Lady Susan: Plot Summary – Letters 23-33

Letter 23 – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother delighted the affair that has caused so much agitation is over. Reginald is returning to Parklands by way of London to attend business. Reginald has asked her to watch out for Frederica who is being forced to marry Sir James Martin. He asks her to send him away immediately. He thinks her a sweet girl that deserves a better fate. She MUST make it her business to see justice done. She concludes that Lady Susan and Reginald have been quarrelling, but the “Mistress of deceit” appears perfectly unconcerned. Lady Susan mentions Reginald’s abrupt departure on short notice and comments that young men make hasty decisions that can be as quickly turned over. Catherine doubts that he will change his mind. She is confident they quarreled about Frederica. When next she writes, Sir James and Lady Susan will be gone, and Frederica at ease.

Letter 24From the Same to the Same 

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother. Every hope in her last letter has vanished. The quarrel between Lady Susan and Reginald is made up and all is as before. Only Sir James is dismissed. Frederica blames herself for Reginald’s planned departure. She confesses that because of her unhappiness with Sir James, she has done something very wrong. Her mother has forbid her to discuss it with the Vernon’s. Catherine prompted her to admit that she wrote a letter to Reginald. Now they have quarreled and he is going away. Her mother will be furious and she is worse off than ever. Reginald was an extreme change of opinion claiming a misunderstanding with Lady Susan. He now regrets taking Frederica’s side. Her mother only has the best intensions. Lady Susan asks to speak with Catherine. She reminds her of her prediction that Reginald would not leave. She admits to the accidental dispute with Reginald and blames herself. Lady Susan admits that Frederica is violently opposed to the match. Sir James has no understanding (dumb) and Frederica has more penetration than she thought. If she had known of her abilities she would not have pressed the match. She alludes that it was her husbands fault for spoiling her and neglecting her education. She has tried to reverse that by severity and alienating her affections. Her talking to Reginald exemplifies her lack of judgment and fear of her. Catherine challenges her motives in silencing her daughter. Did they really think that she was aware of Frederica’s unhappiness? That it was her objective to make her miserable? And she forbad her speaking of it “from a fear of your interrupting the diabolical scheme?” Her defense is that she could not bother her with affairs that she could not attend to herself. She was mistaken, but believed her self right. She reproaches herself for making Frederica unhappy and quarrelling with Reginald. Since Frederica does not want Sir James, she will inform him that there is no hope. Catherine is not duped by her story. “Her assurance! her deceit! but I will not allow myself to dwell on them; they will strike you sufficiently. My heart sickens within me.” Sir James took his leave as merry as usual. Despite his release, Frederica looks unhappy, still fearful of her mother. She was no hope for Reginald to return Frederica’s affection. Reginald is more attached to Lady Susan than ever.

Letter 25 – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson

Lady Susan writes from Churchill to her friend Alicia triumphant! She has had more trouble in restoring peace than she should have to be submitted to. She will not forgive Reginald. When she learned of his departure, she could not leave her reputation with a man who could be so violent and revengeful. She took action and summoned him to her rooms. Afterwards, it was impossible for them both to stay under the same roof. She does not want to be the reason for separating him from his family and will instead leave immediately herself. “Where I go is of no consequence to anyone; of very little to myself; but you are of importance to all your connections.” The effect on Reginald justified her vanity. There is delight in seeing someone so easily worked upon; watching your words change it recipient struggle between “returning tenderness and the remains of displeasure.” Reginald is now more “tractable, more attached, more devoted than ever.”  She must decide on a scheme to severely punish Frederica for asking for Reginald’s help, punish him for accepting the request and challenging her authority, and torment my sister-in-law for her victory in Sir James’s removal. She must have her amends for the humiliation she has suffered. She shall soon be in Town, because London is the fairest field of action. She must complete the match with Sir James immediately and dispel Frederica’s idle love for Reginald.  Though Reginald is in her power, she has given up the article which their quarrel produced. The honor of victory is doubtful.

