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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The following Wednesday, the very day the ball was to take place, came round at last. Mrs Marton bustled around the house in such an agitated manner that her husband felt the need of shutting himself up in the library until the carriage arrived to take them to Inklefields. "Oh my goodness!" Mrs Marton kept exclaiming "Janet, darling, ask one of the maids to do your hair!...And hurry, Anne! Put that book away and find Kitty's sash!"

Elizabeth, meanwhile, dressed without fuss and sought to keep out from under her mother's surveillance as much as possible. When the carriage arrived, however, Elizabeth hurried from her her room and seated herself promptly between her father and Janet, but only so that her mother could not lecture her.

Inklefield house was a fairly large, elegant being, standing at the foot of a shallow hill and with fields all around, pleasing all of the Martons greatly to see it. At the door, they were graciously handed out by a manservant, and lead towards the party, where two tall, handsome young men stood to welcome them.

"Mr. Fitzwield." Introduced one of the men and Elizabeth was sorry to see her mother increase greatly in pomp. "It is such a pleasure to meet you, dear sir, for we have heard so much about you. And, pray, introduce us to your most wonderful companion."

"Thank you." Nodded Mr. Fitzwield "And, yes, this is one rather particular friend of mine, Mr. Emmerson."

The second gentleman, Elizabeth was disgusted to see, did not even incline his head to acknowledge them all, and she shared a swift look with Janet, who looked equally amazed.

But Mr. Fitzwield, noticing nothing peculiar about his friend's behavior said "Mr Emmerson owns a large estate further up north.  Near the Peaks, I believe." And glanced at his friend to continue.

Mr. Emmerson nodded curtly "Yes. Pickely house. You may, perhaps, have knowledge of it." His voice was of deep, curt nature. Mature, but with an edge of immense pride to it. Not at all like Mr. Fitzwield's whom's was gentle and modest, although, too, being of mature quality.

Mrs Marton, eager to please, nodded readily. "Why, yes." she said. "I have indeed heard of it." And without further ado, she changed the topic, most unskillfully, back to her own family, introducing her husband, daughters, then, again, her daughters, to the gentlemen. Edmund Fitzwield looked rather amused, but seemed, at least, to take great interest in the family, nodding, smiling, and just generally being civil to all of them throughout the conversation, unlike Mr. Emmerson, whom was rudely examining his fingernails and the embroidered tapestry behind. Again, Mr. Fitzwield took no notice and Elizabeth wondered, as they were lead into the ballroom, where many a celebrator was already gathered, what had brought on such strange behavior. But her sisters and parents seemed completely unperturbed and embraced the spirit of the dance floor with relish. The Martons had been the last to arrive, hence the gentlemen following them into the ballroom and, whilst her parents waved over the Jonses, a family with whom they were very well acquainted, and her sisters found their own company in others, Elizabeth, left alone, moved towards the edge of the dance floor to watch Janet dance. Janet, with her pretty looks and fair ways, attracted many a partner and, as Elizabeth watched, her sister danced nine dances, very gracefully, in a row. Thrice, even, she danced with none other than Mr. Fitzwield himself, which was more than could be said about the other young ladies in the room.

Once she was quite satisfied with watching the dances, she turned and moved away from the floor, towards the side of the ballroom, which was the habitat of many a table and comfortable chair. However, upon reaching the area and selecting a table to sit at, Elizabeth Marton discovered that none other than Mr. Emmerson had followed her. Politely, she offered him a seat, which he took, without so much as a gesture, of any sort, given in return. Nor, for an entire minute and a half, did he say anything at all to her and it was only because Elizabeth, in an attempt to get him to talk, asked "Do you have any other relations down here, staying at Inkle field with you?" that he spoke at all.

Upon being asked this innocent question, a look of slight irritation crossed Mr. Emmerson's features and, although he did open his mouth, it was in a reluctant and contempuous manner that he did so. "Two sisters. Both of them are younger than myself and are situated up in Pickely." And, with that, he was silent again.

Furious with him, Elizabeth was about to ask what he could ever mean by coming over to her if he should not wish to say even the tinyest of things to her, but, before she could allow these feelings of negativity to spill out, a cheerful voice boomed out from behind her "Good evening, Miss Marton."

​Elizabeth jumped and turned around her head to focus on the face of the newcomer. It was Mr. Fitzwield, and he was accompanied by none other than her own elder sister, Janet. 

"May we join you?" continued Mr. Fitzwield pleasantly, looking at Mr. Emmerson with a very odd, almost amused expression upon his face. "Goodness, Mr. Emmerson!" He then Exclaimed "I've been looking for you everywhere... As well as becoming acquainted with your charming companion's sister, Janet, here, of course." He added, and he beamed over his shoulder at Elizabeth's sister, who's cheeks grew pink, looking both nervous and pleased.

Emmerson said nothing.

Elizabeth nodded. "Oh, yes," she smiled "Janet is such a wonderful thing. Very kind, generous and easy-to-please."

And she watched Janet's cheeks grow even pinker.

"Anyway, Mr. Emmerson." Said Mr. Fitzwield, his attention, once again, on the reserved man seated beside Elizabeth. "As I said, I have been looking, most feverishly for you. Come and dance, dear friend, for I would love to watch, and pray bring along Miss Elizabeth as your lucky partner,"

Elizabeth groaned a little to herself, for, as much as she would have loved to dance, she felt sure that dancing with such a gentleman as Mr. Emmerson would be pretty awful indeed.

But she needn't have worried.

"Dance with her?" Asked Emmerson incredulously of his friend. "Tell me what on earth could ever tempt me to dance with such an ungraceful figure as her? She is a very plain girl; most certainly not pretty enough to dance with!"

It was, funnily enough, the longest and most spirited thing he had ever said in front of Elizabeth and, although it did hurt her pride a little to hear it, her curiosity was greatly aroused by the circumstances under which such an insult has occurred. Certainly, Elizabeth concluded, he was an arrogant man. Very proud and so much so, that no matter what he should have said to her, nothing could ever have tempted her to dance with him either.

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