Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 15

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14,

A/N: Just to keep us on track as far as the timeline goes, this is the morning after Elizabeth’s arrival in town with Lydia and the morning after both Darcy and Elizabeth have learned of Mr. Bennet cutting ties with Darcy.  I know the time has been spread out over many words and weeks of posts, so thought it feels like this break between families has been ongoing for some time, it is fresh for our characters.

Chapter 8A

Richard rode up Gracechurch Street and then down.  In front of the Gardiner’s home, there was a carriage being made ready for travel, but he had not seen more than one small truck and a bag being loaded.  Surely, if the Bennets were travelling, there would be more luggage than that.  He took one more tour of Gracechurch Street before determining that he was not going to be able to speak to Mr. Bennet on the road as he thought he might be able to.  He would have to knock and ask for a conference despite the early hour. So, that is what he did.  He knocked; he requested; and now, he waited.

There was scurrying to and fro above him.  Doors opened and closed.  Heavy feet hurried up the stairs and down a hall, while at least one other set of feet descended the stairs and passed through the hall just outside the closed door to the room in which Richard paced.

Richard took one more turn around the small sitting room, pausing at the window long enough to see Sir William and Maria entering the carriage.  Sir William agreed to something Mr. Bennet was saying, and then the door was closed and the carriage moved away. As Mr. Bennet turned to enter the house, Richard took a seat and waited for the man to enter the sitting room, which he did.

“Colonel Fitzwilliam, I had not thought to see you again,” Mr. Bennet began, giving only a small tip of his head in greeting.  He lowered himself into a chair slowly as if he were a man twice his age and weary to the bone.

Richard imagined Mr. Bennet was exhausted.  Worry could do that.  If Richard were to pause and recall his own concern for his cousin, he would likely yawn and scrub his face.  He had slept very ill, and he suspected the same was true of the man sitting across from him.

“I told you yesterday that I would see the matter regarding Mr. Wickham through.  I will not go back on my word, no matter how you have treated my family.”  He pitied the man’s having to worry for his daughter, but he was not going to take a gentle approach.  Mr. Bennet needed to feel the weight of his responsibility in this matter.

“Your family?” Mr. Bennet’s eyes grew wide as his face reddened.  “It is your family, who has endangered mine.”

Colonel Fitzwilliam raised a brow.  “I disagree,” he said before adding, “How is Miss Lydia this morning?” Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 15

Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 14

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13,

A/N: This part is a bit shorter this week. As I said at the beginning of the story, I am posting these in the segments in which this story was written. My aim each day is a minimum of one thousand words.  Some days I exceed that amount, but this day, I fell just a few words short.

Chapter 7B

“We are leaving in the morning?” Jane whispered after Lydia had fallen asleep.

Elizabeth nodded.  “Papa says Lydia needs Mama.”

Jane raised a brow.

Elizabeth smiled wryly and nodded her agreement.  Mama was not good in a sick room.  Having her fluttering about — and loudly — was never conducive to recovery.  However, Lydia and Mama had a special relationship so it might not be all bad.

“I am sorry,” she said to Jane.  “I know you had hoped to see Mr. Bingley.”  She stopped talking and drew a breath to keep the tears that were gathering once again from falling.

Jane gave her a sad smile.  “I was, but perhaps he will come to Netherfield.”

It was so like Jane to attempt to remain positive even when things were dire.

“And perhaps Mr. Darcy will join him.” Jane smiled as she came to stand next to Elizabeth and placed a hand on her shoulder reassuringly.

“Perhaps,” Elizabeth said weakly.  He would not.  But it would do little good to discuss that detail with Jane right now. It would only start the flood of tears once again, and her head already hurt from crying earlier. She did not need to increase her pain.

“You do not think he will?” Jane asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 14

Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 13

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12,

A/N: We will spend two weeks with Elizabeth as she comes to realize her feelings for Mr. Darcy in the face of what she has lost.

Chapter 7A

“Papa, what do you mean we are leaving in the morning?”  Elizabeth stood in the hall outside Lydia’s room and kept her voice soft so as not to disturb Lydia if, indeed, Lydia could hear what was being said.

“She needs her mother.” Mr. Bennet drew a hand across his brow as if he his head was sore.  “It is best if she is at home.”

“But Papa, Mr. Darcy has promised his physician.  Surely, his care would be superior to the apothecary or surgeon in Hertfordshire.”  Her brows furrowed as her father’s features seemed to darken.

“We have no need of that man’s help.” His words were stern and determined further furrowing Elizabeth’s brow. “If he had not interfered or if he had told us of Wickham…” Her father shook his head.

“Or if Lydia had thought!” refuted Elizabeth.

“She would not have needed to think.”

Elizabeth recoiled at his sharp tone.

“We leave in the morning. Prepare accordingly.  I will not discuss this any further.”

“But what of Jane, Papa?”

Mr. Bennet closed his eyes as he drew and released a breath.  “Mr. Bingley still holds the lease to Netherfield and can call on Jane at home if he chooses. We are not staying in town. Lydia needs her mother.”

