Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 17

You can find previous posts HERE.

Part Seventeen

So it was settled that, as soon as it was convenient, Bingley and Darcy would find a way to meet Sir Matthew Broadhurst and evaluate his suitability as a husband for Caroline.  It took only two days from the time of the decision being made in Darcy’s drawing room for an opportunity for such a meeting to occur.

As the sun was beginning its journey to its height, warming the earth and the people who had ventured out into the crisp air of a clear winter’s morning, Darcy and Bingley came upon a solitary rider loping his way through the park, a groom trailing at a good distance behind him.  Bingley, as he always did, tipped his hat and wished the gentleman a good morning.

The gentleman returned the gesture and then slowed his horse as he drew nearer Bingley and Darcy.

“I do not believe I have had the pleasure of making your acquaintance,” he began. “I am Sir Matthew Broadhurst of Stoningham in Surrey.”

“Charles Bingley,” Bingley returned, “and my friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire.  It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“Indeed it is,” Darcy agreed. 

“I have not been to many soirees yet, and it seems I like to rise earlier than most. I believe, you gentlemen make six that I have met since arriving. May I join you?”  He drew his horse alongside them after Bingley had assured him that they would be delighted to have his company.

The gentleman appeared to be everything that Georgiana had said he was.  His dress was impeccable. He appeared to be of an acceptable stature, neither too tall nor too short.  He was handsome with a very pleasant and amiable, if quiet, air about him.

“I have heard that you have just recently come into your title,” said Darcy.  “My condolences on the loss of your uncle.”

Sir Matthew’s gave his thanks softly and somberly.  “He was not the friendliest of men at times, and he could be demanding. However, my uncle was a good man who took my mother, my siblings, and myself into his home after my father died.”  He glanced over at the men beside him. “My father was the rector of the parish near Stoningham.”

“Do you have many siblings?” Bingley asked.

“A younger brother and two older sisters,”  Sir Matthew replied.  “My sisters are both married and happily settled, and my brother is studying to take orders.  He is much like my father.  And you, do you gentlemen have siblings?”

“I have a younger sister who has been left in my care,” Darcy answered.  “She is just sixteen.”

“Both of your parents are gone?” Sir Matthew’s voice was once again soft and soothing as he inquired.

“For several years now,” Darcy answered. “It is something Bingley and I have in common.”

“You do not have a parent remaining either?” Sir Matthew asked, turning to Bingley.

“No,” Bingley replied.  “My father died three years ago, leaving me a fortune and the care of my sisters.  Louisa has married, but Caroline has not.”  He noted how Sir Matthew’s expression spoke of the gentleman’s interest in that last fact. “My father was a tradesman.”

Sir Matthew’s brows rose. “You do not own an estate?”

There was no censure in his tone. He seemed genuinely interested.

“Not yet,” Bingley replied. “I have let an estate in Hertfordshire and am looking to purchase one in the near future.”

“I wish you well in your endeavour.”

There was again a genuineness to the man’s words that impressed both Bingley and Darcy.

“I cannot claim my estate until I marry.” Sir Matthew shook his head.  “My uncle knew that if he did not force me out of the house and to seriously consider taking a wife, I would bury myself within the walls of the estate, seeing to the needs of it and my mother and brother.” He shrugged.  “I can be too focused on duty at times.”

Bingley laughed.  “Darcy can be the same.”

“He speaks the truth.  Until recently I had only considered marriage in light of duty just as I considered everything else.”

Sir Matthew smiled. “You have found a lady who makes you question your view of duty, have you?”

“Indeed, I have,” Darcy replied.

“I wish you joy,” Sir Matthew said.

“I have not won her yet.  In fact, I am not entirely certain I will win her.”

“He will,” said Bingley emphatically.  “I know he will.”

“I should enjoy hearing the tale, but I will not ask as it is not my place to be informed of your private matters,” said Sir Matthew.  “I will only wish you success.”

“And I shall wish you the same,” Darcy returned.  “Do you have anyone in mind for the position of Lady Broadhurst?”

Sir Matthew shook his head.  “I do not. It is perhaps unkind of me to say, but the few ladies I have met have been nothing more than a pretty face with feathers for brains.”  He shook his head.  “Such giggling!”

“What do you wish for in a wife?” Darcy asked, casting a sidelong glance at Bingley.

Sir Matthew shrugged.  “I likely know better what I do not want than what I want.  I suppose someone who would be a good hostess and manager.”

“Does she have to be a gentleman’s daughter?” Bingley asked pointedly.

“You wish to be rid of a sister?”

