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Still-Life with Pheasant, Oranges, and Calves-Foot Jelly

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My dear Col. Fitzwilliam,

I write to you with a most abject request: Mrs. Darcy's schemes to enrich the lives of every woman of her acquaintance have led her to cast her eye once more over our shared family, with the result that she has invited Cousin Anne to spend a month or more with us this year at Pemberley, to consider if the air of Derbyshire might be more healthful to her than that of Kent. And if that were not all, Mrs. Darcy's sister Catherine is still with us, and Bingley tells me that Miss Bingley may visit them too, with the result no doubt of the further mixing of our households. It is surely delightful for Mrs Darcy and Georgiana to be surrounded by so many members of their sex, but with only Bingley on my side, as it were, I must throw myself on your mercy and beg you to come visit us. And perhaps the peace has left some number of military men of your acquaintance at loose ends, who might enjoy time spent in the country, even if they have by now had their fill of shooting.

Yours in desperation,

Darcy

*

Dearest Charlotte,

You may reassure Mr. Collins, who will no doubt pass the information on to his patroness, that Miss de Bourgh and her companion arrived with us safely, although Miss de Bourgh has taken to her bed and did not appear at dinner -- I write quickly now, the morning after, in case she will not do so herself.

Indeed, I started this letter too soon! Just as I was finishing the lines above, Miss de Bourgh's companion, Miss Elliot, came to ask me how best her own note to the same effect could be posted! So the news will go directly to Lady Catherine. I am indeed sorry to have caused Mr. Collins to miss the opportunity of increasing his own importance by my sluggishness.

But I must take you to task for your failure to inform me in advance of Miss Elliot's connections. I learned only this morning, from Mr Darcy, that she is not a companion in the manner of a Mrs Jenkinson, but is in fact the daughter of a baronet, Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall, whose mother and godmother were younger friends of Lady Catherine, and who will someday have £10,000 of her own. I wonder that I have not met her before this, in her own person! But we live so much to ourselves in these days, and Mr. Darcy is so loathe to travel south of Oxford, that our lack of acquaintance may well be explained. In any case I wonder at Miss Elliot as well, for she is nearly as thin and pale as Miss De Bourgh, and has barely spoken other than to ask for butter! I have moved her into a bedroom with better views of the woods and hope to find out soon whether the fresh air will bring some colour to her. My plan is for an artistic month of painting and music, interspersed with long walks and picnics on fine days. Miss Darcy and Kitty are my eager assistants -- although neither is as fond of the woods as I am, Kitty's painting has come on very well under Herr Bruehl's tutelage.

We must be somewhat cautious, however, as Mr Darcy informed me last night that he has invited Col Fitzwilliam and some gentlemen of their acquaintance to shoot later this month. At least we shall have many still lives with game to work on, if the weather closes in!

As you know, Miss De Bourgh would surely excel at both music and painting had her health permitted, and I look forward to aiding her in the attempt. As of today's lunch she has remained in her room, and Miss Elliot has advised on assembling a tray for her -- one would never have known from her own bearing that she is the daughter of a baronet. And yet I can see that she is not much used to being teased, so perhaps there is some sense of her own dignity underlying her quiet. Have no doubt that I will root it out! I shall be very sorry if I cannot send one or the other of the two young ladies back to Lady Catherine much changed. My success with both Kitty and Georgiana has given me too much confidence, as you can see, and I know that Mr Darcy rates my chances much less well than I do myself!

My love to you and to your poultry, and to Mr Collins and the babe as well, and my most very humble respects to Lady Catherine, who will certainly be much in our thoughts here at Pemberley.

Your own, Elizabeth Darcy

*

Dear Lydia,

I am so unhappy that you have not written me more than a line or two over this summer, to tell me of your stay in Marseilles! Do the French have balls just as we do? And do you eat supper in them? Do you eat snails? Lizzie as you know does not care for London so we are stuck here in Pemberley except for a week or two in the spring, but she did find me a painting teacher in London so I suppose it was not too much of a waste, even though we went to only two balls and visited hardly at all.

