Elizabeth Marton

This is also a historical fiction. Enjoy!

From even her first sighting of him, Elizabeth strongly despises Fitzwilliam Emmerson, the silent, surly friend of Edmund Fitzwield, owner of a nearby estate. However when things take a funny turn and something more than what Miss Marton could ever have anticipated is revealed, she begins to realize
exactly how wrongly judgemental she has been, particularly concerning Mr. Emmerson's father...

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The guest room which Mr. Emmerson inhabited was of fairly large size, although Elizabeth could tell, from the look upon Mr. Emmerson's features as they went inside, that it was not much to his taste. There was, however, a rather handsome four poster bed in the center of one wall, in a pretty shade of lime green. There were also not one but two adjoining rooms leading off from the main bedroom: one into a large bathroom and the other into a little sitting room, mostly filled with shelves crammed with ornaments (at these Mr. Emmerson pulled a face) and several potted plants. There was, however, a large faded blue couch in the center of the room and it was onto this which Elizabeth was now placed, very gently, by Mr. Emmerson. The said man then fetched her a glass of water, spiced with lime, from a jug on the table next to it, which Elizabeth took a couple of sips from before she was reminded of the vicar and the punch table and her hands began to shake so much that she could not hold the glass any longer. Kindly, Mr. Emmerson helped her, first to calm down and then to finish the water, which, once finished, was placed back on the table.

"Do you wish now to rest?" asked Mr. Emmerson of Elizabeth. "Or may I be of some other service?"

Elizabeth smiled. "Do you have any books I could read?" she asked. "For I love to read ever so much and, downstairs, Mr. Fitzwield never has many books."

Slightly taken by surprise, Mr. Emmerson assured Elizabeth that he did, that he, too, was a great reader and that half his luggage, which he had brought with him from Pickely, was boxes of books that he could not bear to part with. He then fetched an entire trunkful for her to choose from. "And," he hesitated. "If my lady does not find a book to fulfill her needs and desires in there, then I have another three boxes filled with more by my bed." he told her generously and Elizabeth laughed prettily and assured him that she was perfectly comfortable with the luxurious amount that she had been given. Then, whilst Mr. Emmerson went to stand back in the corridor and wait for the others, Elizabeth carefully selected a book to read and devoured it, very happily, in silence.

 

Meanwhilst, down in the ballroom, there was utter uproar. The others had, of course, by now, noticed the obvious absence of Mr. Emmerson and Elizabeth, and had been told what had happened by other members of the party in a wide variation of different stories.

 

Someone, indeed the first person the Martons, Mr Fitzwield and two of the Emmersons had asked, said that Mr. Emmerson was proposing to Elizabeth upstairs, whilst yet another person said that Mr. Emmerson was drunkenly seducing Elizabeth in some private corner. Then another man, this time dressed in a rather flamboyant bow-tie, stated that he had seen Elizabeth running from the ballroom after being abused, verbally, most severely, by Mr. Emmerson. The man's wife, however, swore blind that both had been taken ill, whilst his sister and brother-in-law, were keen on the proposal idea.

But soon the true reason for Mr. Emmerson and Elizabeth's absence was made clear and, upon hearing what the drunk vicar had done, Mr and Mrs Marton, Elizabeth's three sisters, Mr Fitzwield, Georgia and Mrs Emmerson all rushed upstairs where they soon found Mr. Emmerson waiting for them in the corridor. As soon as he saw them, though, he instantly began to protest at being innocent to any scandal ("I know it seems improper, but I had nowhere else to take her and-") but no one seemed to care for anything else but Elizabeth's welfare and would not rest until they had been allowed into the bedroom to see her. This, Mr. Emmerson let them do, but, before he could follow his mother, the last person to go in, over the threshold, his friend, Mr Fitzwield, pulled him back.

"Well I never, Fitzwilliam." said Mr Fitzwield softly, a small smile playing at the corners of his lips. Mr. Emmerson said nothing. "It seems I was mistaken as, sometime this morning, I began to doubt that you could ever have a care for Miss Marton after all."

Still, Mr. Emmerson made no response; his eyes were locked on the closed door, through which, nearly everyone was gathered.

Edmund Fitzwield, meanwhilst, decided not to press his friend any further and, together, the two men entered the room of Miss Elizabeth's sickbed, Mr Fitzwield bearing the happy news that Elizabeth could share a room with Janet until she was fit to return home, hopefully the next morning. And so, at Inklefields Elizabeth stayed on, until the next morning, when she joyfully returned to Rolands fit as a fiddle. At Inklefields itself, however, after Elizabeth's departure, things were not quite so merry...

 

"Dear Mr. Emmerson," said Miss Fitzwield loudly, getting up from the sofa in the parlour and walking over to the window to join Mr. Emmerson, whom was staring out of it. "You know, Miss Marton did not look at all peaky last night... Makes me wonder to myself whether or not she was indeed faking it.... You know, to get your attention."

Still facing the window, Mr. Emmerson snorted impatiently. "I think not. Besides, I should delightedly welcome any attention Elizabeth gave me."

Miss Fitzwield smiled slyly, glancing over her shoulder at Miss Ophelia, whom was the only other person inside the room. "May I ask why, Mr. Emmerson?"

Slowly and reluctantly, he turned to face the two ladies "I think she is a rather remarkable young woman." he said quietly

Lucinda giggled "Pray. Tell me: What has brought on these strange reflections?"

"Merely the fact that she is everything a lady ought to be."

Behind Miss Fitzwield, Ophelia Emmerson's eyes flashed. "Really, brother? And please elaborate..."

