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28 April 1812

Rosings Park

 

Dear Sebastian,

You are no doubt surprised to receive this letter so soon after we parted in London. I apologize for interrupting your honeymoon with correspondence, but you interrupted mine with your wedding so I do not feel guilty. I want you to know, brother, that when you are ready to resume your previous dislike of our most fortunate cousin, I will join you in the effort to make his life a bloody misery. I acknowledge that I could have been nicer to him, teased him less and not have gone out of my way to embarrass him on a number of occasions, but nothing I have done could possibly deserve what he left on my doorstep.

 

Miss Lydia Bennet arrived last week and good God, Sebastian, I swear she is a younger version of our mother. She is crass, spoiled and determined to offend Aunt Catherine with her every word and movement. That last part would be amusing if it did not play out every moment of the day. She has also made an enemy of my dear Anne. The moment she stepped off the carriage before she even acknowledged Anne or Catherine, she attached herself to my arm and wondered at Darcy having such a handsome and lively cousin. While I could not disagree with her, Anne took exception to her behavior and told her if she wanted to keep her pretty blonde curls she had better release me.

 

After a few days of living with her vulgarity, Aunt Catherine had enough and ordered her to the nursery, telling her if she insisted on behaving like a child she would be treated as one. It was a relief to have a quiet dinner, but when the quiet continued into the next morning, I became concerned. While voicing my concerns to my wife, a maid entered and informed us that Lydia was not in the nursery and could not be found above stairs.

 

The house fell into a panic and a search was organized that lasted well into the afternoon. The stupid girl was finally found hiding under blankets in the wagon of one of our tenants. I dragged her back to Rosings, providing much amusement to those we passed along the way, I am sure. She was once again locked in the nursery but this time, with a maid to attend her.

 

Catherine ordered us all not to speak to her and she tried multiple ways to gain our attention, finally succeeding by openly flirting with a footman during dinner. Catherine, again, lost her temper and sent her to the nursery, where she apparently plotted her escape. We were better prepared this time and she did not get far. We found her in the wine cellar before dawn the next day.

 

Tell me, Brother, how can I possibly repay Darcy for this bit of hell he has unleashed upon us? Intimate as we all are, we must know how it is to be done. Perhaps I should write to Bingley and suggest he send his mother-in-law to Derbyshire for a month or two. I could send mine as well. That should be punishment enough.

 

I hope you are well, Sebastian, and that you are adjusting to life with Lady Constance. Please give her my regards and send them to Mother and Father as well. Pray for me, brother, for if there is some omnipresent being looking over us I shall need any fortitude, He can provide.

 

Your soon to be witless brother,

R.F.

 

 

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12 May 1812

Matlock

 

My Dear Brother,

 

You will forgive me, will you not, for laughing so hard when I read your letter that my wife thought I was the one out of my wits? You have faced enemy fire, for God’s sake, and the worst of Napoleon’s offensives but a fifteen-year-old girl has you cowering like a frightened child? Come now, man, it cannot be that bad. I do hope you will continue to write to me of the exploits of Miss Lydia Bennet. She sounds like a character worthy of one of the novels Lady Constance is so fond of reading.

 

She is with me now, sitting in my study reading while I write to you. She comes in here often to sit while I work. There is nothing for her to do here and I believe she is lonely. She is an only child so a quiet house is not foreign to her, but she always had her mother or friends from town as companions. I spend most of the day going over estate business and Mother has not been very sociable and refuses to allow her any say in household matters. One would think she would be happy to have another woman in the family after living with only men for more than thirty years, especially since Constance is the source of our financial salvation. Yet, she is determined to hate her.

 

When I have free moments I try to engage her in conversation, but we have so little to say to each other. I have no idea how to be a husband. To be honest, I do not know how to be anything other than a lay about, but I, at least, have others to advise me on how to be a land owner. I want her to be happy, but I know not how to bring that about. Yes, we are adjusting and hopefully, in time, we will find ourselves quite content.   

 

Please give Anne my love. I find that I miss her company. I cannot say the same about Catherine but I send my regards none the less. Have courage, brother. I know you shall conquer this fearsome new foe that Darcy has laid in your path. If you need reinforcements, I will happily send Mother to help slay the dragon. To be clear, I am speaking of Miss Lydia though I am sure I have seen our aunt breathe fire on occasion.

 

Your brother,

Sebastian Fitzwilliam

 

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30 June 1812

Rosings

 

Dear Sebastian,

 

I just received a threatening letter from a certain disagreeable gentleman in Derbyshire. It seems Lydia has written to Elizabeth begging to be freed from the hell that is Rosings. She is convinced that the manor is haunted and Darcy is convinced I had been telling her the same ghost stories you told us when we visited here as children. Should I tell him the origin of the noises she thinks come from specters? Would it calm him to know that those noises are only heard on Tuesday and Friday evenings while Catherine is entertaining in her private chambers? Perhaps I should tell him so that Lydia will not be alone in her nightmares. Please excuse the brevity of this letter. I really should answer Darcy as he must be terribly worried about his sister’s state of mind.

 

Yours,

R.F.

 

 

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1 September 1812

Matlock

 

Dear Richard,

 

Congratulate me, dear brother, for I am to be a father. The doctor confirmed my wife’s condition last month, but we wanted to wait a while longer before we informed the family. We expect the new Fitzwilliam to arrive in late February. To celebrate the joyous news, I did the very best thing I could think of to ensure Constance’s comfort while she is increasing. I sent Mother to town to shop for new gowns and to remain through the season. Father will join her, of course. I feel slightly guilty about the expense, but having them away until after the birth will be well worth it, I believe.

 

In truth, I am pleased not only with the possibility of an heir but that her condition has left Constance with no desire to travel to town herself. We used a large amount of her dowry to make repairs to tenant houses and the manor house as well. Our coffers were depleted after paying off a few debts and I had hoped the harvest would bring in sufficient funds to at least keep us all fed, but the unusually cold weather has led to a decreased yield. I have decided to close up much of the house while Mother is not here to complain. I will leave enough open, however, for Constance to be able to entertain. She paid a high price for a title and the least I can do is give her the opportunity to put it on display.

 

We expect the Darcys next week. Constance was in awe of Pemberley when we visited in July and has been anxious to host them in return. She is planning dinners fit for royalty and though it may mean eating nothing but gruel for a month after they leave, I will not deny her. Darcy is coming to help me with estate business and had originally planned to leave Elizabeth behind as he was concerned for her comfort. Constance cried for two days when I told her he was coming alone. I believe Darcy may be sympathetic to increasing wives because he allowed himself to be convinced to change his plans, bless him.

 

How is life at Rosings, brother? Are you having as much difficulty as I am in learning the roles of husband and master? Please do not tell me if you are not for I do not wish to be alone in my ineptitude. Please write soon. It has been far too long since I had a good Lydia tale to distract me from the tedium of accounts and balances. Take care, brother.

 

Yours,

Sebastian

 

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20 December 1812

Rosings

 

Dear Sebastian,

 

We have just received word, I am sure you have as well, of the happy addition of a Darcy heir at Pemberley. Anne and Lydia are planning a suitable celebration not only for our new cousin but to toast their success in keeping Catherine from Pemberley for the duration of Lizzy’s confinement. For the last month, she has not stopped her rants about how wrong it is for Lizzy to give birth with only a midwife and housekeeper in attendance. She felt it her duty to serve her niece. Only Lydia had the nerve to remind her that, like Mrs. Bennet, she did not receive any request for her services even after she had sent several letters offering to stay until the child was christened. I do not believe she appreciated being compared to a woman she knows Darcy dislikes so much, but Lydia was able to calm her nerves by telling her that her sister has her own way of doing things and would not have appreciated her help. One can say many things about Lydia, but she knows how to manage Catherine. For that reason alone, she will always be welcome at Rosings.

 

To be honest, Sebastian, she will be missed when we take her back to her mother in the spring. During those first few months, I swore daily I would risk combat again to escort her to a French convent, a real one, not like the one you frequented during your tour. Things have improved, however, and Anne has grown quite attached to her. I admit that I have as well. She spends much of her day with our aunt learning to be a lady, but in the evenings, after Catherine has retired, we all sit together in one of the less ostentatious rooms. Lydia often sits on a stool listening as I tell stories of battle and my travels outside of war. During those times, her eyes are so full of wonder that she looks every bit a girl of sixteen rather than the grown woman she was prematurely encouraged to be.

 

Perhaps when the world is once again calm I can take the three of them on an adventure. Until then I suppose we will have to make due with all the excitement that can be found in Kent. Believe me, with both Lydia and Catherine here that is not hard to find.

 

Anne heard from Mary this week. The situation with her and Mr. Elliot is finally settled. They will wed in March. You have no doubt already heard the news from Elliot himself. I do hope everybody in Matlock will be happy. Everybody in Matlock deserves to be happy. Yes, even you.

 

I wish you a happy Christmas, Sebastian. Here is to hoping for peace in the world and in our family in the New Year.

 

Yours,

R.F.

