Hoping against Hope
Chapter 1, First Experiences
Anne de Bourgh had a happy childhood at Rosings Park. The early times of her life were determined by three persons: Nanny, her father and her mother.
Nanny always was at hand, was soft, merry and tender. She always knew what she needed and did not require too much. To drink milk, make a curtsey when somebody comes, sleep in time without asking why. She told her lots of fairy tales. Anne's favourite was the one about the Beauty and the Beast. She asked Nanny to tell it again and again.
Her father was also an accustomed figure at the child's room. He came first after breakfast and they went together to take a walk in the park or in the house. These were not long ones. When they went out they watched the goldfishes in the fountain behind the house. It was a just enough distance for those little feet. After lunch and a little nap father came again to play a game with Anne or tell a story, which was very interesting, since the main character was always a little girl living in a big house in the middle of a park with goldfishes in the fountain...
The mother never came to the room of Anne. Anne herself visited her every day after tea. She sat on the sofa and asked questions and Anne was afraid to make a mistake because mother often became angry.
Then Nanny left the house because she became a big girl: six years old. A governess arrived and Anne began to learn read, write, count and to play the piano. She liked to do them, but first of all she liked to draw and paint. Father watched her paintings and drawings every day and liked to play four-hand pieces together with her. She got more and more books from the father and they talked about them a lot. Their common walks became longer and Anne discovered how big is the park around Rosings. She had her tea together with her parents. Her mother did not stop asking her questions about her studies, but told a lot about her own matters as well. Obviously mother was that person who decided about the estate and the house, who dealt with the servants. Anne went to bed early while her parents received guests for dinner. The local minister was an everyday guest with his wife and some gentlemen and their wives from the neighborhood. Children never came to Rosings so Anne spent all of her time in the company of adults. She met only her cousins from Pemberley and Matlock Manor around Easter, but the boys were much older than she and the little girl, Georgiana was almost a baby that time so she could not play with them. Since she did not know anything else so she was content with this way of life. She was small and thin, ate almost nothing, but never was ill.
But when she was eleven it was her father who became ill. He lost much weight in a short time, had much pain continuously and on a sunny day he died. Anne was confused but her mother commanded the servants and organised the funeral herself. Even the verses from the Bible where chosen by her for the service. When it was all over they stayed alone. The mother discovered many new things about her daughter.
"How do you look? Obviously you are ill. Stay inside."
"You hardly have eaten anything. You are so weak. Don't play the piano, it is too hard for your body."
"Drawing and painting are too tiring for you. Stop them."
When she became seventeen Mrs. Jenkinson has arrived at Rosings. She was obedient all the commands of Lady Catherine, so when Anne became twenty she really was a pale figure who was sensitive for the fresh air, hardly did anything except lying on the sofa and never made a step on her feet outside the house. She was not even unhappy. She loved her mother, was fond of Mrs. Jenkinson and sometimes had some company when the minister visited them with his wife. The new minister was not a pleasant person, never had an own thought in the parlour and his sermons on Sundays were rather dull. But his wife was a nice person and sometimes while Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins were praising each other Anne and Charlotte could talk a little bit about some things which they were both interested in.
The happiest time for Anne was the weeks around Easter every year. Her cousins visited Rosings. Georgiana now was a pretty young lady, the best companion for Anne and she was always happy to listen to the chat of the boys who became men: Richard the Colonel and Darcy, now the owner of Pemberley. This Spring Georgiana did not come. Since last Summer there was something strange with her, hardly wrote any letters and Darcy also was very taciturn about her. Darcy himself was out of his mood, rather concerned of something. The Colonel was happy and joyful as always. There were guests at the parsonage too: the sister an the friend of Mrs. Collins, Maria Lucas and Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Anne enjoyed the big company in the house, the dinners together and that she could hear the sound of her piano again. Miss Bennet was a talented player and a remarkable singer. Anne was faithful for the enjoyment.
There was only one thing which spoiled her pleasure. Day by day her mother mentioned that she and Darcy would soon marry, because she and her sister agreed in it when Anne was born and Darcy was seven years old. Anne was not sure if this agreement had ever happened and although she liked Darcy she had a quite different imagination about the man she would marry. Darcy was a lovable cousin but definitely was not that man and it was obvious that she was not the ideal for Darcy. They both played not to hear the remarks of Lady Catherine so the days of the visit were finished without any remarkable event. The gentlemen promised to come again next year and Anne and her mother stayed in Rosings alone for a while.
Chapter 2, Unexpected Visit at Longbourn
The days after Easter were very quiet. Anne sat a lot at the window of her room reading her books. Her mother had lots to do. All the matters of the estate was her responsibility. Mr. Carmichael, the steward came to Lady Catherine every day to tell all the things what happened on the fields and in the stalls. Mr. Melchett, the family lawyer was not such a frequent visitor, but when he appeared it always meant something special: a new contract, buying or selling something and these transactions always turned out to be fruitful. Lady Catherine had a good sense to the finances and a good practice as well.
And there was Mr. Collins almost every day with his smooth sentences and compliments. Anne often realised that she had daydreams during his long lectures about the blessings of the Christian marriage and his praisings about all the things he heard from Lady Catherine. Mrs. Collins's health was not the best in these days. She almost always excused herself from the invitations, so Anne was without any company because Mrs. Jenkinson listened only to Lady Catherine and keenly nodded to everything which was heard during the visits.
May ended, June passed. It was pleasant weather and one day Anne, even herself did not know how stepped out on the terrace, walked down the steps, and after so many years bent over the fountain to look for the goldfishes. There were no more fishes in the pool, Anne was taller than the fountain itself and it took only thirty steps to reach it from the bottom of the stairs. Anne was surprised: it was that long tour she always took with her father? It was that short walk which was forbidden to take because of her health? As she turned she saw her mother at the top of the stairs lifting her walking sticks to heaven.
"You will die Anne if you exaggerate yourself so much."
"Come in. Don't hurry, it is very dangerous."
At the end of June they got to know that Mrs. Collins is pregnant. That is Mr. Collins announced it on a very special way. Anne first did not understood what he wanted with some olive branch. Before her appeared the Ark of Noah, but a minutes later she realised what he had said and deeply blushed.
Then came the more hotter July and at the beginning of August Mr. Collins brought a shameful but exiting news: the youngest sister of Miss Elizabeth Bennett eloped with an officer from Brighton. Every day was something new to tell about this matter. The information came from Mr. Collins's father-in-law at Longbourn. They are not found... Mr. Bennett gave up to find them... The shameless Lydia appeared at the house of his uncle in London.... And at the end they married and left for Newcastle. This case gave to Lady Catherine the possibility to tell some very useful moral parables to Mr. Collins and Mrs. Jenkinson. But it was not finished with the marriage. More and more details came from Longbourn and very near to the end of August Mr. Collins told that Miss Elizabeth Bennett was in Lambton when she got the horrible news and what is more Lydia told that Mr. Darcy was the best man of his fianc╗e at the wedding. Mr. Collins risked a little remark.
"It cannot mean else but the intention of Miss Bennett to marry Mr. Darcy. I always knew that she wanted to get in a higher position by marriage."
"What?" Exclaimed Lady Catherine. "How she dares! Mr. Darcy will marry my Anne."
She began to pace the room up and down. " I have to do something immediately."
