A Letter from Lady Catherine de Bourgh
My dear Nephew
The disagreement between us regarding your marriage has gone on long enough. I am convinced that, after a year at Pemberley, your wife is sufficiently imbued with the sense of the greatness of her position, as to have become a worthy representative of our Family. I am supported in this view by a letter from my old friend, Lady Louisa Benton, who lives, as you know, in your part of the world. Lady Louisa tells me that at a reception she recently attended "your pretty niece, Mrs Darcy" was dressed with taste and elegance, and much admired for her ease of manner and witty conversation.
Let us let bygones be bygones. Her want of family connections is no longer a consideration; a wife, after all, takes the rank of her husband. The fact of her sisterís disgraceful elopement with the son of your fatherís steward is known to no-one in our set, except myself; and I shall never mention it outside the Family. I have re-considered; I have made my resolution; I shall visit you.
Our visit will take place very soon, for another circumstance has arisen. Mrs Jenkinson has left us. She has actually taken a position as a governess, in the family of a rich manufacturer, with three small children, and they say she receives twice the salary that I was paying her, has a fire in her bedroom, and dines with the family every day! they are low-born, and I suppose they like to say that their governess has been in a noblemanís family. Be that as it may, we can find no-one to replace her. I have decided: Anne must marry. She is full old enough; she mopes here, and marriage will lift her spirits and give her an interest. I shall expect her husband to live with us here, and we shall go on exactly as we do now; so we will not need a paid companion.
However, I can find no young man, nor indeed any man, in this neighbourhood, to marry her. I am acquainted with several families, of sufficient station, who have sons, but whenever I invite them here, they are already engaged, or just going to town, or there is sickness in the family. When we pay a morning visit, the young men are always out about the place, or riding, or hunting; we visit with the mother and father and it gets us nowhere. We need a larger neighbourhood; we need new acquaintance. I think you will admit, my dear nephew, that by marrying as you did, you have put me in the position, which I did not expect, of having to find a husband for my daughter, and you ought to assist us by every means in your power. We shall visit you, and stay until Anne has formed an eligible connection.
You will know which men, among your acquaintance, are fit to marry the daughter of Sir Lewis de Burgh, and your wife will easily be able to arrange a series of pleasant little entertainments to get them to the house. I do not object to an older man, or to a widower, and I do not insist on a title, provided he be of sufficient rank and means, and cognizant, of course, of the honour of marrying into a family such as ours. Once matters are satisfactorily arranged, we shall all remove to Rosings for the wedding; and - I am quite determined ñ it is time: your wife shall be of the party.
We start from here the day after tomorrow, and will be on the road by the time this letter reaches you. I do not know when we shall reach Pemberley; we must travel slowly, as Anne gets queasy after an hour or two in the chaise.
Believe me still to be, my dear Nephew
your affectionate Aunt
C. de Burgh
By the by, Mrs Collins was brought to bed three days ago. The child is a boy, and Mr Collins is half killed with delight, so that he makes even less sense than usual. It is very inconvenient, for they can not come to dinner, and with Mrs Jenkinson gone, we have been obliged to sit down alone. However, I visited, and was shown the infant. It is a very ugly child, but then Mrs Collins has no pretension to beauty. As for Mr Collins, when I presented the living, I made sure not to get a good-looking man, as a handsome parson is fit for nothing, but to put ideas into the young womenís heads.
C de B.
Anne de Bourgh sat miserably hunched in the forward seat of the carriage. Her motherís bulky dress (Lady Catherine did not approve of the modern fashions) took up all of the back seat, so that Anne, as well as facing backwards, had to share her place with her motherís maid. She wondered if Mullins felt as sick as she did, after an hour or so, but half a lifetime of serving Lady Catherine had left her personal maid vinegar-faced, dour and silent. You would never know what Mullins thought, or felt.
But there was no doubt as to Lady Catherineís mood. At the posting-house where they had staid, the night before, a violent illness, probably from bad meat, had laid low several people, mostly servants, and including both her coachman and the two footmen. Furious, Lady Catherine had refused to spend another night in the inn. She would go on without servants, she said; they were within twenty miles of Pemberley, and would arrive there well within the day. The servants should bring the coach on, when they were recovered. A post-chaise was hired. It was the handsomest that could be obtained, and actually was travelling much faster than the family carriage, but nothing could make up for the absence of the de Bourgh family crest on the panels. Lady Catherine was not in a good temper.
Life at Rosings had not been happy for Anne in recent years. She had loved her gentle, scholarly father. When she was a child, he had spent time with her, telling her stories, and later they had talked about the books he loved. She still grieved over his early, sudden death. Her mother had seen to it that his funeral was magnificent, and forgotten him.
Her happiest times were when she was alone, reading the rather outdated books in her fatherís library. She did not blame Mrs Jenkinson for leaving Rosings. In fact, though nobody knew it (and Anne shuddered, when she thought what her mother would say) she had encouraged her companion to apply for the post of governess in a rich family. Mrs Jenkinson was timid and kindly, but had no talent for instructing a grown woman. She had been an excellent governess when Anne was a child, and for a couple of years, in fact, had been filling the post of a personal maid. Now, Anne had hoped, her mother would engage somebody who might take her a little further in piano and in French, and help her to read the more advanced authors, the geography and natural science that she loved. She knew she could never be allowed to ride, to dance or to sing, for her health did not permit these activities. However, her mother had decided not to engage another companion for her, or even a maid: "Mullins will look after you. She has very little to do." Mullins had not been pleased. Almost all that Anne had heard from her, since Mrs Jenkinson left, was "I take my orders from Lady Catherine, miss," and "My lady has given no orders for that, miss. It was all Anne could do, to get her clothes taken care of, and her dress unlaced, at the inns they had stayed at along the road.
Anne was constantly sick, and the medication provided by her motherís doctor did little to relieve, and nothing to cure her. She had always assumed that her health would be found too poor for her to think of marriage, with its attendant dangers. But she was told that her health was no cause for concern, she would soon be better, and then she was to marry her cousin Darcy.
Anne was terrified of him: his cold manner, his heavy silences, his sardonic looks, his dismissive remarks, above all the occasional witticisms, subtle and derogatory, that hurt her, but that her mother did not even understand or notice. He had been a splendid young man when she was scarcely more than a child; her motherís assertion, that they had been in the cradle together, was a myth; he was the older by five years. He had never paid any attention to her, and she knew that he did not want to marry her.
What a relief, when she heard he was to marry that pretty, quick-tongued friend of Mrs Collins! She had been astonished, for Miss Elizabeth Bennett was neither rich nor well connected. However, on thinking it over, she remembered how confident Miss Bennett was, how clever!
When cousin Darcy was there, she had watched the two of them talk together ñ the enjoyment that had flashed like lightning between them. No stale, awkward nothings for them, no heavy silences! They had almost seemed to fence, like two swordsmen, but yet it was play. The bright-eyed young woman seemed never to be afraid, always on the verge of laughter.
Then there had been a strange evening, when Miss Bennett had not come to drink tea, because she had a headache. Cousin Darcy had seemed unable to give his attention to any thing, then had suddenly excused himself, and left the room, saying he must have some fresh air. "You have been out in the air all day, Fitzwilliam," her mother had called ñ but he was gone. He had come back, an hour or so later, looking like thunder ñ worse - as if he had been hit over the head. He had taken no part in any conversation, seemed not to know that they were there, and left them very early, saying he must go to bed. Early the next day, "Your cousin has gone," her mother had said, "I really began to think he could not bear to leave, he put it off so often. I am sure he will want to be a great deal at Rosings, when you are married."