The man did not lack perception. That was a point in his favour according to Bingley. He would need to be a man who could see through Caroline’s scheming and airs.

“I do.”

Sir Matthew eyed Bingley cautiously.  “What is wrong with her?” he asked.

“I am not certain I should answer that,” Bingley said with a laugh. “We have had a falling out recently over her disapproval of my choice of bride, and even though she is my sister, I do not know that I would be the most charitable of persons to describe her.”

“You are to be married?”

“Eventually,” Bingley replied. “As soon as I can rid myself of a sister and help Darcy secure his heart’s desire.”

Poor Sir Matthew could not hide his confusion, though he did an admirable job in trying to disguise it.

“We are attending the Taylor’s ball this evening,” Bingley said.  “Caroline will be there. You can meet her and judge for yourself if you might be persuaded to consider her.”

“She is not hideous,” Bingley said in response to Sir Matthew’s continued look of skepticism.

“No,” Darcy agreed.  “She is quite handsome.”  He smirked.  “She has the same colouring as her brother, but is much, much prettier.”

Sir Matthew’s features relaxed into a smile at the comment.  “Very well, if it is just a meeting,” he agreed.

“It is just a meeting,” Bingley assured him.  “And if you are interested, then I will explain over a bottle of Darcy’s finest port how both my happiness and that of Darcy hinges on my sister.”

“My port?” Darcy said in surprise.

Bingley shrugged.  “Very well, we will discuss it at my house over the best I have.” He turned to Sir Matthew. “Do we have an agreement?”  He held up his hand.  “I neglected to mention she has twenty thousand pounds.  She does not come empty-handed.”

Sir Matthew drew his horse to a stop.  “Yes,” he said nodding his head. “Yes, we have an agreement. I will meet your sister and then, if I find her to my liking, you may attempt to persuade me to aid your cause.”  He held out his hand, which Bingley gave a hearty shake, sealing the deal.


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Leenie Brown

Leenie Brown fell in love with Jane Austen's works when she first read Sense and Sensibility followed immediately by Pride and Prejudice in her early teens. As the second of five daughters and an avid reader, she has always loved to see where her imagination takes her and to play with and write about the characters she meets along the way. In 2013, these two loves collided when she stumbled upon the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. A year later, in 2014, she began writing her own Austen-inspired stories and began publishing them in 2015. Leenie lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her two teenage boys and her very own Mr. Brown (a wonderful mix of all the best of Darcy, Bingley and Edmund with healthy dose of the teasing Mr. Tillney and just a dash of the scolding Mr. Knightley).

16 thoughts on “Thursday’s Three Hundred: Confounding Caroline, Part 17”

  1. Luckily they are not trying to deceive Sir Matthew so if he does decide to pursue her he will know just what he’s getting!!!
    I hope he decides quickly then we might finally get to see Elizabeth in London and seeing the best side of Darcy 😊

    1. No, there will be no deception of the fellow. Darcy abhors such, you know 🙂 Sir Matthew will make his decision with eyes wide open. (Elizabeth may not make much of an appearance in this story. Once Caroline is confounded which is the main goal of this story, I may begin a second story that will focus more on Darcy and Elizabeth. This is part of the shifting and growing part of working on a work in progress. Plans do change as I go. 🙂 )

  2. Hmmm. This is their first meeting? They just wait for a stranger to pass by and introduce themsselves?
    Not british, not at that time… And I’m not sure Darcy’d reveal so much privat thoughts at that. It’s more like very old friends talking. And this question
    *“I have a younger sister who has been left in my care,” Darcy answered. “She is just sixteen.”

    “Both of your parents are gone?” Sir Matthew’s voice was once again soft and soothing as he inquired. *
    seems a bit awkward. Maybe they didn’t look into Lord B.s matters enough if at all?

    Sorry, you know I adore your stories – but this chapter is somehow not adequate. =^_^=

    1. I’m sorry you felt that way, Beate.

      No, they were not just waiting for a stranger to pass. They were out riding in the section of the park where gentlemen of the ton would go riding in the morning. The others who were there would have been of their “station” in life or likely above. This was not just a random person on the side of a road. Bingley is gregarious so he waves, so to speak. “Bingley, as he always did, tipped his hat and wished the gentleman a good morning.”

      Sir Matthew recognizes that he has not yet met these men of the ton and since we learned last week that he is actively seeking a bride this season, he approaches. It is good to know all the men who might have sisters to whom one might need an introduction. This is part of his personality as a character. He sees a task and finds a way to accomplish it as efficiently as possible. He has not met with success yet because he tends to be unyielding and set in his ways (something which likely stems from his personality as well as from his uncle who was “not the friendliest of men at times”). Sir Matthew is not necessarily given to following all the social conventions. So, he introduces himself, and Darcy and Bingley respond in kind.