In an hour Anne found herself in the big carriage riding toward Longbourn. Her mother was furious, but did not tell a word all the way. They spent the night at an inn. In the morning Lady Catherine was full of complaints. There was too hot in the room. There was draught in the dining room. The tea was cold. The ham was not enough fresh. Anne did not say a word. The impressions of the trip enchanted her. She was not accustomed to see so many faces, but she discovered something interesting in every human being she saw. A young girl had funny freckles around her nose. An officer left the inn and loudly called his servant. A family had its breakfast and the mother all the time persuaded the little boys to eat more. Riding in the carriage Anne watched the people working on the fields, since it was the time of the harvest. She heard children singing while they were going through a village. There was a strange feeling in her heart and when she wanted to name it she found an unexpected word: hope.
Their destination was Longbourn. Anne was happy to meet Elizabeth Bennett again and she was very disappointed when her mother told her to stay in the carriage while she talked to Miss Bennett. So she sat there and saw that after some minutes going in the house Lady Catherine came back to the garden with Elizabeth. Anne waved to her, but Elizabeth did not saw it. She seemed rather concerned. She and her mother obviously quarreled about something. Then Lady Catherine turned and with a mixture of triumph and anger on her face went back to the carriage.
"I solved this problem, of course, She did not promise not to marry Darcy, but she will know who I am. There is not any obstacles before your marriage with Darcy."
"Mother, Darcy never mentioned that he wanted to marry me, and...."
"He need not of course, because it was decided years before."
"...and I don't want to marry him either."
"Anne, you don't know what you say. The estates of Pemberley and Rosings has to be unified."
"Mother, Rosings is enough to give us everything we need."
"I always knew that you did not know what you said."
Anne turned her face to the window of the carriage. Her tears were hot and bitter. Until they arrived back to Rosings she tried to console herself with the memory of the feeling she had felt on the way to Longbourn. Will she find it again some day?
Chapter 3, Unexpected visitor at Rosings
Arriving home mother was in the same mood like on the way home. She often took remarks about the preparations for wedding and it always gave uneasy feelings to Anne. What is more on a Sunday morning when they came back from the church the carriage of Darcy stood before the house. Lady Catherine almost ran into the hall.
"Where is my dearest nephew?" She cried.
Ann stayed back a little. She had not any intention to meet Darcy, but she also felt that it is the best time to talk to him about all the nonsense of the marriage which never would happen she was sure.
Darcy greeted them with his general seriousness at the door of the library. He had wanted to have a little change after spending the August in hot London, he explained and went back to a book in spite of all the persuasion of Lady Catherine. At the dinner he was not talkative even, but Lady Catherine chatted about this and that. Anne and Mrs. Jenkinson did not tell a word as usual.
Next morning Darcy took a walk in the park. Anne watched him to go and come. When she saw him enter the house she gathered some courage and went to the hall. Darcy surprised when she saw her descending the stairs, but just bowed his head to her. Anne stood before him. Her voice was very soft, hardly audible.
"When I was a little girl I liked to play with my father at the fountain." She said.
Darcy did not answer, just stood there waiting.
"Do you want to see it? I had even goldfishes there."
Darcy offered his arm to her and they walked out to the fountain. There was a bank on the other side of the fountain in the shadow. Anne sat there and Darcy followed her. Nobody told a word for a while. At last Anne tried to begin the conversation.
"What are your plans for the.....next month?" She changed her mind in the last minute.
"I go back to Pemberley. I miss Georgiana much. And I think I stay there until spring. There are many tasks at the estate and I was not the best with my obligations there in the last months.
Anne remained silent but then she decided not to beat about the bush anymore.
"And when do you want to marry?" Darcy blushed and jumped and Anne saw that he completely misunderstood him. She also stood up.
"I mean...I wanted to say.... I did not want to talk about our marriage... I wanted to tell you.... It is completely out of question for me."
Darcy began to laugh and took her hand.
"For me too. I've never thought to talk about it because it's so absurd, dear Anne. You are a sweet cousin but I have a quite different imagination about marriage." He sighed.
"Then you have to talk to my mother."
"Dear Anne, I've just said I don't want to marry you."
"For that very reason you go. Mother visited Miss Bennet at Longbourn last week."
"What do you say?" Darcy exclaimed and immediately turned almost running toward the house. Anne smiled and with a sudden decision she also turned. If she came here she also could have a look at the park. The autumn colours already appeared on the trees and as she walked she felt a kind of longing to draw it or rather paint. How long did not she do it? For years obviously. As she walked back to the house she saw that the trunks of Darcy were carried out of the house and the carriage stood awaiting there.
When she entered Darcy came, took her hand and kissed.
"Dear Anne, I cannot be enough grateful to you. I hope, you will find happiness."
Anne smiled as he rushed to the carriage and left. Mrs. Jenkinson ran on the stairs.
"Please, Miss Anne, your mother...."
Anne went into her mother's bedchamber. Lady Catherine was pale lying on her bed. As she saw Anne she sat up and begin to cry.
"Unfaithful child! It was all arranged and you ruined everything! What will you do when I die and you stand here alone like my finger? You are the same fool like Darcy. He hears a word about that Bennet girl and runs there! But I told him when he marries her I won't know him anymore! What do you stand there? And where have you been?"
"I took a walk in the park."
"What? You surely will die." Lady Catherine collapsed to the bed.
Anne went to her mother and took her hand.
"Mother, don't be so anxious. Everything will be all right."
She went to her room. On the lower shelf of her cabinet she found some sheets of paper and some pieces of black coals.
"It is as good as anything." She smiled. She went to the window and began to draw the fountain.
Chapter 4, Double Wedding at Longbourn
Anne found a new item to draw every day. After some weeks she tried to mention to her mother a ride to the village to buy some paints, and for her greatest surprise Lady Catherine had not any objection regarding her health. So she and Mrs. Jenkinson bought water colours. In Anne's mind there were some pictures about the park. When she finished her first piece she was not satisfied at all. She did not want to paint exactly what she had seen, rather to put on the picture the mood she felt watching a certain spot. And really, there was spots on the painting of different shades of green. She had new tries and began to enjoy it.
Mr. Collins came and came as usual and sometimes Charlotte Collins accompanied him. She was the only person whom Anne showed her water colours. Charlotte was not an expert, herself could not even draw, but she liked the pictures. She said that she could feel the period of time when they had been painted at and could imagine the atmosphere of the place. Anne asked some unbrave questions about her state, but obviously Charlotte Collins had an uneasy feeling to talk about her pregnancy to an unmarried girl.
Lady Catherine hardly told a word during the Collinses' visits, and when they did not come for a week never mentioned them. In the end after seven days Mr. Collins appeared at Rosings Park and even Anne realised that there was something he did not talk about. This time Lady Catherine was more vivid as usual and very soon she ordered Mr. Collins to tell what was in his sleeve.
"Oh, Lady Catherine, what a misery. My father-in-law has just written that there will be double wedding at Longbourn. Mr. Bingley marries Miss Jane Bennett and....
"What are you paltering? Tell me immediately who will marry yet!"
"Oh, Lady Catherine, I am the poorest of the poor. You are my generous protector and I am the heir of Longbourn. How can I tell you that my cousin, Elizabeth Bennett will marry.........not else but your nephew, Mr. Darcy."
Lady Catherine jumped and lifted her stick if she would have hit Mr. Collins. He also stood up, his hands put together like in a prayer.
"I beg you, Lady Catherine....."
"Oh, shut up, you fool" Cried the Lady and run out of the room.
