’s delicate sensibilities, he had sent his own valet to speak to Hurst’s regarding the cut of the gentleman’s breeches.  Whilst the garment should be flattering, some things were certainly not complimented by excessive constriction. The corner of his lips drifted up. What would Miss Elizabeth have to say of it?

She was the only one of their company who might have relieved his suffering, but she remained absent from their presence. She should have joined them for dinner last night, but a headache kept her abed. But was it truly a headache, or had Aunt Catherine’s tirade dissuaded her from keeping company? Dreadful meddling—

How was he to make it clear he would not marry Anne? As if the expectation of a short life might make the prospect any more enticing. His stomach churned. He would not degrade the sacrament of marriage that way. The very idea showed how little Aunt Catherine knew him.  

But then, did anyone? Bingley came close, but—he huffed. Not everyone could have a relationship like George and Anne Darcy. Perhaps he had set his standards impossibly high. Still, to have a woman know him, understand him—as his mother did his father— and to be able to do the same for her in return, that was his notion of a marriage.

Yes, one more impossible Darcy family ideal to add to the rest that Aunt Catherine failed to understand. Why become inconsistent now? He urged his horse around a gentle curve in the garden path.

What was that? A solitary figure in a pale gown and shawl walked along the garden wall. It was not Georgiana and the Bingley sisters would never rise at this hour. But the garb was a gentlewoman’s. Miss Bennet?

His horse, ever perceptive, increased his pace, but Darcy slowed him back to a walk. It would not do to startle her.

She looked up and acknowledged him before he was too close.

 He dismounted and led his horse to her. “Good morning, Miss Elizabeth.”

“Good morning.” She smiled—oh, that smile!

How could the same expression appear so affected on Miss Bingley and so utterly delightful on Miss Elizabeth?

“You are an early riser by habit, sir?”

“I am and always have been. I have always thought the countryside most appealing by the light of sunrise. You are as well, I see.”

She chuckled. “With four other sisters in the house, I find it is the only way I have time for contemplation.”

“Am I interrupting? I can go.” He had no desire to, but would abide by her wishes, if asked. Please, let her not ask.

“Not at all, sir. I have had such limited company for so many days now, I should very much enjoy a conversation.”

He gestured for her to continue her walk.

“You are very generous, sir.” Her cheeks flushed just enough to give her a nearly irresistible glow.

What Miss Bingley would give to look so well with so little effort. But no, that was certainly not a fitting topic of conversation. “Your father says Anne’s condition has improved.”

“And you wish to know the extent to which that is said to please your aunt and the degree of concern you should have for your sister keeping company with Miss de Bourgh?”

His heart skipped a beat, and he nearly stumbled. “How do you come by that conclusion?”

She turned her head, gave him a brief, sidelong glance, blinked, and looked away. “If you have spoken to my father, why would you ask me, except for information that you could not rightly expect to get from my father?”

“But—”

“You surely could not ask him if his prognosis was for his patron’s benefit. That would be insulting and you are not a man who would conduct himself in that manner. Similarly, you would know Papa would be reluctant to openly say he feared for those keeping company with Miss de Bourgh.”

“Why—”

“Because you are singularly protective of your sister and her care and comfort appear uppermost in your mind.”

A shiver coursed down his spine. She was intrusive, presumptuous and right—the latter being the most disconcerting.

“Forgive me, sir. I have been far too forward. Please excuse me.” She ducked her head and stepped away from his side.

“No! wait,” he grabbed her arm and pulled her back. Blast! That was entirely improper, but he could not allow her to go. He tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. “Please, Miss Elizabeth.”

“But—”

“No, no, you were entirely correct.”

“I should not have spoken so.”

“There was nothing improper in what you said. It is only that I am not accustomed to…” he licked his lips, “…to being so quickly understood, by anyone—”

“Particularly impudent young ladies who usually look at you in terms of what you have to offer.” She sucked in a breath and pressed her hand to her mouth. “Forgive me. I do not know what has come over me.”

“Whatever it is, I hope you do not stop.”

She paused mid-step and stared at him.

“Your honesty and openness is—”

“Shocking.”

“Refreshing and intriguing.”

“Your taste in company is quite astonishing.”

