Emma: Chapter 1


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Emma: Chapter 1

  1. 1.
  2. 2.
  3. 3. “Viewers, hello!”<br />Hi there, Cee.<br />“For Heaven’s sake, Cait, do not sound so very excited.”<br />Good Plumbob, was that sarcasm?<br />
  4. 4. “Was that?”<br />Humph. Leave me alone, I’m tired. Buying a house and moving is a giant pain in the ass.<br />“Cait!”<br />Oh just…meh, get on with it then.<br />
  5. 5. “Very well. Viewers! We have a very special treat for you today, as much has been happening in Simshire of late. Several of our fifth generation ladies and gentlemen have left their homes to continue their education, and my goodness have they been getting into a bit of trouble. As it has been quite some time since you have seen some of them, and you have not seen others at all, Cait and I thought it would be a marvelous idea to reintroduce you to them, readers. If you’ll all follow me, we will begin with the ladies…”<br />
  6. 6. Cee, where did you find these portraits? They look an awful lot like the ones hanging in the Gentlemen&apos;s Society and M. Bennet&apos;s gallery. <br />&quot;That is because they are! Is it not astonishing that Miss Fuzzy was able to summon them from so very far away?&quot; <br />...I believe this is the part where I shake my head in disbelief and irritation.<br />&quot;Oh do not worry, Cait. I will have them back before they are missed.&quot; <br />
  7. 7. …<br />
  8. 8. “This young lady is Leonora Trimble. She is the eldest of the generation as the daughter of Eliza and Isaac Trimble. If you will recall, Eliza is the daughter of Cassandra and Sam Haggerty, granddaughter of Jane and Brandon Trimble. Leonora’s father Isaac is also a grandchild of Jane and Brandon Trimble through their son, James Trimble and his wife Brittany. Therefore, Leonora is possibly the most thoroughly related to our founders, James and Cathy, because she has Austen blood on both sides.”<br />
  9. 9. Don’t remind the readers that Eliza and Isaac are first cousins, Cee, it tends to upset them.<br />“Whatever for? It is perfectly common…”<br />Yeah.<br />“Oh well! Viewers, pretend I said not a word on the subject of thoroughbred Austens!”<br />Nice save.<br />
  10. 10. “Thank you. Now, Leonora was the first woman in the family since the late Anne Austen to attend the seminary for women, M. Bennet’s Academy for Ladies. Her parents were rather surprised at her choice as up until that point all she cared about were balls and bonnets.”<br />In other words, Leonora is a Pleasure Sim.<br />“Yes. Now, she studied all things feminine, but she had the greatest interest in art. However, she chose to leave school after only three years because—”<br />We’ll get to that in a minute. <br />
  11. 11. “Yes. This,” Cee said, gesturing to the elegant portrait behind her,” Is Miss Mary Jane. She is the daughter of the baronet Sir Henry Blackthorne and his wife, Charlotte Austen Blackthorne. Mary Jane’s mother, Charlotte, is the third daughter of our third generation Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Austen. Charlotte is also Cait’s favorite of Fitzwilliam’s daughters, though in my opinion favoritism is most indelicate.”<br />
  12. 12. Right, because Carew is definitely not your favorite child, Cee.<br />“He is the only boy, how can I—stop smirking.”<br />Carry on. <br />
  13. 13. “Mary Jane has a bit of a temper, but she really does love those who are close to her. Her dearest friend is Miss Trimble; I am told the two of them were positively inseparable from the time Miss Blackthorne came to the school until just recently when Miss Lenora ended her studies. Mary Jane is sorely disappointed at Leonora’s departure.”<br />
  14. 14. “The young ladies here have come all the way from Simerica. On the left is Miss Requiem Bohemian-Fitzhugh, on the right, Miss Elle Fitzhugh. They traveled here with Miss Marina Simself and her companion, Rhys Fitzhugh.”<br />A few Fitzhughs, then.<br />
  15. 15. “Indeed. As I understand it, Mr. Fitzhugh is Miss Elle’s great-great-grandfather, and Miss Requiem’s father. How that is possible, I do not know. It does not make sense! I just, I—”<br />Cee, remember what we talked about. Just go with it, don’t try to make sense of it. Jeremy and I tried to tell you about the multiverse, but you started panicking…<br />“It is madness!”<br />Cee, just continue please.<br />