Mr. Collins was helpless. "We are invited, but I will refuse it. How could I do it with Lady Catherine..."
Anne never saw Mr. Collins such ridiculous like in this moment. And in that very moment she realised that he had been always the same: a stupid, meek double-dealer who would have sold her own soul for his low purposes.
"Of course you won't refuse it." Heard Anne her own sound. "Since you are the closest relative of Mr. Bennett and your father-in-law is the neighbor of him. And you have to go for the sake of your wife who can be very happy on the joy of her best friend.
She stood up. "You will go, won't you?
"Yes, Your Ladyship..." Missed the address Mr. Collins bending almost to the floor.
Anne turned and went out the room. In the hall she saw that the afternoon post had arrived. Absent-mindedly took the letters to bring them to her mother, but standing before her door she had a look on the envelopes. Her feelings were right. There was a letter from Darcy addressed to Lady Catherine.
Lady Catherine stood at the window, showing her back to Anne.
"Mother, here is a letter from Darcy. Obviously he explains everything." She tried to hand it to Lady Catherine. Lady Catherine turned and Anne was taken aback. She has never seen her mother in tears.
"I don't want to read it. All my plans are over. I wanted to see you happy in this house with your husband. You are too fragile to have children, but you could be happy with him."
"Mother, you never asked me about it."
"What for? It would have been the best for everybody."
"I don't think so mother."
"You are not for this world, dearest." Lady Catherine turned again to the window. "Of course, we don't go for the wedding. We won't talk even about it. We won't receive Darcy anymore and his wife never. This is my will."
Anne was completely confused by the word "dearest". "We can't do it, mother."
"We can, Anne, and we will. But now I am tired, leave me alone."
Anne left the room and they did not talk about the wedding anymore. Lady Catherine was in bad mood always. She went to bad early every evening, but in the mornings hardly could wake up. She lost her appetite and Anne became rather concerned of her. She could not persuade her for a walk. On the very day of the double wedding in Longbourn she was in better mood, but when Anne tried to mention the big event Lady Catherine shortly cut it. At dinner she was rather talkative and told stories to Anne from that time when she and Anne's father were young without a child yet. Anne laughed loudly on the stories, and had a new confidence in the future. But on the next morning Lady Catherine's maid desperately knocked on her door. Lady Catherine was so weak that she could not get out of her bed.
Chapter 5, A Late Understanding
Anne was frightened. She called the old doctor from Hunsford, but he could not do anything. Anne decided to invite a specialist from London, but Lady Catherine forbade it. This time Anne was steady and send a messenger to London. She stayed at the bed of her mother waiting for the specialist. In the meanwhile Mr. Collins arrived at Rosings to ask about the health of the Lady. Mrs. Jenkinson informed him about the illness of her and he left wishing the best to her patroness.
Late in the afternoon the doctor has arrived from London. She examined Lady Catherine and asked many questions not only from her but from Anne and Lady Catherine's maid too. In the end he asked Anne to go with him into the library.
"Unfortunately, your mother's condition is very bad. It is certain, that her kidneys cause the poor health of her. In fact I cannot help. You have to prepare yourself for the worst.
"Cannot you do anything, Doctor?"
"I can prescribe a very strict diet, but it only slows down the process. If your mother won't eat anything of animal origin in the future I can predict six months to her if we are lucky, but no more."
Anne went back to her mother's room. She was sleeping and Anne sat beside her bed. Suddenly she felt all the burden she ought to carry: the illness of her mother, the tasks with the estate... She sighed deeply.
It was again a strange word from Lady Catherine's mouth. Anne bend over her.
"Try to sleep, mother."
"I want to know what the doctor said."
"You have to be on a strict diet, and everything will be fine."
"Anne you never was good at it. I know, what I know. I hope, I will have enough time to leave you here safe."
The next days were very busy for Anne. She had to visit the kitchen early in the morning to talk about the meals of Lady Catherine with the cook. She re-organised some rooms beside her mother's and moved closer to her. She send a message to Mr. Melchett to talk with him about the family matters and asked Mr Carmichael to tell her everyday what had happened at the estate. In the rest of the time she sat beside her mother and when she was better Anne read to her. After two weeks of only eating fruits, vegetables and porridge Lady Catherine was a little bit better, but she could not leave her bed even. Mr. Collins came everyday, and in the end he was let before Lady Catherine. Lady Catherine told Anne to take a walk in the park while she would talk to Mr. Collins.
"A walk and getting rid of Mr. Collins... Anne, I am surely dying." Lady Catherine tried to smile. Anne was grateful for the little break. She dressed and went to the park. As she came closer to the fountain, which this time was completely frozen she realised, that in a week it would be Christmas. She forgot about it entirely. She began to gather some ideas about the preparations for the feast, but she hardly begun it Mr. Collins came out from the house, and not saying even his usual "Your obedient servant" dashed away. Anne went back to her mother and found her in her former normal state: being furious, almost mad.
"This layabout.... This good-for-nothing starveling... He wanted to persuade me to give him authorities on the estate. Where did I put my eyes when I let him to batten on my fortune?" She became a little bit calmer. "Anne, next month you will be twenty one and you are your father's heiress. Maybe you are stronger than I always thought. You have to learn a lot and the time is short."
The Christmas and the New Year were very quiet at Rosings. Anne worked a lot. Sometimes she had a look over the windows to the snow-covered park. She longed to paint it with her watercolors but there were not any time. Mr. Melchett and Mr. Carmichael were there everyday and Anne learned a lot. She learned such words like mortgage, interest, loan, tenancy... Sometimes she was afraid not to remember anything, but next day she could use them properly. When her mother was a little better they talked a lot, but these times were rarer and rarer. She had not any pain, but she was everyday weaker and weaker.
That year they had an early Easter, the snow hardly melted on the fields. On the Good Friday morning Lady Catherine told Anne how much she regretted not to go to the church in the morning.
"Do you miss Mr. Collins?" Anne's laugh was a little bitter.
"Oh, that fool! I doubt if he has faith at all. When you meet him often you forget your own. It almost happened to me." Lady Catherine's voice was very weak and now she was half of her former self. "I almost forgot that I am the daughter of God, the sister of Christ and my body is the church of the Holy Spirit. Anne, do remember it."
"Mother..." Anne could not say more. Her mother did not say a word anymore and died on Easter Sunday morning. Anne prepared everything for the funeral. She wrote letters to every member of the family. They came except the two closest ones. Darcy could not leave Pemberley because Elizabeth had a hard pregnancy and the Colonel stayed in Ireland with his regiment. Anne accepted all the condolences including Mr. Collins's and as the guests left after the funeral she began to arrange her new life at Rosings.
She was alone but she was not frightened anymore.
Chapter 6, New Experiences at Pemberley
Nora, remelem, tetszeni fog.
After the funeral the days were very quiet for Anne, but she was glad for it. It was a marvelous spring and unnoticeable turned into summer. Anne felt a kind of easiness, even herself did not know why. She took long walks in the park and had a better appetite, first time in her life. She often thanked the companion of Mrs. Jenkinson and chose the solitude in the evenings sitting before her piano. He played simple little pieces. The voice of the instrument was weak under her fingers, but the playing gave her joy. She had some new watercolors, too. The greenness of the park gave her many inspiration, and although she knew that her piano playing will never been introduced before any public, not even for a parlour audience she felt that her paintings have some meanings, but she had not any intention to show them anybody.