“But Mr. Darcy was to call tomorrow.”

“We have seen the last of him,” said her father.

Elizabeth gasped, and her hand grasped the neckline of her dress just above her aching heart.  “Why?” The question was barely a whisper.

“I have severed our acquaintance,” Mr. Bennet explained, “I do not wish my daughters to be further endangered by such an arrogant man.”

Elizabeth opened her mouth to protest but closed it again as no words would form.  Severed their acquaintance?  Was she truly to never see Mr. Darcy again?  She wished to ask, but her voice failed her.

Had her father not turned and walked away, he might have seen the pain his words had caused his favourite daughter.  Had he not descended the stairs without a glance backward, he might have seen Elizabeth slip to the floor and drop her head to her knees. If he had not been in the drawing room, he might have heard her shuddering breaths and small gasping sobs.  But he was in the drawing room.  He had not looked back, and so he was unaware that he had caused great harm to his daughter.

While Elizabeth cried, Lydia stirred momentarily, Jane wiped her sister’s brow, Mrs. Gardiner sat on the end of the bed, rubbing Lydia’s feet, and Mr. Bennet settled into a chair across from Sir William and next to Mr. Gardiner with a glass of port and his thoughts for company.

Elizabeth was likewise left with just her thoughts for company — thoughts about a man, whom she had come to know better and admire, thoughts about never seeing that man again, and thoughts about how bleak and dreary life would be without that man.

Finally, after some minutes of tearful self-indulgence, Elizabeth rose and went to her room to wash her face.  The tear-stained face with puffy eyes and red nose that stared back at her brought to mind the image of Jane when Mr. Bingley had left Netherfield.  It was the face of a broken heart.  Elizabeth’s shoulders drooped, and her eyes filled once again with tears.

“Lizzy,” Jane peeked her head around the door to their room.  “Lydia opened her eyes and asked for you.”

Elizabeth splashed water on her face and then dried it with a towel.  “I will be there directly,” she said from behind her towel.

She drew a steadying breath.  Thoughts of Mr. Darcy must be put away for the present.  Lydia had to be her immediate concern.  And so with her resolve formed she went to see Lydia.

Lydia’s smile was weak and her voice soft when she greeted Elizabeth.  “I am ever so glad you found me,” she said as she held Elizabeth’s hand.

“Shhhh,” said Elizabeth. “You must rest.  We are going home to Mama in the morning.”

“We cannot,” Lydia attempted to push up in the bed.

“We must,” Elizabeth assured her.  “Papa has said we must.”

“But I have not seen Mr. Bingley,” Lydia protested.

Elizabeth nodded and smoothed Lydia’s hair back from her forehead.  “Mr. Darcy will tell him you were here.”

She hoped it was true; however, with her father having severed his ties with Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy might not speak to his friend on Jane’s behalf. She paused.  No, he would.  He had said he would tell Mr. Bingley of Jane’s being in town, and he was the sort of man that kept his word.  Was he not?

Although the comment had started a flurry of unsettling thoughts for Elizabeth, it seemed to be just what Lydia needed to hear because she smiled and nestled down into her blankets.

“Rest,” said Elizabeth. “Jane, Aunt Gardiner, and I will be here if you need anything.  Sleep, so tomorrow, when you see Mama, she will not worry because you look wane.” She smoothed her sister’s hair again. “You would not wish to worry Mama, would you?”

Lydia shook her head and then, as Elizabeth continued stroking her hair, fell into a restful slumber.

~*~*~

Leenie B Books

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Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 12

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,

A/N: I believe I told some in the comments last week that we would see Elizabeth’s reaction this week. That was not correct. This week we will see Colonel Fitzwilliam swing into action, and then next week, Elizabeth will learn of the separation.

Chapter 6B

Richard stood for several minutes leaning against the frame of the door to his room after he had watched to make certain Darcy did, in fact, return to his own rooms.  This was not what was supposed to happen. He was supposed to come home, discuss the fact that they had Wickham at their mercy, and devise a plan to see the man dealt with in the most effective manner.  He blew out a great breath, pushed off from the door frame, and pulled the bell to call Mr. Chase.

Dropping into a chair to wait, he read Mr. Bennet’s letter again.  Its contents shocked him as much this time as they had the first time he had read it.  The gentleman had seemed friendly and even understanding as they had spoken of finding Lydia and then assuring him that she was not the first lady he had duped with his charming smile and sweet words.  Richard shook his head.

It must have been the shock of the incident that propelled the man through the conversation as if it were a normal discussion of neighbourhood gossip and not a tale that ended with his daughter lying injured and senseless.

Yes. That must be it.

He rose and placed the letter on the table next to his bed.  Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 12

Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 11

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10,

A/N: If you don’t wish to see a grown man cry, you should probably look away before you get to the last paragraph of this installment.

