In which Miss Crawley's Relations are very anxious about Her
OK, enough about Brussels, the war, and all that stuff. What's happening with the characters back in England?
Miss Crawley has been following the war in the papers, where she learns that Rawdon served with distinction and has been promoted to Colonel. She then receives a long and amusing letter from Rawdon about the fighting and some souvenirs from the battlefield (epaulettes, the butt of a sword, etc.).
Miss Crawley realizes that it's Becky who wrote the letter, but she writes back and agrees to a correspondence – mostly because she likes being entertained. What she doesn't realize is that not only did Becky write the letter, she actually bought all the "souvenirs" from a street vendor.
Meanwhile, Miss Crawley gets Briggs to write a letter to Mrs. Bute telling her never to come back. Freedom!
Mrs. Bute feels that she played her hand wrong, but there's nothing for it.
Meanwhile, at Queen's Crawley, Sir Pitt has gone totally to the dark side. He drinks low-class liquor with farmers, stops going to church, and – really awful – has installed Miss Horrocks (the gameskeeper's daughter) as a mistress. Or something. It's not entirely clear if they're actually sleeping together, but whatever it is, it's way inappropriate.
Mr. Pitt is horrified by all this and frequently goes to Brighton to visit the Southdowns, especially his fiancée, Lady Jane. When he is in Brighton, he leaves visiting cards for his aunt, Miss Crawley, but doesn't presume to actually try to visit her.
So, here's the lowdown on the Southdowns. Lady Southdown is a super-bossy, know-it-all, overprotective woman. Her husband, Lord Southdown, is mentally diminished from epilepsy, so she rules the roost. They have three children: Emily, who is old, unmarried, and obsessed with philanthropy; a son, who is the forgotten black sheep because he took up all sorts of bad ways after going to London to become a Member of Parliament; and finally Jane, who is kind, loving, protected, totally innocent, pretty, and very nice. Sound like anyone else we know? Yup, she's another Amelia type.
One day Pitt and Jane meet Briggs in the street at Brighton. Pitt knows how Miss Crawley likes to be surrounded by young pretty girls, so he decides to pay a visit to his aunt.
Lady Southdown is all for this and immediately wants to come armed with religious tracts to convert Miss Crawley. Lady Emily is all into this idea too.
Pitt lets them know that this kind of approach will just scare Miss Crawley off, and when he points out how rich she is and how they don't want to alienate her, Lady Southdown immediately backs down.
The next day the Southdowns come and leave visiting cards for Miss Crawley.
Quick Brain Snack: visiting cards were beautiful cards with people's names on them – the more aristocratic the person, the fancier the card. Leaving one of these for someone was kind of like friending them. If they wanted to proceed to meet or to visit or whatever, they would respond with a card or with an invitation to come over.