Tuesday, August 27, 2013

it is wednesday - good enough reason for some more Pemberly

The Gardiners returned before the afternoon was much advanced and were escorted by the housekeeper to their rooms. Mrs. Garderner went to her niece’s room where she met the still room maid to discuss Elizabeth’s progress while Mr. Gardiner walked down to where Lizzy had taken her fall. He found Mr. Darcy and the groundskeeper standing contemplating the gentle incline down to the lake. An under-gardener was already at work digging up the offending lump of grass that had tripped up the unfortunate girl.
Mr. Gardiner,” said Darcy in acknowledgment.
Mr. Darcy. I hope you do not mind. I wanted to take the walk we were anticipating this morning, while my wife spends a little time with Lizzy.”
I have no objections. Indeed I shall walk down with you.”
The groundskeeper was dismissed with a nod of Darcy’s head and the two gentlemen began walking across the lawn.
I was considering,” said Darcy after a few moments, “the possible need to install a path or staircase here. Obviously the incline is enough to be dangerous, when the grass is wet.”
Mr. Gardiner folded his arms and considered the scene, turning to glance back toward the house. “The difficulty would be to chose a manner to insert it gracefully into the landscaping design. Should the path wind or be straight? Should it be gravel or stone? Should there be a balustrade? Decorative or plain. Local stone or imported. Or courses, one must consider the whole vista, particularity how such a path should appear when viewed from across the valley. That is vitally important, I have found. One does not wish to introduce an asymmetry!”
You understand,” cried Darcy?
Mr. Gardiner chuckled. “I may not own a country manor, Mr. Darcy, but my wife and I have spent several years visiting houses on our summer tours. Many an evening we have spent admiring this and tearing apart that gardener's plan that we have become, we think, quite the fireside experts.”
Darcy uttered a short laugh. “I imagine your good wife is after you to purchase a country residence of your own.”
Oh, no. Not in the least. Madeline is too sensible to suggest such a thing. She knows the address I have in London is based on my need to be close to my warehouses rather than our income. But that does not mean we do not spend our winter hours by the fire discussing what we might do if we had such an expanse of garden to play with. Or, at least, what she would do. Myself, as long as there was a stream to stand beside, I would be happy.”
You like to fish, then?”
Indeed I do, when I have the chance of it. It is a compromise I have with Madeline. In the summer, when we tour, for every three days we spend visiting, I must have one day alone to fish. She spends those days either with friends or shopping.” He looked downcast, suddenly. “We had planned that I would have that day when we, ah, but Lizzy’s health comes first.”
Do not despair. Pemberley has one of the finest streams in Derbyshire. I would be happy to lend you equipment, provide you with the more knowledgeable of my staff to show you the best places.”
Well, thank you, sir. I would be pleased. Grateful. If it would not be an additional imposition.”
Not at all. The fish are there to be caught by someone. Trout become arrogant when not taught good manners. I might find time to join you, if you don’t mind the company.”
I would be delighted. Currently I have no one who shares my interest, until my son grows old enough to be more interested in fishing than making mud pies.”
How old is your son?”
I have two, one five, the other three. And two older sisters for them, aged eleven and nine.”
A respectable family. And Miss Bennet, has she sisters and brothers?”
A total of five sisters in that family. No brothers at all. Lizzy, the second daughter, being the brightest and active of the family, assists her father with the estate.”
Darcy blinked. “She does?”
Someone must. My brother in law, apparently, has always afflicted with a creeping fatigue and he remains most days in his library. Our Lizzy, however, has energy in good measure. She carries his messages to his tenants, visits their wives and busies herself about the estate. If there is anything about the estate that must be discovered Lizzy is the one who goes looking for it. She also helps with his accounts. You know, yourself, it takes more than one man to maintain the records of even a small estate.”
Then he will miss her. . . if her return is delayed.”
Indeed he will. He could barely be persuaded to let her go for a month’s holiday. I expect your express messenger to return with a note begging that Lizzy be brought home by any means necessary.”
And she will go, when she is well,” declared Darcy. By this point the men had arrived at the side of a broad stream. “What do you think of this location, Mr. Gardiner? Shall we come down tomorrow and see who shall win? Men or fish?”
I am agreeable to that plan, Mr. Darcy.”