But it will not be as boring here as I'd feared -- even though Lizzie invited Mr. Darcy's most horrible cousin to stay and it is not clear when she will ever leave, and Miss De Bourgh being here makes Georgie greatly less willing to indulge in pranks and jokes. But Mr Darcy has invited not only his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam but a whole host of his military friends! Although most are no longer in uniform, I have not been surrounded by so many officers since our old days in Meryton! And what officers! Not one below the rank of captain -- and as it is they assure me that a captaincy in the Navy is worth much more than a captaincy even in the cavalry. In fact it seems to me that the Navy is much better than the Army, for in the Navy the officers do not need to purchase their commissions, but are promoted from merit and seniority, and if they capture anything they get to keep some of the money! And so if Mr Wickham had been in the Navy instead I am sure he would not still be a lieutenant, and you would probably be much richer. You see that I am growing entirely familiar with the military world and soon will know as much as you! It will surely be a captain for me, for as you know my one goal in life is to go before you into every room ever.

One of the naval captains is quite old, a Captain Wentworth, at least as old as Mr Darcy and Col Fitzwilliam, but still quite handsome; his friend Captain Benwick is much younger and more charming -- he has suffered a recent and terrible tragedy and consoles himself with poetry rather than shooting, which is strange but does mean that he is around the house in the morning to pay compliments to my painting and to read poetry to me and Georgie. Even better he is not very tall, because tall men are always drawn to Georgie rather than to me. Col Fitzwilliam has also brought with him a Captain Lawford, who is equally charming but lacks the air of misery which surrounds Captain Benwick.

Write and tell me about Marseille! What are French gentlemen like? Have you kissed any yet? La! You may tell me and I promise not to tell Lizzie or anyone!

Your loving sister Kitty

*

My dearest Jane,

It may be for the best that you and Bingley are kept at home for the moment, for I should be terribly ashamed for you to see my failures -- come in a week or three, when I have had a chance to repair it all, and then I will bask in your approbation! For I know if you were here now you would try to console me, and I am quite sure I do not deserve it!

As you well know, Miss de Bourgh has come to spend the autumn with us, to see if a change of air might encourage her health. Indeed I think it has -- she can ask for sauce to be passed to her at dinner, or for a second cup of tea, in her own voice now, instead of waiting for her companion to request it for her. We move a cushioned chair outside for her every morning that does not rain, to allow her to sit well-wrapped in the sun. Her cheeks are surely a little pinker than they were when she arrived. The effect, indeed, lasts well into the day.

My crowning triumph came the afternoon she sat in the Orangery with Kitty and Georgiana, and did not simply watch them paint, as usual, but actually requested paper and a brush of her own! Her watercolours in this first attempt were perhaps not as exquisite as Lady Catherine has always assured us they would be, and I am afraid I do not dare to suggest that the cure lies in regular practice -- but I did at least keep Kitty from commenting on them in her presence. In truth her oranges have become a good deal rounder over only a few days.

So in what, you must be wondering, does my failure lie? Fear not: I am about to confess. Miss de Bourgh brought with her a companion, Miss Anne Elliot. I should call her a friend, as she is the daughter of a baronet, but Miss de Bourgh treats her with no more consideration than she used Mrs. Jenkinson, and Miss Elliot does not object. When they first arrived there was not much to choose between them -- both seemed rather weak and sickly -- but by the second morning here Miss Elliot was asking about local walks, and as you know there is no better way to gain my favour than by being willing to set out for a long walk every day, which we did after Miss de Bourgh was taken back inside. I assure you as well that I was not solely walking with Miss Elliot to gratify myself -- it was part of the plan to encourage more independence in Miss de Bourgh -- but gratify me it did, and I do not think I am boasting to say that Miss Elliot also benefitted from our walks. She has a fine appreciation of nature, and approved the various views around Pemberley as much as any hostess could have wished. She was even, and most delightfully, willing to argue gently with me about which view was most suitable for Kitty and Georgiana to paint, although as soon as she realised that we had disagreed she became shy again. Of course I claimed to have been persuaded by her right away, although I believe she saw through my agreement: she gave me quite an arch look, and seemed suddenly much younger and happier than she had before.

