Mrs. Gardiner and Miss Darcy spent the morning walking in the rose bower near to the house so as to be available if another summons to the sick room was sent. When luncheon neared, by mutual agreement, the two repaired to the sick room.
There they found Miss Elizabeth sitting up and having her hair re-braided by a maid while Mrs. Reynolds supervised the arrangement of more furniture being brought into the room.
“My dear Lizzy,” said Mrs. Gardiner. “You look much more the thing.”
“I do feel much better. My leg still aches, but all else is settled.”
“Oh, good,” said Mrs. Gardener “And has Kate, the still-room maid, attended on you?”
"Yes, she has been everything useful," said Miss Bennet.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Reynolds. “I apologize, Miss Bennet, if the dose I gave you upset you. After consultation with your aunt we have decided to start with common powders and hold a very small dose of laudanum in reserve should you have difficulty sleeping.”
“Oh, thank you. After last night I will have to be in a very great deal of pain to ask for it!” Miss Bennet assured her.
“Then are you brave enough to try something to eat?” asked Miss Darcy. “As the gentlemen are out fishing I asked for something simple for our luncheon. We could have it on trays here with you, Miss Bennet, if you are well enough to so allow.”
“I would enjoy the company,” Miss Bennet assured her glancing toward Mrs. Reynolds. “If it is not too much trouble.”
“Oh, no trouble at all,” said Mrs. Reynolds and left to make the arrangements.
They were comfortably arranged, Miss Darcy and Mrs. Gardiner with small tables and Miss Bennet sitting up in bed, when a firm knock came at the door. One of the maids hastened over to open it, just a crack, and Mr. Darcy’s voice was heard.
“Is Miss Bennet able to receive gentlemen callers?”
Lizzy glanced down at herself, blushing. She was in bed with several blankets covering her and a very pretty bed jacket covering her modest night-rail but even though she was as covered as ever she was when dressed for the day she was embarrassed to be receiving callers.
Her aunt and the gentleman’s sister being in the room should be enough for propriety sake.
Her aunt, however, had answered while Lizzy dithered.
“Certainly, Mr. Darcy.”
“Oh, brother,” cried Miss Darcy as the gentlemen entered, “I had sent an al fresco luncheon with you down to the river. Did it not reach you?.”
“I did see it and we should be enjoying it, even now,” said Mr. Darcy, “except Mr. Cannonby insisted that Miss Bennet’s life was in danger so we came back to investigate.”
Mr. Cannonby, aware that Pemberley was the greatest estate within the reach of his modest shop in Lambton was meticulous in the maintenance of his relationship with the master. Whenever he was called upon to attend a tenant or worker associated with Pemberley, Mr. Cannonby would immediately thereafter hasten to Mr. Darcy to report his own good work – making Mr. Darcy the unwilling recipient of gossip and detailed workings of every ill body in the neighborhood - beyond his own preferences.
Therefore, as he stood beside a stream industriously drowning his hand-made flies Mr. Darcy, enjoying the silent and composed company of Mr. Gardiner, he was not surprised to see Mr. Cannonby huffing and puffing his way across the lawns toward him. He was already drawing in his lines when the man spoke.
“Mr. Darcy, sir. I am come to see the young lady. I am informed that she has progressed to a purification.”
Mr. Gardiner almost dropped his fishing pole.
“That is news to me, sir,” declared Mr. Gardiner. “My wife said nothing of the sort to me before I left the house, else I would not be here.”
“Well, it is not as if she has the training to judge,” said Mr. Cannonby.
“My wife. . “ began Mr. Gardiner, with some heat, but Mr. Darcy interrupted.
“This is a matter that can only be settled by consultation at the house.”
He gathered his equipment together, handed his fishing rod to the footman who attended them then led the way back.
When they entered Miss Bennet’s room they found all the ladies at luncheon. Since all the women appeared relaxed and content Darcy was reassured. If anything had been untoward he was certain Mrs. Gardiner would not be calmly eating in the sick room.
“Mrs. Gardiner, how do you find your niece this morning?” inquired Mr. Darcy.
“Well enough, sir. As you see,” said Mrs. Gardiner rising from her small table to curtsey and regarding the new arrivals with some curiosity.
“I must examine Miss Bennet,” said Mr. Cannonby. “She is obviously flushed with fever.”
“That would be the first time,” said Mrs. Gardiner, with some asperity.
Mr. Cannonby drew himself up. “It is pointless to examine a healthy person.”
Everyone rolled their eyes but said nothing. Lizzy looked up from the dish of vanilla custard on the tray before her and smiled at Mr. Darcy and her uncle.
“Have you caught all the fish so soon that you are seeking entertainment here?” she inquired.
“We are seeking reassurance as to your health, Miss Bennet,” said Darcy.