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Even More Consequences From A Call

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Chapter 18


Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, June 14, 1811


Lady Catherine de Bourgh was disturbed. She was unsure what it was, but she knew that something odd was occurring in Meryton. She recalled the Darcy’s speaking of their friendship with Mr. and Mrs. Sakville, but nothing on the subject of that couple’s background or financial situation. She was surprised at the quality of clothing worn by the entire family, even their daughters’ companion. It was obviously expensive material that was assembled in the newest styles by very talented tailors and seamstresses. If she did not know better, she would have suspected it came from the continent.


Her brother, as an Earl, was far above Mr. Sakville in rank and consequence, yet he was treating Mr. Sakville as the superior. What was even more perplexing, was that Lady Matlock and Lady Dobbs were also being deferential towards Mrs. Sakville.


While she had been studying the interactions of the titled persons in the room with Mr. and Mrs. Sakville, she had caught William’s eyes a few times. William, she sighed. She had such hopes that he would fall in love with, and marry, her daughter Anne. He would have taken care of Anne and Rosings better than she had been able to.


William kept sneaking glances at the assembly room doors as if he was waiting for someone specific to arrive. She gasped at the realization that he must have found a young lady to admire in the neighbourhood. He must have heard her, because William looked up with a guilty expression on his face before looking at the door again. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.


Anne exerting her independence and taking over as mistress of Rosings, had been an eye-opening experience. Her daughter had essentially exiled her to the farthest suite in the family wing and ordered Mrs. Jenkinson to be her new companion. Two months later, after having dined outside of her room only once and being completely smothered by Mrs. Jenkinson, Catherine understood what her daughter’s previous life had been like. She wrote a letter, two sheets of letter-paper long, apologizing for her actions and asking for a chance to be a part of Anne’s life. Building the relationship she now enjoyed with Anne, was a long, gut wrenching process. Catherine had been forced to face how her past behavior had not only affected her daughter, but her extended family members, servants, and anyone she interacted with.


Anne had been running Rosings for almost a year when she had helped Catherine realize the letters she received were always short, impersonal, and solely written out of duty. Catherine had tried to show her family members and friends how she had changed via letters. She thought she had been partially successful, but William and Joseph’s clear mis-trust of her objective when she arrived at Haye Park, proved she had much work to do, but she was determined to carry on with her altered behaviour.


“It was bound to happen eventually, mother. Please do not ruin it for William,” Anne whispered quietly into her ear.


“I am right? William has found a young lady?”


“Yes, according to Georgie, he is besotted,” her daughter confirmed gently.


“What else am I unaware of?”


“I am uncertain what you are referring to, mother.”


“There is something strange going on in this neighbourhood. Watch how the Matlock’s and Lady Dobbs interact with the Sakville’s. Does that seem appropriate to you?” she asked her daughter.


“Now that you mention it, no. Uncle Michael is usually much more careful about observing the proper protocols of rank. Not to imply he is an elitist,” her daughter quickly added, “but being a member parliament, he must maintain a certain façade.”


“My point exactly.” Catherine caught her nephew’s eyes again as he looked back and forth between her and Anne before he approached Mrs. Sakville. She watched as they had a brief discussion, both looking at her and Anne a few times, before Mrs. Sakville nodded her head and they walked towards her and her daughter.


“Aunt Catherine, before it becomes crowded, would you and Anne favour us with your company for a moment? There seems to be a modicum of privacy over by that window,” William suggested with a wave of his hand.


Catherine followed her nephew across the room with a sense of unease. When they arrived, she noted that William positioned her so she was facing the wall and the rest of the guests could not see her facial expressions. She knew this would be an unpleasant conversation.


“I know I am not going to be fond of whatever it is you have brought me here to disclose, William. My character has ever been celebrated for its sincerity and frankness, and at such a moment as this, I shall certainly not depart from it. I insist you get it over with immediately. Tell me this instant why you dragged us away from the rest of the attendees,” she ordered before mentally bracing herself.


It was unsettling to see her nephew also defer to Mrs. Sakville. Heaven and earth, what was happening? Had he lost the use of his reason? Had her brother and sister too? Why was everyone... All at once, in a flash of inspiration, similar to the glow-worms1 that are seen in the woods of Rosings this time of the year, she understood.


Catherine looked up into the curious face of Mrs. Sakville.


“Are you well, Lady Catherine? Your mind seemed to be engaged elsewhere for a few moments.”