  16. 16. “This painting down here—”<br />“MAMA!”<br />
  17. 17. Cee blinked and saw two of her triplets racing down the gallery at breakneck speed. <br />“For Heaven’s sake, girls! What—”<br />
  18. 18. “Mama, Carew has stolen our dolls and has hung them from the balcony! Tell her, Bee!” screamed Sophie on the right.<br />“He threatens to burn them, Mama!” Phoebe said, jumping up and down.<br />
  19. 19. Cee placed her hands on her girls’ heads to stop their bouncing, and sighed. “I apologize, Cait. It would seem my daughters need me, and my son needs to have a long talk with Miss Jamie about what happens to misbehaving young gentlemen.”<br />
  20. 20. Very…very well. Er, so let’s move on to the gentlemen, then.<br />
  21. 21. This is Timothy Legacy, son of Catherine Austen and Stanley Legacy, grandson of Fitzwilliam and Edith Austen of Simshire. He attended university for approximately five minutes before dropping out, much to his mother’s dismay. It was not his education she was concerned for, however, but the social gatherings she would not be attending at Pemberley University.<br />
  22. 22. These strapping young men are the—<br />
  24. 24. Er… the Howard boys. On the left is Benjamin, the middle gentleman is Francis, and on the right is Fulwar. They are the sons of Elizabeth Austen and Gabriel Howard, and grandchildren of Fitzwilliam and Edith Austen. Fulwar has been living in the Simcaribbean studying under his uncle, Mr. Matthew Smith, for the past few years. As the Smiths have no male heir, and Fulwar is a third son, they have named him as their heir. Benjamin is planning on taking his vows as a Reverend of the Church of Boolprop after completing university. Francis—<br />
  25. 25. “COME BACK HERE, YOU!”<br />
  26. 26. Sigh. Anyway, and this is William Hampson Walter Blackthorne. Deaf in one ear, called Ham by most people, and set to inherit his father’s baronetcy and estate…Ham is a very interesting person. A very attractive, interesting person.<br />And last, but certainly not least, is—<br />
  27. 27. “Schnoz!”<br />Ugh, no. No, Katy, we’re not calling him Schnoz in Simshire!<br />
  28. 28. “Oh come on.”<br />No. This, viewers, is Oswald—<br />“Ahem—Schnoz.”<br />—Legacina. He hails from Simerica and is a friend of Miss Orikes.<br />
  29. 29. “Heeeeeee…”<br />Katy, I think I saw Abe a few minutes ago in the kitchen, maybe he finally found his way here from the ship?<br />
  30. 30. “Abe? ABE! DID YOU BRING FUDGE WITH YOU?”<br />Right.<br />
  31. 31. Well that was fun. I guess we’re done now, so er…<br />
  32. 32. “Ahem! She may be quiet, but she&apos;s important!”<br />Rose don’t hurt yourself!<br />“Well I’m not—ugh—about to let you ignore—oof—my Cordy.”<br />Put it DOWN, Rose. I’m sorry I didn’t mention Cordelia, okay? Her portrait wasn’t up here.<br />
  33. 33. ‘I’d worked that part out myself, funnily enough.”<br />Well I have a horrible memory, I needed visual reminders. Why don’t you introduce her?<br />
  34. 34. “Alright! Cordelia Chase Whedon, usually called Cordy, is the daughter of Joss and Eloise Whedon from The Hellmouth.  Though she is very close to her twin sister Buffy, her dearest wish has always been to have three of her children attend university.”<br />Cordelia has taken the post as the headmistress of M. Bennet’s Academy. I believe she’s been there, what? Over two years, at least.<br />“Yes, she arrived just as Leonora did.”<br />Yeah. Well, that’s really all, now! <br />
  35. 35. “…”<br />What’s wrong, Rose?<br />“…Do you think Jeremy could hang this for me?”<br />----------<br />
  36. 36. It was a lovely wedding to be sure; the golden ballroom at Regalton House was decked with white gossamer ribbons and pretty yellow roses, but the most beautiful element was the bride herself.<br />
  37. 37. As he watched his future wife glide her way down the narrow aisle, Timothy Legacy caught his father’s expression out of the corner of his eye.<br />“Papa,” he muttered, lightly jabbing his aging father in the ribs.<br />
  38. 38. Immediately Stanley looked away from the elegant curve of Leonora’s hip and straightened himself, lamenting the fact that his son was probably correct: admiring his daughter-in-law was most improper. <br />
