Disclaimer: I do not own anything pertaining to Vanity Fair in any format (book, mini-series, or movie). All rights are reserved by the original owners.
Author's Note: And two months later I finally post Chapter 5… Sorry about the wait. I have been on hiatus because I haven't felt like writing until recently. That said, I hope that you enjoy this chapter. It's a little shorter than others, but has a scene with Rawdon in it that I really like! I both welcome your reviews and thank you for them!!
~3 months later~
She could hear footsteps in the hallway preceding the knock at her bedroom door. The maid had come again to disturb her – hopefully it was nothing that required more than a moment's dismissal.
"Enter!" Rebecca called out in an annoyed tone. From where she sat at her dressing table she could observe the girl in the mirror without turning about.
The maid curtsied slightly upon entering. "The post has come, ma'am."
"Has it? Finally!" Immediately she stood and took the letters, eagerly scanning the names of the intended recipients before noticing that the maid had not yet left. "That is all," Becky told her, though more kindly than she usually did.
The first three were bills, which she put aside, but the fourth was a personal note addressed to her. Eagerly breaking the seal, Becky scanned its contents and was delighted to learn that it was an invitation. There was a soiree to be held at the residence of the Marquis of Steyne at Grant Square a couple of days from now. During the past few months Rebecca had become closely acquainted with Lord Steyne. She had seen the august man being taken about town in his carriage, but it wasn't until he saved her from those mercenary money collectors that she had spoken with him. What was even more interesting was the fact that the Marquis had purchased a beloved portrait of her mother years ago. She remembered the day he had swept into the dank studio where her poor father worked as an artist – and Lord Steyne remembered her.
From where he was lying on the sofa he had a perfect view of Amelia as she got herself ready to pay a visit to her mother. He did not think it best to go walking about in her condition, but she insisted that the air would do her good.
"Dearest, why don't you come with me? My mother would like to see you," she called over to him.
"Emmy, I'd really much prefer to stay."
"But there is nothing for you to do here, and it is such a nice day."
"I have the newspaper to read. You and your mother would have much more to discuss than you could with me there."
He watched her pout a bit and gaze at him with those wide, innocent eyes. "But, I should like for you to walk with me."
George sighed heavily, weighing the prospects of spending the afternoon with Amelia's depressing parents with quietly sitting with his newspaper. Mr. Sedley was always rambling on about his latest business scheme which would raise them from their poverty. Yet, as of recently he had been feeling so peculiarly fond of Emmy, similar to when they were courting. Perhaps it was the youthful glow in her cheeks that reminded him of better days, such as the day they spent at Vauxhall lying together in the grass.
"I'll come with you Emmy. No wife of mine shall be forced to go unaccompanied down the street." Her delighted smile assured him that he had chosen well.
His wife's call to her French maid made him suspicious. Surely Rebecca was not going out to yet another dinner party! Feeling curious, though already anticipating the answer, Rawdon ascended the staircase. Peering into the bedroom, he observed her rushing about, most definitely in preparation to go out for the night. The floor creaked slightly under his feet and Becky started speaking without looking to see who it was.
"It's about time! I shall not be able to arrive at a decent hour at this rate…" She noticed him standing there and her tone changed. "Oh, it's you Rawdon."
"You aren't going out again are you?"
"Yes I am, dear. Have you seen that indolent maid of mine?"
"Did Lord Steyne invite you?"
"Yes he did, that generous man… Fifine!!" she shouted.
Rawdon had long begun to harbour a strong dislike for the man, be he a lord or not. He loathed the way he looked at Rebecca, or how he flattered her with so many social invitations. Perhaps it was the way that Becky responded that hurt him the most. It had long been that her very presence commanded such attentions from every man in a room to which she entered, but she had never taken any of that attention seriously – until now that is.
"Was his generosity extended to me, may I ask?"
Becky threw an irritated glance back at him. "Rawdon do not get yourself worked up into one of these silly agitations. You detest soirees and Lord Steyne is aware of such, thus he spared you the embarrassment of having to decline."
The maid finally snuck into the room behind the colonel's well-built figure, not wanting to draw attention to herself from her quick tempered mistress.
"Fifine!" Becky said sharply, having instantly noticed her tardy arrival, "Hurry up and help me get ready. The carriage will be arriving shortly."
"He is taking you there as well?"
"Rawdon, I really don't understand why you are being this way. I am trying my very best to make a name for us in town. Climbing the social ladder is an arduous task, but the benefits are plenty," Becky explained.
His chest felt tight with the exasperation he was presently feeling. It was the Crawley name that was being made known, but only Rebecca's part of it. Rawdon was not oblivious to his rank on the social ladder. "Well, you must be succeeding in some part of your ascent since you are well-known as Mrs. Crawley, while I am only Mrs. Crawley's husband."
"Well, you really only have yourself to blame for that," she huffed. "If you would only be more accommodating and so forth –"
He cut her off, "'Accommodating'? Good grief! When you have me emptying the pockets of our guests onto the billiards tables. How am I to get on with your company?" The sorry thing was that she was sure to prevail in this argument as well. He knew very well that his wit was no match for her own. "Have a fine evening then. I am sick of quarreling with you. Good night, Rebecca."
Storming back downstairs, Rawdon went to the sitting room to try and calm down. He eyed a footstool, seeking to do violence to it, but thought better of it. Instead he found a glass and went to pour himself a drink. Much to his disappointment he found the bottle empty, mostly likely from the last time someone had come to visit the famous Mrs. Crawley. Not wanting to be there when Lord Steyne came for her, Rawdon fetched his coat and hat and departed for the club.
She had been sitting in the little parlour of their cottage when she heard the footsteps on the walk. It was a quiet afternoon with George away and little Georgy at school. Amelia had taken the opportunity to read a pleasant novel and drink tea in the warm comfort of her home, and had not been expecting any visitors that day. A moment later the maid entered with Mrs. Sedley right behind her.
"Now, now you silly girl," she chided the maid, "I do not need to be announced to my own daughter. Hello dear!"
Emmy sat up in surprise. "Mother! You did not tell me that you were coming over to visit today…" Truth be told, she had been quite enjoying her quiet afternoon just the way it had been progressing.
"What have you been doing all day, child? Lolling about in this manner will accomplish nothing. Do you not have socks to darn or something?"
Amelia struggled to keep her tone civil, "I have completed my chores to a sufficient degree and was allowing myself some leisure when you happened by." She was not a little surprised at the annoyance she felt at her mother's sudden appearance. "What news has brought you over in such hast?"
"Oh yes, that's right! Your father and I have just received a note from Jos. He has finally arrived in town!"
"Has he really?" She had been awaiting news from him, since it had been months that he had written his last letter which told of his long voyage back to England. "He has arrived safely then?"
"Yes, indeed!" Mrs. Sedley replied excitedly. "And he wishes to have a dinner at his residence at the earliest convenience. He is allowing us to set the day. And your family is of course invited. Joseph mentioned that he would write you soon, but he is of course exhausted from the journey." The woman paused only long enough to take a breath before continuing with what she had to say. "Also, he says that Captain Dobbin – or should I say, Major Dobbin – has arrived in town with him. They traveled together you know. Anyways, pass that bit of information along to your husband."
"Of course," Emmy replied absently. Major Dobbin had returned! It had been so many years… She wondered if he had changed much. A strange rushing of her heart that she suddenly felt alarmed her a bit. The last time she had seen him Georgy was only a baby – he had not even seen the handsome young boy that he had become! Amelia hoped that Major Dobbin would also be at the dinner; she could finally introduce to Georgy the man that all his life he had heard nothing but praise for.