“Do not worry, Mrs. Sakville, I am perfectly in control of my faculties. I found myself suddenly imagining I was ignorant of your connections. I was wondering, how long ago, exactly, your husband’s family tree intersected with the duke’s line,” she stated confidently. It was the only thing that made sense.


“I do believe we will get along famously, Lady Catherine,” Mrs. Sakville said with a grin.


She listened to Mrs. Sakville’s history with rapt fascination. To think, a duke and his wife wanted people to be unaware of their rank. It defied belief.


“What do you find so amusing, Anne?” she asked her daughter.


“How many times have I heard you ask people ‘Do you know who I am?’ and here we have a family, of a rank you could not hope to aspire, who want nothing so much as their privacy,” her daughter barely managed to answer through her mirth.


William offered Anne his arm and escorted her towards the rest of their party. Giving into the juvenile desire, she rolled her eyes at her laughing daughter and nephew as they walked across the room.


“Lady Catherine, how long will you be residing in Meryton?” Mrs. Sakville asked her as they slowly took a turn about the room.


“I am unsure, Mrs. Sakville. Certainly, until my Anne is comfortable, past that, I do not know,” she replied.


“Where will you reside? Meryton has become an enormously popular summer destination. I wonder if it will soon rival Bath and Ramsgate as the en vogue place to be,” Mrs. Sakville told her with a quiet laugh.


“My nephews will make room for me at Haye Park,” she responded confidently.


“My husband will be returning to our main estate on Monday. Would you like to be my guest at Netherfield Park? At the very least, you must agree for tonight as I understand Mr. Doyle travels back to London tomorrow. We will either get along famously, as I previously predicted, or hate each other with a spectacular passion,” Mrs. Sakville offered with a devious grin.


“From what I have seen so far, I do believe the former is more likely,” Catherine responded with a smile.


“There is an elderly resident in Meryton, Miss Thomlin, who inherited her father’s house and occasionally takes in boarders to supplement her income. She would never rent rooms to a single gentleman, but a fellow widow with her daughter, and maybe even her nephews, should be welcome.”


“I thank you for the information, it may become useful as I understand the Bingley’s are leasing Netherfield Park starting after Michaelmas.”


“Miss Thomlin is over by the refreshment table. I will introduce you to her before the evening ends,” Mrs. Sakville offered.


Catherine noticed a disturbance at the front doors, heard the murmur of conversation halt, and stopped walking. She saw a distinguished looking older gentleman walk in with a lady on his arm who could be none other than his wife and a large number of young ladies behind them. When she spied her niece, Georgiana, she knew it must be the Bennet family. She witnessed the moment her nephew caught sight of a stunning brunette. The looks on their faces told her more than she wanted to know.


She was taken aback to see genuine pleasure on the face of Mr. Sakville and the Phillips’ as they greeted the Bennet’s. Who was this family? She had never encountered another of their rank that were less pretentious. She watched as the brunette approached her nephew and then blush when he spoke to her. “Besotted, indeed,” she muttered.


“My niece, Elizabeth Bennet.”


“I would have to be blind to miss that William and Richard are infatuated. Who is the young lady next to the Colonel?”


“That would be Miss Hurst,” Mrs. Sakville answered.


“Aye, I have heard about her from acquaintances who spent the season in London. She was presented some years ago but was relatively unknown before last season when she came into her full inheritance. She caused quite a stir with her spectacular dowry and an estate that brought the mercenary families scurrying for an introduction. One acquaintance, whose husband retired from the navy, described it to me as being reminiscent of rats fleeing a sinking ship, only in reverse. Fortunately for Richard, he actually managed to find a young lady who seems to appear able to tolerate him and who has a large enough dowry to keep him in the style of living in which he has been brought up,” Catherine observed.


“Oh, Lady Catherine, you are a treasure. Please, call me Jane in private.”


“And you must call me Catherine.”


“Are my eyes deceiving me, Jane, or is my other nephew, Lord Halburn, enthralled with the young blonde lady who is studiously avoiding him?”


“That is my eldest daughter, Juliet. You are correct she wants nothing to do with him. I shall tell you how they met. Prepare yourself for something very dreadful,” Mrs. Sakville told her with a devilish grin.


Lady Catherine listened to the tale in amazement before letting out a loud unladylike guffaw. “Simply marvellous! I would undoubtedly have suspected Darcy capable of making such a monumental blockheaded mistake,” she said while shaking her head. “It sounds like something that could have leapt off the pages of those wretched gothic novels that are so popular with young people.”