  39. 39. “Apologies, Tim.”<br />“I cannot say that I blame you, Father,” the younger man replied, clearly smug.<br />
  40. 40. On the opposite side of the minister was Mary Jane Blackthorne, the bride’s closest friend. One might expect Miss Blackthorne to be all smiles and happiness, and she was…on the outside. Inside, she was crying. She and Leonora had been thick as thieves for most of their lives, and even more so once they were living in the same house at school. Mary Jane would miss her friend very much indeed, not only because she loved her, but because the only other ladies she was at all acquainted with at the academy were those with whom it gave her great pain to admit an acquaintance. <br />Well, thought Mary Jane, I shall just have to make new friends.<br />
  41. 41. Eliza and Isaac shared a glance as their daughter passed them.<br />“She looks lovely,” Eliza remarked as she reached for her husband’s hand.<br />“She looks happy,” he said.<br />
  42. 42. Timothy’s heart skipped a beat as his bride approached. How ever did I get so lucky, he thought as he grinned weakly; he felt as if his knees had gone on holiday, and grabbed his father’s arm for support. Stanley only laughed.<br />Leonora smiled and handed Mary Jane her bouquet as she took her place next to her husband-to-be. She wished to know why Mr. Legacy was smirking, but decided it was for the best that she did not.<br />The minister cleared his throat. “We are gathered here today, in the name of our lord Plumbob, to witness these two people become one.”<br />
  43. 43. The gathered family listened to the man drone on for several minutes about love, commitment, and of course the importance of fidelity.<br />
  44. 44. Frank twitched in his seat.<br />
  45. 45. “Relax,” Lark and Alice whispered at the same moment, each patting one of his legs. Frank found himself very distracted indeed.<br />
  46. 46. Before Frank knew it, the minister said with great pomp, “By the Power given to me by the Church of Boolprop, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Mr. Legacy, you may kiss your bride.”<br />
  47. 47. And so Timothy did.<br />
  48. 48. The newlyweds were immediately swarmed by well-wishing huggers, crying aunts, and half-hearted uncles. <br />
  49. 49. As the gaggle cleared, Mary Jane finally reached her friend. “Are you sure you won’t change your mind, dearest?” she asked as she hugged her friend, only slightly joking.<br />“I believe it is too late for that!” Leonora answered with a giggle.<br />
  50. 50. “And if it was not, what then, Mrs. Legacy?” Timothy asked, emerging from the pair.<br />
  51. 51. “Oh, then perhaps I might just return to my parents’ home and make a spinster of myself!”<br />
  52. 52. “Wicked woman,” Tim laughed as he pecked his new wife on the hand.<br />“Yes indeed, though are not all we women wicked in a way?” Leonora joked. “Come, let us eat cake!”<br />
  53. 53. “Cake! No, surely not my dear,” Sir Henry exclaimed clambering over. “Why not have some wholesome gruel instead?”<br />
  54. 54. At this Leonora and Timothy escaped to find the cake knife.<br />“Oh, Papa…do not stop the merrymaking! Weddings must have cake, dear Father, but I am certain the Legacys’ cook could make you a nice bowl of gruel. Shall I ask Aunt Catherine for you?”<br />
  55. 55. “Mm, yes, my dear, do. But I still beg you to save yourselves! The cake is far too rich, I tell you. Where is Dr. Trimble, he shall support me…”<br />“Papa, Mr. and Mrs. Trimble were the ones to provide the cake.”<br />“Bah…”<br />
  56. 56. Charlotte approached her husband and daughter with a look of irritation upon her face. “Come, Sir Henry. Let us go ask my sister for some gruel,” she said grumpily. “Or perhaps we shall not find her. Indeed, Plumbob knows I will make it myself if it will absent me from this frivolity!”<br />“Oh, Mama…” Mary Jane laughed. “You see Papa, we shall sort it out,” she said, giving the elderly man a gentle pat on the back.<br />
  57. 57. “Where are they going?” <br />
  58. 58. “William! Good heavens, you startled me.”<br />“I apologize… but where are they going?”<br />
  59. 59. “Mama is taking Papa to find something more wholesome than devilish cake,” the young woman answered with a smirk.<br />“Ah, of course. Shall we go have some?”<br />“Cake, or gruel?”<br />“Cake of course, good Plumbob!” Ham replied laughing.<br />
  60. 60.
