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Posted on: 2010-04-26
Tuesday November 19th 1811
Lydia's intention of walking to Meryton was not forgotten; every sister except Mary agreed to go with her; and Mr. Collins was to attend them, at the request of Mr. Bennet, who was most anxious to get rid of him, and have his library to himself; for thither Mr. Collins had followed him after breakfast, and there he would continue, nominally engaged with one of the largest folios in the collection, but really talking to Mr. Bennet, with little cessation, of his house and garden at Hunsford. Such doings discomposed Mr. Bennet exceedingly. In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room in the house, he was used to be free from them there; his civility, therefore, was most prompt in inviting Mr. Collins to join his daughters in their walk; and Mr. Collins, being in fact much better fitted for a walker than a reader, was extremely well pleased to close his large book, and go.
Pride and Prejudice chapter 15
The party of five set forth from Longbourne to Meryton that morning. Lydia and Kitty in the lead always looking ahead for any red coat they may see. Jane, Elizabeth and Mr Collins bringing up the rear at a very slow and tedious pace. Mr Collins sewing forth his tirade of pompous nothings that required little reply from the ladies above an occasional nod.
This left the two sisters to think of other things. Jane was thinking of a most amiable young man who currently held the lease on Netherfield Park. He had been so amenable and attentive to her every need during her time recovering as his guest that her opinion of him had steadily increased over the month of their acquaintance. Was it only a month she had known him something inside had made her feel as if she had known him all her life or was it just the wishes of her heart to know him the rest of her life, she could not tell, but the one thing she did know is that she wished to know him better and was in hope that she may happen upon him in the village this morning, God willing.
Elizabeth was also pondering on a gentleman, but she would not call him amiable or amenable, in fact a conundrum was the best way to describe him. As a studier of character she was usually able to understand people within a short acquaintance, like the pompous, fawning, buffoon walking along side of her that she only met yesterday, who seemed to have singled her out this morning as his olive branch recipient. He was easily seen through. The gentleman in question though he was different unlike anyone she had ever met before. On first sight of him as they entered the Assembly room he had stood out against the other two gentlemen of his party she had noticed his tall fine figure, handsome features and noble mein, but there was something more about him that looked familiar though she was unable to name exactly what it was that was familiar. He had slighted her later that evening saying she was tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt him. How she had focused on those words and the hurt she had felt because of them, she had interpreted every other encounter with the gentleman from the stance that he only endured her company out of necessity and from that point of view she had not in the month of their acquaintance been able to figure him out he puzzled her exceedingly. She now felt it was time to go back and review all their prior meetings.
The night of the assembly ball, they had arrived late, after spending a week in the same house as the party she knew that would have been Miss Bingley's doing, Elizabeth had never seen someone spend so much time in getting ready for an evening meal at home, but then again the object of her desire was to be in the room or is he merely the owner of what she really desired. At Netherfield Mr Darcy had always been prompt to meals and had arrived for Sunday service well before the commencement, unlike Miss Bingley who had only attended twice arriving late both times. Could he have been annoyed with her before they even arrived that night putting him out of sorts before he even walked in the door? He had danced only with Mrs Hurst and Miss Bingley, yet upon reflection he had not seemed happy even when dancing with the women of his party it was almost like he had done so out of duty to his friend who was hosting him at Netherfield she had since learnt that he had only arrived that morning from town perhaps being dragged out that night was not what he had anticipated for his first night with his friend. When Elizabeth had seen him walking the room she had noted in his eyes a sadness that she was not able to account for at the time. It was not constantly visible, but only on occasions as if he was trying to hide it behind a mask.
