Henry Bennet paced back and forth within his study, waiting for his daughter and new son in-law to return from the dastardly deed of eloping to Gretna Green. He thought to himself out loud, "How did it come to this? Was I so uninvolved that I did not see how she was? I thought I taught her better than this!" He shouted, knocking over a stack of books from his desk, and started weeping.
His son Robert burst through the doors frantically. "Father! Are you all right?" He called out.
Robert looked around the room to find the source of the weeping, and saw his father on the couch on the other side of the room.
"Robert, leave me be," said the elder Mr. Bennet.
"I will not," said the younger Mr. Bennet. "They are married. You know I made sure of it."
"Yes, you made quite sure your sister was stuck with such a man!" The elder Bennet accused.
"What would you have me do, Father? Let him abandon her?! Leave her!? Disown her!? Maybe if you pulled your head out of your arse, you would have noticed just how vulgar your daughter's behavior was!" Robert shouted. "I took care of it. You may not like it, but you should have protected her from him!"
"You are right--I let her be just as silly as her mother. I should have taken a firmer hand with her. I have failed you, all of you," Henry said as he started to weep again.
Just then, Mr. Hill knocked on the doors of the study to let the master and young master know that a carriage escorting Fanny and her husband was spotted coming down the driveway of Longbourn.
Robert patted his father on the back and walked with him to greet their guests. "Come now father, it is too late to change things. We have the plan in place to protect her as much as possible," Robert said trying to comfort his father, all the while irate that his half-sister decided to elope.
Henry nodded at his son.
"Oh, Fanny! A daughter married, and only at 17 too! I knew you couldn't be so pretty for nothing!" Screeched Betty Bennet as she hugged her son in-law and only child and giggled.
Fanny giggled along with her mother.
"Oh, Mama! I told you I would be married before my sister! And to such a handsome man," giggled Fanny Woodham nee Bennet. “Where is my dear sister Sophia?!"
"Here I am, Fanny," Sophia Bennet appeared from inside the house and stood next to her brother and father, staring at her half-sister.
"Oh dear! I dare say, I prefer to be addressed as Mrs. Woodham, now," Giggled Fanny again. "You must go to Ramsgate; that is the place to catch a husband."
"I do not think I like the way you catch husbands, dear Fanny" Sophia replied condescendingly.
Fanny's faced flushed red with anger. She pouted and looked around for someone to defend her. When she looked in Robert’s direction, he smiled and coughed into his hand to hide his smile at his little sister's witty remark.
"Shall we men meet in my study? We have much to discuss," Henry said.
Mr. Woodham finally spoke and said, "Lead the way."
As the men went into the study, the ladies went into the drawing room. Betty and Fanny sat closely together and talked of all the neighbors they were to call on to show off. The new Mrs. began telling her mother how she was forced to get married in one of her oldest, but best, dresses. Mrs. Bennet declared that using an old dress as a wedding trousseau was not grand enough for her big day. Fanny and Betty began discussing other minute details of the wedding.
Sophia sat there, not listening, but giving a proper nod when appropriate, and wishing to be in the study with her father and brother, where the real excitement was happening.
Meanwhile, in the study, the Bennet men were trying to keep their composure. On the other hand, Mr. Woodham was silently sipping the port given to him by Robert, trying to steady his nerves.
"How do you plan on supporting yourself and my daughter?" Henry asked to his brand new son-in-law.
"As you know, I am a clerk for my brother in-law, Mr. Phillips, who is an attorney in Meryton, but I will soon retire that occupation to help run the estate."
Robert smiled at this father, then turned and said, "So, Mr. Woodham, what did Fanny tell you of her dowry?"
Mr. Woodham returned the smile and said, "She told me it was £10,000 pounds and included Longbourn. And there are rumors around town to confirm the Bennet sisters' large dowry including the estate."
"Well, I am pleased to inform you, that is not the case," said Henry, smirking.