All seemed well, until Col Fitzwilliam arrived with his party of gentlemen. (I do, in parenthesis, sympathise with Mr Darcy's wish not be surrounded only by ladies, but a mixed party is somewhat more difficult to manage, especially a mixed party containing Kitty and Georgiana!) Ever since, Miss Elliot has been pale and speechless. She no longer wishes to walk, and I believe she hardly leaves her room, except for occasional trips to the library. At meals she is almost completely silent. Indeed, I heard Captain Wentworth commenting that he could not see much distinction between the two Annes! I have been driven to ask Miss de Bourgh whether she has any idea of what the cause may be, but of course she had not even noticed the effect, and knows nothing of, or cares nothing for, her friend's past. So all my work is undone, and I know not why. The gentlemen themselves seem unobjectionable, but of course they pay her no mind, as she has done her best to make herself unnoticeable. Yesterday I tried to catch her early and force her to walk with me after lunch, but she was nowhere to be found -- and I had gone to the trouble of persuading Captain Lawford, who is Col Fitzwilliam's particular friend, to read to Miss de B. in her absence. He was not very pleased with the task, I fear, but Captain Benwick has taken over the duty of reading to Kitty and Georgiana when they paint.

And then something very odd happened today, which I add to the letter before I send it on. After lunch, Captain Wentworth asked if I would not allow him to walk with me. I was happy for him to do so, but for some reason when we met in the hall he was reluctant to set out; he finally asked me if we were not waiting for Miss Elliot. I had to admit that we were not, and I wonder that he seemed so interested to see her considering his earlier opinion. We did walk them but not for long, and he did not seem greatly interested in Pemberley's charms. I must discover whether he has approached Miss Elliot in some way, although I cannot recall ever seeing them together.

My next letter, I hope, will have a solution to this mystery! In the meantime you must write with advice, and some salve to my pride, and news of Bingley and his sisters. When will Miss Bingley join you? Is she still in Bath?

I remain, your very-loving sister,

Lizzie

*

Bingley,

You have my very deepest gratitude for offering to take in Captains Wentworth and Benwick, while Captain Lawford and Cousin Anne are ill -- Fitzwilliam will not leave Lawford, of course. Elizabeth is doing her best to appear brave, but I can tell how worried she is that something may befall Cousin Anne during her visit with us. Miss Elliot, Anne's companion, is staying for the moment and does seem to be useful to Elizabeth. I would have sent the girls with Wentworth and Benwick, but they have stepped up to the crisis surprisingly well, and Georgiana keeps all household worries from Elizabeth's eyes.

Yr servant,

Darcy

*

My darling Kitty,

I read the note you sent with real relief -- although I'm sure that there was some more pleasant way to refer to Miss de Bourgh than you chose. I am very glad to hear that she is on the mend, and that Lizzie and Miss Elliot have finally been able to rest. It would not be very pleasant for them to fall ill now, having brought their charges through to safety! For Captain Lawford's health I was not deeply worried, except that I hope he is not too low for having shared his cold with Miss de Bourgh.

The gentlemen are both well, and have been eager to do whatever they can to help you all at Pemberley. I agree that Captain Benwick is a rather handsome man, and has a real air of intelligence and gentility. He has already mentioned your paintings to me more than once, and gone through all the volumes of poetry in our library; apparently we a much better selection than at Pemberley, where the poetry is all quite old-fashioned. Charles was torn between being offended on Darcy's behalf and pleased on his own to hear that opinion!

Do you think that there is any material way in which either captain would be of use to you? They are both, and especially Captain Wentworth, eager to offer any assistance they can, no matter how many times I assure them that Mr Darcy is more than capable of managing any problem that would require a gentleman's assistance. They have enquired at every apothecary for twenty miles around, much to the dismay of our own Dr. Williams, and Captain Benwick was on the verge of setting off to London to find a medical gentleman he once served with when we received your letter.