“Your company is quite remarkable.” What was that, a blush on her cheeks? “Would you be willing to grant me an answer to my original question?”

“The one you voiced or the ones you intended?” The gentle tease in her voice had returned.

“Both, if you do not object.” Now, if only he could attend to her answers despite the utterly distracting pressure of her small hand in his arm.

“Miss de Bourgh is improving, though this attack has left her very weak. There is reason to hope for a good recovery, but it is unlikely that she will return to her full former strength.”

“And that is to be the way of things? Each attack leaving her increasingly weak and vulnerable?”

“I am not a doctor, so I cannot say, and my father has said no such thing in my presence.”

“But you think it likely?”

“I do. I have seen her through several of these episodes and each one has left her weaker, in both body and mind. On good days, it is difficult for her to even climb the stairs without pausing for breath at the landing. But mine is an untutored opinion…”

“Fear not, I shall not share it with anyone.”

“Thank you.”

There was something so vulnerable, so exposed, in those words that every fiber of his being jumped to defend her—but from what? Whom?

“As to your sister,” she ran her hand along the top of a large blossom, “my father believes there is no danger to those who would keep company with Miss de Bourgh.”

“And do you agree?”

“Not that it signifies, but yes, I do.” She bowed her head.

How unfair her lovely face should be hidden by her bonnet.

“I know you have already been much imposed upon by my aunt and cousin, but I wondered if I might ask a favor of you?”

She stiffened, just a little, beside him. Gads! She had been greatly imposed upon. Blast it all!

“Certainly, sir. What may I do for you?”

“In truth, it is for my sister.”

“She is a very dear girl.”

“I am glad you agree. She is painfully shy, though, and lonely. She has no fitting companion here.”

She removed her hand from his arm. “You wish me to be her companion?”

Something in the way she spoke the word ‘companion’ gnawed at him. Oh No! She could not think— “I fear you may have misunderstood me. I was not at all offering you employ as her companion. Please forgive me.”

Her shoulders lost a little of their tension. “What then did you mean?”

He chewed his lip. If he did not speak carefully now, she might be hopelessly offended. “A friend, Miss Bennet. My sister needs a friend. She is melancholy and I know something troubles her.”

“You wish me to be your spy?” Dainty eyebrows arched high.

Was she teasing?

“Certainly not—although…”

“Then you do.”

“No. She needs a friend—one with good character and sound judgment. I hope you might be willing to spend time with her. Help her as only another woman might.”

“And you cannot.”

He nodded and pinched his temples. “She has passed the age where she desires me to be privy to all her thoughts.”

“And you do not expect me to report all her secrets to you?”

“Not unless you feel she is in some sort of danger. Then I insist.”

“Of course. That is entirely proper. I will be happy to be her friend.” She bit her lower lip.

Was she aware of how enticing an expression that was? Especially when combined with the tiny hint of a smile on her lips and in her eyes. She had especially fine eyes—

“I have one concern, though. Do you fear Lady Catherine will object?”

“Whatever for?”

She cleared her throat. Her expression might well wither the surrounding roses.

“Oh, yes, ah…” His hand wandered up to tug at his collar, but he forced it back down.

She nodded and turned aside.

“My aunt has no say over matters concerning Georgiana. Fitzwilliam and I are her guardians. I shall inform her that you are—”

“You inform Lady Catherine?”

He laughed. “I suppose that sounds rather ridiculous.”

“Do you know, she has asked me to be companion to Anne until Mrs. Jenkins recovers.”

“No, I did not.” How had Aunt Catherine requested her assistance? Not requested – she ordered it, to be sure, and her father probably insisted. No wonder she had her back up. “I shall not repine your presence here though and it shall put you and Georgiana together often.”

She looked up at him. Her gaze penetrating, alluring and sad. How was it she could say so little and speak so profoundly?

“I know what my aunt said to you and I apologize.”

“Why?”

Could she not see his face and know? “Because it was on all accounts rude and thoughtless. She likes to direct the lives of those around her, even those not hers to direct.”

“You are not under her direction?”

“Hardly. I probably should not say, but Fitzwilliam and I come each spring to ensure the estate is in order and to direct her affairs.”

“I see.”

“I appreciate your willingness to care for my cousin, but I hardly expect that you would be obedient to all my aunt’s desires.”