Now the conversation she had overheard between Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley had included much more than the last part that she had chosen to dwell on what was before that could she remember now. Mr Bingley had almost ordered his friend to dance and he had responded that he detested it unless he was particularly acquainted with his partner, in that assembly room that left only Mr Bingley's sisters. If he danced with anyone else it would be a punishment. Miss Bingley had mentioned that in giving a ball it would be a punishment rather than a pleasure to some of the people at Netherfield and Mr Bingley had suggested that Mr Darcy could go to bed to avoid it, yet when he had danced with Mr Bingley's sisters he was quite skilled in the art, so the punishment was not in the dancing itself, but in the time with the partner. A half hour with someone you do not know would be torture to someone who hardly spoke. Like the half hour they had spent together in the library at Netherfield on Saturday they had sat and read their respective books and not spoken and despite concentrating on her book there had been a tension in the air that she could feel and yet he had not said a word, he scarce spoke ten words to her all day. Yet in the drawing room for the previous couple of evenings they had had some very lively conversations that were in fact to intellectual for some in the room, and too lively for their hosts comfort.
Though he was most often silent he did not miss what was going on in the room around him, he barely tolerated Miss Bingley's fawning over him and tried not to give in to it at any time, he had also noticed her ill treatment of Elizabeth and though he did not stand up and defend her he did try to steer the conversation away from direct insults and the conversation on accomplished women ended with them both silently laughing at Miss Bingley's change of opinion as to the number of accomplished women of her acquaintance. He had also noticed the out of character deference when she had asked Elizabeth to take a turn about the room, he had looked up and closed his book at this point, and his cheeky response to being asked to join them, he fully knew that to be in each other's confidence was impossible given Miss Bingley's open dislike for Elizabeth, so he was freely admitting to studying their figures and yet he had not even looked up from his book till Elizabeth joined Miss Bingley, she felt somewhat exposed to have him studying her figure.
Mr Bingley has said he was fastidious and you could see that in the way he dressed, but Mr Bingley was probably a little too pleased with everything he sees, to him everyone was pleasant kind and attentive, she had seen the way he allowed his sister to behave towards his guests without so much as a look or word of correction he really was not master of his home. Mr Darcy on the other hand had spent so much time that evening during her stay at Netherfield writing a letter to his sister that appeared to be quite long, and if as Mr Bingley said he studied for words of four syllables then he was definitely fastidious, but a letter from him would convey the exact meaning he was trying to get across where as Mr Bingley's recipient would be lucky to get a vague inclination of the gentleman's ideas if they could read any of it at all.
Despite refusing to dance with her the first night of their acquaintance he had in fact asked her twice to dance and she had refused both times the first at Sir William Lucus' insistence and the second the reel at Netherfield she had challenged him to despise her if he dared and he replied gallantly that he did not dare. He had been the perfect gentleman in his receipt of her refusals despite the archness she had delivered them with.
Yes he was a very complex character to try to understand and despite her revision on this walk she was no closer to understanding him now as they entered the village than she was when leaving Longbourne.
Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley were the only two at the breakfast table that morning at Netherfield, the other three were not known to rise early.
Bingley was sitting there in a daze barely touching his food thinking about a lady with an angelic face and delicious smile that he longed to kiss, he had not been able to get the thought of her out of his mind all day yesterday. Darcy had probably wondered what was wrong with him when they had been discussing the estate he had not been able to put it all together and keep a single train of thought going in his head. He would ride over and see how she was going and if she was well he would set the date of the ball for next week.
"Darcy I was thinking of riding to Longbourne this morning to check if Miss Bennet has recovered from her illness, would you like to join me?" 'Would he like to join him?' what a question? His brain was screaming out no don't go do not torture yourself like that you have just got her out from under the roof of this house you do not want to go and be in her company again, but his heart was screaming out yes go and see her you know you spent the whole day yesterday wondering what she was doing and took three times as long as normal to get through your correspondence, go and drink in your fill of her this morning and then you may be of use to your friend this afternoon in teaching him about the estate he must have thought you had lost your mind yesterday, you were not able to put coherent sentences together.