They had not seen him again. Then they heard that Miss Bennett was to marry him. Lady Catherine called her a vulgar, low-born, hurly-burly village girl, who had schemed to entrap a wealthy man into marriage, and who had refused, even when Lady Catherine herself had reasoned with her, to give him up! Anne could only feel gratitude, and admiration for Miss Bennett, who had not only accepted her terrifying cousin but had actually resisted her motherís bullying. Her motherís temper was frightening for several weeks; but most of it was directed at the Collinses; and it was a great deal better than the prospect of marrying Cousin Darcy.
Then Mrs Jenkinson had left, and Lady Catherine had discovered that it was not easy to hire a new companion. She needed somebody not too young ñ but not too old. It must be somebody presentable enough to dine with them, when there was no other company, or when a woman was needed to balance the table, but not a female relation, who would object to being banished to the schoolroom when she was not wanted, as if she were a servant. An extra woman, on the days when they dined alone, was no asset at all! In short, what Lady Catherine needed was not a gentlewoman, but a gentleman. Anne must marry. Since Cousin Darcy was unavailable, she must marry somebody else.
So had begun a new and humiliating period, as Anne was dragged to balls and assemblies, in outmoded dresses with big skirts, for Lady Catherine called the new high-waisted styles immodest: the Queen, she pointed out, did not allow the Royal Princesses to wear them. Anne longed to mention that of the six Princesses, not one was married, or even engaged to be married. But argument with Lady Catherine on any point was futile.
She could not dance, and knew none of the young people, most of whom were much younger than she. There were no offers of marriage. She was four and twenty. They had waited too long for Mr Darcy.
Then followed a series of unprofitable visits, to every country house within reach of a carriage drive. She still remembered with pain the last visit. She had arrived feeling unwell, and her kind hostess had directed the housekeeper to take her upstairs, so that she might lie down. As they were going up the stairs, she heard a flurry of footsteps, a suppressed laugh, and the words, in a girlís voice "Oh dear! Robert, Peter, be quick!" She caught a glimpse of a masculine-looking coattail, just disappearing at the far end of the landing. It was clear that the young sons and daughter of the house had fled, on hearing the noise of their arrival, and were making their escape down another set of stairs. She thought, sadly, of the pretty daughter, and the good-looking, well-mannered brothers, whom she had been introduced to at the last ball. They had been kind, but bored, as she had shyly tried to talk to them, but hardly knew what to say. I would have loved them for friends, she thought.
Then her mother had announced that they were going to Pemberley, where the new Mrs Darcy was to find a husband for her! Mr and Mrs Darcy, Lady Catherine had explained, owed it to them, after the disgraceful way Anne had been treated, to find her a husband.
Anne did not think she could ever be comfortable with Mrs Darcy. She could not forget the very first evening they had met, when Mr and Mrs Collins had brought Miss Bennett to dinner. Anne had been feeling bilious all day. Poor Mrs Jenkinson, always afraid of losing her post, had fidgeted desperately all through the meal, pressing her to eat, though she knew perfectly well that Anne could not. After dinner, Anne had been made to say what card game she would like to play. At random, she had said "Cassino" though she did not like it, and they had sate all evening playing, hardly speaking a word except as it affected the game. Miss Elizabeth Bennett had been perfectly polite, but she had made Anne feel so very stupid.
"Who will they find?" she asked. "Who will want to marry me?" she did not like to say "as plain and stupid as I am." Her mother had replied "Really, Anne, I wish you will not talk such nonsense. Of course you will get a husband. You will have thirty thousand pounds."
So thirty thousand pounds was to be spent. The money would be paid over, and she would never see it. I wish, she thought desperately, they would just give me the money and let me live alone. But of course, the money was not only buying her a husband, it was going to provide a companion for her mother.
Conversation with Lady Catherine was at all times a matter of listening rather than speaking, and the expressions most commonly in use were "Yes, maíam," and, occasionally "No, maíam." Anne was quite used to following her own train of thought in silence. Now she realized that her mother had some time ago ceased speaking. Looking up, she saw that Lady Catherineís face had lost its usual ruddy hue, and was very white. Suddenly Lady Catherine fell forward. Mullins gave a startled exclamation, then, seeing her mistress gasping for breath, screamed. Lady Catherine was in the throes of sudden, extremely painful sickness. Anne tried to hold her, she twisted and writhed; Anne called to her; she could not reply.
The coachman had felt the movement, even before he heard the noise; he pulled up the horses; the carriage stopt. But as it did so, Lady Catherine wrenched at the door handle, thrust herself out, and set foot on the step. The carriage jerked to a halt; she slipped; she fell. The ditch at this point was steep and stony; she fell into it, onto the stones.
Mullins cried "My lady! My lady!" Anne thought she screamed, too; then they were all standing in the road. When Anne, trying to help her mother to stand up, took her arm, Lady Catherine gave a cry of pain, and collapsed back onto the ground. Mullins gasped "Oh, she is dead!" and went into hysterics. All was fright, distress and confusion.
Vehicles were passing on the road, but the bulk of the chaise, and the depth of the ditch, mostly shielded them from view. However, a carriage, a gentleman's carriage by the look of it, did stop, and a sensible-looking woman, over the middle age, got out, spoke to the coachman, and came toward them. "You are in a sad case," she said. "Can I or my carriage be of use to you?" Anne, frightened, and ashamed of the figure her mother must make, could hardly speak, but managed to stammer out her thanks, "She did not wish to be troublesome, and the carriage had sustained no harm, but they were indeed in difficulty," and an account of their circumstances.
At this point, Lady Catherine opened her eyes. "Where are we?" she said. "Anne, what are you doing? What is happening? Who is that person? I am very ill," and she lost consciousness again. Mullins screamed "Oh, she is alive!" and stood, wringing her hands. Anne and the lady scrambled down into the ditch, and tried to support Lady Catherine, while the coachman and footman maintained that air of lofty indifference which seems to be the attitude of all hired drivers, even though their passengers might happen to be dying.
"Your mother is indeed alive," the lady said. "but we cannot know what ails her. What do you want to do? Would you rather take her to some place where she can get help, though it might hurt her to be moved, or wait here with her and I will see if a doctor can be sent out to you? By the way, my name is Endicott, and I live in Darnley."
Anne had never in her life made a decision on behalf of herself, let alone her mother. But there could be but one answer to that. Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Anne knew, would endure any discomfort, any pain, sooner than stay there, sick and distressed, her hair disordered and her clothing soiled, in view of passersby.
"We were on our way to Pemberley," she ventured.
"Pemberley! that is at least fifteen miles from here. I think she is too ill to travel so far."
"Can you tell me, ma'am, where we are?" Anne asked. "Are we close to any town or village?" "We are within a mile or so of Burley, ahead of us, and four miles the other way from Darnley," Mrs Endicott said. "Darnley is a big town. You would certainly find everything there, that you require."
"We passed through it," Anne said, remembering the noisy town, full of manufacturies, with its dirty air and bad smells. "Is Burley the town with the famous medicinal well?" "Yes," Mrs Endicott said. "Do you know it?"
"I have read about it," Anne said. "Is it not a resort for invalids? Surely, there would a doctor there? I think perhaps we should go there. Only a mile, and it would be better for my mother. Is that what I should do, ma'am?"
"Only you can choose, my dear," Mrs Endicott said.
Anne took a deep breath. "Then we will go to Burley."
"I think that is the right thing to do. You can be on your way as soon as that silly maid helps your mother into the carriage. The Royal George is the best inn. I will drive there with you, and speak to them. Come, woman! help your mistress. Put your arm round her; that is right. Now, if I lift her on the other side.."
It was done, more quickly than she could have thought possible. Lady Catherine, inert, took up a good deal of space, and Mrs Endicott offered to take Anne in her carriage, but Anne thought she ought to stay with her mother. Mrs Endicott took Mullins up instead, gave directions to the coachman and bade her a kindly farewell. The door closed, the coachman whipped up his horses, and they were on their way. Anne sat forward awkwardly on the front seat, holding her mother's hand, and trying to tell her, calmly, that they would soon be there, soon the doctor would make her feel better. Her own mind was in disorder, as she repeated the words, and all she could recall was, that the lady had called Mullins, the formidable Mullins - silly.