She met only Mrs. Jenkinson, Mr. Melchett and Mr. Carmichael. Every day it was easier to make decisions about the estate and the family matters. The steward and the family lawyer looked on her with more respect everyday. Mr. Collins paid some visits, but mostly Anne excused herself. The Collinses had a baby daughter now, and Anne visited them after the birth, but after some minutes of chatting with them she left. One day in August a letter from Darcy let her know that a son and heir named Andrew was born at Pemberley for the greatest joy of their proud parents. For Anne's greatest surprise Darcy and Elizabeth asked her to be the godmother of the child. Exactly after a year of her sad trip with her mother to Longbourn Anne sat into the big carriage and left for Pemberley.
She was accepted with much love first of all from Georgiana who was again the sunny old friend and relative, but much less shy as earlier. Anne was very soon introduced her new relative who slept quietly in a cradle beside of the bed of her mother.
"He is a beautiful child." Whispered Anne and after her congratulations to Elizabeth she bravely asked.
"May I...?" Showing the child and Elizabeth nodded. Anne took the baby in her arms and slowly walked with him to the window.
"If you will be a good boy we will go out some day and when you grow a little bit I show you the park at Rosings." Her voice was strong and determined, not that crow with pleasure what the adults use talking to babies. Elizabeth smiled hearing this and the baby opened her eyes and had a curious look on her new aunt. From then on Anne everyday visited the mother and the child and she always talked with easiness to Elizabeth or Andrew. The rest of the time she spent walking in the park or talking to Georgiana. One day she painted a picture in her room about the pond behind the house when Georgiana came in and cried:
"What a beautiful picture. You have to show it Elizabeth and Darcy."
"No." Said Anne firmly.
The next day when she visited her nephew again Elizabeth asked her.
"I've heard from Georgiana that you paint watercolors. Would you show me one, please?"
"In fact I painted only one here at Pemberley." said Anne.
"Anne, please." Asked Elizabeth again.
So Anne went to her room and took the picture with. When she handed it to Elizabeth she exclaimed.
"Oh, the pond! My very favourite spot in the whole park! Would it be a great request to ask you to give it to me? I would hang it there to see it all the time."
Anne did not understand exactly the enthusiasm of Elizabeth, but in this moment Darcy came in the room.
"Oh, I always wanted to surprise you with a painting about the pond, Elizabeth. How did you find it? It is a marvelous painting."
"It was painted by Anne." Answered Elizabeth.
"Beautiful." Said Darcy. "Anne, you are talented indeed. Can we keep this perfect piece of your art? We would find a good place for it in this room."
Anne began to laugh.
"If it has such a special meaning for you, let it be." But she was very proud of herself.
The days went very fast. There were guests to visit the mother and the baby and a certain Mr. Bassington from the neighborhood was a frequent visitor for much delight of Georgiana. On a nice Autumn Sunday Andrew Thomas Darcy was baptised and he lay quietly in the arms of her godmother during the whole extended service. Anne was happy, but at the end of September she decided to return to Rosings. On her last afternoon at Pemberley Darcy joined her on her walk and thanked her kindness to the baby and Elizabeth.
"You are a very lovable person, cousin, I have to tell you and I hope you will visit us more often."
"Yes, I will. And I hardly wait to see little Andrew at Rosings."
"You will, dear Anne, but tell me: do you need any help or advice guiding your estate or in any matters of you?"
"Thanks for your offer. I have good helpers at Rosings, but... you could do something for me."
"Don't hesitate to tell me, Anne."
"It is Mr Collins... My intention is to give the people of Hunsford all to the best of my abilities including the word of God. But I am afraid, Mr. Collins is not the person we need... What is more he tried to interfere to the business of my mother during her illness...I would be more satisfied if we had a clergyman at Hunsford who is dedicated first of all to his community."
Darcy smiled. "I completely understand you and I completely agree what you tell about him. The bishop of Manchester is a good man of mine. In fact he owes me, because I have given him advices on the estates of the church. Might be he can offer a higher position to Mr. Collins which temptation he cannot resist to... It takes time Anne, but I give my word to you to arrange it."
So the next day Anne said goodbye to everybody, gave a last kiss to Andrew and directed for her home.
Chapter 7, Waiting for a Proper Person
Arriving home Anne asked Mrs. Jenkinson to the library and told to her.
"You were a friendly companion to me for years, but now it is the time to depart. I give you three month to arrange a new place for yourself, if you like, or do what you want. We celebrate the Christmas together then I present you extra wages for three months and a letter for your new position. Thank you for your cooperation until now and then."
Mrs. Jenkinson was much surprised and regretted this safe and easy occupation, but Anne's offer was much more she could expect from any employer so she agreed and went to write an advertisement to offer her personality for moderate families which needed any help.
The next Sunday after the service Anne asked Mr. Collins to introduce her the Sunday school. As she entered the room the children stood up and together cried.
"God Bless you, Miss de Bourgh."
"Sit down, Children." Said Anne and had a look on them. They were pale, most of them badly dressed, their hair were blond or red, freckles were around their noses. She discovered a boy in the first row with shining eyes and asked him.
"What's your name?"
"Andrew Beckett, Miss."
"Hello, Andrew. Imagine, I have a little nephew and his name is also Andrew. But he is only two months old now."
"So he is fed by breast of her mother," stated Andrew with the experience of a person who has more siblings.
Mr Collins lifted his hand to hit on the mouth of the boy, but Anne stopped him.
"Yes." She answered to the boy. "So he will be big, strong and healthy like you."
Mr. Collins was red, but did not dare to tell anything. Anne asked some questions from the girls also, then left. The next Sunday she visited them again and brought some cakes with. From then on it became a habit of her to talk to the children, and she also has chosen a weekday to visit her tenants first of all those, who had babies or more children.
The Christmas day service was held in the present of all the people from Hunsford and Rosings. At the gate of the church Anne wished all the best Mr. Collins and Charlotte and invited them for tea on the next day.
"If you let me, Miss de Bourgh, I would like to talk to you about a very important thing face to face." Said Mr. Collins in obvious inconvenience.
Anne nodded with a smile, and hoped that not only Darcy but the bishop of Manchester is a honest person and he knows what a man owes to his friends.
And it was true. Mr. Collins hardly could hide his pride that such a high person like a bishop himself offered her a position. In fact it is a small town near Manchester... But Ashton-under-Lyne can be only a step on that long way which leads... Mr. Collins was not enough brave to finish this thought loudly, but Anne could read on his face that he sees himself at the place of the bishop himself. He congratulated him and the joy which was seen on her face was a real one. New period begins. She remembered of the last words of her mother and hoped she can manage the changes at Hunsford.
Next day after saying goodbye to Mrs. Jenkinson who moved to a family at Cheshire, she wrote a letter to the dean asking him to find a new pastor to Hunsford. Mr. Collins was due to move to his new place in March, so Anne hoped to find the proper person until the end of that month. The dean promised to look for a new minister for the community and in the end of February Anne got an answer together with the introductions of three candidates and she decided to invite all of them to preach at the Hunsford church, to get to know the village, and of course to give herself opportunities to know them and choose the best one.
Reading the short introductions she tried to imagine the writers of them, but does not want to form any opinions without meeting them.
