Friday, October 31, 2014

Becoming Mrs. Norris: Part Seven

Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six

Miss Ward did not get to enjoy her entire season in London, and she never saw her youngest sister again.

Barely a month into their stay, Sir Thomas, Lady Bertram, and Miss Ward quit the capital for Huntingdon, where Mr. Ward summoned them following the elopement of Frances with Lieutenant Price. It seemed the gentleman, smitten with Miss Frances, followed her to Huntingdon and persuaded her to run away to Gretna Green. Mr. Ward responded by cursing a great deal, breaking a very valuable vase, and writing to Sir Thomas. No attempt to catch the runaways was made, and a harried and frantic traveling party arrived at Mr. Ward’s house to realize they were too late to do anything but scotch the gossip.

It was impossible to return to London that year. Miss Ward wrote an angry letter to Frances but little else could be done.

“I hope you see the folly in spoiling the girl the way you did now,” her uncle remonstrated. “I often predicted that girl would come to trouble in the end, and now she has ruined your chances of a decent match into the bargain. No proper gentleman will want to be related to Price, I can tell you that!  Sir Thomas only swallows it because he has no choice. Now it seems it would have been wiser to hold Richards to his intentions towards you instead of letting him highjack it off to Scotland.”

Miss Ward would have liked to remind him that he sent Mr. Richards away, but she held her tongue.

“Too late now, of course. Received a note last week that the man died in a mining accident. Just like him to make a muddle of it.”

“What did you say?”

“Richards. Dead. Exploded.” He continued eating his dinner as he spoke, never looking up from his plate for a moment.

Miss Ward sat in shock as she absorbed this news, a thousand times worse than even Frances’ elopement. It was her intention to reveal as little of her emotions as possible before her uncle, but on this occasion she could not help herself and fainted at the table.

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Miss Ward became Mrs. Norris six years after the marriage of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, a better offer never again coming her way than that from the now rector at Mansfield. Had he still been in Huntingdon, she could never have accept him. Her greatest ambition was to break contact with her uncle forever, and that could only be achieved by a permanent removal from the neighborhood. Over the years, his taunts and accusations only intensified. Little did he resort to tormenting her on matters of accounting anymore, for he had far greater ammunition in her apparent spinsterhood and reports of her estranged youngest sisters’ follies. How he knew what she was about was never determined.

“Mrs. Price begat another brat. You better make up nice to the family at Mansfield for you won’t receive any support from that other imbecile you raised. She shall be lucky if she can remain out of the gutter if she keeps breeding at this rate. You raised a fine brood horse in that one.”

When Mr. Norris made his proposal, he was accepted with gratitude and alacrity.

The day came when Frances was forced to humble herself to her grand relations and supplicate Sir Thomas for some assistance to her ever-increasing family. Mr. Price was injured and on half-pay, while her eldest son could benefit from whatever patronage Sir Thomas might provide. Mrs. Norris, privy to all that transpired at the Park, was on hand to discuss the matter with her brother and sister. Indeed, it was her privileged responsibility to write to Mrs. Price on their behalf. She beamed with pride as Sir Thomas undertook responsibility for the welfare of the family, earnestly considering what might be done on their behalf. So different from her own hateful uncle!  What might her life have been if Mr. Ward had been a proper gentleman, like Sir Thomas? Frances never would have made such a dreadful match in the first place. It was such ruminations that led her to suggest, "What if they were among them to undertake the care of her eldest daughter, a girl now nine years old, of an age to require more attention than her poor mother could possibly give? The trouble and expense of it to them would be nothing, compared with the benevolence of the action."

The idea was readily adopted by Lady Bertram (the elder Lady now deceased some three or four years) and eventually by Sir Thomas, after he fully meditated on the implications of taking on the responsibility.  Mrs. Norris understood his consideration as a further testament to his fitness for such a task. She undertook to do her part in the child’s rearing, planning on giving her a great deal of useful advice and guidance on how to comport herself. Who knew better than she the depravations and duties of the dependent? Fanny Price was now ten years old, just the age she was when Mr. Ward became her guardian.

Mrs. Norris busily made plans in her head as to how to help the girl adjust. Maria never took a strong hand with the children; it would be up to Mrs. Norris to teach Misses Maria and Julia Bertram as well as Miss Price about their distinct roles in the household, making sure everyone knew and adhered to their proper spheres. She would enjoy the task and could undertake it with little or no expense to herself and Mr. Norris. Never having had children to eat up their limited resources, it had become something like the pride of Mrs. Norris’ life to stash away a small saving every year, slowly but consistently improving on their meager fortune. This was to be a charity of the heart on her part, not the purse.  Frances would feel the relief of one child and her daughter would grow up with all the benefits of being Sir Bertram’s niece. She had no doubt the girl would be excessively grateful, to her most particularly. As she bustled across the park to the parsonage, where she could report to Mr. Norris the great goings-on at the Park, she felt the deep contentment born of having done a good deed and congratulated herself accordingly.


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Happy Halloween!

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A TWISTED AUSTEN GIVEAWAY


The winner of today's giveaway will receive



the following:  one copy of The Madness of Mr. Darcy, an extremely limited handmade print edition of Becoming Mrs. Norris,  and a set of handmade greeting cards featuring Aunt Norris' silhouette. Thanks for celebrating Halloween with Twisted Austen! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

9 comments:

  1. Pardon me for asking, Alexa. I think the Rafflecopter form in this post is same with the form in Becoming Mrs Norris: Part 5. You put up the wrong Rafflecopter form on Part 5.

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    1. You are correct! There is, Unfortunately, little I can do but change it to the correct form. I hope no one is too put out. I'll try to spread the word. Thanks!

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  2. Btw, I enjoy this story very much. I hope you will upload it in PDF file like last year with Jane & Bingley and the year before when you wrote Emma & Elton

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    Replies
    1. I plant to upload it to Goodreads tomorrow. So glad you enjoyed the story!

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  3. Really like more Mrs Norris and thank
    you for the giveaway!

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  4. Yay, thank you for uploading the pdf on Goodreads. Looking forward to downloading as well as Jane & Bingley and Emma & Elton.

    Thanks for the giveaways as well!

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  5. Thanks for this story, I enjoyed it :)

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