Letter 26 – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan

Alicia writes from Edward Street to Lady Susan advising her come to Town quickly but leave Frederica behind. If her plan is to marry Reginald, best not upset the family by forcing Frederica’s marriage to Sir James. “You should think more of yourself and less of your daughter.” Manwaring is also in Town, and despite her husband’s objections, she has seen him. He is miserable without her and jealous of De Courcy. Best the two not meet. If she does not come to Town, he threatens to come to Churchill. Mr. Johnson goes to Bath for his gout. They shall be able to choose their own society and enjoyment during his absence, but unfortunately, because of her promise to him, Lady Susan can not be her guest in her home. She will find her rooms nearby at Upper Seymour Street where they shall always be together. Manwaring is distressed by his wife’s jealous. “Silly woman to expect constancy from so charming a man!” She was a fool to marry him against the advice of her guardian Mr. Johnson, for she was an heiress and he had no money or title.

Letter 27 – Mrs. Vernon to Lady De Courcy

Catherine Vernon writes from Churchill to her mother lamenting that their hope of separating Reginald and Lady Susan may be too late. He returns home, but not for long, and may follow Lady Susan to London where she goes to visit with Mrs. Johnson. Frederica stays with them, a much better place for her than with her mother, or her bad set of friends.

Letter 28 – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan

Alicia writes from Edward Street to her friend distressed that her husband got wind of her arrival in Town and his gout is conveniently worse and he shall not go to Bath. She is pleased to hear that De Courcy is her own. What will she do with Manwaring? She does not know when she can come to visit her. Her husband’s spells of gout is an abominable trick.

Letter 29 – Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson

Lady Susan writes from Upper Seymour Street to her friend Alicia. She did not need this last bout of gout to detest Mr. Johnson. She is sorry she has been turned into a nursemaid. It is not her mistake for marrying a man “too old to be agreeable, too young to die.” She arrived last night and the pleasing Manwaring immediately made a surprise appearance reminding her how inferior Reginald is. She even doubted her resolution to marry him, though it was too idle and a nonsensical a notion. She is not looking forward to their planned meeting in London. She may put off his visit by pretense until Manwaring is gone. She is hesitant to marry until the old man is dead. It does not suit her freedom to be bound by the caprice of Sir Reginald. She is only ten months a widow so may be able to put it off. Manwaring has no clue of course of Reginald. He thinks he is only a common flirtation.

Letter 30 – Lady Susan Vernon to Mr. De Courcy

Lady Susan writes from Upper Seymour Street to Reginald. She must delay their meeting. In the past they have been indelicate and carless in their conduct which might jeopardize them with family and friends who do not approve, and yet they depend. His father would not agree to such an imprudent marriage. She grapples with her suitability for him but her feelings prevail. She must not incur the censure of Mr. Vernon and the world by a marriage too soon after her husband’s death. She can not bear being the cause of Mr. Vernon’s ill-favor or Reginald’s family censure. She suggests that they delay their union until circumstances are more favorable. Absence will be necessary and they should not meet. Only the strongest conviction of her duty motivates her. She hopes to hear that he submits to her argument. If he does not, she can not bear her spirits sinking lower. She is endeavoring to seek amusements with her friends the Manwarings.

Letter 31 – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson

Lady Susan writes from Upper Seymour Street to Alicia that Reginald, that tormenting creature, has arrived even though her letter to him wished that would delay their meeting for some months. She is, however, pleased with proof of his attachment. He is devoted heart and soul and delivers this note by way of introduction. She entreats her to keep him for dinner and entertain him. She was told him she is unwell, but Manwaring arrives within the half-hour. 

Letter 32 – Mrs. Johnson to Lady Susan

Alicia writes from Edward Street to Lady Susan in agony. Reginald has arrived, but so has Mrs. Manwaring. She insisted on speaking to her guardian Mr. Johnson, requesting his interference. She arrived yesterday in pursuit of her husband and has detected through a servant that Manwaring had visited Lady Susan everyday. She just witnessed his arrival at her door. “[E]verything that you could wish to be concealed was known to him.” What could she do? “Facts are such horrid things.” Mr. De Courcy is now talking with him and will know all since Mr. Johnson suspected his desire to marry her. In small compensation, the detestable Mrs. Mainwaring “has fretted herself thinner and uglier than ever.” What can be done? She hopes that Manwaring will plague his wife even more.

Letter 33 – Lady Susan to Mrs. Johnson 

Lady Susan writes from Upper Seymour Street to Alicia. Her explanation is provoking, but she is undismayed. Confident that she can make her story straight with Reginald she does not want her friend to torment herself. Manwaring did tell her of his wife’s arrival. Silly woman, what does she expect to gain? All will be well by tomorrow’s dinner.

© 2009 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose