Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chapter VI

Mary and Kitty: A Tale of Two Sisters

Chapter VI

That Lady Lucas' powers of perception did not penetrate her daughter's ruse was unsurprising. Casting some few aspersions on her husband and his marauding hounds, she merely went about reading Charlotte's missive, her countenance revealing no response to its contents.

"What news from Hunsford?"  Kitty asked when she could bear the silence no more.

Lady Lucas glanced up with a slight smile. "Well, Kitty. Very well indeed! Maria, pray find your father for me. I have something particular to speak with him about."

"But, Mama," Maria began in a tremulous manner, "are you not going to tell us what Charlotte writes?"

"In time, my dear. Now go and fetch your father like a good girl."

Having no other recourse than to follow her mother's command, Maria grasped Kitty's hand and pulled her from the room along with her. 

"Oh, Kitty! What am I to do?" cried she. "Mama seemed pleased as she read! Will she send me off to be a farmer's wife? Shall I have chickens in my drawing room?"

Kitty, finding momentary wisdom, did not share her opinion that a farmer's wife was unlikely to have a drawing room at all. Indeed, chickens would be the least of Maria's difficulties if such a fate was in store for her. "To be sure, I cannot guess, Maria. But only think a moment -- do you think Mr. Collins' dignity would bear a farmer for a brother when Mr. Darcy is now wed to his cousin?"

"I had not thought of that," Maria admitted. "But no, you do not know what a toady he is to Lady Catherine! If she suggested he wear his pantaloons upon his head he would do so with a will and force Charlotte to do the same! If his patron wished me to wed a swineherd, he would pronounce it a capital idea and find a verse from Psalms to support it."

This opinion conformed exactly with Kitty's memory of Mr. Collins on his visit two years ago, so there was little more she could think of to assuage her friend's anguish. Indeed, she had taken her cousin Collins in such disgust she could think of no greater trial than to have him a permanent part of the family circle, and had been much relieved when Lizzy refused his suit. It was a very good thing he had so readily transferred his interest to Charlotte, else he might have offered for Mary, and she might well have looked upon his addresses with favor. Had events followed such a course, the roles might well have reversed themselves, placing  herself in Maria's sorry position.

They found Sir William at the kennels attempting to instill the art of hunting into one of his less apt hounds, Maria dispatched her message and she and Kitty followed him back to the house in hopes of being privy to the conversation with his lady. In this endeavor they were to be disappointed, but since the parlor windows were open, they positioned themselves comfortably on a convenient bench in the garden and listened without difficulty. To their momentary disappointment, Lady Lucas immediately directed several pointed animadversions on the behavior of the hounds, which Sir William staunchly defended. It was, he declared, more than likely one of his own children who had almost destroyed Charlotte's letter, as there were no teeth marks to be found thereon. This caused Maria some sharp pangs until her mother replied archly that, as her husband had so often claimed his hounds had the softest mouths in four counties, the only wonder was that the letter did not smell of rosebuds!

"And this you have summoned me for?" Sir William asked with some impatience. "A letter from Charlotte? When young Gambol is on point of understanding he must chase the hare, and not the geese?"

Whatever retort might have sprung to her lips, Lady Lucas held her peace and begged merely that he afford the letter's contents a moment's attention before he returned once more to his diversions. As her mother proceeded to read, Maria listened wretchedly, holding tightly to her friend's hand. Coming from her parent's lips, the words seemed even more laden with portent.

"Well," said Lady Lucas when she had finished, "what think you, Sir William?"

"What is there to think?" returned her husband. "If Lady Catherine contrived the plan and Charlotte sees no objection, I do not see why Maria should not be happily settled, as long as she does not absolutely dislike the man. Is that all?"

"All!" exclaimed Lady Lucas. "My dear husband, have you no other thoughts on the matter?"

 What other remonstrances might have followed were not to be revealed, as Sir Williams retreating footsteps and the falling tones of his lady's complaints took the conversation beyond hearing.

 "Oh, Papa!" Maria whispered tearfully. "How can he be so unfeeling? He will not even give away one of his pups unless he knows the person intimately. That he should countenance his own child being given to a stranger, a mere tenant! Oh! it is not to be borne. I am only just out, since Charlotte's marriage. It is a very lowering thought to be settled so soon before I have even been to any assemblies!"

"Hush, now," Kitty said. "You do not yet know anything for certain and nothing can happen immediately. Surely, your mother must return her response and receive yet another. And besides," she went on, suddenly inspired, "who knows but what this tenant might not be a farmer after all."

"Whatever do you mean, Kitty? What else could he be?"

"Well, I do not know for sure, only that I have heard Jane and Elizabeth speak of tenants on their estates who are old retainers, or widows and such. Surely such an estate as Rosings will boast a very good variety among its families."

At this, Maria became thoughtful, although the corners of her mouth still turned down.

"I daresay, it might even be autumn before you must go to Rosings," Kitty continued, enjoying the role of comforter, "so we will go to the assemblies together, and perhaps even have a party of our own. I am sure my mama will think it an excellent plan."

"Do you truly think so?"

"I do indeed," Kitty assured her, just as a carriage bearing the de Bourgh crest turned into the drive.


  1. This is really excellent.Lady C would be bound to interfere.I like the way it reads like Jane too .

  2. Thank you so much! Yes, Lady C has been trying to get into this story ever since I started, so it's time to let her make an entrance! :)