Twenty years ago, the famous Burley spring was a damp depression in a meadow, where women brought their washing, and the sick sometimes their aching bones. Then progress, or rather the desire for money, arrived. The hot spring, imprisoned in a fine stone casing, was surrounded with a Pump Room, bath house, and promenade, and renamed the "Burley Chalybeate." Assembly Rooms, shops, and several hostelries and elegant lodgings, sprang up around it. But numerous other springs had been so apotheized, and the number of visitors to the remote Derbyshire dale was not so great as could be wished. Although the summer was becoming very hot, the best hotel was still not full, and the Duchess of Stilberry, whose visit was to be the glory of the season, had chosen to hire furnished lodgings, rather than stay at the Royal George.
Had it been otherwise, even Mrs Endicott might have had trouble getting any attention for the timid young lady in the close bonnet and old-fashioned dress. As it was, the name of "Lady Catherine de Bourgh" was all that was needed. The proprietor, the proprietor's wife, the waiters, the chambermaids, the ostlers, the very potboys, all smartened up and bustled themselves about at the prospect of a Lady Catherine; and almost before she knew it, Anne was in possession of a very decent bedchamber, a private sitting-room, and the services of a chambermaid, while in a rather larger bedroom, a capable-looking doctor, hastily summoned, was attending to her mother, with Mullins obeying his every command.
Dr Benson soon joined her, and told her that Lady Catherine had broken her arm. But her principal problem was a very bad case of poisoning. She had obviously eaten some noxious food, probably some meat that had gone bad, in the warm weather. He did not think that her case was desperate, but it was serious; a few hours would show how bad it was. In any case, she must not expect her mother to be well again in a few days, or even weeks. Lady Catherine would require attention by day and night, to a far greater extent than her maid could provide; he would like to send in a sickroom assistant, an excellent woman whom he had employed in several cases; would Miss de Bourgh agree to the expenditure? Anne assented.
"Now, I must leave you," he said. "I have several other cases to see to; but I will return, and Mrs Williams will probably arrive before I do; I will tell them downstairs to send for her as soon as may be, for I think your maid is a little bewildered," and he left.
Anne felt that she, too, was bewildered. But she must rouse herself, she must think. There was money in Lady Catherine's reticule, and she had paid off the post chaise; but she had engaged herself in a good many expenses. She had no idea of how people arranged to pay for things, when they were from home. Her mother, or her mother's man of business, had always attended to such matters. Things were ordered, and bills paid; Anne had never had more than a few shillings in her own purse. Then, too, they would be expected at Pemberley -- but no! her mother had not specified any particular date, no-one would be anxious. But she was alone! she, who had never in her life been alone. What was she to do? How was she to go on? All her life, somebody had told her what to do; and now, she must think, she must act for herself.
The best thing she thought she could do, was to write to Mr and Mrs Darcy, and send the letter by the post. Her cousin might be haughty and disdainful, but if she wrote to him, he would assist her. If he did not come himself, he would send someone. Letters, she had heard, usually arrived on the following day after they were sent. Someone would come, as early as tomorrow -- or the next day. Meanwhile, the hotel people surely would not ask her for any money for a few days -- no! of course they would not.
She sat down at the desk, and after a struggle with the bad pen, and the black mud that the hotel called ink, she found the actual composition of the letter very easy; she had something to tell, she had something to ask. She folded the letter and directed it, then looked into her mother's room. No attendant had yet arrived, and Mullins was fully occupied; her mother could not be left alone. The chambermaid had disappeared, and there seemed to be nobody about the hotel who was not frantically busy. In the end, she asked for directions, of a hurried waiter, and, set out, a little nervously, to find the post office.
The post office was located not far away, only a couple of streets distant, beside the church, in the old part of the town. It was toward the end of a warm afternoon, the promenade was not busy, and the few strollers took no notice of Anne.
She had never in her life gone beyond the palings of Rosings Park on foot. She had never gone anywhere unaccompanied. She had always been told, that her health did not permit her to learn to ride. Her exercise was always limited to a walk in the garden or the grounds, and if she left them, it was for a carriage drive. Usually she drove with her mother, sometimes alone; but "alone," of course always meant in the company of Mrs Jenkinson. She found the walk to the Post Office very tiring and trying; she felt that everyone must be staring at her; she wondered what she would do if she were to get lost; and the heat, radiating back from the fronts of the houses, distressed her. The walk, of less than half a mile, seemed dreadfully long.
However, she arrived at last; the place was not busy, in fact there were no customers; the civil postmistress took her letter; she paid for the stamp; the letter was sent! It must arrive tomorrow, and her cousins would come and rescue her, or send someone at least. If they were too much engaged, perhaps Georgiana's governess would come, or Mr Darcy's man of business.
The walk back was successfully navigated; but by the time she arrived at the hotel, heat, nervousness and exhaustion had brought on a bilious headache. Her legs were shaking so much, that she could scarcely walk up the stairs. She opened the door of her sitting room, to find Dr Benson seated at the table, writing.
"Ah, my dear young lady," he said. "They told me you were gone out, and I was leaving a note for you. Your mother is no worse, and we need not fear for her life. Her arm has been strapped up, and Mrs Williams is there and knows just what to do for her. But let me look at you! What have you been doing? You are quite white; you are perspiring. The post office? You are knocked up after a walk to the post office? Dear me. Have I one patient, or two? You feel queasy? Yes, I thought so." He strode to the door, and she heard him shouting at the head of the stairs, to someone, to bring a pot of mint tea "Hot, mind!" right away. Anne leaned back in a chair, and closed her eyes.
The mint tea made her feel much more comfortable; and she was very soon able to accede to Dr Benson's request to see any medications that she was in the habit of taking.
When he saw the half-dozen bottles, his face changed; he looked very grave, and took them up, one by one, muttering "Yes, very well; but this -- no! together with this, my G-- , what are they trying to do to the girl? And this -- absolutely noxious -- absolute poison!" He asked if she had any list of the ingredients used to make them up. "Yes, sir, for the doctor thought, if we were away for a considerable time, I would need more. I think I can find it.. yes, here it is."
He looked at it, and said "Miss de Bourgh, may I ask you to do something for me? Will you refrain from taking these medications, for a few days? I think you will find that you do better without them, especially if you will try to spend some time every day in the fresh air. I promise you, that if you feel at all unwell, I will make up something to make you feel better."
"Very well, sir."
"Do you have difficulty eating? Yes, I thought so. It would be surprising if you did not. I will send you some raspberry tea, which I think you will find helpful. It is very simple, very natural, you need fear nothing. We must get you eating a little more, we do not like our young ladies to be quite so thin, we like young ladies a little fatter than this, in Derbyshire. I will tell Mrs Brown to send you up a very plain supper; you cannot take rich foods, and do not be concerned if you do not feel like eating much, tonight, after the day you have had. But try to drink as much as you can.
Now, Miss de Bourgh, I must leave you. You will have but a dull day tomorrow, I am afraid, but you have had a great shock, and would do well to take things easy. You can walk round the town as much as you like, the old town or the new, we are very law-abiding people here, no bad characters. Go and drink some of our good spring water, it is very useful, though not such a miracle-worker as some people like to think. And of course you will like to go to church, we are proud of our church, a beautiful old building." And with a courteous farewell he was gone.
Go to church! Good Heavens, today was Saturday! Tomorrow was Sunday! She had never given it a thought. Her letter certainly would not be delivered, probably had not yet left the Post Office. Her cousins would know nothing of her plight, until Monday, or more probably Tuesday; and she almost burst into tears, at the thought of her useless, exhausting walk.
Well! There was nothing to be done. She must wait. Help would some time come.