“Indeed.”

He extended his arm and she slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow once more. Exactly where it should be. Yes, exactly as it should be. “My aunt is not at liberty to direct my conversation.”

“And you do not fear it would trouble Miss de Bourgh for you to…converse freely with anyone of your choosing?”

He waited until he held her gaze securely. “No. She is not at liberty to direct my actions either. In that she is—and will remain—wholly unconnected to me.”

Miss Bennet’s eyebrow arched high into what was fast becoming a most favorite expression.

“May I ask a favor of you? I know our acquaintance brief for such a thing, but –”

“Think nothing of it. How may I be of assistance to you?” Please, let it be as least as substantial a request as he had asked of her.

 “As you know, Mr. Wickham is staying at our house until the fear of contagion is past.”

“At your house! I had not realized. I knew your family hosted Bingley, but Wickham should never have been foisted upon them. Aunt Catherine took the notion that he was to be a barrister and I have not been entirely able to disabuse her of it. He should never have been introduced among her guests. Forgive me. I should have carried the point with her. I must speak to your father.”

She smiled. Whatever he had done to earn that gaze, he would easily do a hundred times over.

“That is exactly the favor I had hoped to ask of you. I think Papa will hear the intelligence much better from you than me.”

“He has not—”

“Jane wrote to say Mr. Wickham was keeping my younger sisters well entertained.”

He squeezed his eyes shut. Why, of all things, did she have to ask him to remedy an oversight of his own making? “I will speak to him as soon as possible.”

 “Thank you. You need not look so entirely troubled though. My sister is much pleased with Mr. Bingley’s company—despite the fact that Lady Catherine says she should be.”

His brows raised and he guffawed.

“Forgive me. I fear my sense of humor rather impudent.”

“And utterly delightful.”

“I mean no disrespect to your aunt.”

“Only to make sport with her as you do of everyone else.”

She blushed darker red. “It seems I have a notable reputation.”

“Only in the best possible sense. You are well respected for your kind heart and ready assistance to all.”

“You flatter me.”

“You do not believe me? Disguise is my abhorrence, you know.” Besides only a fool would attempt to lie to Miss Elizabeth.

“I shall keep that in mind. Of what else have you such decided opinions, sir?”

Thank heavens, her smile had returned! 

They walked and talked through a full circuit along the bridle path, finally sating his longing for stimulating conversation.

How well read she was, with well-informed and argued opinions, and on topics not generally regarded as proper for female education. She was all together an enchanting companion. Better still, she agreed to meet him again to walk in the early hours.

All together this was the most satisfying day spent at Rosings, ever. Not that the pleasure would last. He and Fitzwilliam were to meet with the steward and tour some of the cottages said to be in dire need of repair. Wickham should accompany them—yes, that would be most appropriate. The sooner he managed that business, the sooner another morning would come and allow him to walk once again.

 

 

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39 comments on “Wholly Unconnected to Me, Ch 8 by Maria Grace

  1. Sheila L. M.

    I am sorry if I sound impertinent but this passage in the first paragraph may need editing. “Miss de Bourgh would not eat until Elizabeth to coax her. Afterwads,” …perhaps, “until Elizabeth was able to coax her. Afterwards,”

    I thought Elizabeth was taking on some of Jane’s qualities in the beginning paragraph, “No, that was uncharitable and most probably unfair. Was it wrong to be a bit ungracious after such an ordeal? Probably.” But lo and behold when speaking with Papa she has regained her spirit. Thought she might be down trodden for a minute or two there. To think that both Lady C. and Darcy want Elizabeth to be a companion/friend to the young ladies they are concerned about. Will others acknowledge the honor that is for Elizabeth?

    Meeting with Darcy while on her walk and dancing around in that whole beginning conversation was tense. It seemed that each was misinterpreting what the other was trying to say. Then they settled into an understanding of what each intended, it seemed. So heartwarming to read that Elizabeth and Darcy have not allowed Lady C. to direct whether or not they may speak with each other. Finally some hints of romance…just a little hint.

    Do hope that Darcy follows up quickly with warning Dr. Bennet about Wickham.

    Nice long read with some interaction between our favorite couple. Loved it. Thank you.