  61. 61. As the twins stood speaking after they had finished their dessert, a young woman in yellow caught Ham’s eye. <br />“Sister,” he began, “Who is that lady there?”<br />Mary Jane looked around, and found who he must mean. “In the yellow?”<br />“Yes.”<br />
  62. 62. Miss Blackthorne sighed. “That is Miss Elle Fitzhugh. She is an acquaintance of one of the Simselves, and was brought here from Simerica with a few other ladies and gentlemen. Miss Elle is in the same year of study as I am, at M. Bennet’s.”<br />
  63. 63. “Mm.”<br />“William?”<br />“…”<br />“William.”<br />“…”<br />
  64. 64. “HAM! I am on your right side; I know you can hear me. Stop goggling at her, for Plumbob’s sake.”<br />
  65. 65. “I’ll introduce you, shall I?”<br />“What? No, please! I couldn’t possibly—” But Mary Jane was already halfway to where Elle Fitzhugh stood. Ham sighed and followed her only semi-grudgingly.<br />
  66. 66. “Miss Elle, how happy I am to see you here!” Mary Jane said in a sickeningly nice voice.<br />
  67. 67. Elle blinked at her and then became extremely animated. Whether it was due to nerves, excitement, or both, Mary Jane could not tell. <br />“As I am happy to see you!” she exclaimed. “My goodness, what has brought this on? You never speak to me at school. Not that I’m not happy you are speaking to me, it is only a surprise! I am very much obliged. And oh, look! Doesn’t your hair look pretty…my sister Azula—”<br />
  68. 68. “Miss Elle, allow me to introduce my brother,” Miss Blackthorne interrupted. She grabbed a blushing Ham by the hand and pulled him forward. “This is Mr. William Blackthorne, though most of us call him Ham. Brother, this is Miss Elle Fitzhugh.”<br />
  69. 69. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Elle,” Ham said, bowing.<br />Elle blushed and made a small, awkward curtsey.<br />Mary Jane smirked subtly. “I’ll leave you two to talk; I must find my father.”<br />
  70. 70. Half an hour later after seeing her father safely to a comfortable chair, Mary Jane crossed the room in search of her brother, and found him seated in a secluded corner with Miss Fitzhugh. Ham had the blank look on his face which often occurred when he was having trouble hearing. Miss Blackthorne felt a pang of guilt for this, but shook it off as she moved toward the couple; she’d forgotten to inform Elle of Ham’s deafness and the poor girl was looking rather distressed. <br />
  71. 71. Before MJ had taken two steps, Elle Fitzhugh threw her gloved hands in the air and shouted, “CHAMBER POT, Sir.”<br />
  72. 72. Naturally the party had chosen that precise moment to go quiet, and everyone turned to stare at the reddening of Elle’s cheeks.<br />
  73. 73. Mary Jane practically shoved her fist in her mouth with the effort of not laughing, and she could see across the room that her brother had his lip so firmly between his teeth that he was very close to drawing blood.<br />
  74. 74. “Oh!” Elle exclaimed, and she dashed from the room.<br />
  75. 75. Ham shot up, looked around at his family, and followed her into the snowy garden.<br />
  76. 76. This left Mary Jane alone with the dumbstruck Austens, Trimbles, Haggertys, and Legacys, and she did not like it. She sighed. “Oh for Plumbob’s sake, go back to your business! There is an explanation, I am sure. Carry on, carry on!”<br />
  77. 77. “Miss Elle?” Ham murmured softly, not wishing to startle her.<br />
  78. 78. “Oh, Mr. Blackthorne…”<br />“I should like to say some cliché thing about that being my father’s name, but in fact it is not. Regardless, I beg you to call me Ham, or William if you must.”<br />
  79. 79. “I cannot! It would not be proper...would it?”<br />
  80. 80. He laughed amiably. “You seem uncertain,” he said, amused. When Elle did not say more he smiled widely. “As you wish,” he conceded. <br />
  81. 81. The pair stood there for a moment of awkward silence before Ham shook his head.<br />“What is it, sir?”<br />
  82. 82. “Forgive me, it is just…I feel as if I know you already, though I cannot possibly for we have known each other this hour, and no more.”<br />
  83. 83. “No, no, I know what you mean. I—obviously we are not, but er, I feel like we’re very intimately acquainted. Erm, already.”<br />
  84. 84. He did not know what had come over him, but Ham suddenly felt himself fighting the urge to kiss Elle. Again, he shook his head. “Come, I should not like you to catch cold,” he said.<br />Elle hesitated for a moment, and then followed him inside.<br />----------<br />