The promised supper arrived, some soup, a little roast chicken and a very good jelly, along with the raspberry tea. Anne found, to her surprise, that she was hungry. The food was simple and good, the portions were small, and there was no-one there to be concerned about what she ate, or how much. After eating, she wondered whether it really was a good idea to take no medicine, whether she should not at least take her opiate; but found that every single bottle was gone. She remembered Dr Benson working on the catch of his bag, while he was talking: he must have absent-mindedly put them in. Never mind! He would certainly bring them back.
She looked in to enquire after her mother. Lady Catherine was asleep, and looked so exhausted, she hardly recognized her. The kind-faced woman who was the sickroom assistant told her not to worry "I've seen people much worse than her, miss; she will do very well. She will be well enough to be cross tomorrow, you'll see." Anne found herself so tired, nothing really seemed to matter, and although the sun had barely set, she thought she must go to bed. It was refreshing to think that there was nobody who would object, or even care.
But sleep did not come. She had been in the habit of taking laudanum for too long. Anne tossed and turned for some while; then another circumstance arose, to prevent her from sleeping. Her room overlooked the promenade, the hotel was directly opposite the entrance to the Rooms, and it was an assembly night. She heard the horses' hooves, the murmur of people arriving, she heard laughter; in the end she arose, and watched the carriages arrive, the pretty girls and the lively young men. It was a hot night, few wraps were worn, she could see the shimmer of jewels and the glint of embroidery. The music started. Over the laughter and chatter, she could hear it faintly. Soon the street was almost empty, only a few coachmen lingering, a few horses stamping as they stood. She could hear the music clearly now. Anne was still awake, when the music stopped and the sound of laughter, the sound of horses' hooves, told her that the dance was over, and the people were going home.
The next morning was warm, with the promise of a sultry day. She enjoyed the walk to church, for she knew the way, and felt quite safe. The graveyard had a fine view over the surrounding hills and dales, and the old building was, indeed, a beautiful one, though in the old Gothic stile. It was pleasant to hear a well thought out sermon, very different from poor Mr Collins's miserable efforts, and as she left the building, Dr Benson greeted her. Crossing the churchyard, she recognized Mrs Endicott, who bowed and smiled, but did not speak. It was enough to send her back to her solitary meal in a cheerful frame of mind.
But the afternoon tried her severely. She had nothing to read, and no-one to speak to. Her mother was sleeping most of the time. Awake, she was not, as Mrs Williams had predicted, cross; she was quite unreasonable, and hardly seemed to know where she was. Anne had no recourse, but to sit in her room, or to walk again and again round the hot promenade. It was boredom, and not devotion, that induced her to attend the evening service at the church. She felt her motives to be much less than admirable, and what no christian should entertain - to go to church because she really had nothing else to do! However, when she entered it, the ancient building seemed to welcome her like a friend. It was different from the church at Rosings, which was a handsome, modern building, but it was a church, it had sheltered others before her, in anxiety and loneliness. She prayed for her mother, and felt reassured.
As she was leaving, an elderly woman, simply dressed but obviously a gentlewoman, came up to her and asked if she was Miss de Bourgh. When she replied that she was, "My name is Caldwell," the lady said. "I knew your father. My husband and he were great friends; and I met you when you were a very small child; your parents brought you on a visit to Pemberley."
She enquired after Lady Catherine, and said "My friend Mrs Endicott told me that you were here, and about your situation. I think I should have known you anywhere, you have a great look of your father. We liked him so very much, we were greatly saddened by the news of his death. Now, Miss de Bourgh, what can I do, or what can my husband do, to make things more comfortable for you while you are here?"
Anne did not know what her mother would have thought of this, for Lady Catherine never made any new acquaintance, and always refused to meet new people; but the lady had known her father; it must be proper. And there was one thing she wanted very badly. Hesitantly, she asked if Mrs Caldwell could lend her a book. Any book! or if none were available, a newspaper ; she would return it tomorrow, and go to a lending library, but for tonight she had nothing. Poor Anne thought to herself that she would read a dictionary, if nothing else were to be had.
"If that is all," Mrs Caldwell said, "we shall be delighted, my husband has a large library, and I am very fond of reading myself. Our home is quite close by, and you may come and choose for yourself; but Mrs Endicott is staying with us, and I do not know if you and your mother would wish for her acquaintance. The Endicotts are not people of rank; her husband is a publisher and bookseller. If you prefer, tell me what you like, and my maid shall bring something to the hotel."
"Distinctions of rank are thought to matter greatly," Anne replied, "but Mrs Endicott was kind, and that matters more. I read a book by French writer who said that savages are more noble than we are, because they do not care about such things. That is, I tried to read it; I think that is what it said. In any case, I would be happy to make Mrs Endicott's acquaintance."
"My dear, that is just the kind of thing your father would have said."
The Caldwells lived in a respectable-looking stone house, on one of the streets near the church. Anne found herself in a spacious apartment, its walls crowded with books, looking out onto an enclosed garden. In it, Mrs Endicott was sitting, with two men, shaded from the last rays of the sun by a big copper-beech tree. Mrs Caldwell called them in, and introduced her husband and her son, Mr Edmund Caldwell.
"I remember your father well," Mr Caldwell told her. "He was passionately interested in stones, he loved the fossils in our hills, and we wrote a great many letters to each other." Anne was looking at several very big fossils, skillfully mounted, standing on tables and shelves. "I think there are some specimens like these in the library at Rosings," she ventured, "there are several cabinets of smaller ones, too, and many of them have the word "Derbyshire" on the labels."
"We collected them together," Mr Caldwell said. "We had some wonderful days in the hills. You came with us, Edmund; and young Fitzwilliam Darcy. I can see him now, scrabbling about with his hammer, so serious. He looked up to you, Edmund, then, for he was only eight years old, and you were ten; and that handsome little fellow, George Wickham, came along, but he did nothing, just ran about, he never would apply himself. You were only three, Miss de Bourgh, but your nurse walked you out to meet us, a little toddling thing in a pink dress."
His wife said. "She wanted to do every thing that the others did, and picked up a pebble from the roadside, and brought it to you, saying "look, Mr Caldwell, this is a beauty!" She smiled at Anne.
"All stones are beautiful," said Mr Edmund Caldwell. "Yes, they are; even those by the roadside. They have colours in them, they have gleams, they have traces of the fire wherein they were made. They will shine, if you cut and polish them."
"Look, Miss de Bourgh," and he picked up a small platter made of a blue stone. "Look, see the patterns in it, see the swirls of colour. This is the blue john, our own Derbyshire stone. It is found nowhere else in the world. It is fragile, it will smash easily. But how beautiful it is!" and he smiled at her.
"It is indeed," Anne said, and smiled back at him, holding the little dish in her hand.
"We have a property up in the hills," Mr Caldwell said. "The soil is too thin to do much farming, and my son had the idea of developing a lead mine, which is doing very well."
"Yes, the lead mine is doing well," Mrs Endicott said. "but are you making anything from the little blue john mine?"
"Well, it makes no money," said Edmund Caldwell, "but I believe beautiful things can be made from this stone, if we can but learn to work it. It is an amusement; or should I say, a passion?"
"Now Miss de Bourgh, you must choose a book," Mrs Caldwell said." Would you like a novel, or something more serious? Miss de Bourgh has been reading the French authors," she told the others.
"I did, a little, but I find reading French very hard, too hard for pleasure."
"And their terrible ideas," said Mrs Endicott.
"No," said Edmund Caldwell. "They have wonderful ideas, about liberty and equality."
"But look at the dreadful things they have done. Such wicked people. Their ideas must be wrong."
"But, excuse me," Anne said. "Are we right, to condemn the ideas, because some of the people did wicked things? We all know what it is, to have good principles, but not do such good things as we know we ought."