“You know that from first-hand experience?” Mrs. Sakville asked with a raised brow.


“Obviously not. I would never place an order at the bookshop in advance of an expected publication date. Nobody would think to pay extra for said novel to be brought to Rosings immediately upon its delivery. I would also certainly not ever read a novel all the way through without putting it down, regardless of the number of candles I burned through,” Catherine said haughtily.


“I understand completely, Catherine. It would be unconscionable to have such a frivolous guilty secret to be kept hidden,” Mrs. Sakville solemnly agreed. “Finding someone else who indulged in the same horrible taste in literature, now and then of course, would be an amazing thing. I do wonder if you have managed to acquire a copy of the latest volume of Tales of Fashionable Life?”


“Indeed, I read it last month. I do believe you are correct. We will get along famously,” Catherine said with a grin. “Now, Mr. Hurst there also appears enchanted with the other blonde lady. I must say, she looks enough like your daughter Juliet, that she must be another a one of your children or perhaps a niece?”


“My niece, Jane Bennet,” Mrs. Sakville said before informing her of Mr. Hurst’s circumstances.


“Very admirable. Most young men would not think to make their sentiments known in such a subtle way,” Catherine said.


“Yes, I was very pleased when my brother told me about the conversation Mr. Hurst insisted they have with Jane to protect her from possibly being hurt.”


“What other possible matches do we have developing? I must know it all if I am to be of use,” Catherine stated.


Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, June 14, 1811


Fitzwilliam Darcy was apprehensive. He escorted his cousin back to their party and asked, “Should we have left them alone, Anne?”


“Everything will be well, William. Mother has resigned herself to the fact that we will not marry each other. I promise.”


“I do trust you, Anne, but she has demanded our match for so long, it is hard for me to believe she would simply abandon hope,” he said.


“I understand,” his cousin said gently. “Mother and I have been talking about this for almost two years. It does not seem sudden to me. She is different now, William. All I ask is that you give her a chance to prove it to you. Please, consider all I have said before you react negatively towards her.”


Thinking back, he had noticed a shift in the tone of Aunt Catherine’s letters. He would do as Anne requested.


The cousins were almost to the rest of their group when they came upon Charlotte Lucas walking towards the refreshment table.


“Miss Lucas, it is nice to see you again. May I introduce you to my cousin, Miss Anne de Bourgh? Anne, Miss Charlotte Lucas is the eldest daughter of Sir William,” William said while the ladies curtsied to each other.


“Mr. Darcy, I see you have had even more friends join you. The women of the neighbourhood, matron and maiden alike, appreciate you, more than you could ever fathom,” Miss Lucas teased with a grin. “My mother and sisters were grieved over the number of ladies rumoured to be in your party, but they were comforted when they heard more gentlemen had arrived.”


Anne laughed and said, “Oh, Miss Lucas, we are sure to be good friends.”


“Mr. Darcy, I recognize the Colonel, but who is the other gentleman in uniform?” Miss Lucas asked.


“I may not be a military man myself, Miss Lucas, but even I know marching orders when I hear them. Come, I will introduce you,” Darcy said before offering an arm to his cousin and to Miss Lucas. “General Trevor, allow me to introduce you to Miss Lucas. Her father is Sir William whom we met at the door.” William smiled when the general seemed eager for the introduction. His smile slipped a little when the general seemed disappointed as Anne excused herself to speak with Dr. Withers.


“General, I have read your name in the paper, more than a few times. You have had a distinguished career,” said Miss Lucas.


“Miss Lucas, I pray to God daily that I have fought my last battle. My current orders have me stationed in London for the foreseeable future training our new recruits,” the General informed her.


“An admirable, and very important, duty,” Miss Lucas responded.


William was pleased to stay silent and let them continue their conversation. He was shocked at how informed Miss Lucas was regarding military matters. It was the work of a few moments to see the General was clearly fascinated. Lady Dobbs had noticed the conversation taking place in front of him and offered a conspiratorial smile.


Miss Lucas had just mentioned to the General that she read an article about a supply issue and asked him a question when a hush fell over the room. William looked up to see the Bennet’s had arrived.

Elizabeth. She came into sight and took his breath away. She looked up, caught his eyes, and smiled beautifully at him. He was undone at the thought of dancing with her.

Darcy was sure this would be one of the most important assemblies in the lives of quite a few people.


Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, June 14, 1811


Elizabeth Bennet was annoyed. It was joyous to have her cousins and new friends staying at Longbourn, at least it was, until it was time to get eleven ladies ready for an assembly. Their departure was delayed almost twenty minutes by too many trips to retrieve forgotten items or to repair their attire or hair. Finally, she sent her parents out to the Bennet carriage with as many people as would fit. When Georgie returned downstairs with her reticule, she all but pushed the rest of their party out the door into the Sakville carriage.


It took a few moments for the footmen to help everyone exit the carriages in front of the assembly and, in that time, Elizabeth was able to speak with her elder sister.


“I know you are excited, Lizzy. Take a moment to compose yourself before walking inside,” her sister Jane teased.


“Thank you, Jane,” she responded before doing as her elder sister ordered.


“Come along girls. We do not want to miss the first set,” mama ordered as papa escorted her up the stairs.


Elizabeth entered the room, searched for Mr. Darcy, saw him standing with Charlotte, and sighed in contentment before smiling. His answering smile drew her to his side as if she was a bee and he was the hive.


“Miss Elizabeth, you look lovely this evening,” Mr. Darcy complimented, causing her to blush. “Allow me to introduce you to Richard’s commander, General Trevor.”


“It is a pleasure to meet you, General,” she acknowledged. “Charlotte, how are you?”


“Very well, Eliza. General Trevor was answering the questions we discussed when we read the article about the army’s supply issues,” Charlotte answered.


“Truly? I would enjoy hearing what the army is planning to do about the grain shortage,” she said. “The rain last year destroyed a fair number of crops.”


“How singular,” the General said. “I have never met young women who were so knowledgeable regarding current affairs.”


Elizabeth heard the band start to practice and looked up at Mr. Darcy with a smile.


“Miss Elizabeth, I have been looking forward to our dance all week.”


“Me too, Mr. Darcy.”


“Miss Lucas,” the General said, “would you honour me with the first dance?”


“It would be my pleasure,” Charlotte answered.



Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, June 14, 1811


Jane Sakville was standing with Lady Catherine, Lady Dobbs, and her sister Bennet as they watched the first set progress through the forms. She was sure the smile on her face was enormous. This trip to her childhood home had definitely been fruitful. Her daughters, always wary of ulterior motives when deciding whether to extend an offer of friendship, had made three new friends. And, unless she was mistaken, her children had all found the companions of their future lives.


Juliet was clearly enamoured of Lord Halburn, even if she was fighting the attraction with everything that she had. Jane knew it was only a matter of time before her daughter’s mind gave way to her heart. Quite a few first circle society matrons would be disappointed that the much sought-after daughter of a duke, with an enormous dowry, had captured the much sought-after heir to the Matlock Earldom, with its deep coffers.


Celia seemed to be determined to gain the heart of Mr. Dobbs, regardless of his opinion. As soon as Celia was presented to the queen, the poor man would be courting and then engaged before he knew what she was about. Mr. Dobbs was a quiet and thoughtful person. Much like Mr. Darcy, they both needed spouses with vibrant personalities who could help ease their discomfort in society.


Poor Edmund. He was the most inconspicuous of her children, but she could tell that he was smitten with Miss Darcy. He would have to wait two years, maybe three, for Miss Darcy to have her season in London before he could approach her. She would have to discuss with Frederick ways to keep their son from becoming melancholy. Sending him to Scotland for a summer or two would help keep him occupied as the time passed. Perhaps when Lizzy and Mr. Darcy married, assuming they did, Edmund could spend time at Pemberley occasionally. It would allow him to be near Miss Darcy in an acceptable manner.


“Oh Jane, three daughters likely to be married soon. I can think of nothing else! I am sure Mary will fight it the longest, but Jane and Lizzy are both clearly captivated. I am so pleased! So happy!” Fanny exclaimed, breaking her out of her ruminations.


“Frances, do speak lower,” Jane warned her sister urgently. “You do not want to dissuade the gentlemen because of gossip, do you? You will never recommend your daughters by so doing.”


“Your sister is correct, madam. It is best not to scare them away,” Lady Catherine advised. “You know how some men fear losing their independence. I have never seen my nephew as intrigued by another woman as he is with your daughter Elizabeth, but if he feels his hand is being forced, his pride may encourage him to return to London.”


“I agree, Fanny,” Lady Dobbs added. “My nephew Reginald is still in half-mourning. It could potentially affect his reputation if people think he is courting a lady so soon. Also, he spoke to your husband about his wishes. Reginald will mourn for an entire year. It would not be wise to start raising expectations.”