Mr. Emmerson looked at her and their eyes locked upon each other for a minute. Lucinda looked nervously between the two of them, sensing great tension. Mr. Emmerson said nothing.

"Ophelia. Please leave me for a minute." snapped Miss Fitzwield suddenly. Ophelia jumped and, moodily, but realizing that her brother would not elaborate on his feelings for Elizabeth whilst she was in the room, obeyed.

 

"Now, Fitzwilliam." said Miss Fitzwield once the two of them were alone. "Let me ask you what dear Miss Emmerson just asked of you: Please elaborate on your feelings for Elizabeth."

Mr. Emmerson turned back to the window again. "Why do you not just ask me whether I indeed love Elizabeth? That is the question you wish for an answer to, is it not?"

Miss Fitzwield looked at him expectantly. "Well," She said impatiently after a few moments pause "Do you love her?"

Mr. Emmerson looked around, straight into Lucinda's narrowed eyes and gave her a straight answer. "Yes." He said. "I do."

Miss Fitzwield stared at him, speechlessly for a minute, but not because she was surprised by the answer that had been given; In truth, she hadn't really expected Fitzwilliam to say something other than "no". It would have been more to his character's liking if he had lied about loving Elizabeth instead.

"Now are you satisfied?" Asked Mr. Emmerson rather irritably. Lucinda silently left and he stared at the small of her back until she was well out of sight. Then he leant on the windowsill and sighed heavily. What had he been thinking?

                                                                                 *

Two-and-a-half weeks after this little scene, the Emmersons returned, once more earlier than planned, home to Pickely. Mrs Emmerson had caught a most terrible fever and, despite everyone else's wishes for her delicate health, she decided to take both herself and her two daughters home with her, for fear of passing the illness onto the Fitzwields, the Martons, of Mr. Emmerson.

It was yet a month after their departure, after, many a week of fretting and fussing, that they received some terrible information: Mrs Emmerson had passed away.

 

Distressing and in letter form, written by Georgia and hardly legible due to water smudges, the news arrived, in a heavily sealed envelope, to Mr. Emmerson. Upon breaking the seal and unfolding the letter, his face went quite white and he read the letter aloud to them in a shaking voice. When he was done, Elizabeth felt she might cry: What an awful, awful thing! Of course, everyone instantly plagued Mr. Emmerson for Pickely's address, so that they might sent their own thoughts of sorrow to his sisters. Mr. Emmerson obayed, but seemed too distracted by grief to say much, or even write - although he at least made an attempt - a letter of his own. Even Mr Fitzwield, although he tried very hard, failed to lighten his friend's silent misery and, three days later, merely let Mr. Emmerson visit his sisters.

 

For yet another four weeks, even though they all wrote to the Peak district several times, they received not one note, not even of one line, telling any of them how the remaining three Emmersons were bearing.

At last, however, Mr Fitzwield received a letter. It was a very long letter, Elizabeth noticed, and far too long to truly be the length it seemed when the recipient of it read it aloud.

 

"My dear friend,"

Mr Fitzwield read.

"It gives me immense pain to speak of my mother still and, therefore, I will not do myself harm by opening out on that subject. Instead, I shall tell you that my sisters are faring well, although they, too, are grieving. Ophelia has, as you already ought to know, my friend, inherited a little of the family fortune, although naturally not as much as myself. What you do not know, however, is that, upon her deathbed, my mother decided that, due to her immense fiery thirst for feminism - a trait, I will admit, I also possess - she could not bear to leave anything at all to her eldest daughter and so she rearanged her will and the family contract, changing it so that Ophelia not only has been left money, but the control over any family marriage that takes place from now onwards.

For now, however, I bid everyone at Inklefields, and, of course, at Rolands, my best wishes, and announce that I shall be returning to you within just two more weeks.

Yours faithfully,

etc."

Mr Fitzwield finished the letter, which he had read with a great many suspicious pauses, often skimming ahead and sighing frequently, and looked up at them all.

It seemed he had been so irritatingly curious in his behaviour in reading the letter, that Anne Marton demanded to know the truth. "If you are not going to do us the courtesy of reading it properly, then why read it at all?" she cried, and Lucinda and Kitty nodded in agreement.

Mr Fitzwield blinked in alarm, apparently realizing that he had been too careless with his emotions and, true to his nature, instantly jumped to his absent friend's defence, hoping, at least, to preserve some of his privacy.

"I am very sorry." he said, civilly, "I was not thinking at all of the letter, merely of the hardships that the poor Emmersons are facing at this present time and I must have got a little distracted by my thoughts on the matter as I read."

Anne did not look as though she was entirely satisfied by this explanation, but took it without further comment. Elizabeth, however, was determined to believe that Fitzwield had been lying to them and she decided, at once, to find out the truth as soon as she got home. Seizing a bit of note paper, Elizabeth carried out her plan like this:

"Dear Mr. Emmerson,

May I ask whatever you could have meant, in your letter to Edmund Fitzwield, by making your writing so large as so it should fill three-and-a-half pages? The content only seemed to fill one when Mr Fitzwield read it out.

Yours very sincerely,

E. Marton."

It was a short note, rather cheeky, in fact, but Elizabeth sealed it with glee and then went to post it. She wasn't entirely faithful that her letter and scheme would get her what she wanted, but it was at least worth a try.

 

And worth a try the letter was! Barely a day-and-a-half later, an intriguingly thick envelope arrived for Elizabeth in the post and, upon opening it, she received her answer. Hardly daring to breathe for fear of disappointment, Elizabeth read it through.

 

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