Monday, August 19, 2013

A little P and P variation because it is Monday.

As soon as they were safely out of earshot Mrs. Gardiner turned to her husband.
My dear, please tell me. How vital is it that you return to London?”
I prefer not to delegate a delivery of this size to my agent. I must pay the duties and it must be my hand that signs for so large a payment. Or do you wish for me to place the temptation of so large an amount before my staff? Give them access to my bank accounts? Let my stock sit uncatalogued? You know how quickly pilfering would decimate our stock!”
Mrs. Gardiner sighed. “And I do not wish to be away from my children, not for much longer than the month we agreed with the Bennets. Your poor sister’s nerves are much tried by their antics even with dear Jane’s help.” She leaned back against the squabs. “When you were meeting with Mr. Darcy, did you speak to Mason again?”
Yes.”
How serious is Lizzy’s injury?” inquired Mrs. Gardiner. “Did he explain?”
Well, he confident she will eventually be able to walk, but, from what Mason said, it may be two or three months before she can walk unassisted and even then she will be in pain!” Mr. Gardiner shook his head. “He said, in cases such as these badly pulled ligaments heal slower and with more complications than a simple broken bone.”
Oh dear, what are we to do?”
Lizzy must stay in bed and rest, there can be no argument. She cannot travel yet. It is utterly out of the question!” Mr. Gardiner glanced out of the window even though Pemberley was no longer in sight. “In the two weeks remaining to us Lizzy might heal enough that we might impose on one of your friends to take her as a guest.”
I think it would be rude of us to go about visiting tomorrow, leaving the Darcy’s to look after Lizzy. But in a day or two I might visit and see if anyone is able to accommodate her.”
Lizzy is such a charming girl. She will be as little trouble as she could. Only, I think, it is sad that the accident happened before any of your friends have met her. They will only have our word for it that she will be good company.”
Mrs. Gardiner reached out and took her husband’s hand.
Perhaps the Darcy’s are sincere. If it is only to be a month, and then we could take Lizzy home in slow stages, I think Miss Georgiana would not mind having her as a guest.”
But Mr. Darcy is a bachelor.”
There is a companion. A Mrs. Annelsey.”
Miss Georigana’s companion. Not Lizzy’s.”
We might hire someone, short term. A companion of mature years, or a skilled nurse. Or one of your friends.”
That we must then ask the Darcy’s to accept into their home. Increasing our imposition.”
Mrs. Gardiner tightened her grip.
If only Lizzy could have taken her fall at the Inn! Somewhere more practical!”
Oh, my dear, you have spent far too much time with my sister. That is an utterly ridiculous suggestion more suited to her. Next can I expect you to complain about your poor nerves?”
They both laughed.
We shall have to wait and see how Lizzy progresses in the next two weeks. Perhaps her natural vigor will serve us well.”
We can only hope.”
*