    1. MariaGrace

      Thanks for catching the typos there. I thought I had that fixed in the post and something went sideways. I think I have it fixed now.

      It was nice to finally get our couple together for a few minutes of conversation and understanding. I think we will find that Darcy is better than Bennet at following up on those he is concerned about.

      Thanks, Sheila!

  2. Carol hoyt

    The more I “see” dr Bennett, the more I dislike him.

    And having wickham in a house of young ladies is like having a fox in the henhouse! Nothing good will come of it !

    I am liking the strides Darcy us making with Elizabeth!!!

    Thank you Maria!!!

    1. MariaGrace

      He is almost as disagreeable as his wife, isn’t he?

      Thanks, Carol!

  3. Deborah

    I wholeheartedly agree with SheilaLM’s comments.

    These early morning trysts I am sure will come to the attention of Lady C, I am sure, and what a tirade and storm will follow. I also think Lady C will be seriously displeased with Elizabeth & Georgiana becoming friends. She will have something to say.about that.

    At some point I have a feeling Elizabeth is going to say something she shouldn’t. She:a being pushed too hard & I feel her temper may fray. As she isn’t:t perfect.

    Great chapter again. It drew me in and I was sorry when it ended. Eagerly anticipating next week’s chapter.

    Also as SheilaLM pointed out the second sentence of the chapter need to be reworded to something like “until Elizabeth coaxed her.”

    Enjoy your weekend

    1. MariaGrace

      I think I’ve got those typos fixed. Sorry about that. My dear proof reader fixed them, but somehow between her edits and the post they got unfixed.

      I think you’re right, Elizabeth is probably going to say something she shouldn’t sooner or later. It is rather inevitable, it’s just a matter or where, when and to whom, all of which could make a huge difference in the outcome. Since I am editing the rough draft as I go, I’m never entirely sure of what may change between the handwritten draft and what will get posted, so I can’t even really hit on what might happen. You’ll probably find out as I do.

      Thanks, Deborah!

      1. Deborah

        That’s okay about the typos. Even teachers sometimes miss them in student’s papers.

  4. Carol Settlage

    This was indeed a captivating chapter! I very much hope Elizabeth and Darcy can continue these morning discussions together for some time… It will be so good for both of them, and delightful to us! May Lady C. sleep late and soundly :-) Please let Dr. Bennett hear Darcy’s caution and take appropriate measures! Wickham is such a devious scoundrel. I look forward too to Georgiana and Elizabeth spending more time together and learning to love each other… it seems only natural! Hopefully, Lady C. should should feel some charity and gratitude toward Elizabeth after her great care of Anne! How fun and can’t wait for the next chapter!

    1. MariaGrace

      I think it would be hard on poor Darcy to stop their morning discussions now that he’s had a taste of good conversation! It certainly would be nice for Elizabeth if things would just go smoothly for once. Somehow though I’m not sure that is going to happen…

      Thanks, Carol!

  5. Eileen

    Aaah. That walk was good for not only the characters but the reader as well. So nice to see Elizabeth and Darcy in a “peaceful” scene–yes, the danger is lurking, but these few moments were blissful :) I hope they get to have a few more such scenes before the darkness closes in once again.

    Still want to smack or shake Dr. Bennet. He really did seem to be blaming Elizabeth for Collins in a passive-aggressive sort of way. Will he listen to Darcy? As nice as it might be, I am not convinced he will.

    Thanks.

    1. MariaGrace

      It was a nice respite for this writer too. LOL

      Passive aggressive isn’t a bad way to describe Bennet. He’s pretty frustrating.

      Thanks, Eileen.

  6. Carole in Canada

    Even Jane is getting annoyed with her step-mother! She is wise to make sure Lady C and her mother are unaware of her true feelings.

    As much as Dr. Bennet may think he loves his daughter, he uses her abominably…to ingratiate himself even more into Lady Catwitch’s household and possibly Lord Matlock’s! I don’t think he wants her to marry anyone so she can continue to assist him! The added pressure all of this adds onto Elizabeth can only cause her to speak inappropriately when she reaches her breaking point…Fortunately, for now she has her early morning stroll and conversations with Darcy. That must be some balm to her poor soul. For Darcy to ask her to befriend is sister must certainly help.