"Yes Bingley I will go with you"
So here they were riding in to Meryton on their way to Longbourne, when they saw in the distance a group of ladies and gentlemen. The ladies were all familiar four of the five Misses Bennet only Miss Mary was missing, but the gentlemen did not appear to be familiar or were they. Miss Lydia and Miss Catherine were standing talking to two gentlemen a member of the Militia that was lately quartered at Meryton he could tell by the uniform, the back of the one next to him looked more familiar but from the back he could not place him. Behind the youngest Bennet girls stood a Tall heavy looking man whose air was grave and stately he looked a bit like the gentleman cousin Richard pointed out at Rosings last Easter as the new parson His Aunt had given the Hunsford living to, he had not seen him close up only from a distance while out riding with his cousin who had passed the gentleman as he left the house after his interview, toady he had said he was and that was exactly the type of person his Aunt would require for her parson so what was he doing with the Bennet ladies. He was still pondering this as he and Bingley arrived in front of the ladies. Bingley had quickly dismounted and gone to join the ladies well Miss Bennet actually, trying to avoid staring at Elizabeth as he went to dismount Darcy turned to look at the younger girls and the gentlemen they were talking to, upon seeing the front of the man (definitely not a gentleman) that he had thought was familiar his face flushed with anger and his body stiffened and he balled his fists of all the places to run into the scoundrel why did it have to be here and so near to one of the two women most beloved in his life.
Elizabeth for her part had just been introduced to Mr Wickham who was a friend of Mr Denny's and had come at his request to join the militia, while her younger sisters were struck by his handsome features, she was vaguely aware that he looked familiar. When Mr Bingley had dismounted and it appeared that Mr Darcy was about to do the same she looked up to see him turning red and following the direction of his eyes she saw that Mr Wickham had turned white it was at this moment with this site of each other that the memory of the prior meeting of the three of them came back to her, this was the way they had responded to each other that day all those years ago.
Posted on: 2010-05-06
The shock of the memory caused Elizabeth a sharp intake of breath, which went unnoticed by all but Mr Darcy, who then turned to Elizabeth to see what was the matter. Her ashen face and fallen shoulders were enough to enlighten his memory of their prior meeting. He looked back at the rest of the party who were all happily engrossed in conversation except Wickham who looked at him and touched his hat before returning his attention to his friend's conversation to the younger Bennet girls. Wickham had not noticed Elizabeth's reaction so Darcy encouraged his mount forward a step to put the horses head and neck between Elizabeth and the rest of the party. He quickly dismounted and was at Elizabeth's side.
"Miss Elizabeth, are you unwell?" he asked her in a voice full of compassion and concern. She could only manage to nod.
Unsure of how to ask what he needed to, without distressing her more if she did not remember, he eventually asked, "Is it making a new acquaintance that has you so distressed?"
"Renewing an old one," she does remember he thought.
"Do your sisters know about Lambton?" he asked gently.
"No sir, please don't," she said in a panicky voice.
"I would not tell them, will you allow me to escort you home then?"
She looked up at him frightened pale and almost on the verge of fainting from the worry, "Yes I trust you." She had used the same words as that day in Lambton she remembers that I helped her then also.
"Stay here for a minute while I organise Bingley." He ducked under his stallion's neck and moved to Mr Bingley and whispered in his ear. "Miss Elizabeth is unwell I will see her home do not alarm her sisters, but see them to where ever they need to go and then home to Longbourne without the militia men, I will give you a minute to get them going before I move Achilles." He then ducked back under Achilles neck to Elizabeth.
Bingley asked Jane if he could accompany her where they were going upon hearing this and thinking that Darcy would then also be accompanying the ladies Mr Wickham decided it would be prudent to leave this party for now and asked Denny to take him to meet the colonel of the regiment so that he might get settled in. They left and then Bingley, Mr Collins and the three Bennet ladies move off down the street they did not at first notice that Elizabeth and Darcy did not follow. When they reached their Aunt Phillips' Jane turned to Mr Bingley, "we are missing my sister and your friend, sir."
"Your sister was feeling a little unwell and my friend was going to see that she got home alright, as any gentleman would."
"We will not stay here to long I would like to get home to make sure she is alright."
"I will see you home personally when you and your sisters are ready to leave."
As the others had moved off Darcy offered his arm to Elizabeth "Let us get you home young lady." He said to her. He remembers the exact words he said to me all those years ago. They walked in silence all the way home each not knowing what to say.