"One idea they have, which I support with all my heart," said Edmund Caldwell. "and that is, liberty. Slavery is wrong, tyranny is wrong. Nobody should be allowed to tyrannise over any other human being."
"But is it right, to protest it by violent means?" said Mrs Endicott.
"Come, come," said Mrs Caldwell, "Miss de Bourgh came here for something to read, not an argument. We argue all the time, Miss de Bourgh, in this house. There is only one provision, that nobody is allowed to get angry. Now, Miss de Bourgh, would you like a novel?"
"I am not in the habit of novel reading. My mother does not approve of them, and there are very few in our house." As she spoke, she was looking along the shelves, and took down a volume: An Enquiry into the Original State and Formation of the Earth, by John Whitehurst. "I have read this, it is in my father's library."
"I know it," said Mr Edmund Caldwell. "It was not published recently, but it is very good, and there is a great deal in it about our county."
"Do you know," said Mrs Endicott, "that in a short while a great map will be published, of all the British Isles, showing the rocks that lie underneath, in every place? And he will buy it, will you not, Edmund?"
"Yes indeed," he said. "Whatever the cost, I shall buy it."
"Come, try a novel," Mrs Caldwell said, smiling at Anne, "Do try. There can be no harm. You want something a little lighter to read before you go to sleep."
"If you give her the last one you lent to me, she will not sleep at all," said Mrs Endicott. "She wants no Horrid Mysteries, or midnight frighteners."
"No, no," said Mrs Caldwell. "I have one here, that is very pretty, and harmless. Now, where is it? On this table here, I think, for I put it down the other day.."
While she hunted for it, Anne looked further along the shelves, and found a small pamphlet : An Account of some Curious Derbyshire Rock Formations, by Edmund Caldwell. Publisher: John Endicott.
"Oh!" she said. "Did you write this, sir? I would dearly like to read it."
"You may keep it, Miss de Bourgh," said its author. "We have a good number of unsold copies."
"Oh, come," said Mrs Endicott. "It did not sell at all badly."
"No, but we can certainly spare one for Miss de Bourgh."
Meanwhile, the elder Mr Caldwell had been looking through an untidy writing desk. He now came toward them, with an envelope in his hand.
"This is something that you may like to see, my dear," he said, slid out a letter, and held it out to her.
The paper was not new. Anne saw the address "Rosings Park, Hunsford, Kent." She saw the first words "My dear Caldwell, I was so pleased to receive your letter," and knew her father's hand. She could see him, sitting at the desk in his library, writing, while she sat close by in a big armchair, playing with her doll. She felt the tears rising to her eyes, she felt her face convulse; she began to cry, and found that she could not stop. She wept, as if her heart were breaking.
A young lady who faints may awake chivalrous sentiments in gentlemen; a young lady who weeps engenders only a strong desire to be elsewhere. By the time Anne was recovered enough to look up, both Mr Caldwells had disappeared. Mrs Endicott was holding her hand, Mrs Caldwell was proffering a clean handkerchief, and a maid was bringing in a tea-tray.
"Oh, what must you think of me?" was her first exclamation.
"We think that you have had a dreadful two days, and are tired and distressed," was Mrs Caldwell's reply. "Now, Miss de Bourgh, here is a cup of tea; do you drink it, and then you shall wash your face and feel better."
The tea did make Anne feel better, and then she found that Mrs Endicott's carriage had been ordered to take her back to the hotel. In spite of her protests, she was glad of it. When they got outside they found that it was needed, for the sultry weather of the past few days had broken, and a heavy rain had begun. Both ladies went with her, bringing a number of novels; and saw to putting her to bed, and the ordering of a bowl of bread and milk. She felt much more comfortable, but her mind was still in great distress:
"Mr Caldwell, oh, poor Mr Caldwell. What a terrible thing for me to do.
"I must have made him feel so dreadful," she lamented.
"He is only sad for you," said Mrs Caldwell, who knew that her husband was saddened and distressed beyond measure. Anne knew it, too. Tired as she was, and late as it was, she must not allow her friends to leave, without at least trying to put the matter right. An idea came to her.
"Do you think," she asked, "that Mr Caldwell would allow me to keep the letter? It chances that, since I was always at home, my father never wrote me a letter. I have nothing in his writing, which is why I was so overcome. It would mean a great deal to me, to have it."
"My dear!" exclaimed Mrs Caldwell, joyfully, "it will make him so happy. I can answer for it, he will be delighted."
The two ladies left, promising to call the next day and take her for a walk to see the beauties of the surrounding countryside. Anne lay back and closed her eyes. What a pleasant thing it was, to be with people who talked about books, and ideas; and who argued but never got angry! She remembered Edmund Caldwell, smiling at her over the little stone platter; the thought came into her mind, that Mr Edmund Caldwell had smiled at her very agreeably indeed. She found, it seemed only a few minutes later, that she had slept the night through.
Monday dawned, with some improvement to Lady Catherine. Her assistants assured Anne that she would sleep a great deal, and was best not disturbed, for the time being.
The rain had stopped, but the roads were still wet. Mr and Mrs Caldwell arrived, Mr Edmund having returned to his home to attend to business. Mr Caldwell, smiling affectionately, handed over to Anne her father's letter. She thanked him again and again, and put it away, as a treasure to be kept for life. "I would not deny myself the pleasure of waiting on you, my dear," he said, "but I do not propose to stay; the weather is not suitable for a walk, all the field ways will be swamped, and the ladies have had the idea of taking you into the warm bath."
Anne felt doubtful.
"There are only ladies there, during the morning hours. It is very harmless, and very pleasant," said Mrs Endicott.
"And health-giving," added Mrs Caldwell. "I am sure good Dr Benson will approve, for he always recommends it. Come, Miss de Bourgh, you will enjoy it, I am sure; and if you do not like it, we will undertake to bring you straight back, at any moment you choose."
The bathhouse was large, cavernous and rather ill-lit. It seemed very strange, to be in such a place, and so strangely dressed, but the smiles of the other ladies reassured her -- and indeed, they did all cut such comic figures! It was impossible not to be amused, and they all started laughing together. She entered the water timorously, Mrs Caldwell holding her hand, but was at once conscious of the extraordinary warmth, and the feeling both of comfort to her limbs and reassurance to her mind. She began gently moving about, enjoying the sensation of the water flowing about her. "How wonderful it is!" she whispered.
"And how strange to think," said Mrs Caldwell, "that this flow of warmth, of comfortable, gentle warmth, comes from those terrible fires deep within the earth!"
Her enjoyment was such, that she kept asking for a little more time, and they actually had to insist on her coming out at last. She thought it was a long time since she had felt so well.
The sense of well-being stayed with her throughout the day.
Lady Catherine awoke toward the end of the afternoon. Her attendants were pleased with her progress, and, sitting up in bed in her lace wrapper, she was fully able to converse. She was, as Mrs Williams had predicted, well enough to be cross; and she availed herself of the fact, to be very cross indeed. Anne had to relate the history of the previous evening; and of the morning, or as much of it as she thought her mother needed to hear. She said nothing of her tears, or the letter; only that the Caldwells had taken her home to borrow a book, and taken her to the bath.
Lady Catherine was not pleased. "Caldwell? Caldwell? Who are these people? I have no recollection of ever meeting anybody of that name. Sir Lewis was in the habit of making odd friends; but that does not mean that his wife and daughter are obliged to know them. We may have been acquainted, very slightly, but twenty years ago -- you are talking about twenty years ago. I certainly have no recollection of any letter of condolence from them, when Sir Lewis died. These people are probably trying to use your situation, to claim a connection. Here you are alone in the place and un-protected, and they want to profit from it. As for Mrs Endicott, I recollect her perfectly, and am quite sure that that was what she was doing: she is certainly one of those people, who will do anything to get acquainted with a person of rank. You are to have nothing more to do with them, Anne."