The first letter was writing by a 62 years old widower. Mr. Winston Spenlow wanted to come to Hunsford with his bachelor son who studied engineering at the Manchester university, but his weak health did not let him to get any occupation, so he helped his father in his present community at the Sunday school. Mr. Spenlow's intention was to make an emphasis on the contacts with the missions at the colonies and to show the greatness of the British Empire to the followers. Anne smiled and took the next letter.
Mr. John Naylor was only 28 and wrote that he is committed to the deeper understanding of the Holy Scriptures. He was freshly married and supported her mother too.
The last letter was the shortest. A certain James W. Mare introduced himself as a person who was convinced that the church is built by the believers day by day, that the community has to be a common place for all the members physically and spiritually too. He finished his letter introducing his family which consisted of him, his wife and three children. He did not wrote anything of his age, and his former experiences.
Anne told herself not to decide anything in advance. She wrote all the three men and appointed to each one a certain Sunday in March. She promised to make her decision at the end of March and the chosen person could begin his service at Hunsford with the Easter Sunday sermon.
Chapter 8, Choosing the Proper Person
On the first Sunday of March Mr. Collins held his farewell service, which was the same dull and senseless like all the earlier ones. The new parish sent a carriage for them, so after the service he and his family just said goodbye to Anne and the aldermen and left. The previous evening Anne invited the Collins couple for a dinner. They tried to be friendly, but it was a little bit embarrassing: Anne hardly could hide her satisfaction on getting rid of Mr. Collins and he did not feel like anymore to flatter her patroness. Anne felt sorry for Charlotte. They could have been better friends.
On the next week the parsonage were cleaned and redecorated, the walls freshly whitewashed. Anne have a guest room prepared for the candidates at Rosings, and on the next Saturday afternoon Reverend Winston Spenlow has arrived together with his son, Archibald. Reverend Spenlow was a tall, stout man with a deep and strong voice. His grayish hair was cut very short so his skull seemed almost bald. His voice was not only strong, but he took much emphasis on his speech, and talked always if a great audience would have listened to him. His son was a spitted image of him, with blond hair, but did not tell a word, just nodded all the time when his father revealed something. They rode to Hunsford, had a look on the church and the parsonage and during the dinner both (even the son) praised the tidiness of the village and both mentioned that it was due to its generous patroness.
"Thanks for another Mr. Collins." Addressed her first thought to the dean Anne, but she smiled for the father and the son and with the same smile listened to the sermon of Mr. Spenlow about God's will to make the British Empire the first among the nations. They said goodbye to each other in cordial content and Anne promised them to write her decision until the end of the month.
Next Saturday arrived Mr. John Naylor with her young and pretty wife, Susannah and her elegant and reserved mother. The young couple obviously expected a baby, and Mr. Naylor hoped to find a long-term occupation after the 4 years of being a curate at a big and poor parish near Sheffield. The talkative and witty Susannah Naylor commented immediately everything what she had saw, her husband hardly told a word and the mother gave some neutral remarks sometimes. At the dinner table the young Mrs. Naylor lead the talks and all of her sentences has begun on that way: "As my dear John thinks..." and then she articulated her own very particular opinion about all the themes.
"I miss my mother much, but don't want to see her weaker edition every week in my house." Told Anne herself. The Sunday morning service did not change her first impression about Mr. Naylor. His sermon was powerless although much knowledge of Old and New Testaments and more great philosophers was manifested in it. Again a friendly farewell, promises from the both sides and a big sigh from Anne's mouth when the guests left the house.
"If it goes on that way, I have to write another letter to the dean , or even ask Darcy to help me again."
She was moody all the week and Saturday morning when she prepared herself to receive Mr. Mare she felt a temptation to ask Mr. Melchett to introduce the parish the last candidate and excuse herself even from the dinner and the Sunday morning service as well.
"My mother would have never done such a thing." Anne told it to herself as she looked at the mirror at the landing. She saw an average height young woman with pale face. Her nose was narrow, her lips are hardly red. She has begun to left her black clothes and this day she wore an olive-green silk one which made her even paler with sharp contrast to her dark eyes and hair.
"Anything can happen." She told it to herself and descended to the hall. Mr. Mare arrived alone. He was a short man and as he stood against the medium-height Anne their eyes were on the same level. His eyes were grey, and although his face was serious, a hint of smile could be seen in them. As he greeted Anne with a curt bow she was surprised to hear his voice. It was high and as he spoke there was a tune in it, like a glissando run on the keys of the fortepiano. He explained that her youngest child had got chicken pox last week so he had to come alone. Anne suggested a visit at the parsonage and the village and they agreed to go on foot. On the way Mr. Mare told Anne that he had been spending 12 years in a parish and he liked it, but he had a desire to begin something new.
" I know everybody, I already told all my advices. I think, I did my best, but now both of us need some renewal: for me and my community too."
"Don't you think it will be the same here after some years?" While asking him Anne tried to estimate his age. It could be 35 and 45 as well. His moving was easy, his face youngish, without any wrinkles with an opened and confident look on it.
"It will." He answered. "I don't want to be neutral and indifferent. Until my task needs me I stay. When I will know that I have to go, I go."
They met the sacristan at the church. Mr. Mare was enthusiastic seeing the nice ornaments in it, and the light community hall and he obviously liked the parsonage. He tried the organ at the church and Anne was surprised how talented organ player he was.
"It will be very proper for my family. Every child of mine can have a sunny room."
"How old are your children?" Asked Anne but she rather tried to imagine the wife of this fascinating man. "She has to be a beauty, a fragile figure with excellent brain." She told herself missing the half of the answer.
"...his name is Bertrand and he is 9 years old. The youngest is Julianne, she is 7."
"Excuse me, Mr. Mare, how old is your oldest child?" Anne blushed a little.
"Maria is 12." Answered James Mare a little bit wondering at the repeated question.
They walked back to Rosings and at the dinner Mr. Mare told Anne about his plans at Hunsford. He wanted to involve the aldermen more to the community life and thought that the parish can offer many activities for everybody, even the women and children too.
" I hope his sermon won't be disappointing tomorrow morning." Encouraged herself Anne before she went to bed.
James Mare has chosen some verses from 4th part of The Acts: the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Anne sat alone in the first row and listened to the sermon with increasing interest.
"Ananias and Sapphira are hypocrites. They want to offer themselves more as they are. They - and you - can be here in the church with all of their - and your - faults, but don't offer more. We are people of God. And He is who gives us a place to be together as human beings."
As he finished Anne's decision was ready. But he said goodbye to him with the same smile she had done two times before.
"I will let you know, Mr. Mare about my decision until the end of the month." Said to him as she held out her hand for farewell. James Mare bowed on it.
"It was my joy to meet you." And he turned and lifted into his carriage.
Anne also rode home. She went directly to her room and wrote two letters. They were negative ones to Mr. Spenlow and Mr. Naylor. These were sent immediately, and after it she wrote a third one, a positive answer to Mr. Mare. She was not satisfied, tore it and wrote another one. When it was ready, she put it on her desk and sent only on Monday. She hardly could believe that she had found the right person for......the Hunsford parish.
Chapter 9, Inauguration
The Mare family has arrived on Maundy Thursday. Anne sent little welcome presents for the children and a basket of fruits for Mrs. Mare. She also invited them in a little letter for dinner for Saturday evening. She was keen on meeting Mrs. Mare and the children and seeing James Mare again. She has chosen a blue dress, and found that it will improve her appearance.