  85. 85. “I do not know what she was thinking. To leave school early only to be married,” Charlotte, Lady Blackthorne declared that evening as she, her husband, and their children sat round their fine drawing room. <br />
  86. 86. “Would you not have done the same for me, my love?”<br />“Absolutely not, sir! If a woman has the opportunity to educate herself in this day and age, well then she had better take it!”<br />
  87. 87. “Mama, Leonora was nearly finished anyway.” Mary Jane agreed with her mother, but defended her dear friend on principal.<br />
  88. 88. “Indeed, could she not have waited one more year? Timothy is hardly a man yet, and he has completely skipped university only to be married. If I am boggled at his and Leonora’s choice it is nothing to what his dear father must feel!”<br />
  89. 89. Ham peered up from his book and grinned. “I believe our Uncle Stanley said something about wasted youth, and tying oneself down too soon.”<br />
  90. 90. “Poor Miss Trimble,” Sir Henry said, shaking his head.<br />
  91. 91. “No, Papa. I cannot be sorry for Mrs. Legacy. She and Tom are the happiest couple I have seen in a long while. Excepting you two, of course.”<br />
  92. 92. “Oh, no my dear. Your father and I absolutely despise each other. We hate each other so much in fact I think we shall have to torture each other with hours and hours of vigorous, passionate s—”<br />
  93. 93. “Mama!”<br />Charlotte smirked. “What? I was only going to say studying.” She and Sir Henry shared a glance, and Mary Jane suddenly felt ill.<br />
  94. 94. Ham pondered his book even harder than before, and resumed his pretense of not being aware of anything anyone was saying. The benefit of being deaf in one ear, he felt, was extremely selective hearing.<br />
  95. 95. Mary Jane sighed. “I shall miss her so. She was the truest friend I ever had, or shall ever have.”<br />“Begging your pardon, cousin,” said Francis Howard as he entered, “but I daresay the only reason you and she got on so well was the fact that you have similar . . . dispositions.” The young man winked.<br />
  96. 96. Before Mary Jane could retort, Benjamin Howard followed his brother into the room and said, “What’s this, brother? Are you saying our dear Miss Blackthorne here is disagreeable?”<br />
  97. 97. “Nonsense, I’d never presume to say such a thing. Aloud,” Francis answered with a wink. Across the room, Ham snorted.<br />Mary Jane scoffed. “William! Will you let him tease me so?” she cried.<br />Ham pretended not to hear. “Hmm?”<br />“Oh, you are useless!” she complained.<br />
  98. 98. “Well, Messrs Howard, how are you this fine evening? I see you have shown yourselves in. Where is Stewart?”<br />“I am afraid we avoided your horribly pompous butler by showing ourselves in through the back garden,” Francis answered with a grin.<br />
  99. 99. “You know you are always welcome, nephews. How is my sister? She looked rather distraught at the wedding.”<br />Benjamin laughed. “Mama is well, though she has begun complaining that none of her darling sons are wed.”<br />“Ah, that explains it,” Charlotte said with a sage nod.<br />“In fact, that is part of the reason we are here,” Francis added.<br />
  100. 100. “Oh, marvelous!,” Mary Jane said with enthusiasm as she stood, “Francis, you have decided to ask William for his hand in marriage at last.”<br />
  101. 101. Ham and Francis rolled their eyes in tandem while Benjamin guffawed. “No,” he said, “Francis and I sacrificed Papa to Mama’s complaints and escaped.”<br />
  102. 102. “Well make yourself at home, I suppose, as you always do. Dinner shall be ready shortly, will you stay?”<br />“Yes, thank you,” Francis agreed. “As long as you did not aide in the cooking.”<br />“Perhaps I will go down to the kitchen now, if only to drop a bit of ipecac in your stew.”<br />
  103. 103. It was just their way, the teasing. Mary Jane and Francis were very close friends, as most of the children of Fitzwilliam Austen’s seven daughters were; the mockery was just the only way they had learned to communicate so far.<br />----------<br />
  104. 104. The next morning, the Blackthornes and the Howards took the return journey to Simdon together, teasing and laughing the whole way.<br />Once in town, Francis and Benjamin continued on foot to the center of Simdon, where Pemberley University was situated; Ham escorted his sister to M. Bennet’s on the West end and would meet up with his cousins later.<br />
  105. 105. Just as William Blackthorne helped his sister from the carriage, the twins heard what could only be described as a shriek of mixed annoyance and excitement. <br />
