Elizabeth Marton

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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Upon hearing this incredible request, Elizabeth became so overcome with shock that she could not refuse him and, as Mr. Emmerson lead her to the dance floor and stood there, her hand in his, many of the other dancers and spectators seemed to feel the same. Could it possibly be true? Could Mr. Emmerson really be dancing with the woman he called "Too plain to dance with"?

"So," said Elizabeth to her partner once she had recovered and the dance had begun. "let us talk."

"As you wish." he replied civilly as they turned in a circle. "But you can think of a subject first."

"I don't think so, sir." Elizabeth told him. "I have done much of the subject asking already since we first met. It is your turn now."

"Very well, then." said he. "How, then, do you feel towards your sister's marriage to Mr Fitzwield?"

"Nay!" Cried Elizabeth "How that topic has been exhausted already! But, if it really is the best you can do, then I shall answer despite that: I am very pleased with Janet's marriage, for she has been made so very happy by her dear husband, and I feel as though if I should find such a match as her, then I should be the luckiest girl alive!"

"Quite some feelings, then." Remarked Mr. Emmerson "And do you believe in the possibility of finding such a man?"

Elizabeth had to think a little about that one. "Possibly." she replied. "But, so far, I have not met any one man whom could ever have a hope of ever alighting such feelings inside of me."

Mr. Emmerson's eyes rested on hers for a moment of two. "Ah." he said, simply, and then a silence fell between them.

"Look at us!" Exclaimed Elizabeth after many a minute had passed between them, untouched by sound. "We are possibly the only pair in the room who can have nothing to say for themselves which could last beyond a few lines!"

"Do you wish for us to speak more?" Mr. Emmerson asked politely.

"At least a little, for it would not do to spend so long together without much conversation."

"No." Agreed Mr. Emmerson. "It would not... Have you anything more to say?"

But Elizabeth merely looked at him and he at once took the hint. "Do you like living so near a town?"

His partner blinked "Why, I should not know many a better place, for my parents do not like to travel."

Mr. Emmerson seemed remarkably surprised at recieving such an answer, but he hid it remarkably well "You mean you have never seen the country?"

"Not much of it." Elizabeth replied. "I have seen it a little... But not nearly was it like the place, described by you, in which you live."

"Goodness!" exclaimed Mr. Emmerson, this time not concealing his emotions nearly as well. "There is no finer place in the world than the country. You must come visit it sometime."

"I should like that very much." replied Elizabeth graciously as the dance ended.

"Do you much like to dance, Miss Marton?" her partner asked suddenly.

"Very much. And yourself?" replied Elizabeth.

Mr. Emmerson's next line, was most surprising. "Indeed." he said. "May I ask for your hand a second time?"

Elizabeth stared at him in wonder as of his strange behaviour, but could not find any reason to refuse. "Of course." she said, and they danced a second dance, this time in silence.

 

Elizabeth, meanwhile, as they spun about the floor, was using the time and the silence to reflect upon this so uncharacteristic change in behaviour, whilst he could think of nothing but the way she had replied that not one man had ever caught her fancy. It pained Mr. Emmerson greatly to think of it, but at least it had been more or less expected. What else could possibly have happened? he told himself fiercely, although the blow still hurt; as much as he hated to admit it, he was thinking about the way her eyes had locked on his more than he ever ought.

 

After the dances (Mr. Emmerson had resisted the temptation to ask her a second time), Elizabeth slipped away, once more in search of her sisters, having been deteriorated from doing so before. Mr. Emmerson, however, confused and feeling rather starstruck, moved to the edge of the far side of the ballroom, where he hoped not to be disturbed by anyone.

Elizabeth, likewise, moved to the side but, not having gone very far, heard someone shout her name. When she then ignored it, they shouted again. Fear swept over her body and she turned around. As she saw whom it was, she realized that turning was the silliest thing she could possibly have done. For it was the vicar.

 

Trapped against the wall like a rabbit entangled in a snare, Elizabeth tried hard not to act afraid, but he was advancing on her and, as he snatched her by the shoulders, she had to fight the urge not to scream. "What do you want?" she squeaked.