I am sending with this letter a quantity of calves-foot jelly and broth for the invalids and their nurses, as you mentioned that Captain Lawford and Miss de Bourgh had appreciated it; Captain Wentworth insists on serving as the messenger and I really do not have the heart to deny him. You may send him back with a list of anything else you might need.

Your loving sister,

Jane

*

Dear Lydia,

What a time we have had! Miss de Bourgh tired of being made to sit outside, and of having her ill-formed paintings of oranges in a bowl compared to mine and Georgie's, and took to her bed with the worst cold anyone has ever had at Pemberley. Lizzie and Miss Elliot spent nearly every moment of the day looking after her. Miss E wanted to sleep on a bed made up on the floor of Miss de B's room, but Lizzie would not let her, although she did let Col Fitzwilliam do so for Captain Lawford even though his cold was nowhere near as bad. Indeed after a week he was down at breakfast every day, and looking very cheerful. I know that Col F is still checking on him regularly as I have met him twice in the corridor at night while coming back from Georgie's room.

Miss de B, however, has taken a strong dislike to everything to do with Pemberley, which I believe amuses Lizzie to no end because as you remember Lady Catherine wanted Miss de B to marry Mr Darcy instead. He appears quite relieved every time he glances at Lizzie.

As soon as Miss de B and Captain L fell ill Lizzie sent the other two gentlemen to stay with Jane, and Georgie and I would have gone too, but she was determined to remain and manage the household for Lizzie, and so I stayed to keep her company. At first I was very low about it, and missed Captain Benwick in particular. I shall have more to say on him later on, but for the moment I shall be as secretive as you, dear Lydia, who have still not written to me to tell me about Marseille and your adventures there.

Jane, I think, found it quite tedious to have the two captains moping around because she sent Captain Wentworth back after only a week, with a great deal of broth and other food which we did not need. Since then he has taken to moping around here instead. Mr Darcy has taken him out shooting and they have brought back a prodigious number of birds -- I do not believe I have had a meal without pheasant for days -- but Lizzie has put him to work reading to Miss de B, as she is determined that Miss E deserves a rest. I think she feels rather sorry for Miss E, because she has to spend so much time with Miss de B, so is taking her for as many long walks around Pemberley as she can. As you know (or I suppose you may not, as you do not often visit) Lizzie likes nothing more than to show off the grounds to any willing eye and Miss E is almost as fond of the views as she is.

All this would be quite well, except that when Captain B returned Captain W made him read to Miss de B instead, which has quite disrupted my plans to make Captain B read to me and Georgie while we painted. He knows such a lot about poetry, and reads very well, and it is quite inspiring to listen to him and imagine the scenes he describes. But apparently Captain W ranks higher than Captain B, who may in fact not be a captain at all, but only a commander (I will need to learn more about this, because I would be very sorry if he had been misrepresenting his rank, but Captain Lawford says it is very common in the Navy for commanders also to be captains) and thus Captain B must do his bidding. Instead Captain W has been joining Lizzie on her walks, and when I complained to her about how unjust it was that Georgie and I should be so deprived she only looked mysterious and said something about his developing the ability to tell the difference between two Annes.

But I shall have the last laugh on her, because I know something she does not, which is that Captain B does not just read poetry, but also writes it. How do I know, you may ask? That is a great secret, and I shall not share it unless you write first.

Your loving and impatient sister,

Kitty

*

Dear Jane,

Thank you for sending Captain Benwick back to us, with yet another portion of that excellent jelly; even Captain Lawford was singing its praises. I have sent this letter back with the cart, and along with that a basket of fruit from the orangery: Kitty and Georgie keep picking oranges as part of their painting exercises, but they do build up.