When the guests were announced she stood up. First the children came: three blond, perfectly dressed and combed angels, then Mr. Mare who introduced first his wife and then the children. Anne hoped that her surprise could not be seen on her face: Kathrine Mare was a large woman, taller and more corpulent than her husband. She was older than him. According her grayish hair and figure Anne could estimate her at least 45 years old, and it seemed more than the age of his husband even then she supposed that James Mare looked probably younger than his age. While the husband's voice was high, Mrs. Mare's voice was deep and in her face everything was oversized: her mouth, her nose and her eyes as well. Anne bend down with a relief to the children. All of them were really beautiful. Maria was a little lady, she wore with dignity the title of the firstborn child. Bertrand seemed that kind of boy who did not say a word during a whole afternoon, but in the end of it turns out to be he had cut in little pieces her sisters' dolls, or something like this. Julianne had on her face the opened expression and fine features of her father. Anne closed into her heart all of them for the first sight. They were well-behaved, could use all the complicated utensils at the dinner table and answered clearly and loudly when they were asked.
During the conversation Anne realised that Mrs. Mare is interested mostly in the health of her children and arranging her new home, first of all the garden. Anne assured her, that Mr. Collins was a devoted gardener, so she can get good base for her plans. James Mare listened to their talk silently drinking his wine. When Anne and Kathrine run out of common themes he took the line of the talk they had begun with Anne some weeks before. He talked about his future plans again. He wanted to involve all the members of the community on some way to his job for their sake to share the joy of the common belief. He talked about a choir, the Sunday school, Bible study for the women and a special group for the older. Anne was listening with delight, only took some remarks. James Mare often began his sentences with this: "My dream is..." and Anne liked it.
At the end they returned to the family matters. The couple told how they had distributed the rooms among the children. The girls got two rooms looking to the garden and Bertrand moved into the smallest one in the attic.
"That one is too chilly in the winter. You have to find something else for him." Said Anne.
In the one-minute silence after it she felt the look of Mr. Mare on herself.
"I behave, like my mother." She told herself. "I spoil everything."
"As soon as I need your advice I will ask for them." Said James Mare and Anne saw on his face that special expression which she discovered the very first time they had met: his eyes were smiling, but his face was serious.
"I apologise, Mr. Mare, I did not want to interfere into your matters and I won't do it in the future."
This time James Mare smiled broadly.
"Never mind, Miss de Bourgh." he said, and reached out his hand to the fingers of Anne. Anne blushed and felt her blood to run through her veins. She stood up.
"Probably all of you are tired. See you at the church tomorrow morning."
The Mare family said goodbye and they left for home. Anne went to her room, but stopped for a minute in front of the big mirror on the landing.
"You are fool." She said loudly to her image in the mirror, which this time has shown to her a young woman in a blue cloth fitting to her rosy cheeks, red lips and bright eyes.
Easter Sunday morning she dressed much care and together with Mr. Melchett and Mr. Carmichael sat to the first row in the church. When the organ started to play Mr. Mare came in, stepped up the pulpit and begin to preach.
He has chosen a text from the last chapter of Mark about the empty grave and another one from 1st Kings, part 19, when Elijah stays in the cave: "Then the Lord passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks - but the Lord was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake - but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire - but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a soft whisper of a voice..."
He said: "We have to experience the closeness of God. He is in our church and he is in our houses when we lit a candle in a moment of silence. He appears in the rain and on a hot summer day. He is the living voice and for its calling we also can come out our caves or graves. We can get up and can see: we are not alone anymore."
Anne and the gentlemen were the first who left the church. The men shook hands with Mr. Mare, Anne curtsied. When they sat together to the carriage Mr. Melchett said:
"We can have hopes, Miss de Bourgh."
Chapter 10, Summer Meetings
At Whitsuntide the Summer burst out in one day. Anne woke up every morning with a special expectation and went to bed every day with the feeling that her expectations had been fulfilled. The sun always was shining, the people were always kind and every letter brought something new and exciting. Georgiana lived the happiest time of her life. The young Michael Bassington who was such a frequent visitor at Pemberley last September in the end proposed Georgiana and she agreed. The wedding was due at Pemberley in September, so Anne looked forward to be a bridesmaid there and meet little Andrew again.
She spent all her days busy. She had many things to do at home, she visited the tenants and found everyday some time to wander around the park. Her favourite place was a clearing at the far side of it. It was completely hidden by bushes from the path and the trees gave their shadows to keep it chilly even on the hottest day of the summer. Anne often took a book and read lying on the grass or took her papers and watercolors and painted a new picture sitting on that bank she ordered to carry there after a shower when she could not sit on the grass. She was never tired and always wanted to laugh.
On Sundays she went to the church as always but now the old Hunsford building seemed to her new and spacious and as she sat in her family bank again and again admired the ornaments which were well-known to her from her childhood but now they seemed more interesting. It was nice to see them and meanwhile listen to the singing falzetto which always told something interesting, something which was worth to think during a whole lazy Sunday afternoon lingering on a sofa or wandering in the park. Mr. Mare's sermons always had begun with a story from the everyday life. A story about a friend, about an unknown person who had problems to solve, or sometimes the events of the everyday life of the minister or his family. These little stories lead the listeners to the deeper meanings of the sermons. They were always clear, well argumented and accordingly long or short.
Anne met James Mare not only in the church but at many other places. She continued visiting the Sunday school and sometimes accidentally they visited the same house in the village and walked back together to Rosings. Anne sometimes stopped at the parsonage when she went and came but mostly she left with a little disappointment. Mr. Mare never was at home and Mrs. Mare was not that person who liked the unexpected visitors. Obviously she felt some uneasyness to leave her dear garden even for half an hour and her themes to talk besides the children╠s health were always about the developing of the parsley and lettuce. Anne never forgot to bring some sweets to the children and they liked her too.
She invited the couple sometimes for tea or dinner and Mr. Mare arrived often alone, referring some important tasks of Kathrine but Anne never minded it. James Mare often came without any invitation. Altough on they first evening he called Anne's attention not to give advices to him, he continously asked for them and Anne very soon recognised that his way of talking was to guide his partner to his opinion and regard and express it as her own. Anne was amused by it, and always amused by the easy way of the conversation of them.
James Mare did not wear black clothes except his Sunday outfit and robe. On weekdays and other occassions he wore clothes of light colors and liked the contrasts or even the perfect harmony. Sometimes he wore a dark green suit and his shirt and necktie were also green, but a different shade. Any other times he appeared in brown and blue or in blue and wine-red colors. He was always fit and Anne often compared him with his wife who wore always very simple clothes, in boring colors and Anne sometimes discovered a spot or something on her skirts or bodices.
Altough James Mare was a talkative person and a good conversationalist, it was not easy to get to know anything about him. When he did not like the question he simply addressed it back to Anne, and asked her opinion about the same theme. It took time to recognise his way of talking, but Anne enjoyed every minute spending with him. During the summer she got to know, that James Mare was the youngest after his four sisters in the family of a judge of the Royal Court. He was born in London and spent his child- and younghood there. Being a minister he spent 6 years as a curate in a small village. There she met his wife, and when they moved to his former parish his older daughter was already with them. His father was around seventy and lived with his second wife, who was closer to James and his sisters in her age than to his husband. Anne felt a kind of sympathy when she heard that his mother died, but Mr. Mare refused to talk about it.
"She died," he said. "She developed me to an adult man and then left me. It's the way of all of us."