  106. 106. The shriek was followed by, “Miss Blackthorne! Oh, Miss Blackthorne!” Both noises had come from M. Bennet’s headmistress, Mrs. Whedon.<br />“Oh look, a welcoming party,” Ham whispered to his sister with a smirk. Mary Jane kicked him stealthily.<br />
  107. 107. “Miss Blackthorne! How fortunate you have come back! I need your aide with one of our new ladies; Cee has just informed me that we are to receive another young lady this afternoon and I am quite distressed! You are acquainted with Miss Requiem, are you not?”<br />Mary Jane groaned silently. “I—”<br />“Good. She is upstairs! Oh, good day Mr. Blackthorne!” Mrs. Whedon added with a quick bob of her head.<br />
  108. 108. “…Blast,” Mary Jane cursed under her breath as she exchanged a look with her brother.<br />Ham knew Mary Jane wasn’t entirely friendly with this Requiem Bohemian-Fitzhugh. In fact, when at all possible, Mary Jane took every chance to avoid her. <br />“Well then, brother, I suppose you ought to return to Pemberley. I shall write you later, erm, about our very, very elegant acquaintance.”<br />William Blackthorne smirked and returned to the carriage.<br />
  109. 109. Mary Jane climbed the narrow stairs to her bedchamber while attempting to compose her face into a mask of amiability. <br />
  110. 110. Before she reached her room, however, she was assaulted with a frantic Elle Fitzhugh, speedily thanking her for the pleasure of an introduction to Mr. Blackthorne, and what a very kind thing it was to do indeed.<br />“I am most, m-most obliged, very much obliged indeed. Mr. Blackthorne is exceedingly kind, just as yourself, and I thank you! I do hope we shall all meet again sometime soon, for I am--did I mention I was obliged?”<br />
  111. 111. “In fact, Miss Fitzhugh, I believe you did. Now if you shall excuse me, Mrs. Whedon has asked me to welcome your kinswoman, Miss Bohemian-Fitzhugh.”<br />“Oh indeed, I did not mean to disrupt you, I only meant to say—”<br />“Good afternoon, Miss Fitzhugh! We shall speak later,” the Blackthorne girl said with a brief curtsey before retreating down the hall. <br />
  112. 112. She did not really intend to meet with Requiem just then, but of course the fates would determine against her.<br />
  113. 113. Requiem approached her and nodded civilly. “Mary Jane,” she said in greeting. “I see you have just returned from Simshire.”<br />“Yes.”<br />When Requiem said no more, the other girl sighed irritably and gestured to the sitting room just down the hall.<br />
  114. 114. They sat down, and though it was her turn to speak Requiem failed to prompt a conversation.<br />Mary Jane could not abide silences. In her head she grumbled, What a pleasure it is to see you again, you insipid creature. In reality, as kindly as she could possibly manage, she said, “We missed you at the wedding yesterday.”<br />“It is regrettable that missing your cousin’s wedding was unavoidable; the trip to Portsimouth with Miss Marina and Miss Jamie could not be refused. I could not say no when they showed particular favor to me by asking.”<br />“Of course you could not,” Mary Jane said.<br />
  115. 115.  <br />After a moment or two Requiem forced herself to ask, “Was it very beautiful?” with demurely false enthusiasm.<br />Miss Blackthorne nodded. “’T’was lovely indeed; Leonora was radiant.”<br />“Mm. Did Mr. Benjamin perform the service?”<br />“Oh, no. He is attending Pemberley University with my brother and Francis still, and has not yet taken his vows. He was there, however, looking very dreadful indeed.”<br />
  116. 116. “I see. Do you know why?”<br />Mary Jane grinned. She congratulated herself on matching such a happy couple as Leonora and Timothy, though it pained her to be away from her friend, and was now determined to see her cousin Benjamin equally happy in marriage. “I dare say, by the look in his eye, that he wishes to have us talking of his wedding soon.”<br />“You think he wishes to marry,” Requiem noted. It was not a question, but an observation.<br />“I do, and I am intent on helping him. Francis will not approve of my meddling, but then he never approves of anything I do.”<br />
  117. 117. Requiem laughed humorlessly. “What shall your first project be?”<br />“I should think a party is a very good way indeed for one to meet new people, what say you?”<br />The other girl merely nodded, and looked down at her lap.<br />
  118. 118. Mary Jane sighed. I suppose it is up to me to find something else to talk of now. How tiresome such polite conversations can be when one party dislikes the other, and said other party dislikes talking altogether. “Did you have a very shocking time at the shore?”<br />