Anything more unjust, Anne could not imagine!
What was she to do? Never, in her life, had she disobeyed her mother; always, her mother had decided what was right and what should be done.
Suddenly, she recalled Mr Edmund Caldwell's remark "Nobody should tyrannise over another person." What would he think, if he saw her putting up with injustice to his parents, only because she was afraid?
Taking a deep breath, and in rather a tremulous voice, she said "As far as you are concerned, ma'am, you are free to reject the acquaintance; but I am not. These people have been kind to me; and I do not believe they did it from any idea of advantage, or flattery, they are not in the least like poor Mr Collins. But I have accepted their friendship, I have indebted myself to them, and it would be wrong, it would be unjust to turn my back on them now."
She waited, for the sky to fall in.
But to her surprise, her mother only said "Well, well; but I will have nothing to do with it; I will not receive them."
"Very well, ma'am."
As for Anne's letter to Pemberley, it was quite unnecessary, she said; she would have written in due course. There was no need of money; she had banknotes and a letter of credit in her jewel-case.
One thing, and one thing only, had pleased Lady Catherine: the Master of Ceremonies had called, and though of course she had not been able to receive him, he had left compliments, and the promise of any assistance she might require -- any assistance! anything! -- and the library subscription list, together with the list of those who had attended Saturday's assembly.
She was reading both with interest: "Lady Southwell, The Honourable Henry and Mrs Willington, Doctor and Mrs Rigsby, Captain Stephens, the Reverend Marcus Appleby.. That is very well for so small a place, and the season hardly begun; and they tell me the Duchess of Stilberry is expected almost any day, with her brother, Lord Francis Meaburn. You might do very well here, Anne, if you will but pay attention to a more proper kind of people."
The next few days continued in the same pattern; her friends took her to the baths each morning, and in the afternoon they walked. The country around was magnificent, and Anne found she gained strength every day. Still there was no response from the Darcys, and Lady Catherine decided that Anne's letter had gone astray, otherwise they never would have neglected her; clearly, Anne had written the direction too ill; but it did not matter, she did not need them.
On the Thursday, Anne returned to the hotel toward the end of the morning. She entered her sitting room, and found two people there. One was her cousin Darcy; the other, a young lady, tall and handsome. It must be Mrs Darcy -- but surely the lady she remembered did not look like this? Surely Miss Elizabeth Bennett was smaller, livelier-looking, and had not such dark hair?
The lady crossed the room, took both her hands in hers, and cried "You are my cousin, Anne. Oh, poor Anne, what an unpleasant time you have had! We are so sorry!"
It was her cousin, Georgiana Darcy.
Darcyís greeting to his cousin was as affectionate as Georgianaís. He expressed over and over their concern, their desire to support and comfort her, and their regret that she had been left for so many days, unassisted by them. His manner to her was that of a kind and affectionate brother, rather than the distant, haughty cousin she had always known. Marriage, she thought, had wrought a great improvement in him.
Anneís letter had, by exceptional activity on the part of the Post Office, that is, a nephew of the postmistress having a sweetheart in service at Pemberley, actually been delivered to the house on the Saturday evening. But it was addressed to "Mr Darcy," and he was away from home on business. His steward, recognising the name "de Bourgh," had paid the postage, but pretty well knew that his master would be in no especial hurry to get a letter from that particular sender. The significance of the initial: "A" instead of "C de Bourgh," had escaped his notice. The letter lay on Darcyís desk until he returned, late on the Wednesday.
"And nobody looked at it," Georgiana said, "his man of business saw it, but seeing it was a private letter, he did not open it. Oh, Anne, to think of your letter lying there, and you alone here, and wretched!" It was clear that Georgianaís tender heart was wrung. Anne felt, in her own mind, that it was a quite providential occurrence, for she had not been wretched, at least beyond the distress of the first day or so. She had enjoyed herself, and more to the point, she had thought and acted for herself for the first time in her life. Her time in Burley had done her a great deal of good. But they had got her in their minds, as an ill-used heroine. It might be ill-natured, and would certainly be difficult, to disabuse them. In any case it was causing them to treat her with very affectionate solicitude, which it would surely be ungracious to refuse.
"The letter was discovered so late in the day," Darcy said, "that we could not set out, and we decided to leave very early this morning."
He and his sister had come to Burley with the intention of staying, if necessary, of hiring a house if it were thought advisable, of bringing them both to Pemberley if it could be done, in short, of doing anything and everything that might be of use or comfort.
But Lady Catherine refused to be moved. The doctor had assured Mr Darcy that her arm was well strapped up, and she would feel little discomfort from the jolting of a well-sprung carriage. She thought otherwise; she was sure that it would hurt her a great deal. The truth was, Lady Catherine was not at all anxious to get to Pemberley, where the former Miss Elizabeth Bennet was mistress. She was extremely comfortable in the hotel, where her presence was highly valued. She was being very well looked after, and her slightest wish was obsequiously carried out. And the Duchess was arriving in a day or so: "I should like to meet her, I would be pleased to make her acquaintance, for the family is a connection of ours. And, Darcy, my carriage will be arriving at Pemberley some time; see to it, will you?"
Anne might go with them, she said, it would be well to remove Anne from Burley, where she had been associating with the scaff and raff of the place. Mr Darcy had tried in vain to make her understand that the Caldwells were old acquaintances, and that Edmund Caldwell was a friend of his childhood. "I even explained to her that Mrs Caldwell is a second cousin, by marriage, of Lady Louisa Benton," he said. "But she would have none of it; she said she had heard that their son was a stonemason, or a quarryman, or some such thing. Nothing will convince her that he is one of the most respected men in the country, and a very good fellow. Never mind, cousin, we will get them to Pemberley, and you shall meet them again. His home is little more than five miles from us. He and I will have some good talks, too. Nobody is so good a talker as Edmund Caldwell!"
Whether all of Mr Darcyís present good temper derived from his happiness in marriage, or whether some of it was due to the fact that he was not going to have to act as host to Lady Catherine in the near future, it would perhaps be as well not to enquire. At all events, he was in a fine flow of spirits, ready to do anything that would promote his cousinís comfort, and anxious to get her to Pemberley as soon as might be.
To Anneís great satisfaction, Darcy and Georgiana insisted, before they would quit Burley, on calling on Mr and Mrs Caldwell, to thank them for their kindness to her, and to engage them to spend a few days at Pemberley. The promise was willingly given; they would come, as soon as their son should be able to be of the party.
By late afternoon, Anne was sitting in an open carriage, admiring the magnificent countryside, on the way to Pemberley. In an open carriage, she had no tendency to biliousness, and felt, indeed, as well as she had ever been. It was a clear, windy day, the shadows of the clouds chased each other across the hillsides, and the fields and trees were resplendent in their summer green. On every side of her was beauty; as she gazed around, she could not keep from smiling, and her eyes were bright with pleasure. No-one would have recognised the forlorn little figure, who had wept her heart out on the Caldwellsí sofa, a few days before.
Mrs Darcy had sent her love, they told her, and had wanted to come, but she was expecting shortly to be confined, and they had felt that the fifteen-mile journey was too much for her to undertake. "What my brother means is," said Georgiana, "that she is so precious to him, he would not dream of letting her do it, though she wanted to; he put on his black look, and she had to stay. She has had to be content with getting the prettiest possible room ready for you. But we thought a lady should come, so I accompanied him. Mrs Annersley is with her, of course, and Colonel Fitzwilliam is there too. He is always so kind." How pretty she looks, Anne thought, the fresh air has turned her complexion pink.
"Is Colonel Fitzwilliam staying with you?" Anne asked. "We heard that his regiment was sent overseas, and that he was dreadfully injured in action."
"Yes, he is here," said Darcy. "A bullet grazed his face, and he is somewhat disfigured; and another lodged in his shoulder, he has some trouble using his right arm. But the doctors are pleased with his progress, he will be well again in time."