    I would tend to agree with Eileen that Dr. Bennet may not heed Darcy’s advice and if he does, the damage may already be done…eloping with Lydia even after he has been removed. Oh then the fur will fly!

    1. MariaGrace

      You know it’s bad when Jane gets short tempered.

      You may be right that Bennet doesn’t want to let her go, though I don’t think he’d actually admit to that, not yet anyhow.

      The pressure will continue though, and eventually something will have to come to a head.

      thanks, Carole!

  7. Warmisunqu's Austen

    I always enjoy of a conversation between Elizabeth and Darcy. It is great.
    There is something that I do not understand. Why does Darcy endure the company of Wichkam? He knows the dangerousness of Wickham and more if there are girls in his way. I understand that Darcy must endure the company of Caroline Bingley by his friend Charles but Wickham, What is his motive?

    A Chapter so interesting, Maria.

    1. MariaGrace

      In this story, Ramsgate has not actually happened, so Darcy does not have that against Wickham. He knows Wickham has been a bit of a rake, but that is the extent of it. He has not been involved in anything illegal and has not meddled with anyone Darcy protects, so he isn’t as bad in Darcy’s eyes as he might be to ours. They have been friends for a long time and he’s trying to give Wickham one last chance a a useful career and future. Hopefully that makes some sense.

      Thanks!

  8. Monica P

    Their walk was so sweet! I’m disappointed that he didn’t bring up the topic of Mr Hurst’s breeches, though! haha just kidding. Now they have even more excuses to spend time together, which is a double edged sword for Lizzy right now.

    And here’s Dr B, asking for her help again, but if things don’t work out to his satisfaction, I’m sure it’ll be all her fault. I mean, how is she supposed to bring up in conversation the health of a man she’s never even met. He’s not wrong in that Matlock connections would be good to have, but he’s using her. And it hurt when he put her automatically into the “unmarriageable” pile. I don’t think he will go against LC’s orders and move Wickham out. Maybe Darcy could tell Bingley and have him keep an eye on him?

    1. MariaGrace

      Not sure there would be an appropriate way to bring up Hurst to Elizabeth, at least not in this stage of their relationship. LOL

      I think you’re right, Dr. B. is apt to blame others when things go wrong and Elizabeth tends to be near the top of that list.

      Thanks, Monica!

  9. Lúthien84

    This is a delightful chapter, Maria. I’m looking forward to Darcy’s growing admiration of Elizabeth and how their love story will progress.

    The more I read about Dr Bennet, the more I dislike his attitude towards his favourite daughter. He clearly puts his family’s needs and interest at Elizabeth’s expense. I’m hoping he will change unless sometime tragic befalls the family like Lydia’s elopment and he realises his mistakes.

    1. MariaGrace

      Glad you’re enjoying it!

      I agree, Bennet is not a particularly likeable character, is he? It might just take something really tragic to get his attention, unfortunately.

      Thanks, Luthien!

  10. TLeighF

    I am glad ODC are not listening to Lady C’s orders to not talk with each other. That scene with them walking in the garden was so sweet, a nice calm before the inevitable storm. If they keep this up, hopefully E will have a chance to get the info she needs to satisfy her father (who just makes me so mad!). I have a feeling Mr. B isn’t going to take D’s advice very seriously, or he won’t have the backbone to stand up to Mrs. b and Lady C who will both insist Wickham stay at the Bennet’s house. But even if he can get Wickham out, we all know Wickham and Lydia have no problem sneaking around unnoticed. Thanks for another great chapter… I look forward to next Saturday!

    1. Sheila L. M.

      ODC? Our ??? Couple??? I found 49 meanings on the Internet but none made sense. Meaning, please? Our divine couple? Can’t figure it out. Sorry.

      1. Kari S

        Our dear couple. Very common in JAFF world :). Took me a while too…ODB (our dear boy), ODG (our dear girl)

          1. TLeighF

            Sorry that confused you! Thanks, Kari for jumping in.

    2. MariaGrace

      Definitely a calm before the storm, but hopefully a rather unexpected storm–or series of storms…

      Thanks!

  11. Kari S

    I have to agree that I don’t believe Dr. B will do anything about W even after he is warned. He reminds me of Collins in canon, obsequious and single minded on Lady C. I really dislike him. D needs to save E and fast! E becoming close to Georgianna will be good, E will already feel like a sister to her when the inevidable happens :). Another nice chapter, Maria!