  119. 119. “Oh, no…it was a very quiet time. There was of course…oh, but I should not say.”<br />Oh for the love of Plumbob… “Of course you should say, do not be ridiculous,” MJ urged.<br />Requiem thought it over for a moment, or pretended to. “I met Mr. Fulwar Howard while on holiday.”<br />
  120. 120. Mary Jane gasped. “You did not! I thought he was staying with my Aunt and Uncle Smith in the Simcaribbean!”<br />“He was. He had only just arrived when I saw him.”<br />“Nobody has heard from him in weeks, not even Francis! There was no response when he was asked to attend Leonora’s wedding, though I suppose that is because he was making the voyage, but there was no warning at all.”<br />
  121. 121. “I daresay a letter will have been sent to the Howards now.”<br />“Why?”<br />“When I first saw Mr. Howard in Portsmouth he had just received word…”<br />“Of?” Mary Jane asked, annoyed. She was growing weary of having to constantly prompt Miss Bohemian-Fitzhugh.<br />
  122. 122. Requiem hesitated. “I—your Uncle, Mr. Smith, has died. Fulwar is now the lord and master of Smith Plantation, and I suppose he has found himself another ship and is sailing back to the Simcaribbean as we speak. I offered to bring word to your family but he said it would be more proper if he were to do so.”<br />Uncomfortable with where the conversation had gone, Mary Jane sighed and thought up something proper to say. “Poor Aunt Mary, and dear Anna…she is not nearly as old as I am, and to lose a father at such an age must be dreadful.”<br />“Mm. Such a situation is undesirable, to be sure.” Once again, an awkward silence filled the room.<br />
  123. 123. Of course, Mary Jane could always be counted upon to change the subject to something more interesting to her, no matter how disrespectful it might be. “Pray, what is Fulwar like? I do not know him well.”<br />
  124. 124. Requiem blinked at the abrupt change of subject, but responded nonetheless. “I was led to believe that your family and the Howards were very close indeed.”<br />“Oh, my brother and I spent most of our childhood in the company of Benjamin and Francis, to be sure. But Fulwar usually avoided the four of us as children and then he was shipped off to the Simcaribbean just days after his fourteenth birthday.”<br />“I see.”<br />A few moments silence followed there, and Mary Jane never was a patient woman.<br />
  125. 125. “Well?!” she exclaimed.<br />“Pardon me… well what?” <br />“What is the young man like? Is he very handsome?“<br />
  126. 126. “Many do think so, I believe.”<br />“Is he amiable?”<br />“He was notdisagreeable.”<br />“Did he seem very educated? I cannot abide stupid men - ‘tis most embarrassing.”<br />“I do not believe he wanted for knowledge.”<br />
  127. 127. If her brother William’s disposition had not forced her to grow accustomed to such unhelpful people when she yearned for good gossip, Mary Jane would have stamped her foot and demanded a detailed explanation right then, down to the color, style, and shape of the gentleman’s buttons.<br />“How lovely,” she said instead.<br />----------<br />
  128. 128. “She is absolutely ridiculous, Francis! I cannot stand it,” Mary Jane complained a week later as she went over the preparations for her party. Francis was there with her in the baronet’s library, going through Sir Henry’s massive collection of books.<br />
  129. 129. “She is only ridiculous because she will not feed you with your daily dose of blithering.”<br />
  130. 130. “Now you are being ridiculous,” Mary Jane muttered as she rolled her eyes. Francis shot her a winning smile.<br />
  131. 131. Francis looked down at the scattered notes Mary Jane had been composing and sighed. “You needn’t bother with all of this, you know,” he said, poking a particularly long list of flower arrangements.<br />
  132. 132. “And why not? Is it not my duty as the future mistress of this estate to begin hosting parties?”<br />“Firstly, you know that is not why you are doing this. Secondly, will not your brother’s wife become mistress?”<br />Mary Jane outright snorted. “My brother? Marry? That is absurd. He can hardly draw breath when amongst females.”<br />
  133. 133. Francis laughed. “Oh, give him time. He will sort it out, and then he shall marry. And so shall you, when the time comes.”<br />
  134. 134. “Now that is even more absurd. What man would want a wife such as me? ‘Tis not quite proper to have a wife with a mind of her own.”<br />“Oh…I do not know about that,” said Francis in a husky voice Mary Jane did not notice. “Men of sense, whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives. Take your own father and mother for example.”<br />