      They are delighted that Fate has put this man, about whom they have likely made polite inquiries over the preceding two days, in their path. He is not a complete stranger to them, and Sir Matthew would have, in all likelihood, at least heard of Darcy in general terms. Bingley and Darcy are desperate to be rid of Caroline. Time is of the essence. They are willing to forego the dancing and posturing that might normally take place over a game of cards at a club or at some soiree. They know enough about this man to know he is a potential husband for Caroline. They need to ask him a few questions and get a feel for what he is like, so they enter into a conversation with the gentleman — a friendly, open conversation, as that is best to draw him out and observe his actions and words. His voice being soft and soothing and appropriate to imparting his condolences is an observation by the gentlemen that he is a caring individual. Remember, Jane requires that whomever it is they get to marry Caroline be caring and not just an ogre. Jane is Jane after all, and she is caring even when the other person may not deserve it. The information that his sister is sixteen would signal to Sir Matthew that Darcy’s sister is not yet out, so look elsewhere. It is also in concordance with the information that Sir Matthew had just shared about his siblings — his brother is at school, his sisters are married. Darcy has one sister, and she is still in his care. Sir Matthew is intelligent enough to pick up on the fact that if the child is in her brother’s care, that means the parents are deceased. This is another good sign to Darcy and Bingley. They will need a smart fellow to keep ahead of Caroline’s scheming.

      I hope this helps you see where I was coming from when I was writing this portion of the story. I am attempting to develop the character of Sir Matthew. However, we must base our understanding of him on outward actions/words/etc because at this time I am not going to delve into his thoughts as I am attempting to limit the number of point of views in the story, and he is a secondary character, although one with a major role to play.

      1. Thanks for this detailed answer. It helps a lot to understand Bingley and Darcy. Looking forward for thematisiert next chapter!💟😉

  3. Wasn’t he a bit eager… especially after hearing about her dowry? Yeah, this introduction was a bit strange. I look forward to seeing what he thinks about Caroline. I imagine a 20-thousand dowry can cover a multitude of sins… I mean… defects.

    1. This is from last week should explain why he is so eager — “It does not hurt our cause,” Mrs. Annesley added, “that his uncle’s will requires him to marry before he can take possession of his inheritance beyond the title. Therefore, he is actively seeking a bride this season.”

      There is no inheritance until he is married. His money, any improvements to the estate, etc are not yet in his control, so he is actively seeking a bride. And he did agree to meet her before the dowry was even mentioned. — Sir Matthew’s features relaxed into a smile at the comment. “Very well, if it is just a meeting,” he agreed.

      Then Bingley, for clarification purposes, asks if they have an agreement and mentions the dowry. (Yes, Bingley was probably using it to entice the man. Bingley’s not dumb.) And Sir Matthew reiterates his willingness to meet Caroline.

      This meeting could have just as easily been staged over a game of cards and a glass of port at Whites’ or some soiree, but it was not since, as you will find out later, Sir Matthew is not an avid card player. So perhaps it is the setting which made it seem odd — but one must remember that riding in this portion of the park was where the gentry would be in the morning — just as they would be at a club later in the day. These are not strangers just stopping another person on the street and saying “Hey, wanna date my sister? She’s a shrew but loaded.” 😀 This was a “Good morning, fellow member of the ton. Let me introduce myself. Oh, you’re the guy we wanted to meet. How fortunate! Let’s talk so I can evaluate you some.” 😉

      I explained more fully of my thinking about this meeting in a response above to Beate if you wish to read more about why Darcy and Bingley might have acted as they did. I hope this helps you get a better picture of where I was coming from as I was writing. 🙂

    1. It’s not that he knows Bingley needs to get rid of a sister. It is that he needs to find a wife in order to get his inheritance. So what better way to insure an introduction to ladies than to meet their brothers at this popular early morning riding spot. He is a focused sort of individual — he needs a wife, so he’s going to get a wife.

  4. He sounds to good/nice for Caroline. It is hard for me to see her rewarded for the misery she causes. I will look forward to reading about her interactions with Mr. Broadhurst.

    1. I think I am perpetually disappointing you. 🙂 He’s going to meet Caroline, but we are not going to see the actual meeting. We will hear his report on it after however. Not to give too much away, but we will have to see them together later. And remember, we have only just met him. We don’t know his complete personality, although we do know he has not been able to secure a wife yet because of his unyielding nature — now that’s something Caroline could use to run up against a few times. 🙂

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