They have both been a great help to me, as has Miss Elliot -- indeed, had I allowed it she would have done nothing but tend to Miss de Bourgh in her sickness, quite possibly until she herself fell ill from exhaustion. But her patience was truly admirable, and her example was of great service to me in dealing with a somewhat fretful invalid. Miss de Bourgh could not concentrate well enough to be read to, but of course could not be left alone, It was Captain Wentworth who showed us the way forward, when he suggested that we read some of the shorter poetry Captain Benwick liked, and even volunteering to take a turn, if Miss Elliot would be willing to sit with them, for propriety's sake. I must confess that I leapt at the chance to turn my attention to the household at large -- I had really been neglectful of Captain Lawford and Col Fitzwilliam, although I doubt they missed my company. Miss Elliot and Captain Wentworth seem quite capable of choosing and reading suitable works, although they seem much more interested in the poetry than Miss de Bourgh is, and Captain Wentworth has assured me that he will not allow Miss Elliot to overextend herself. She does seem well enough when she joins us in the evening, so I suppose he must be keeping his word. She thinks that Miss de Bourgh will be able to come downstairs, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. So we will then be returned to whatever passes for normal life: Kitty and Georgiana will be relieved to be able to return their full attention to their art, and Darcy to his agricultural interests. Captain Wentworth mentioned that he was thinking of purchasing an estate, and Darcy is now determined to give him all possible advice -- as you know I have not been able to entirely suppress his liking for managing his friends' affairs! But as neither of us can complain of the outcome, perhaps we should indulge him.

Your loving sister,

Elizabeth

 

*

Dear Mama,

I have decided that your idea of my marrying cousin Fitzwilliam and living at Pemberley was not a good one; I should not have been happy as his wife. For one thing the air here is very damp, and for another he spends all his days dealing with tenants and overseeing his property, so much so that I wonder that his steward has anything to do. He is much less pleasant here than he is under your influence at Rosings. I will be glad to go home.

Miss Elliot has not been a suitable companion, either. First she developed a liking for the outdoors, which Lady Russell did not mention when she suggested that she stay with me. Now she insists on reading poetry at all hours, and entirely disregards my lack of interest in the material. I suspected it would be this way when we discussed having a companion closer to my own rank. She has become far too friendly with Mrs Darcy. I explained some of that lady's history, and her background, but Miss Elliot did not change her opinion. I am disappointed by her lack of judgement.

I was ill for a while but am better now. I suppose that at least Miss Elliot made herself available to bring me things. In fact the most good was done by some broth sent by Mrs. Bingley. Georgiana plays tolerably well but otherwise there is nothing to entertain me here, and Mrs Darcy is not as attentive of my rank as she should be.

I shall write again before I leave, so that you know when to expect me.

Your daughter,

Anne

*

Dear Lydia,

Your letter from Turin was ENTIRELY too short, but that barely matters because I am indescribably envious of you for being in Italy. I'm sure Wickham's creditors were being very unfair but just think, now you will get to see all the glories of Italy. I did tell Lizzie what had happened to you so look out for a note from her.

Did any of the letters I sent to Marseilles reach you? If not, you are sure to be confused but I am not going to tell it all over again. Did you know that Mr. Darcy had to ask Lizzie to marry him twice? I did not, and only know now because Miss de Bourgh said something about it at supper last night. I don't know how Miss de B knew about this, but Lizzie has only herself to blame because she has spent the last month trying to get Miss de B to speak more. To be fair to Miss de B, Mr Darcy is unbelievably boring when he goes on and on about farming and his tenants and all his improvement schemes, so I cannot really blame her, but she interrupted him as he droned on and said (in the loudest voice I have ever heard her use) that she was not surprised Lizzie had called him un-gentlemanlike and refused him. The entire table fell silent and Lizzie and Darcy both turned bright red. The only sound was the noise of Miss Elliot's fork clanging against her plate as she dropped it; Captain W, who had been telling me about his time in the Med (as they say in the Navy!) went very pale and completely forgot what he had been talking about, and kept staring at Miss E as if her fork had terrified him. Military men are quite odd sometimes. But Mr Darcy cleared his throat and said something pretty about how happy he was that Lizzie had given him a second chance. I suppose they are rather romantic for married people.

