Heir of Rosings Park Chapter 16

Heir of Rosing Park iconWhat is one to do when surrounded by stubborn men?

 

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 Chapter 16

Mary sprang to her feet, her chair clattering to the floor. She dashed from the room, the screeching guiding her to the corridor outside the colonel’s study.

Lady Catherine stood in the middle of the hall, in her full, regal glory: gold, silk gown catching the afternoon sun, ostrich plumes bobbing over her head. Collins, Fitzwilliam and Michaels lined up opposite her near the study door, courtiers waiting their turn to attend their royal patron.

“No, no, no! I did not give permission for a curate. I selected Collins for the parish, and with the parish he shall remain.” She stomped and shook her fists at her sides.

“Your opinion does not matter in this circumstance, Aunt.” Fitzwilliam growled back.

Foolish, stupid man.

“Lady Catherine, pray understand,” Collins edged half a step forward and bowed from his shoulders.

“My understanding is not at fault. I understand perfectly what is going on. You are trying to betray me.” She shooed him back with her fan.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth, Madam. I am solicitous of all your wishes and desires.”

“I do not desire a curate. That is my final word on the matter and you will do exactly as I say.”

Fitzwilliam interposed himself between them. “Stop your blithering. The matter has been decided. Leave it to us and trouble yourself with it no further.”

“You do not have the right to speak to me that way, nephew!  I think it is time for you to go back to Matlock to relearn some manners. Get Long Tom. I want him now. He will see you are removed at once.” She poked him in the chest with her fan.

“I live here, this is my home.” They stood toe to toe.

Mary edged between them, applying her elbows to Fitzwilliam’s shoulder and chest as necessary. “Mr. Michaels, get both these gentlemen out of here at once. Please.”

Fitzwilliam towered over her, glowering like an officer. She rose on tip toes and returned the expression.

His eyes widened, and he backed away.

She took Lady Catherine’s arm. “Mr. Michaels has this well in hand. Do not worry.”

“But I do not wish for a curate.”

Mary urged her to take a step down the hall and another. “The gentlemen are well aware of your wishes. You know you can trust them to carry out what is necessary. They are all very loyal to you.”

They walked toward the stairs. Behind her, Michaels’ hushed voice urged the men back to the study.

Why had he not stepped in sooner? He knew better than to allow the colonel to antagonize Lady Catherine this way.

“Perhaps you would like a walk in the garden?” Mary led her toward the door.

“I have not had my walk today, have I?” Her forehead knotted deeply.

“No you have not. You so enjoy your garden.”

“You are a very thoughtful girl. Miss Bennet. Which one are you? There are too many Bennet girls.”

“I am Mary.” She held the door open and helped Lady Catherine down the steps.

“That is a good, sensible name, Mary. I approve of it, you know.”

“I am glad to hear that, madam. My mother will be very pleased to hear it. I shall write to her directly and tell her.”

“Oh look, the peonies are blooming. When did I order them planted here? I do not recall.” Lady Catherine paused and pushed her face into a mass of blooms.

She did not recall yesterday when they had the same conversation.

“The gardener says it was last year in the spring that you ordered it changed. So, this is the first time that it has bloomed.”

“Well then, I made a very good decision, did I not?”

“Yes, you did.” Mary took her arm again.

“I make good decisions.” Her face grew tight and expression dark. “I do, do I not, Miss Mary Bennet? My decisions are right and good.”

“You have made many decisions throughout your life, so very many. Perhaps you are tired from them, just a bit?”

Lady Catherine seemed to shrink. “I am weary at times. It tires me to think so hard these days.”

“Of course it does, after all that you have done, it is only right for you to be tired. Would it not be pleasing to have someone else to make some of those decisions for you?  So that you might rest and enjoy Rosings as you ought?”

“What an odd idea. I never considered. Would it be right and proper to just allow someone else?”

“Not just anyone, but one of your line, whom you could trust. That would be agreeable, would it not?”

“I suppose so … yes, perhaps … possibly.” She blinked hard. “That might be a very good notion. I will have to think on the matter further.”

They continued along the path, crossing into the shade.

“One cannot be expected to make such a significant decision so lightly. It is good for you to think on it. But in the meantime, perhaps you would like to tell him that he may begin with some small decisions to help you see how very wise and conscientious he might be.”

“Wise? Fitzwilliam? He is not wise. He is lonely, very lonely. He needs a wife. Mrs. Collins can help. A vicar’s wife is good for introductions. You help her and we shall find him a wife.”

“I am sure he will be very glad of it.” It was hard to get the words out and maintain a proper expression of decorum. “Would you like to sit at your favorite bench? Look, I think Mrs. Jenkinson is there.”

“I would speak with her now, you know. There are things I need to tell her about Anne.”

Mary beckoned Mrs. Jenkinson, and she hurried to meet them. “Lady Catherine would like to speak with you.”

Mrs. Jenkinson took Lady Catherine’s arm and led her toward the bench basking in the fading afternoon light. She would be in good hands now.

She turned back towards the house, detouring through the rose garden. There were some very pretty varieties  in bloom now, not as showy as peonies to be sure, but so fragrant.

Why was Fitzwilliam so stubborn? If only he would be a little more patient and not insist he get his way immediately. Commands and orders were not the only means to get something accomplished.

