Now was not the time to disabuse Mama of Lydia's reality.
“Do you wish to retire to a private room to compose yourself, Mama?” Lizzy asked, resting her hand upon Mama’s forearm.
“Good heavens, no. ‘Tis nothing. It will pass.” She dabbed her nose and tucked the soiled linen into the cuff of her sleeve. “Mr. Jones said this is perfectly normal. Thank goodness. Why the other day, I spotted the first fall leaf in my garden and wept. Your Papa told me I looked beautiful and wept. I declare, our horse could throw a show, and I’d weep.”
Lizzy laughed and hugged Mama, her own eyes glistening.
“Mine was Georgiana playing a lovely piece while we waited for your arrival.”
Mama gasped and stepped back, assessing her daughter.
“Yes. We didn’t write because we wanted to surprise you. Imagine ours when you arrived in all your glory.”
They dissolved into more laughter, then as suddenly as she began, Mama stopped.
“Oh, how I wish my dear Lydia could be here for all this good news.”
“I have not heard from Lydia in over three months,” Kitty said, coming alongside Mama and giving her a warm hug. “I fear my sister and husband do not have the blunt for travel. She wrote, begging for more funds in the last letter.”
“She has such high spirits and is such a favorite of all the officers in Newcastle. It is no wonder they exceed their income. It is quite expensive, entertaining in your home.”
All four sisters shared a knowing look between them. It wasn’t entertaining at home that drained the coffers of the Wickham household. However, this wasn’t the time or place to disabuse Mama of Lydia’s reality.