Monday, August 12, 2013

another little piece of Pemberly Variation

Mrs. Gardiner waited until the dose took effect, sending Elizabeth into a restless doze before tip-toeing out of the chamber.
Georgiana took Mrs. Gardiner by the arm as they walked down Pemberley's long corridors.
I have asked Mrs. Reynolds to put you in the room next to Miss Bennet’s. I am certain you shall like to be near her.”
Oh, thank you, my dear. You have been everything that is considerate.”
Georgiana blushed. “I only thought what I should like to have were I in the same situation.”
That is an excellent guide.”
And will you be able to stay with us until Miss Bennet is well again?”
Unfortunately, that is a problem. My husband has to be back in London by the fifteenth. He is expecting a ship from Italy later this month and must stand ready to pay the duties and get the goods unloaded. There are so many things that can go wrong if you do not claim your goods when they arrive at the docks.”
Geogiana considered this information. “I have never thought that. . . well, I know nothing of trade beyond the purchasing of bonnets and gowns.”
Mrs. Gardiner sighed. “I am certain, as a land owner, there are many harvest times that your brother goes short of sleep from worry, likewise, my husband has his concerns for his profession.”
Oh,” said Georgiana with great confidence, “my brother never worries.”
I am certain he does,” said Mrs Gardiner, but her voice was calm instead of critical as she contradicted the young girl, “but I am equally certain he keeps it from you so that you will not be concerned.”
That would be like him. This will be your room,” said Georgiana guesturing toward a door. “Your carriage is at the door waiting to take you back to the Inn. I took the liberty of sending a messenger, so that the maid’s there will likely have all in hand by the time you arrive.”
How very kind.”
I look forward to visiting with you later . . . oh, and I should tell you we keep country hours. Dinner will be at seven.” Georgiana tapped her lip as she thought. “Oh, yes. I have asked for Millie to be your maid while you are here and Miss Bennet will have three assigned to her since she will require an attendant in the room with her, day and night. And the still room maid will be on call for her. Since she is Mason’s granddaughter she will be aiding him with the treatments.”
You do have all in hand, don’t you?”
I try.” Georgiana released Mrs. Gardiner’s arm as they reached the foyer. “If I have forgotten anything, please do not hesitate to ask.”
Mr. Gardiner emerged from Mr. Darcy’s office.
My dear, if you wish to stay with Lizzy, I shall undertake to collect our things.”
Lizzy is asleep at this moment and Miss Darcy has arranged all so well that I feel quite superfluous.”
Georgiana looked down and blushed at the complement.
Then we should go now.”
The Darcy siblings escorted them down to the forecourt and waited until the Gardiner’s carriage was away. As they stood watching Georgiana reached out to lay a hand on Darcy’s arm.
What do you think of them, Fitzwilliam?”
He glanced down and touched the tip of his finger to her cheek.
Do you like them, Georgiana?”
I do. . . if you do. I am impressed by Mrs. Gardiner and Miss Bennet. They are. . . everything that I am not.”
He looked to where the carriage was disappearing over the hill and did not comment on her admission of inadequacy.
Who you are is the lady of Pemberley of Derbyshire and automatically entitled to respect.”
Automatic is also uncomfortable, Fitzwilliam. Nor is it easy.”
You will grow into it, my dear.”
I hope so,” Georgiana clenched her hands.
He watched her for a moment. The girl she was and the young woman she was becoming was a mystery to him. Since he could not read her thoughts it was necessary to ask questions and trust she answered honestly. At least, that was what he impressed upon her all her life since he had come into her guardianship.
You were lonely at the school I sent you to, weren’t you?”
A small nod was his only answer.
You are lonely here as well. No, do not protest. I know I am not good company for you, away from home most of the time with business about the estate.”
I do miss you when you are gone.”
And Mrs. Annesley? She has not been what you need?”
She is an excellent teacher, Fitzwilliam. But she told me soon after she arrived that she will always maintain the proper distance of employee and employer. I am not to permit myself to become fond of her since she will not become fond of me. She is not my mother, my sister or my friend.”
Ah. Yes. I am sorry that is necessary. It would not do to cast a servant in the role of friend. Trouble can arise when they. . .leave.” Darcy decided this was a good time to change the subject. “I think I like this family,” he said. “Miss Bennet is not of our circle, merely the daughter of a country gentleman. The Gardiners are well educated for their level of trade, but not of the same circle as our friends, the Bingley’s.”
I don’t understand. . .”
What I am saying, my dear, is that even though Miss Bennet is not your equal, she is quite acceptable as a friend. Mr. Gardiner is not Mr. Bingley’s equal, but I am certain that they would be happy with the acquaintance, if they met.”
Mr. Bingley is friends with everyone.”
Darcy nodded acknowledgment of that fact.
I had a pleasant conversation with Mr. Gardiner about his understanding of politics and the unpleasantness over in France. He is educated, well informed and he tells me his wife is much the same. I give you leave to like them both. You will meet stupider people in the world. Sensible ones such as these are to be cherished.”
Oh, thank you,” cried Georgiana, giving him the quick hug which was all that Darcy’s solemnity would permit.
My pleasure.”