 

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21 February 1813

Matlock

 

Brother,

I have a son. Richard Henry Gandy Fitzwilliam was born in the early morning and he is perfect. You must come to Matlock as soon as possible to meet him. He is only a few hours old and I can see already that he was named appropriately. He has not stopped fidgeting since he arrived. Even in his sleep, he is kicking or flailing his arms.

 

Poor Connie is exhausted. She labored for nearly two days and has little strength, but she will not allow the nurse to take him from her room. She is enamored. It is the most amazing thing. A mother loving her child is certainly a novelty at Matlock. I am proud to have brought home one that could though I know it happened merely by chance.

 

I must end this letter now, brother, and go to my son. I would not wish him to believe only his mother loves him.

 

Yours,

Sebastian

 

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23 March 1813

Rosings

 

Sebastian,

It has finally happened, brother. Given my lineage and chosen profession, it was sure to happen at some point in time, but that knowledge makes it no less annoying. I have taken leave of my senses and all it took was one trip to Hertfordshire.

 

I have searched my mind countless times since our return and I cannot recall exactly how it came about that I agreed, no suggested, that I escort Mrs. Bennet and Lydia, as well as my own family, to Bath next month. That is not the worst part, brother. It seems Bingley has perfected his technique of getting rid of his sister and it is my turn to play the victim. Yes, Miss Bingley will be accompanying us as well.

 

I was trying to be helpful. Mr. Elliot mentioned the improvements you have seen to at the parsonage, including the pianoforte for Mary. It was a perfectly innocent response to a question posed by our aunt, but Mrs. Bennet began her effusions on your obvious goodness and how your actions must be a testament to your friendship with Mary. I have never heard you praised so highly and you, no doubt would have enjoyed the situation immensely, but Mary was becoming increasingly uncomfortable so I asked Mrs. Bennet about her recent travels. She spoke for many hours I am sure, finally ending by stating her intentions to take Lydia with her to Bath.

 

I could not allow that. Lydia has grown so much since she has been with us, but after a half hour in her mother’s company, she was reverting to her old behavior. That is when I suggested we all go together and that blasted Bingley somehow managed to get his sister invited as well. God, Sebastian, what am I to do?

 

Your stupid and remorseful brother,

R.F.

 

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13 July 1813

Matlock House, London

 

Dear Richard,

It is very well, brother, that Mrs. Elliot is able to offer news of your adventure in Bath. Otherwise, I would fear for your health since I have not had a letter since the one you sent informing me of your safe arrival. Yes, I am chastising you, younger brother. I must have my share of news of you and Anne or else I will worry.

 

As you see, I am currently in London. I have not been here since I married, largely because I did not know if I could handle the temptations town has to offer. However, I have found greater temptations in the country, so I thought it best to remove myself for a while. I thought I would let Mr. Adams oversee the harvest so I could be here longer and have Connie and Richard join me, but she does not want him exposed to the foul London air for long and so stayed home.

 

I feel I am being pulled apart. I miss my family, but I am afraid I will do something to harm them no matter where I am. Please write to me, brother. I find myself in need of assurance.

 

Yours,

Sebastian

 

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16 July 1813

 

Sebastian,

Stay in London. I will be there in a few days.

Richard

 

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20 October 1813

Matlock

 

Richard,

Why is it so difficult to reason with a woman once she has set her mind on something? Connie refuses to go to London for the season. I thought her concern for our son was sweet in the beginning but now it is bordering on the ridiculous. She does not want him in London but she will not leave him behind for that long.

 

Frustrating woman. We will not see you until just before the girls’ ball in January.  If she cannot be persuaded to leave Richard, then I will come alone.

 

I should not be so impatient with her given her condition. She is more tired and becomes ill far more than she did last time. I should not be pressing her to travel, but this is an important season for our family. We have not all been together since we celebrated Darcy’s marriage and I know Georgie would appreciate the support.

 

I will do whatever makes her happy, of course, but I hope she can be persuaded. I would like to escort her around town and spoil her a little to show my appreciation. Being with our family holds little temptation but perhaps the promise of new gowns will soften her.

 

I wish you safe travels and a happy season. I look forward to seeing you, whenever my wife allows it. Give Anne my love.

 

Yours,

Sebastian

 

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15 December 1813

Darcy House

 

Dear Sebastian,

That is excellent news, brother. I am glad Lizzy was able to calm Lady Constance’s fears about Richard being in London. George has been here for a month and has not had a sniffle, and there is no reason to believe it would be different for my dear nephew. I am anxious to see the three of you. We will have such fun with the boys and I am sure the ladies will all be on their best behavior. Darcy will have a table full of Gardiners, Bennets and Fitzwilliams. God help us.

 

Yours,

R.F.