He liked the good wines and the good cigars and never refused a glass of brandy to his coffee which he preferred than tea. He was a devoted father of his three children. Altough he was very busy he always kept the Sunday afternoon free for them. When the weather was good they took a long walk around the park and made and let a kite together. When it was bad they stayed at home and played different games.
With his help Anne got to know a lot about her own tenants. Everybody was confident the new minister, becuse he was always joyful, listened to everybody and never said no to any request. But first of all he was very steady in his faith and was ready to share it with everybody.
The Sunday before Anne left for Pemberley Mr Mare has chosen a text from the book of Numbers, when the Jews complain about everything and long back to Egypt to slavery. He stated that Jews - and any of us - often could not do anything with the new feeling of freedom. He finished his sermon with a question:
"Can you overcome your freedom?"
Anne repeated the question to herself but then asked another one:
"Am I free?"
This one was her companion during her long ride to Pemberley.
Chapter 11, New Recognitions at Pemberley
Pemberley was turned upside down, but Elizabeth kept all the lines in her hands firmly. Every guestrooms were occupied, extra helps were hired to the kitchen, but everybody was happy and joyful. Anne met a shining Georgiana. She was much in live with the young Bassington and looked forward her future happiness with full certainty. Anne urgently wanted to see Andrew again and when after his nap the boy was taken to the parlour it became obvious that the love for the first sight had been mutual. The little boy stretched out his hands to Anne, and very soon found the place which became his favourite in the next month: on the lap of Anne. She was also introduced to a young man who was planned to be her companion during the wedding and the party afterwards. John Hackney was a slim, very tall and brown-haired man with warm and funny brown eyes. He was about 30, and told Anne that he studied law at Cambridge, after it joined a famous firm of long traditions at the City of London. Later that evening Anne heard from Georgiana, that it was not a necessity for him. His family was very wealthy, what is more he was the firstborn son, but he was so ambitious and so brilliant in law that his professors persuaded him to practise his profession. In fact he had needed not much persuasion, he talked a lot about his job with pleasure.
It was easy to talk with that friendly person, because Anne could mention the matters of her estate, some legal problems of her and immediately they were in the middle of an interesting conversation and John Hackney told very useful things and was much surprised how familiar is Anne with all these.
Anne brought some new clothes with and that one too which was made for the request of Georgiana. She wanted all of her bridesmaid to wear a cloth in the color of apricot. In the material which was chosen by Anne was a little hint of orange and it fitted perfectly to her dark hair and eyes. She felt herself comfortably and ease in it and when the day of the wedding came she was happy to wear it. Elizabeth visited her and assured that she is beautiful. Anne just shooke her head.
"But really. You are beautiful indeed. I hardly knew your mother and never met your father, but as Fitzwilliam told me about them I think you are same strong as your mother and the same sensitive like your father, and it is clearly seen on your face. In my opinion it is a very good mixture and I am sure that you will be very happy in your life." Said Elizabeth.
"I am happy even now." Answered Anne and blushed because before her appeared a face. The face of James Mare in the middle of a discussion gesticulating with her hands and Anne very clearly saw before her his long and thin fingers and his slim wrist. She shook her head again and said.
"Let's go to Georgiana. She needs our help." And so did they.
In the church Anne stood just behind Georgiana and when she said the wedding oath, at the words "...for better or worse..." she shivered. Happy and lucky Georgiana! She is in love and now she will be unified with her lover in marriage. They can have children, they can have many funny days together, they can grow old together. Many things she won't get because she is not free to get these ones because her love is not so bright and open like Georgiana's. Her love is hidden, but not sad at all. She lifted her head, looked around and even she straightened up her waist as she would tell the wedding oath.
"Yes, I am in love. I love a man more than my life. Yes, I love... James."
At the wedding breakfast she sat beside John Hackney and the young man amused her all the time with funny stories and Anne laughed a lot. At the end of the party Georgiana and her new husband said goodbye to everybody because they were travel to Liverpool and then to take a ferry to the isle of Man to spend their honeymoon there. Anne also said goodbye to his companion and at the farewell he asked her if he was allowed to visit her in Kent one day.
"Yes, why not?" Answered she absent-mindedly. "But, please write me in advance beacuse I am rather busy."
John Hackney bowed and left. Anne went to her room but all that easiness and pride she felt in the church and during the party already vanished. There was only one thought which remained.
"I am not free. He is not free." But what's the use to think about his freedom, when she has no any ideas what James Mare feels toward her. She remembered many occassions when she met him privately, with his family or in the church, among the members of the community: he was always pleasant, always kind to everybody, there was not any sign that he prefers any person more than else.
"Who am I to requiere his attention, even his love? He meets all the time many people, many women... much more beautiful than me."
Her heart was full of doubts when she fell asleep with tears in her eyes.
The next three weeks were much quieter at Pemberley than the first one. Anne played a lot with Andrew. The boy has just began to learn to talk and walk. They could not go anywhere just to sit on a blanket beside the pond and Anne sang songs to Andrew and drew her and told little tales. It was a sunny time for Anne, but deeply in her soul she felt sadness. One afternoon, when Andrew slept she and Elizabeth sat together on the terrace and enjoyed sunshine which was stronger as usual in this season. After a long silence Anne asked.
"Elizabeth, if you had not met Fitzwilliam or had not met anybody else whom you could love what would have you done with your life?"
Elizabeth was a little surprized but she answered honestly and without any hesitation.
"I would have been the happiest aunt of my sisters' children. Sooner or later my parents would have needed more help and I would have shared it with Mary. Or I would have done it alone, who knows?"
Elizabeth examined a little the face of Anne and decided to continou.
"You know Anne, when my sister Lydia eloped with Whickam I was conscious of that it meant I was excluded forever from the company of Darcy and Georgiana altough then I already knew that I was in love with Fitzwilliam. I thought a lot about it and the result of it was that I can live a happy and useful life with my sisters and parents and this love or the memory of this love can be my companion for the rest of my life. It was painful but I also felt that this feeling could give me joy as well."
Anne did not answer just sent a little smile to Elizabeth. She was afraid if she told a word she could not stand to cry or to tell her story to Elizabeth and she did not want either. Some days later she left for home, but before it she got a promise from Elizabeth and Darcy that in the coming year they would take Andrew to Rosings to visit her.
She arrived home on a Thursday evening and next morning she began to get to know the household matters. There were lots to do. But when Saturday afternoon James Mare came to greet her at home she sent him a message with her maid, that she is too tired of the long journey from Pemberley and they would meet at the church next morning. On Sunday morning service she sat at her accostumed bank and during the whole service only watched the old tiles of stone on the floor before her. James Mare preached about Job this time.
"Pain and disaster don't come from God. These only happens to us. God is our ally against them. We can give another names to God: 'I am always with you' or 'I can stand up'. You can ask as well as Job: 'Am I to small, am I too insignificant?' No, you are like Job and all of us: created by God, your life is given by God, your breath comes directly from the heart of God . Not all of your questions will be answered, but you can hear what God says: 'I fight for the completeness, for the place you can live, for a new beginning.' And Job felt that God's hand will help him to stand up, to go further and that the heart of God beats in his existence. And in yours too. God did not answer the questions of Job but had given him more space, a lighter breath...."
At this sentence Anne lifted her head and she saw James Mare looking directly into her eyes. This time there was not any smile in the well-known grey eyes, but she saw understanding, pain and tenderness.
