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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They were met at the door by none other than Janet Fitzwield, whom, upon the visitors’ arrival, flung open the door and clutched her sister close to he bossom. “Oh, Lizzie!” she exclaimed in a voice that was thick with tears. “How could mother and father have stopped you from seeing poor Mr. Emmerson. Truly he has been heartbroken by our parents’ dismissal and even more so at your absence. And I, myself, have missed you so!”

Elizabeth took the chance to shed some of her own tears onto Janet’s shoulder, then, but she was interrupted, mid-flow, by Peft, who had cleared his throat. The sisters parted and Janet graciously accommodated them into the house. In the hall, they were greeted by Lucinda Fitzwield, whom, fortunately, had decided to go out and whom, after a brief “good afternoon” on her part, left rather hurriedly. Elizabeth felt rather pleased at this, for she did not much feel in the mood for Miss Fitzwield today, if she ever did. Janet, meanwhile, lead the way up the stairs to the parlour, As they walked, and Sergeant Peft interestedly examined the furniture, Elizabeth recalled to herself all the happy memories of times she had spent in this fine house. For instance, there had been the time Janet had eavesdropped on Mr Fitzwield and Mr. Emmerson, or all those balls Elizabeth had attended. Many a pleasant time had been spent at Inklefields and Elizabeth realized she had missed the place a great deal.

 

Upon reaching the parlour, however, back Elizabeth’s nerves rushed and, as Janet made to knock at the solid door, Elizabeth, in great need of some sisterly comfort, clutched at her sibling’s hand. Janet squeezed it gently back and turned the door handle. In they all went, the sergeant muttering appreciatively about the wallpaper, and were greeted by Mr Fitzwield. Mr, Emmerson, however, remained silent. He was in the far corner, staring out of the window nearest to him and, although he did look up when Elizabeth, Peft and Janet entered the room, he found himself too tounge-tied to say anything at all. It was only when Elizabeth crossed the room and stood in front of him that he could even bring himself to acknowledge her properly at all and, even then, he did it with as much timidity as she, herself, felt.

 

Mr Fitzwield, meanwhilst, standing by a large potted plant on the far left-hand-side of the parlour, shared a swift look with his wife, then, together, they left in silence, taking Peft with them and leaving Elizabeth and Mr Emmerson to their own privacy.

“It has been a long while since we last saw each other.” said Elizabeth rather shakilly to Mr. Emmerson when they were alone.

“It has.” agreed Mr. Emmerson. “And I received your letter. Whatever made you decide to come here so soon after sending it? Surely your absence has not gone unnoticed?”

And Elizabeth told him of her giving the letter to Hannah, whom she knew could be trusted, then of her going for a walk, where she had then met the sergeant and had promised to show him the way to Inklefields.

“Peft is a fine man.” said Mr. Emmerson when she had finished. “A very fine man. So sensible and yet so generous, so open-minded. And his brother makes an excellent butler, too, for he is reliable and efficient in everything he does.”

“Do you know why the sergeant is here?” asked Elizabeth quietly.

Mr. Emmerson stepped a little closer. “My father.” he said simply. “I fear his wrath and Edmund advised me to not fret and to listen to him as he had thought of a solution. The plan was to carry it out tonight. Tonight because tomorrow I ought leave for my own home.”

“But whyever should that be?” cried Elizabeth, staring up at him. Mr. Emmerson embraced her lovingly.

“Because of Georgia.” he whispered into her dark hair. “Because my father may think of returning and she will not be safe in Pickely alone.”

“But then I must come, too!” said Elizabeth tearfully into Mr. Emmerson’s suit.

“We’ll see what your parents say tonight.”

“And if they say no?” Elizabeth asked him, disparingly. “What if they deny you, Fitzwilliam, what then?” and she pulled her head away from him.

Mr. Emmerson turned away and no answer escaped his lips. Elizabeth began to weep.

“I shall do my best,” he said at last “to convince your parents of my being worthy of you. And, of course, dearest Elizabeth, I shall do everything in my power to do so. But, for now, with such uncertainty ahead, I cannot reassure you on anything.”

There came a knock at the door.

“Come in!” Mr. Emmerson called.

Elizabeth dried her eyes on her sleeve. Mr Fitzwield, Janet and Sergeant Peft had come back. Lucinda Fitzwield, however, was still nowhere to be seen.

“All done?” asked the Sergeant briskly as he came into the room and saw Elizabeth and Mr Emmerson standing there.

The latter nodded. “Indeed we are… Well, then… I shall be off.”

“Off?” squeaked Elizabeth in alarm, but Mr. Emmerson only smiled down at the hand that had been placed on his arm.

“Merely to Rolands.” he told her. “To have a word with the rest of your family.” and he turned to the others. “Would you care to join us?”

Peft nodded and made for the parlour door. Mr and Mrs Fitzwield, however, hung back.

“We’ll stay here.” said Janet, decisively. Tell us the good news when you come back.”

And so, Mr. Emmerson, Elizabeth and Sergeant Peft left and took a carriage to Rolands.

 
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