  135. 135. Mary Jane smiled at the thought. “Perhaps. Now, as to your disbelief that I am hosting this gathering merely for—”<br />Francis sighed. “You are hosting this because you think you are Cupid. Try if you absolutely must, my friend, but I fear you may find that my brother is quite resistant to influential arrows.”<br />“Nonsense. He is a man. If I can place an eligible girl with a pretty enough face under his nose, then he will do the rest on his own.”<br />
  136. 136. “If I were not a gentleman, I might suggest a bet,” the young man said with a wink.<br />
  137. 137. “Oh, are you a gentleman? I’d forgotten.”<br />----------<br />
  138. 138. “Miss Fitzhugh! I am so happy you could—”<br />“No, no it is I who am happy! It&apos;s such a happiness when good people get together, and they always do! Thank you so much for the pleasure of your invitation, I am most obliged.”<br />
  139. 139. “Yes, you usually are,” Mary Jane uttered, rolling her eyes the tiniest bit.<br />“Excuse me?”<br />
  140. 140. “You usually are invited, of course! It should no longer come as a surprise that I should ask one of my…my dear, dear friends to join me for dinner.”<br />Elle went rigid in surprise. “Friend? Oh Miss Blackthorne, how wonderful you are! Thank you!”<br />
  141. 141. “Miss Fitzhugh,” Ham said in greeting as he came upon the ladies. He swept a low bow and kissed Elle’s hand.<br />Elle blushed fiercely and made a little giggle of embarrassment.<br />
  142. 142. Mary Jane blinked. Her brother paying a young lady attention was so foreign an idea, that MJ could not help but mentally shake herself, and double check that it had actually happened. It had.<br />
  143. 143. “How do you do, Mr. Blackthorne?” Elle asked breathlessly.<br />
  144. 144. “Hey?” Ham asked, half sighing. Being hard of hearing, while convenient at times, is also is incredibly inconvenient, he thought.<br />
  145. 145. Elle blushed again before saying, at quite an impressive volume, “HOW DO YOU DO, MISTER BLACKTHORNE?”<br />
  146. 146. “Miss Fitzhugh, have you ever heard the phrase ‘happy medium’?” Mary Jane asked her, deftly avoiding a kick from her brother.<br />Elle raised an eyebrow in confusion. “What? I—”<br />
  147. 147. “Madam,” Ham interrupted, “would you care to see my father’s library? I, erm, I know you are very fond of reading.”<br />“Oh yes, that would be absolutely charming…but—”<br />“Do not fear for propriety, we shan’t be alone; my father is there hiding from the festivities. He wishes to meet you, and no doubt talk your ear off about dogs.”<br />
  148. 148. “He is fond of dogs?” Mary Jane heard Elle say as Ham escorted her out.<br />“Ridiculous,” she murmured.<br />“You ought to be more kind to her, you know,” said a voice she knew only too well from behind her. Mary Jane did know. She knew she ought to be kind to Elle, and she did try…sometimes. She thought perhaps the reason she could not truly befriend Miss Fitzhugh was that Miss Fitzhugh was so kind and good, and Mary Jane felt horrid next to her. And the young woman was extremely vexing.<br />
  149. 149. She said nothing, but nodded at Francis as he came round to face her.<br />“So how have your plans progressed? Have you found a young woman for my brother? I think I might need to reconsider that bet.”<br />“If you must know I have found a young lady, yes!”<br />“I see. What is her name, might I ask? Please do tell me you didn’t just find her somewhere, I—”<br />“Francis, do be quiet. Do you see that girl over there, speaking to Mrs. Whedon and Miss Bohemian-Fitzhugh?”<br />
  150. 150. “In the purple, I take it?”<br />“Yes.”<br />
  151. 151. “She is one of the new arrivals at M. Bennet’s. Well, not precisely – she has been at the academy since she was thirteen, but around the time I started there, she went on an extended holiday so I have not had the chance to meet her until recently. She is a bit rough around the edges, of course, but I can fix that. She is an extraordinarily charming girl, almost exactly the same age as you and Benjamin.”<br />“And?”<br />“And, what?”<br />“What is her name, for goodness sake?”<br />
  152. 152. “Catherine.”<br />
  153. 153. That’s it for Chapter 1 of A Regacy Interlude: Emma! I hope you enjoyed it, I definitely did. Mostly! I hope to be back with Chapter 2 relatively soon…but until then, happy simming!<br />
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