The rest of the evening was quite dull, though. Miss E had promised to play some dances that evening but she went straight upstairs after we ate, as did Miss de B, and the gentlemen stood around talking amongst themselves, at least Darcy and Captain W did. Captain Benwick also went up early. I can't wait for Miss de B to leave us, except that I think that will be the signal for the gentlemen to leave too.

It is greatly unfair that you should be in a position to see all the glories of Italy and I should not, since I would appreciate everything much more. But I have some hope that I will one day be able to see the world for myself. If you go to Florence or Rome and do not write about every single detail I shall never speak to you again, or pass on your requests for funds to Lizzie and Jane, so you know I am serious.

Your loving sister, Kitty

*

I do not know how I should address this note -- if my hopes are not in vain it should be, dearest Anne. Tonight I saw how foolish I have been to let my pride -- no, my cowardice -- forestall my hopes of happiness, and how cowardly I have been to not dare speak my heart. If Mr and Mrs Darcy can overcome whatever stood between them, and find happiness together, can we not do the same? My feelings for you, in truth, have not altered for all these years, and I must hope that yours have been the same. Say only "yes" or "no" -- if yes, then I shall be forever, your own Frederick Wentworth.

*

Dear Lady Russell,

I cannot thank you enough for arranging for me to stay with Miss de Bourgh as her companion, although when I explain the reason I hope that you will be as happy as I am. I beg you to read this letter in its entirety before you respond, because I am forced once more to depend upon your assistance for my happiness.

I shall be as clear as I can, although the mixture of fear and happiness which has overcome me may make it difficult. As you know, Miss de Bourgh and I have gone to stay with her cousins in Derbyshire, in the hope that the change of air would improve her health; I am very sorry to say that it has not, and indeed she took very ill for a while while we were here. Mrs Darcy was everything one would wish for in a hostess at that moment -- she not only assisted me admirably in looking after Miss de Bourgh but ensured that I did not overstrain myself. We are all well now, indeed better than well.

But now I must beg for your patience as you read, because Mr Darcy had invited his cousin, a Col Fitzwilliam, and some gentlemen they knew to stay, and among them was Captain Wentworth. I am sure you know as well as I do how his career had progressed through the war. It was a great shock to see him again, and I think for him too, to see me, although we both believed that we had outgrown our old attachment, and were quite safe, he with his sport and me with my duties. It was my plan to avoid him as much as I could, although we were staying in the same house, and I was succeeding, and saw him paying some attention to Miss Darcy and Miss Bennet (the sisters of Mr and Mrs Darcy, respectively). When Miss de Bourgh took ill, he left, and I hoped that he might not return. And yet he did return, and I saw him so considerate for my own well-being, and of Miss de Bourgh's through me, although indeed she showed him very little consideration either before or after. He sat with her and read when Mrs Darcy was too busy and I to tired to do so, and did his best to entertain her, and even to encourage her to eat and regain her health. And this was all done in such a way that I could not believe that he was acting for her benefit rather than for mine, no matter how much I persuaded myself that the past would remain a wall between us. For as she became stronger, he spent less and less time with her, and he and Mrs Darcy encouraged me to go out walking with them, with Mr Darcy accompanying us. You know how I miss Kellynch Hall, and although Pemberley bears little similarity to that beloved place I felt a sort of vicarious happiness in seeing Mr and Mrs Darcy's pleasure in their estate. Captain Wentworth is, I believe, thinking of buying a place for himself, and although he very sensibly asked Mr Darcy for a great deal of advice he also asked me my opinion, and what I should like best in a property. Mrs Darcy laughed a great deal when he collected himself and asked her as well, and I was left to blush.