"Oh, how terrible!"
"Do not say so to him," Darcy said. "He makes nothing of it; he will only say that appearances do not matter to a soldier. All he wants to do, is to rejoin his comrades."
"He was mentioned in the dispatches," Georgiana said." His regiment are very proud of him. Look, Anne, there is Pemberley; there, you see, through the trees and across the water. This is one of my favourite views."
"It should be," said Darcy, smiling. "She has drawn and painted it twenty times at least."
He began rallying his sister, teasing her that when ever she could not get the drawing right, she put in a tree branch; she was laughing. Anne looked at the sunlit reaches of the park, the house, in its splendid setting. She had lived in an imposing house all her life, and the size and magnificence of Pemberley did not impress her. But Rosings stood on level ground, with no views beyond its formal gardens. Here was an open prospect, the dappled light and shade, the fine trees, the stream, all leading the eye out to glorious views over hill and valley. She thought, "This is what my mother intended for me, that I should be mistress of this." To be mistress of Pemberley would indeed be something!
But none of its wealth and grandeur, she could see, was of any value to the owner of Pemberley, compared with the beautiful young woman who stood waiting on the terrace, in all the bloom of expectant motherhood. He leaped out of the carriage toward her; she ran to him. There was that lighting glance, that she had seen between them at Rosings; but now it was more, it was a look of perfect happiness, perfect delight! After a few words with her husband, Elizabeth Darcy came toward her, and greeted her with a kind smile and handclasp. It was no wonder, she thought, that her cousin was a different man; marriage with Elizabeth would make any man happy. Suddenly the thought darted through her: more than anything in the world, I would like to make someone as happy as that.
"Well, Mrs Darcy," said her husband, as soon as they were alone together, "what do you think now?"
"I shall never forget the sense of relief, as the carriage came into view. I saw only two ladies in it; one was Georgiana and the other was clearly not Lady Catherine." Elizabeth said. "We have been spared! But I was never so surprised in my life as when I saw your cousin Anne! She is just as thin and small as ever, but she holds herself better; she looks so much livelier, and she smiles and talks much more readily."
"Dr Benson asked to speak to me, before Anne arrived this morning," said Darcy. "He believes that this poor health of hers is due to nothing more than bad medicine and lack of food. He told me she has been taking a mixture of substances, that would damage the constitution of the healthiest person; they have depressed her appetite and harmed her nerves, and she has been eating far too little. I never did like that doctor my aunt employs; I believe his only concern was to flatter her, and feather his own nest by prescribing more and more rubbish, for which, of course, she pays him. And since he declared that Anne was ill, ill she had to be."
"The poor girl! It is monstrous!" exclaimed Elizabeth indignantly.
"No," said Darcy, musingly, "my aunt is not a monster. She means no harm. She is a capable and clever woman. Rosings is as well managed as Pemberley, and her tenants speak of her with respect, though not with affection. She would never, for example, tell a lie, or swindle one of her tenants. She has two serious faults: one is that she has far too much regard for rank. The other is that, whatever is going forward, whatever is needed to be done, she must be the one to do it; the one to plan, to arrange, to carry out. She can not allow anyone else to control anything. Her man of business must always consult with her first, and do exactly as she sees fit; she leaves nothing to his judgment. Did you know that the Rosings property is not entailed? Sir Lewis made a will soon after they were married, leaving everything to her, house, land and money; for he said, that he knew she would look after it well; and that where there is an entail, the eldest son always becomes expensive, and selfish."
"Yes, because he cannot be disinherited. It is a great pity that they had only one child, and that a daughter. She would have managed any number of noisy, self-willed sons."
"She reminds me sometimes," Darcy said, "of Queen Elizabeth. I am sure that, if she were in charge of the parliament, the country would be well governed."
"I seem to recall," said Elizabeth, "that Queen Elizabeth took almost twenty years to think whether she would cut off the head of the poor Queen of Scots. If Lady Catherine had to decide, I do not think she would take twenty minutes. But now, what about Anne? It seems to me, that now she is here, and without her mother, we have a Heaven-sent chance to do some good. I should like to, for I feel she has had but a poor life of it, at Rosings."
"I believe that my aunt is, in a sense, right; we owe Anne something, or at least, I do. Because of me, she has been allowed to spend years in the vain expectation that we would marry."
"Could you not have made it clear, that you did not intend to marry her?"
"You may well ask, but though clearly it was, for Lady Catherine, a thing understood, it was never referred to, or not plainly. I was frequently asked to Rosings, but there was always a reason: Fitzwilliam was coming to stay, or the pheasants needed shooting, or my advice was wanted about some matter. There was never a moment when I might stand up and say "Madam, I am not going to marry your daughter. It is not an easy thing to do."
"I think," Elizabeth said "that we must do precisely what your aunt has asked us to do; we must find a husband for her."
"It will not be as easy as my aunt thinks; her portion is very large, but she is five and twenty, and although her looks have improved, I would not call her handsome. I would not wish her to marry a man who only wanted her for the sake of her money."
"Do you think," said Elizabeth, hesitantly, "that she and your cousin Fitzwilliam might like to marry?"
"Fitzwilliam? He has known her for years, and I have never seen anything of affection ñ anything beyond cousinly regard."
"Well," said his wife, "I think they would be very well suited. They are close in age, equal in rank, and they know each other. Her money would be in good hands, and it would be very useful to him."
"But he is a soldier, and he loves the life. If she married him, she must go where he goes, and follow the drum. Would her health be adequate for such an existence?"
"Well, my love, there is another matter that I think I should mention to you. My dear, has it occurred to you that Georgiana is becoming very fond of him?"
Darcy looked astounded. "I think it is only a schoolgirlís admiration," Elizabeth said, "but it might become more."
"Fitzwilliam is as good a man as ever lived ñ but he is too old for her."
"I believe," said Elizabeth, "that your cousinís wounds, and his courage, have had a great effect on her. There is a sort of chivalry in Georgiana. I think that she fell in love with Wickham, you know, because he represented himself as ill-used, neglected and lonely. I talked with Colonel Fitzwilliam a little today ñ no! of course I did not mention my suspicions - but I am pretty sure that there is nothing on his side beyond the natural affection of a man for a younger cousin. He is a man of honour, and would never try to gain a young girlís affection for the sake of money. But it might make Georgiana unhappy."
"Good heavens! What can I do? This place is his home, until he is fit to rejoin his regiment. I cannot send him away."
"No, you cannot. The best we can do is to make sure that she has other choices, other interests. We have lived here, you know, since we married, very happily, and, my love, I would wish for nothing more ñ but our comfortable, elegant family circle is very restricted. I believe that, for Georgina, there should be a more varied society. In the ordinary way, she would have had a season in London, but as things are, we cannot give her that. Let us see how many things we can do, that might provide her with other people who she might admire or love. It could not be other than good for Anne, too."
"We must go to the assemblies," her husband said, "in Lambton and Burley. We have neighbours whom we can invite for dinner parties, and musical evenings. We can do much more than we have done; summer is coming; there are race meetings; there are even cricket matches. I would see Anne more occupied, too ñ stay! ñ suppose we engage Georgiana, as an affectionate cousin, to help us with Anne? Would not that chivalry of hers be well engaged ñ to give Anne new interests and occupations ñ to look after her health ñ even to look for a husband for her?"
"Yes, indeed it would; it is the very thing. I will talk to her tomorrow."