 Next Saturday could not come soon enough.

 Michaels met her halfway to the house. “Did you take her back to her room?”

“No, she is in the garden with Mrs. Jenkinson. Being out of doors soothes her.” She pointed back toward the bench.

Michaels peered over her shoulder. “Were you able to calm her?”

“Yes. What is more, she is slowly becoming reconciled to allowing someone else to make decisions.”

He offered his arm. “I do not know how you do, it Mary. You seem to have a way with her unlike anyone else. I am glad to hear you are making headway with her. The colonel’s patience with her is running thin.”

“Has it ever been anything else?”

They walked on, gravel crunching under their feet.

“Officers are not known for their patience.” Did he know how high-handed he sounded now? A little too much like Colonel Fitzwilliam.

“Well, then that is a flaw which needs to be addressed. If he does not change his ways with her, I swear to you, disaster will ensue.”

“Is that not a bit dramatic?”

She stopped, counted to ten, and turned on him.

Oh the look on his face! He did not expect that!

She balanced her fists on her hips. “Are you suggesting that I do not know what I am talking about, or perhaps that an old woman whose wits are failing is incapable of causing great damage. Or perhaps—”

He threw up open hands. “Please, Mary, calm down. You are taking great offense where none was intended, I assure you. Perhaps dealing with her is wearing on your patience as well?”

Or perhaps it was dealing with stubborn men that had her worn threadbare.

“Or perhaps you are peckish. The colonel has invited us all to share his table tonight.  How does that sound?”

Condescending and conciliatory.

But Michaels’ expression was sincere. He was trying to be helpful and deserved to have the effort credited to his accounts. While not perfect, it was something, and she should appreciate it for what it was.

She slipped her hand in the crook of his arm and allowed him to escort her back to the house.

 

What do you think is at the root of Mary’s impatience and what should she do about it? Tell me in the comments.


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7 comments

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    • Glynis on July 27, 2017 at 2:30 am
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    Well this is getting more and more complicated. Poor Michaels doesn’t seem to understand Mary at all. I think he sees her as having no real mind of her own?
    This is a problem given that they are to marry in a few days. I also think she and Fitzwilliam have feelings for each other but that neither are sure what they are?
    Oh dear Maria, how are you ever going to sort this lot out? Good luck 😊

    • Agnes on July 27, 2017 at 4:02 am
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    It seems that Mary and Michaels are dealing worse and worse together. He doesn’t trust her opinion and insight: even though he praises her for what she does with Lady Catherine, his first thought is to debate what she says, to excuse it on her tiredness or…hunger??? That was really low. Peckish, indeed! This moment convinced me that he cannot be right for Mary (I mean, for reasons other than that the author set up the story clearly for Mary and Fitzwilliam to be the main couple).

    And Mary is also expecting too much of him and is too critical (why did he not intervene earlier – her first thought is also one of blame, she is not instinctively on his side).
    This can’t be good. I devoutly hope that something dramatic will happen to stop the wedding… but in this time range I can only imagine two possibilities: either a scandalous compromise situation involving Mary, from which Heaven save us! or a sudden death in the family (such as Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins or even Charlotte). Mr. Michaels would also do, of course (I can’t believe I’m throwing out such casually bloodthirsty comments), except that it would solve the triangle problem way too easily and the characters, especially Mary, need to confront their confused feelings and make their own choices to grow in personality.

    I also earnestly hope you aren’t planning for an adulterous romance between Mary and the Colonel. Even resisted and unfulfilled adulterous longings are not my cup of tea (although at this point, any longings acknowledged are close to being adulterous given the imminent wedding). The wedding needs to be stopped!!!

    • Vesper Meikle on July 27, 2017 at 6:16 am
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    Poor Mary, finally realising that she is not fully and properly appreciated by the man she is about to marry. Decisions need to be made. She is perfect for the Colonel

    • terri on July 27, 2017 at 10:34 pm
    • Reply

    is Mary about to marry the wrong man oh dear.

    • Suzanne on July 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm
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    I think Charlotte will go into labour, giving Mary an excuse to postpone the wedding. She needs more time to figure out wants she wants from a marriage and a spouse.

    • Cindy H on July 31, 2017 at 12:02 pm
    • Reply

    I find I like Michaels less and less.

    • Mary on August 10, 2017 at 1:06 am
    • Reply

    What do you think is at the root of Mary’s impatience and what should she do about it?

    I think that it is her sense of being misunderstood, judged or not respected that is at the root of her impatience. I think that she jumps to conclusions about others’ responses to her and often initially assumes that they are condescending or dismissive of her ideas. (Understandable, given her upbringing.) Kudos to her for at least, on second thought, assuming that Mr. Michaels was trying to be helpful. But her reticence to speak still makes it hard for either Mr. Michaels or the Colonel to show whether or not they are capable of seriously listening to and collaborating with her.

    She needs someone or something to help her understand this piece that is missing and get enough confidence to create a time and place in which to converse honestly enough to allow others involved to collaborate with full knowledge instead of everyone just trying to respond to crises as they pop up while making all kinds of assumptions about each other.

    The operating on assumptions that they are all doing is thwarting them all.

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