It is strange to think that I owe my present happiness to Miss de Bourgh but that is without doubt the case. That lady, as I have learned, once had expectations of marrying Mr Darcy herself, and as she recovered from her illness her unhappiness increased along with her strength. She referred once or twice in private to some apparent mistreatment by Mrs Darcy of Mr Darcy -- indeed, that Mrs Darcy had once rejected Mr Darcy, although the reasons for this she could not explain, nor did I ask. It was all very improper for her to speak of, but less improper for her to speak so to her companion, and if I could offer her some release from her emotions I thought I should. But I was wrong, and in speaking of them her emotions only grew, until at dinner one night she alluded to the affair in such a voice that everyone was forced to hear her. It was, I believe, a surprise to everyone barring myself and the principals.

That night Captain Wentworth sent me a note, asking whether we could not hope to imitate the happiness of Mr and Mrs Darcy, who overcame whatever barrier lay between them. Tomorrow he will leave for Bath, to see my father, but I have asked him to call on you first. For just as once I was right to bend to your belief that a match between us was unsuitable, and would not be conducive to my happiness, now I ask you to bend to my own knowledge, that nothing could be more suitable, nothing more conducive to my future happiness. I know that you will love Captain Wentworth as I do, once you have come to know him again.

I must accompany Miss de Bourgh back to Rosings, but from there, once I have had positive news, I will go to Bath, where I shall be,

Your loving and grateful friend,

Anne Elliot.

 

*

 

Dearest Charlotte,

It seems that every letter I write this autumn involves some form of recantation, and yet in each case I have been saved, through no office of my own, from absolute ruin.

First I must confess my most serious failure: the air of Pemberley has done nothing for Miss de Bourgh's health or for her temper. She is at least recovered from the cold she developed -- and which worried both me and Darcy greatly for a while -- but since that time has proved entirely resistant to all my schemes of improvement. She does not wish to sit outside, or paint, or even watch others paint; she can be brought to listen to music, and Georgiana has very kindly offered to play to her. But I am sure she is already looking forward to her return to Kent when her month with us is up. Mr. Darcy has suggested that she should perhaps go sooner, before the weather becomes too cool and damp, lest she take ill again on the journey home. I would not be at all reluctant, except that Miss Elliot must go with her. I will miss her very greatly and hope that she will come again to Pemberley -- even though she has profited greatly from my own discomfort. It seems that she knew Captain Wentworth, one of Col Fitzwilliam's naval friends, and they have been able to renew their friendship here, so much so that I believe Captain Wentworth has gone to see Miss Elliot's father, much to Miss Elliot's happiness. There was some hesitancy between them which I do not fully understand, but which was overcome when -- much to my embarrassment -- Miss de Bourgh raised in conversation the result of Mr Darcy's first proposal to me. So although Miss Elliot must return to Rosings, it will not be to stay, and however humiliated I may have briefly been at my own table, at least it was all for a good end.

I am less convinced of the end of a second attachment which formed this season: Captain Benwick, another of our guests, has been found sending poetry to Kitty, and I was forced to suggest that he accompany his friend Wentworth to Bath. Wentworth was, I think, nearly as concerned as I was, although for a different reason, as the lady to whom Captain Benwick was engaged died only a little while ago, and he views this new attachment as a sign of fickleness. I fear that everyone will seem fickle compared to Captain Wentworth, who waited not a few months but over eight years between his first proposal to Miss Elliot and their present happy state! I am not certain of the degree of Kitty's attachment -- it is hard for me to remember that she is neither sixteen nor silly, and his literary interests match well with her artistic ones. We may need to spend somewhat longer in London next year, if only to allow her to work on her painting, and if Captain Benwick is there as well, then we shall see what happens. He stayed with Jane and Bingley for a while, while Miss de Bourgh was ill, and Jane of course thinks he is as pleasant a young man as she has ever met.

So that is the result of my invitations -- Mr Darcy has announced that he will never visit Rosings again, so we will have to ask you to visit us, instead. Indeed you must, as soon as your little one is old enough to either travel or be left.

Your own,

Elizabeth

 

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