Jane was suddenly reminded what Fanny was like when they were younger. As the daughter of the widower village solicitor, she was a spoiled girl of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When the younger Fanny was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. A very young Mrs. Waldron, recently widowed, had been hired as the Bennet nanny as soon as they found out Fanny was with child. Supposedly, she was hired early to learn the routine of the household and her employers’ preferences regarding the raising of their children. Truthfully, Jane had demanded Thomas hire someone to teach his wife proper manners. She had not seen Fanny this excited in many years.


“Fanny, Mary has not been presented to the queen. You know nothing can come of Lord Brundel’s attraction for a year, at least. Calm yourself and let Mary enjoy the last vestiges of her childhood,” Jane demanded.


“I know you are right. Jane. I am overcome with...”


Jane watched in concern as Fanny stopped mid-sentence, opened her eyes wide, and put her hands over her abdomen.


“Oh my, I thought I was too old. Lord bless me,” her sister said quietly.


“Fanny? Truly? After all these years? Can it be?” Jane whispered excitedly.


“I have just felt the quickening. I had been so hopeful. Oh, Jane, if this child is a son, Longbourn is saved,” Fanny said with tears in her eyes. “Of course, I will love it regardless of its sex, but Thomas would be so happy if his hard work over the past twenty years would not surely be undone in six months by his distant cousin.”


“I hope I find out soon too,” Jane said quietly to herself.


“Jane, am I to understand that Fanny has had confirmation she is with child and you believe you are too?” Lady Catherine asked quietly.


“I may be,” Jane admitted in a whisper. “It makes sense for us to be in a delicate condition at the same time, now that I think about it. In late February, our husbands were in London for three weeks helping the Gardiner’s deal with issues surrounding business matters and moving into their new home. I have not had my courses since Frederick returned.”


“I also have not had mine since Thomas returned from that trip,” Fanny told her just as quietly.


“From your comments, Fanny, I am guessing Longbourn is entailed, then?” Lady Dobbs asked.


“Yes,” Fanny said reluctantly. “We have never met the heir presumptive, but Thomas told me his father was a horrid man.”


“We did meet Cousin Collins senior once,” Jane said. “He made me very uncomfortable. Thomas is correct, he was horrid. If I am being generous, his son would probably run Longbourn to the brink of ruin within a year. I would greatly appreciate Longbourn not falling into the hands of anyone from that family.”


“If you are also with child, it doubles your chances of having a new heir for Longbourn.”


Lady Catherine’s statement caused Jane and Fanny to gasp. In all of Jane’s hopes of being with child again, the fact that a son would be next in line to inherit her childhood home had not occurred to her. It should have though. Obviously, her son would be a much closer blood relation to Thomas than a third cousin.


“Oh, Fanny, how wonderful would it be for both of us to have sons? The Collins family expectations would be quite altered,” Jane said with a wicked grin.


“I must tell Thomas tonight. We have been trying since Lydia went to Scotland and had all but given up hope on another child. He will be entirely unreasonable in his efforts to protect me from harm. I will be lucky to be allowed to walk into Meryton for fear that I would trip,” Fanny said sadly.


“Frederick will be worse than Thomas,” Jane said reluctantly. “If I am fortunate, I will not feel the quickening until next week. I do not feel obligated to tell him of my suspicions, but should it be confirmed before he leaves, I would be honour bound to. If I am with child, it will be a battle to convince Frederick I can chaperone the girls on our week-long trip to London. We should meet to discuss the best arguments to use.”


“Do not worry ladies, everything will turn out well,” Lady Catherine told them gently. “With the four of us thinking of valid reasons for you to make the trip while increasing, your husbands do not stand a chance.”


“Lady Catherine, is it my imagination, or is your daughter smiling a bit too much at my cousin?” Lady Dobbs asked in an obvious attempt to lighten the mood.


Grateful for the change of topic, and seeing that Catherine was looking between the prospective couple, Jane added, “I wondered at that myself. What do you think of the possible match, Phoebe?”


“Mark is the second son of an earl and has been chased for years. For him to be showing this much partiality to a young woman, is quite frankly unheard of,” Lady Dobbs said.


“Now that you mention it, Anne has been bringing up the good doctor with a greater frequency of late,” Lady Catherine said thoughtfully. “He is the son of an earl you say?”


“Yes, he is,” Lady Dobbs confirmed.


“More importantly, is he a good man? Our interactions to date have been limited, but nothing I know about him has caused concern,” Lady Catherine stated.