"Want?" the vicar laughed, sending a putrid stench of wine fumes up her nostrils; She gagged slightly. "I'll tell you what I want!-"

But he got no further, for a policeman had, with a sickening crunch, slammed the vicar against the wall. Elizabeth, dazed and terrified, swayed on the spot as the vicar made frantic attempts to break free and lunge at her, but he was handcuffed firmly there and then and lead from the scene. Miss Marton's knees gave way.

 

It was therefore fortunate, perhaps, that Mr. Emmerson  moved forwards when the policeman left, for he was all that stopped Elizabeth from hitting the floor. Instead, she fell upon Mr. Emmerson, whom had, upon meeting the blue-uniformed police officer at the last ball, called the man into action when he saw how Elizabeth was being mistreated.

 

He now eased her down so that she was sitting on the floor, then crouched beside her. "Are you...?" he asked softly, then stopped as he realized Elizabeth was crying. Mr. Emmerson then lent her his handkerchief and she dabbed at her eyes.

"I am very sorry." Elizabeth at last choked out.

"It is perfectly fine. There is no need to apologise. I should have made Edmund stop the vicar from attending the party, knowing that he was a danger to you." said Mr. Emmerson. "Do you think you can stand?"

Elizabeth nodded, but stood up rather shakily, so shakily, in fact, that her legs could simply not support her and, to her (and his) immense embarrassment, she fell onto Mr. Emmerson again. This time, however, he merely held her there, sensing thar Elizabeth needed comfort rather than fainting remedies. This was not the sole reason, however, for Mr. Emmerson guiltily found that he was enjoying her closeness more than a person whom hated the person at hand should.

 

For a while, Elizabeth just let him hold her and trembled, until, that is, the surrounding whispers started to reach her ears and she, against her will, forced her legs to take her body's proper weight, allowing Mr. Emmerson to lead her out of the ballroom.

 

"I am not certain that we have a spare bedroom here whilst my family are staying at Inklefields." said Mr. Emmerson as he helped Elizabeth up the stairs. "But I am sure that Georgia would not mind you borrowing her room - at least not until the ball is over."

"Thank you." said Elizabeth - grateful, truly, but her voice was too weak to carry any real emotion. But it need not have mattered, for it turned out that Georgia Emmerson's door was locked.

"Ah." said Mr. Emmerson when the doorknob would not budge. "I suppose we could try my mother's quarters... I feel as though Ophelia, attached as she is to you, might object slightly if we were to intrude on her privacy."

Elizabeth managed a small smile but, to her companion's dismay, when they tried it, Mrs Emmerson's doorknob would not budge either.

"Drat." muttered Mr. Emmerson. "Everyone must have locked their doors before they came down for the evening. There is no point in trying another. Naturally I only have access to my own room keys... I would take you there, but, at this time of day, whilst everyone else is downstairs, I fear it would be considered inappropriate."

Elizabeth blushed. "It does not matter." she said calmly "You need not trouble yourself with the burden of finding me a place to rest. I am sure that I shall be perfectly fine." but the walls swung and span as she spoke and it became clear that she was far too weak to go back to the crowded ballroom.

"The housekeeper, then, may have a solution." and Mr. Emmerson pulled firmly on the bell in the hall. They waited... And waited... But their time was spent in vain for no housekeeper appeared.

"It is possible, of course, that Fitzwield - as well-intentioning as he may be - has stupidly given her the evening off." said Mr. Emmerson, a hint of annoyance in his tone. Elizabeth, rather unfairly, blamed herself for its being there.

 

For a while, Mr. Emmerson paced up and down in a state of agitation, trying to think of a plausible solution. When, at last, he could come up with nothing better, he stopped pacing, went back over to Elizabeth and told her what must be done. "I do not care what the rumors may turn out to be." he said. "Nor what Lucinda Fitzwield may think. I cannot possibly leave you out in this corridor, Elizabeth, any longer and, as there is no suitable alternative - I cannot leave you by yourself whilst I fetch one of the others - then, for the time being, you must rest in my own room" Then, he paused for breath and, looking Elizabeth full in the eye, said "I beg your pardon, Miss Marton... But I hope you have little objection."

Elizabeth did not, although she did flush a little when she thought of the rumors that were surely to spread when people realized that she and Mr. Emmerson were absent from the ballroom.

 
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