The morrow, for Anne, brought surprises indeed. She and her cousin Georgiana had a delightful drive around the park. In the course of it, it transpired that Georgiana had an inordinate number of dresses, outgrown or outmoded, that only needed a little cutting down, and a few stitches, for Anne to be able to wear them "and Anne dear, the Caldwells are coming soon , maybe next week. You must have something fashionable to wear. Your mother need never know!" Her cousin Georgianaís maid, who, it seemed, had very little to do, got at her hair, and created a new, very becoming style for her. Mrs Annesley offered to teach her to play the piano. Her cousin Darcy gave her the freedom of his library. And Colonel Fitzwilliam, quite unprompted, pointed out that Mrs Darcy could not, in her present circumstances, exercise her mare ñ such a gentle creature! and offered to teach Anne to ride, thus raising Mrs Darcyís hopes quite considerably.
It proved that the making over of Georgiana's clothes for such a small lady as Anne, was hardly possible, and certainly not worth the trouble. However, Mrs Reynolds, the Pemberley housekeeper, got to hear of it, and produced several lengths of silk and muslin, bought but never used, saying that if Miss did not object to quite a simple style, a couple of day dresses, and an evening gown could be very quickly made up.
The dresses were ready well before the Caldwells arrived. Her new clothes suited her remarkably well, and with her newly styled hair, she was able to play her part, in the initial dinner party, with a confidence she had seldom felt before. Visitors came to Pemberley almost every day, and many had been very agreeable, but to see them again was so comfortable! She could talk with parents and son alike, with as much ease, as if they were old acquaintances. Mr and Mrs Caldwell treated her like a daughter, and it was amazing, how many of the same books she and Edmund liked!
The first evening, as they were all sitting together after dinner, Georgiana suddenly said "Do you know, brother, that Anne says she cannot dance?"
"Not dance? Why, how is this?" Anne admitted that she had, of course, been taught to dance, but being out of practice, unwell, and shy, she had not been able to, the last time she was at a ball.
"That will not do at all," said Mrs Darcy. "We are going to the Lambton assembly quite soon. What can be done?"
"If you would like, Madam," said Mrs Annesley, "I would be very happy to play the piano, and we could walk Miss de Bourgh through a few figures, at any time."
"Oh!" cried Georgiana, "let us dance now! We could make up, let me see.. we are one, three, five women, and four men. My sister will not wish to dance, but we can make up three couple, if Mrs Annesley will play for us, and Anne can watch."
"I have a better idea," said Elizabeth. "I will play, you can make up four couple, and Anne can join in," and she sat down at the piano forte, and began a country dance.
It was strange, but after one walk through, Anne had no trouble at all, in picking up the figures! Among friends, in whom she had confidence, her shyness vanished; she turned, and cast, and set, and curtseyed, and yet had leisure to notice, that Colonel Fitzwilliam was by far the best dancer, and Edmund Caldwell the worst.
After this, they danced every evening. There were walks every day in the park, and once there was an expedition to the celebrated fossil-bearing face, though Anne was afraid of the fatigue, and went with Mrs Annesley in the pony carriage. Each morning, she would ride. Colonel Fitzwilliam was very pleased with her, and she found it better than walking, allowing her to see more of the park.
One morning, when they got back, they learned that Mrs Caldwell had gone out driving with Mrs Darcy, but since the pony carriage would only hold two, the others had decided on a walk. Darcy, it seemed, had business letters which would not wait. Colonel Fitzwilliam said he would follow the walking party, he would catch them up. Anne, a little tired, was disinclined to walk, and went to practise at the piano. She had but just begun, when the butler approached her and murmured "A person to see you, miss."
"Who is it, Bentley?"
"I understand he is your respected mother's agent, miss."
"Oh! very well, I will see him." The agent was in the library. "Good day, Mr Colby."
"Good day, Miss. I was expecting.."
"Yes, of course; you were expecting to see Lady Catherine. Well, she is at Burley; she was taken ill, you see, on the way here."
"Yes, miss, so I understand from Mr Bentley. I shall go there of course, I will be on my way; but there is just one thing; since you are here, miss. It is regarding the usual business at this time of year," and smiling kindly, he withdrew from his case a pile of papers, "if you would just sign over the income, as per usual, your signature is wanted here, and here.."
Anne looked at the papers. "What is this, Colby?"
"Why, miss, you sign it every year, it is just as usual."
"Yes, but what do I sign? I think I should read it, first."
Mr Colby looked a little agitated. "Lady Catherine wishes it signed, ma'am."
"But I am not sure that I should sign it, without understanding what is in it."
"There is nothing different, miss, you sign it every year."
"Well that may be so, but I think I should not have signed it, without understanding it."
"It is just your name, miss, and it makes over the income."
Anne began to feel confused, and frightened. Mr Colby seemed so sure; why was she being so stupid? It must be right, to sign; but why could she not know what she was doing?
Just at that moment, Mr Edmund Caldwell came in. "Oh! Excuse me, Miss de Bourgh. I was looking for Darcy."
"I believe he is in his study," said Anne; and he made to leave. Suddenly she called out "Oh! pray, Mr Caldwell, do not leave, pray help me."
He came back into the room. "What is the matter, Miss de Bourgh?"
"It is only.. Mr Colby has brought this document for me to sign, and I do not know, I do not understand, I am sure it is right, but should I sign something I do not understand?"
"Certainly not," he replied, calmly. "Mr.. Colby, is it?.. that seems to be a legal document that you have there; can you not explain its nature to Miss de Bourgh?"
"Oh, sir," the agent replied, smiling patronizingly, "young ladies do not want to understand the intricacies of such things, young ladies and legal language do not mix."
"Then young ladies will be swindled, as older people have been, before them," Mr Caldwell replied, holding out his hand for the papers. He perused the top ones swiftly.
"This seems to be a document, handing over a little over three hundred pounds into Lady Catherine's keeping," he said. "How comes this about, that Miss de Bourgh should be in possession of such a sum? And this being the case, why should she be expected to surrender it? Do you know anything about this, Miss de Bourgh?"
"Excuse me, sir," the agent said, "but this is a private family matter, and.."
"You are right," said Mr Caldwell. "It is a family matter, and Miss de Bourgh needs the advice of a member of her family," and ringing the bell, he ordered the butler "Request Mr Darcy to come here immediately. Miss de Bourgh is in distress, and needs him." The butler disappeared. "Oh, do not leave me," Anne whispered, almost ready to sink. "Do not be afraid, Miss de Bourgh," he said. "I will not leave, until Mr Darcy arrives," and taking her to an armchair, he compelled her to be seated, and sate down opposite her in silence, smiling reassuringly at her, until her cousin appeared, whereupon he quietly left the room.
Mr Darcy quickly ascertained the situation. Sir Lewis de Bourgh, it appeared, had, in a codicil to his will, left ten thousand pounds in trust, to provide an income for his beloved daughter, until such time as she should marry. The interest, amounting, under proper management, to something over three hundred pounds, should have been handed over to Anne, at each anniversary. Instead, Lady Catherine had always insisted, from no better motive, it seemed, than that love of controlling and dictating, which ruled her life, on its being paid over to her, to be used on Anne's behalf. There was nothing improper about this arrangement, since Anne had always agreed to it; but if she did not like it, she was at liberty, said Mr Darcy, to change it, and have the use of her own money: "For it is her money, is it not, Mr Colby?"
"Yes indeed, sir," said the agent, "But Lady Catherine wanted.."
"It is a case," said Mr Darcy, "of what my cousin wants. What do you want, Anne?"
Anne took a deep breath. "I want to have the money, sir."
Mr Colby said "But where do you want it assigned, miss? Do you desire to have the capital, or the interest? Do you have a banking account?"
"Do not be afraid, cousin," said Mr Darcy. "Mr Colby, my cousin is five and twenty years old, she is not a child. Why do we not take this matter elsewhere, and see to it together, that the money is put into an account at a bank, in her name, and I will myself instruct her in the use of it? Cousin Anne, will you allow me to act for you in this matter?"
"Oh, yes, cousin, if you please."
"Very good, it shall be done. Come, Mr Colby." And he led the agent from the room. *******
Continued in Part 2
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