“Mark and I have been close our entire lives,” Lady Dobbs said. “He is a very upstanding man.”


“The first set is ending,” Jane pointed out. “Frederick and Thomas are on their way to claim us for the next dance, Fanny.”


“It was so nice to see all of the young people dancing the first,” Lady Dobbs stated. “Mark is to favour me with the second set.”


“Joseph asked me for the second,” Catherine said. “Darcy is dancing with Georgie and Richard asked one of the younger Bennet sisters.”


Haye Park, Hertfordshire
Friday, June 14, 1811


Reginald Hurst was content. The unmarried gentlemen of Haye Park, which included Darcy, Dobbs, Doyle, Withers, the Colonel, Lord Halburn, General Trevor, and himself, were enjoying a drink after the assembly.


He thought the evening had passed off pleasantly for everyone who attended. Although, it was with regret that he watched Miss Bennet enter her carriage. He would have liked to have been able to dance more than one set with her. Propriety could be a fickle thing and was often at odds with what a person desired.


“I would have liked to danced twice with Miss Elizabeth,” Darcy said wistfully.


“How odd,” he said. “I was literally just thinking the exact same thing about Miss Bennet,” he said with wide eyes. “Propriety can be a gentleman’s worst enemy sometimes.”


“I wished I could have danced at least once with Miss Sakville,” Lord Halburn all but pouted.


“I heard what you said about her before you were introduced,” the General responded. “You are lucky she acknowledges you the little that she does.”


“I know,” Lord Halburn sighed.


“Miss Celia thinks she is clever enough to pull the wool over my eyes,” Harold said. “I have been wondering if I should continue to play ignorant regarding her plans to become Mrs. Dobbs or take the offensive next season.”


“What do you mean by that?” Darcy asked.


“Honestly, Darcy, are you blind man?” Lord Halburn asked incredulously. “Miss Celia is sly, but she obviously has her sights set on Dobbs. Did you think she speaks with him at every opportunity for no reason? What about the afternoon of dancing she arranged?”


Reginald choked back a laugh at the dumbfounded look on Darcy’s face. “Come now, Darcy, surely you cannot be that surprised. Miss Celia made sure to partner with Harold every chance she found during her dancing lessons. All under the guise of making sure he knew the steps, of course.”


“To be fair, the lessons were for my benefit too, and much appreciated,” Doyle said. “Miss Celia seems like a nice, cheery lad. I agree, she has Dobbs in her line of fire. He needs to decide if he is willing to be caught.”


“Miss Hurst looked lovely tonight,” the Colonel broke in with a sigh. “The last time I saw her she was displeased with me. It was comforting to be back after a week, especially since she was delighted to see me.”


“My sister can be a tricky one, Colonel,” he responded. “She has tempered her acerbic responses ever since she narrowly avoided a set down by Mrs. Sakville. I think her friendship with the Bennet and Sakville sisters has been good for her. She seems to have legitimately had a slight adjustment of character, for the better. She does appreciate your teasing nature, Colonel, but you go too far sometimes. You would do well to restrain yourself somewhat.”


“What about you, Dr. Withers? Do my eyes deceive me or are you interested in my cousin, Anne de Bourgh?” Lord Halburn stated confidently.


“Your cousin is my patient, Lord Halburn. It would be unethical to start a relationship with her,” Mark replied.


“That was not my brother’s question, doctor. I noticed it too. Do not try to deny it,” the Colonel said.


“As I said, she is my patient. As much as I do admire her, I could never act. It would not be in the best interest of my patient to refer her into the care of another doctor at this stage in her healing. I have yet to meet anyone willing to try unconventional treatment methods when the traditional ones are having no effect,” Mark admitted.


“I may know of someone,” the General responded. “He is a good man and a phenomenal doctor who has almost completed his service. I would be willing to introduce you. If you feel confident enough in his abilities, and decide to pursue Miss de Bourgh, he might even be interested in becoming a partner in your practice.”


“You seem to know him well, General,” Reginald noted.


“He has been my personal battlefield physician for a number of years and he saved my life during my last battle. I have complete trust in his abilities. What do you gentlemen know about Miss Lucas?” the General asked.


The gentlemen spoke about the ladies of Meryton until the wee hours of the morning.



1 Lampyris Noctiluca - William Wordsworth wrote a poem about glow-worms in 1802 AMONG ALL LOVELY THINGS MY LOVE HAD BEEN. His sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, kept diaries from 1798-1803 that are available online and reference seeing glow-worms multiple times.