As they neared the front door Mr Bennet saw them through his library window and could see the distress on her daughters face. The fact that she was on the arm of a man she said she hated and her sisters that she had walked out with were no longer with her. He was angered and moved out of his book room to the hall to confront the man. Mary had seen then coming also and had entered the hall just as her father started. "Mr Darcy what is the meaning of this? What have you done to my daughter and where are the rest of my daughters and my cousin who was escorting them?"
"The others have continued their outing; I have escorted Miss Elizabeth home as she was feeling unwell."
"Mary, would you take your sister up to her room and tend her while I get to the bottom of this."
"Yes papa." Mary responded.
As the sisters began going up the stairs Mr Bennet turned again to Darcy, "come into my room and explain yourself. It is not appropriate for a man and woman to walk unchaperoned this is not very gentlemanly behaviour young man."
Elizabeth stopped on the stairs and turned to address her father "Papa, Mr Darcy has been nothing but the perfect gentleman."
"Then why did he bring you home alone." Mr Bennet demanded.
Elizabeth looked at Darcy, "Mr Darcy, papa knows nothing of Lambton, would you .. would you tell him for me."
"Would it not be better coming from you, Miss Elizabeth?"
"I have tried but can't bring myself to do it, would you please for a friend."
"If that is what you wish, Miss Elizabeth."
"You have my permission to tell him everything." She then turned and continued up the stairs. Darcy watched until she was out of sight and then turned and followed Mr Bennet into his room. Once in the room Mr Bennet shut the door behind them and sat behind his desk indicating a chair in front of the desk for Darcy to sit at.
"Well young man what have you to tell me?"
"Mr Bennet I need a minute to gather my recollections of events from five years ago, but I want you to know two things I have the deepest respect for Miss Elizabeth, second I am only willing to relate to you what I am about to tell you because your daughter has specifically instructed me to do so, under no circumstance would I ever relate this information to anyone."
My Father was an excellent man who always looked for the best in everyone, he was often blinded to the faults of others and if someone did something that would hurt him, he always forgave them and tried to help them to be a better person from the experience, these were some of the principles that my father instilled in me as I grew up. My cousin Richard who is almost like a brother to me given that we are the same age and my only sibling is a sister twelve years my junior, Richard was raised to always protect the family do whatever was necessary for the family. So when my father became ill seven years ago and was not expected to gain full health, he set up a new will with Richard and myself as executors, at the time I was in my final year at Cambridge was tutoring a first year student named Charles Bingley and had to take over the running of the Pemberley estates. I was just twenty years old and was completely overwhelmed with all that I had to do, The one thing that I did have was a very competent steward who was a very respectable man and had been working for my father for twenty five years, he knew how my father had wanted things run and knew what I had been taught and what I still needed to know, by luck more than anything else he had taught me everything by the time my father passed away as he only outlived my father by two months.
"This steward had a wife who was known for gambling away the money my father paid the steward and other extravagances that left little for the family to live on. They had a son who is two years my junior and was my father's god-son and we grew up together. My father was fond of him and found his manners engaging. My father realizing that his father would not be able to do much for him decided to gift him with a gentleman's education supporting him at school and at Cambridge, my father had hoped that he would make the church his profession, and intended to provide a living for him, this was included in my father's will." At this point Darcy stopped to regather his thoughts, "I hope I am not boring you with this entire background information sir."
"No, but I am still trying to understand how this relates to Elizabeth."
"We will get to that in a minute sir." Darcy had gathered and reorganised his thoughts and was ready to continue.
"My father's attachment to him was so steady that he never saw the defects of character that I being nearly the same age had witnessed in unguarded moments his vicious propensities and want of principles, his licentiousness at Cambridge was common knowledge to us fellow students, but not known at home."
"My Father passed away five years ago while Miss Elizabeth was in Lambton with her Aunt and Uncle helping to look after the girls for Mrs Gardener due to her being with child again, but needing to sort out her father's things due to his passing. On the day my father died I was so upset I took to my horse and went for a gallop to try and clear my head and take in all that was happening. My sister and I were orphaned and I was now solely responsible for the running of not only the main estate but three smaller estates in Derbyshire and one in Scotland, as well as joint guardian of a ten year old girl."
