Monday, September 16, 2013

a little bit of Pemberly to get you over your Wednesday

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.

Friday, September 6, 2013

celebrate friday with a little more pemberly

Elizabeth Annette Bennet, known to her sisters and father as Lizzy, and to her mother as that dreadful hoyden, had her own idea of personal dignity and privacy from a very young age. She maintained her own room at home both to reduce the bother to the servants and keep them from prying into her affairs. She bathed herself and for the most part maintained her own hair and person and had since she was old enough to outrun her mother and the nursery maid.
Such, she discovered, were the benefits of health, and only to be granted to those in good health.
It was the burden of illness to have no privacy at all.
Therefore, it was to be expected that she found her current injured state horrible. She could not find a position, sitting, standing, or lying that was not agony. She could not stand without aid, nor tend to her own personal needs without assistance. She even required a servant to turn her over in bed, repositioning the many pillows that supported the blankets over her wounded limb. Never in her life had she experienced this degree of pain and helplessness, even including that time she’d fallen out of a tree and broken both shoulder and forearm bone. At least then she could still walk to the withdrawing room.
Her first night at Pemberley was spent in a pain ridden, drug induced sleep. Just after dawn the next day she was aided from her bed to a commode by two stout maids. She clung to the women, her lip caught between her teeth, as she hopped around in the circle. Once she had achieved a seat on the porcelain bowl, embarrassed and swaying, she had to cling to them least she fall. Accustomed to a degree of privacy in her essential functions she was mortally embarrassed by the undeniable necessity. While she was occupied the maids stripped and remade her bed, taking away the bedding soaked by her chilled bandages and ice packs.
The trip back to bed was a torment despite it being only a distance of twelve inches. It took them a full quarter hour to get Lizzy back into bed. Finally settled under the covers another maid stepped forward to offer Lizzy a thin cup of luke-warm gruel.
At this point Lizzy brought up the sour contents of her stomach over herself, the bed, the floor and the maids, and burst into tears.
Mrs. Gardiner was fetched.
Arriving only moments later, ignoring the mess, Mrs. Gardiner climbed onto the huge bed to take her niece into her arms.
Oh, aunt,” sobbed Elizabeth, holding her head. “I cannot think. The world spins and lurches about about even when I am lying down. I am hungry and sick together. My leg hurts so much, the blankets are too heavy and I cannot think!”
Hush, hush, my poor little bird. All will be well.”
Mrs. Gardiner then comforted and reassured the maids who feared they had made matters worse. Mrs. Gardiner took command of the room.
A bath was drawn and Lizzy was lowered into the warm water while lying on a blanket. Her hair was washed, since Mrs. Gardiner stated that no woman could be truly comfortable if her hair was dirty. All through the production Mrs. Gardiner kept up a constant flow of reassurance to her niece that she would again recover her dignity. The bed was again remade and weak tea provided for her to sip while Lizzy was still seated in her bath.
Once the bed was regained, exhausted, Lizzy slept for the rest of the day.
When Miss Darcy emerged from her rooms and inquired how Miss Bennet had spent her night she wrung her hands at the dreadful report and sought out Mrs. Gardiner.
Oh, Mrs. Gardiner, I am so worried. I was told Miss Bennet . . . cast up her accounts this morning.”
Mrs. Gardiner smiled at the sight of poor Miss Darcy using gutter language.
She was unwell, I admit, but all is in hand now. I think it was a reaction to the size of the Laudanum dose she was given. Mrs. Reynolds doses with a generous hand, I believe. As a general rule Lizzy is healthy and has had little exposure to it.”
Are you certain? Perhaps we should send for Mr. Cannonby.”
I have consulted with the still-room maid and we have given Lizzy a tisane to soothe her stomach. Do not fear, your guest will recover and give testimony to the excellence of your hospitality.”
Miss Darcy gave a hesitant smile.
I am only concerned for her health.”
Mrs. Gardiner risked giving the girl a hug. “All will be well. Lizzy is strong.”
To Mrs. Garderner’s surprise Georgiana returned the hug and clung for a few seconds longer. Could the girl really be that starved for gestures of affection that she would turn to a stranger? Her next words assured Mrs. Gardiner that indeed she must.
I should like to help. May I come and sit with her? Will it help if I were to read to her? I do not want her to feel abandoned and lonely in a strange place.”
My dear girl, Lizzy is quite resilient and able to cope with most of life’s trials. . . however, later, shall we go together to call on her and inquire her preferences for distractions?”
Oh, excellent.”