Chapter 6A

Lydia did not wake when Colonel Fitzwilliam lifted her from Elizabeth’s arms, nor did she wake when she was settled in the carriage beside her sister.  In fact, for the remaining forty-five minutes of the journey to London and then through the streets to Gracechurch Street, she did not wake — not even when a pause was made to send a footman in search of Darcy’s physician.

Lydia simply would not wake.

In fact, Lydia had still not woken when Darcy and Richard left the Gardener’s home some two hours after arriving.  The physician had come and gone. Mr. Bennet, who had arrived with Sir William, had been advised of what had happened.  Tea and brandy had been shared as well as tales of Wickham’s previous treachery.

Darcy paced the length of the passageway at Darcy House. Thankfully, his sister was with their aunt, the Countess of Matlock. He would not have been able to see her and hide his agony.  Miss Lydia lay lifeless in a bed, watched over by her relatives, and he was to blame.

If only he had he spoken to anyone of Wickham. If only he had at least told Sir William of Wickham’s penchant for gambling and seducing young maids.  He shook his head and leaned heavily on the wall next to Richard’s bedroom door and covered his face with his hands.  His hope was gone.  Elizabeth would never be his.

“You look like the devil, Darcy,” said Richard as he approached him.  Richard had gone out to visit a few friends, who he thought might be of use in ferreting out if Wickham were away from his unit with or without permission. Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 11

Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 10

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,

A/N: This week, we step off of that cliff I left you on last week and begin our descent into the more dismal section of this story.  This is where the shift in tone that I mentioned in comment threads begins. 

Chapter 5B

“Lydia?”  Surely it must be someone who looked like Lydia.  Lydia was at home in Meryton, not wandering along the London Road thought Elizabeth as she leaned toward the window and looked where Maria had pointed.  She gasped.  “It is! But what is she doing here?”

She sat back and shook her head, looking in bewilderment from one gentleman across from her to the other.

Darcy rapped on the roof of the coach, and the carriage slowed and then stopped.  “I am certain we have room for one more,” he offered with as smile.

“Thank you,” Elizabeth replied before leaning forward to look out the window again.

“Her sleeve is torn,” said Maria, who was still watching through the window.  “It looks like she has injured herself.  See.  Is that not blood?”

Indeed, Elizabeth could see that Lydia’s arm bore a bright patch of red below a tear in the material.  Lydia’s hair was also disheveled, and she seemed to stumble as she moved.

Darcy jumped down from the carriage and lifted Elizabeth to the ground so that neither would have to wait for the steps to be put in place.  If his sister were injured, he knew that he would not wish to wait for such a thing, and he assumed from the distraught look on Elizabeth’s face that she felt the same.

Elizabeth thanked him once again and then hurried toward Lydia calling her name.  Lydia jumped at her name, and Elizabeth thought for a moment she would run away.  “Lydia,” she called again. Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 10

Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 9

Previous parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, Part 8

Chapter 5A

(Warning: This week’s excerpt ends on the edge of a story cliff…a nice steep cliff.)

Early Monday morning, shortly after Elizabeth and Maria had finished breakfast, Darcy’s carriage arrived at the parsonage.  A sense of anticipation had settled in Elizabeth’s stomach as soon as she had risen this morning, and now, seeing Mr. Darcy climbing out of such a fine vehicle and knowing that she would spend the next several hours riding in it with him, her anticipation grew to a flutter of excitement.

She stopped at the mirror in the hall before she exited, pretending to fix her hat. However,  in reality, she wished to see for herself that she was indeed herself, for she had not felt herself since Friday evening at Rosings.  It was an odd feeling of unease that had gripped her heart — it was not unpleasant or a feeling that one might wish away.  No, this was a flutter of nerves that brought a smile to a lady’s lips and caused one’s feet to pace the length of one’s bedroom as if waiting for some important and pleasurable event to take place.  However, there were no soirees or fetes to be attended.

It must be the anticipation of seeing Jane, Elizabeth had reasoned until this moment when that flutter of nerves had risen in her chest as it often did before stepping into a ballroom.  But Jane was not here.  Mr. Darcy was.  She shook her head. Obviously, these strange sensations were caused by the thought of soon being with Jane. The arrival of the carriage signalled the beginning of her journey.  Satisfied that she had deciphered the cause of her delight, she picked up Mr. Darcy’s book from the table in front of the mirror and proceeded outside where everyone else was gathered as trunks were made secure.

Darcy stood so that he could both watch as the carriage was made ready and the door to the parsonage as his cousin ushered Mr. Collins around the carriage, speaking of the horses and the fittings as well as the length of time the driver had been employed by the Darcy family.

Mrs. Collins whispered final instructions to her younger sister and glanced nervously toward the door of the house.  “I am certain Elizabeth will be along shortly, Mr. Darcy,” she assured him twice before the very person each had been eagerly waiting for appeared.

Darcy turned from the carriage.  His men would see that all was well.

“That shade of blue is becoming on her, is it not?”  Charlotte asked Mr. Darcy with a knowing smile. Continue reading Thursday’s Three Hundred: With the Colonel’s Help, Part 9