    1. MariaGrace

      Bennet is a bit like canon Collins, not quite so over top, but the family resemblance sure is there. Thanks, Kari!

  12. Anji

    Beautiful scene between Elizabeth and Darcy, Maria. At least he’s treating her like a proper human being, unlike her father, asking her to get covert intelligence on the Fitzwilliam family. Let’s hope Lady C. has a LOT of late mornings so that the early morning walks can carry on for a while. Then we can enjoy more of those wonderful conversations.

    Dr. Bennet really needs a good talking to. Will he pay any attention to Darcy when he has a word with him about Wickham? Like some others, I have a feeling he won’t, probably thinking W. will be a good catch for one of his daughters.

    Will Lady C. carry on being civil to Elizabeth now that Anne is over the worst or was she so “foxed” from all the wine she’d had that she won’t remember? At least she’s ask her to be temporary companion to Anne but will she forbid Elizabeth to speak to any of the gentleman, especially Darcy?

    Looking forward to next Saturday.

    1. MariaGrace

      Glad you liked the scene with E&D. I ended up totally rewriting it from the original rough draft–definitely needed more mush than the original had.

      It is hard to predict what Bennet is going to do. On the one hand he wants to curry favor with Darcy, but on the other hand he’s so passive he wans to do as little as possible. So I’m not sure what he’s going to do.

      I have a feeling Lady C was foxed as you say (great word BTW!), but we shall see.

      Thanks, Anji!

  13. Kathy

    Thank you for another riveting chapter! Yup, Dr. Bennet has not managed to improve upon closer inspection. His motivations just get worse and worse, and he’s really unconcerned about his supposedly favorite daughter’s happiness! What kind of person is he that he doesn’t care about how the servants at Rosings are treated?

    I enjoyed Darcy’s introspections on what he was looking for in a marriage, and that he wished for what his parents had. He has been pretty perceptive of Elizabeth’s situation even as he continues to be surprised by her ability to read him. I’m also looking forward to her making friends with Georgiana, and it will also be good for poor Elizabeth to have a good friend who doesn’t have some kind of demanding agenda!

    I wondered about Elizabeth being surprised that she was helped to bed and got a good meal waiting for her – I assume that the servants, who looked kindly on Elizabeth, were responsible? Or did someone else make sure she was looked after?

  14. Kathy

    Oh and I forgot to mention, I love how Darcy made clear to Elizabeth about his non-understanding with Anne!

    1. MariaGrace

      I have a feeling Dr. B is never going to really reach the ranks of a good father here. I think that would be a bit of a stretch to believe he could get there at this point.

      But, in the era, it was not entirely unusual for servants not to be given a great deal of consideration. There were those households where they were considered part of the family but in others, they were offered very little regard. Since Lady C is the one paying the bills, her attitude will prevail with Dr. B as well.

      As for Darcy, I think there haven’t been many people in his life who look at him in a personal way, rather than in a more material advantage sort of way, especially women. So Elizabeth is a pretty rare experience. No wonder he wanted to make sure Elizabeth was clear abut the situation of Anne.

      Good catch! Yes it was the servants who took care of her. Thanks, Kathy!

  15. Rita Watts

    I think my satisfaction with this chapter is equal to what Darcy felt after talking to Elizabeth and walking with her for a while. After a emotional rough day for me it was delightful to join them in this interlude. Thanks, Maria! Kudos again! Please make it happen often!

    1. MariaGrace

      Thanks, Rita. I’ve glad you enjoyed it and even gladder that it was such a good timing for you.

  16. Sophia Rose

    My, my! It seems Elizabeth’s temper is being truly tried between her step mother, Lady C, her father and even a petulant Anne. I don’t prefer high drama, but a part of me is looking forward to the time when too much is too much. Too many are imposing on her, poor girl.

    What a lovely morning walk between Darcy and Lizzy!

    I enjoyed this one, thanks!

    1. MariaGrace

      There will eventually be some high drama, I think. But of an unexpected nature, I hope. But you’re right, something’s gotta give eventually.

      Glad you enjoyed it Sophia!

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