Chapter 12, Confessions
After the service Anne visited the Sunday school. Her little friend, Andrew Beckett was very sad all day, so Anne asked him about it. He told that the house of his uncle was burnt down in a village nearby. The parents died and the three children, the beloved cousins of Andrew got to an orphanage thirty miles from Hunsford. It was out of question that Andrew's parents could take care of them because in their little house there were 5 children and the 6th was on the way. Anne was impressed by his story, and after two nights almost without sleeping she invited James Mare to talk about her idea. She decided to establish an orphanage, and since on the other side of the park there was an empty house it was very suitable for a common house for about 10 children and their caretakers. She asked Mr. Mare to form a committee of the aldermen to organise first the refurbishing of the house and then to employ the staff and when it will be ready to do the continous supervision of it financially and spiritually as well. All the costs will paid by the Rosings estate. Mr. Mare was also very keen on this idea and they began the work. Anne became the honorary president of the committee, but she really did her part on the meetings and in the organisings.
It became their habit with Mr. Mare to visit the house every week. First the renovating and then the furnishing and later they visited the children. After these visits they usually walked back together to Rosings through the park. One nice day Anne showed her secret place to him at the end of the park. They sat for a while on the bank, but none of them told a word. Some minutes later James Mare turned to her.
"Miss de Bourgh... Anne, something happens between us, I know, but I don't want to give a name to it. We are not in that situation we could talk openly about our feelings, but they exist and requiere to express themselves."
"They are expressed on many ways." Whispered Anne.
"Yes, but there are even more ways. And I am afraid when we don't make them conscious one day it will be too late."
"Too late? For what?" Asked Anne.
"To remain honest to ourselves, our families and God."
"God never will condemn us." Said Anne and stood up to go. James stood up too and took a step toward Anne.
" I condemn myself." He said. His face was rather desperate and he took another step. Anne got out of breath from his closeness and unconsciously opened her arms wide and James embraced her. It was not a kiss: he smoothed his face to Anne's and they remained there embracing for a while. Then they let each other and looked eye to eye seriously. James slowly run over his finger on Anne's brow. Now he smiled and Anne smiled back. He took her hand and they walked back slowly to the house.
They did not meet for some days. Anne looked for herself some activities outside Rosings and everybody mentioned that she looked much bright these days. A week later Mr. Mare was announced unexpectedly after dinner.
"I had to visit the old Mr. Skinner." He said.
"How is he?" Asked Anne. She new that her old stable master was very ill and she herself visited him some days before.
"Not well at all. We have to expect the worst." He was restless, stood up, went to the fireplace and just looked at the flames. Anne rang for tea and coffee and when it arrived she asked.
"And how are you?"
James Mare turned his face to Anne.
"Badly," he said. Anne offered him a cup of coffee. He took it and sat back to the sofa.
"I thought a lot, Anne, in the last days and I have to tell you about it altough there is not any sense in it. In the last months you became closer to me than any relative or friend earlier. I am fascinated by you. You are a strong, smart woman who keeps her life in her hands. I see you and I like you but I know that I will never know you completely. I am a minister, I have children and I have a wife. You are so different than she and I am bounded on many ways to her and to you too. I can't see any way out just to forget it.'
"I love you." Said Anne. "And I accept everything you say. But I think the way out is to live together with it."
She stretched out her hands to James and he took them. He got to his feet and stepped over to kneel before Anne. Slowly turned the her hands and lowered his head to the palms of Anne. Anne bowed her head to his head, felt the faint smell of him: a slight mixture of soap and sweat. After a while he stood up. They smiled to each other and he said.
"I understand and thank you." He kissed the hand of Anne and left. She stayed at the fire some time and just looked at the flames.
Epilogue, Twenty Years Later
James Mare spent another 7 years at Rosings and then the Archbishop himself invited him to a much higher position. During that seven years a kind of coziness developed between him and Anne, but they never crossed the boarder which was laid between them by themselves.
When James Mare left Hunsford their farewell was simple, almost without words. Anne was nearly 30 then, completely in her blossom. She refused two times the proposals of John Hackney, but they remained good friends after he married a young heiress. James Mare was around fifty. His hair began to be grayish, but he saved that boyish look which so much fascinated everybody.
There are some letters which were written twenty years after the beginning of our story:
Rosings, 28 March 183....
the Spring is coming day by day. What are your plans for the Easter Holidays? Are you too busy with your studies at Cambridge, or can you find some time to visit Rosings as always with your siblings and cousins? I know you are not that boy anymore who came here fishing, rambling around the park and playing games with the other children and me. Anything you decide, I will be happy to hear about you.
Let me tell you what happened here since we met at Christmas at Pemberley. It was a cruel Winter so the Orphanage required more attention as usual. I am eagerly waiting for the Summer, maybe this year we can finish the new houses for the tenants. I have some new paintings, hope you will see them. The snow-covered fields has given me much inspiration even on the cold and short days, but now when everything becomes to be green I am always out in the park and find beautiful spots to paint.
Sunny regards from your Godmother,
Anne de Bourgh
Cambridge, 31 March 183....
you are right, I am not a boy anymore and my concerns are not the concerns of a boy. I work hard to take my exams and I had better stay here even for the Easter Holidays. My mother complains a lot about not seeing me often, but you know, she and my father always pushed me not to be satisfied with ready-made things. They were right, but it has consequences for all of us.
Sorry, Auntie, this year I won't spend the Easter with you. Telling the truth since I am the oldest of all the little Darcys and Bassingtons I don't want to spend two weeks with playing charade or even hide and seek only.
What about a visit at the beginning of September before the Autumn term? It would be a nice time to take a big tour with you around the park. I would watch you painting and you would tell me all your ideas which always seem fantastic, but somehow a year later they all will be true for the benefit of all the community of Rosings and Hunsford.
Dearest Auntie, it was a great honour that you always shared with me your dreams. I learned a lot from you about how to make one's life useful and full of charity. I am very proud that we are not only kin, but friends as well.
London, 9 April, 183...
Dear Miss de Bourgh,
I would like to wish you a blessed and prosperous Easter Holidays. I know that from the Palm Sunday you listen very carefully to the inner sound which tells you the whole passion and the expectation of the disciples is your own expectation too, which is always will be fulfilled. Let the Lord strengthen in you the spirit of Easter Sunday for the whole year and he surely does.
I also prepare myself for the celebration of Easter. You know, that my occupation in central London gives much to do, sometimes even the practical things fade the really important ones. I try to keep deeply in my soul the purest feelings of mine toward God and my fellow-believers and also keep the memory of the brightest moments of my life.
I hope you are in good health and did not give up your walks and paintings. As I lift my eyes I see the picture you have given to me years ago before we left Hunsford and came to London. This picture helped me a lot during the happy days and during the sad periods. This beautiful part of Rosings park painted by you always gives me the eternal feeling of Hope which does not disappoint us.
I remain your servant now and ever,
Rev. James W. Mare
Rosings, 14 April, 183...
Dear Mr Mare,
thank you for your good wishes for Easter. I wish you all the same and for your family as well.
I am glad that you kept my picture. Its model is even now my favourite spot in the whole park. It remained the same in spite of all the changes: the trees are taller, the bushes are bigger and the whole clearing seems more shady because of them, but these changes are like the changes of a human face: the wrinkles, the freckles, the different colour don't change the essence of it. The soul is unchangeable, steady, always the same.
May God keep you,
Anne de Bourgh
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