"After an hour of really pushing my stallion realised I had long ago left the estate and should be making my way back, as I was coming back through Lambton my stallion needed a break so I decided to stop at the chestnut tree on the green by the smithy there is a big old root that pokes up out of the ground at the base that makes a good seat so I sat down on it and finally let the emotion of the day catch up with me, I cried. I don't remember how long it was but some time latter a sweet voice asked me was I alright, I looked around and could not see anyone, so I thought I had imagined it. The voice then asked if I would like to talk about it as 'a problem shared is a problem halved' it was then I finally noticed where the voice was coming from."
"If this is my Lizzy I would say up the tree."
"That she was sir sitting in the tree reading Caesar's Gaelic Wars a fifteen year old without a care in the world happily sitting and reading, but to see her reading this deep history volume as I asked what else she read and she told me of the poetry and plays histories philosophies and that she often read them in their native language and not a translation I was inspired by what I wanted for my sisters education."
"Miss Elizabeth threw her book down to me and climbed down from the tree and sat next to me, we just sat there for a long time in silence till she asked "do you want to talk about it," in the most compassionate voice.
"I nodded and began to tell her of my family starting with my mother who died when my sister was only two and I was fourteen through to the death of my father that morning, she was so kind and considerate she mostly listened, but occasionally asked questions in the end she told me 'to remember the past only as it's remembrance gave me pleasure' I asked how I was to learn from my mistakes if I could not remember them she sat and looked at me and said once you have learned the lesson remember the lesson not the painful experience. This is I believe what she had done with her memories until they were forced back on her by what happened today, but I am getting ahead of myself."
"After chatting for an hour I thought I should be getting back and her aunt might be looking for her, she asked if I was feeling better and I said I was a little better, she said she knew one more way that she could make me feel better, but she would not tell me what it was I had too close my eyes." Darcy looked down at his feet at this point embarrassed at having to tell her father this part, but she did say to tell him everything. "She took my face in her hands and she bent down and kissed me and I returned her kiss in kind." Darcy waited looking at the pattern in the carpet for her father to say some thing.
Eventually he responded "So you were her first kiss then."
"And she my one and only sir."
"Then what happened?"
"We both went our separate ways, we hadn't even introduced ourselves so neither expected to see the other again."
"But you did see her again in Lambton I mean before seeing her here."
"Yes sir, but it is a day I would much rather forget."
Posted on: 2010-05-10
"Tell me what happened."
"The following week my cousin Richard and I were riding in to Lambton to go to the solicitor's office to deal with my father's will. As we were nearing the green by the smithy I looked over towards the tree and saw a couple in front of the tree he had her hands held above her head with one hand and her mouth was being ravaged by his while his other hand was reaching down to her skirt and starting to gather the material, realising the identity of the man I yelled out Wickham, his mouth and lower hand stopped but he still held her hands above her head. He turned his head to face me and he went white and I went red when I saw that the girl was the same one that had shown me such compassion the previous week. I dismounted and ran towards them, but Miss Elizabeth took advantage of the diversion and stomped on his toes causing him to release her arms and then she lifted her knee to his sensitive area. He was bent over in pain when I got there but I punched him in the nose anyway I would have struck him again but my cousin was there and dragging him away. I turned to Miss Elizabeth who was sitting on the ground frantically trying to wipe her mouth and face clean that she had made it go red. I grabbed her arms to help her up to try and stop her from hurting herself more I asked if I could walk her back to where she was staying and she said 'yes I trust you' she used those exact words today when I asked if I could see her home."
Mr Bennet was in shock how could this have happened to his little girl. Then of course he knew how this could happen to his little girl, Mrs Bennet had forced his daughters to come out when they were only fifteen instead of waiting till they were older and the cut of the dresses she insisted upon combined with her trusting nature left them vulnerable to any rake like this Wickham.
"When we got there Mr Gardener looked at me exactly as you did earlier this morning and demanded to know what had happened and Mrs Gardener took Miss Elizabeth to her room and spoke with her. When I explained what I had just witnessed Mr Gardener was inclined to make him marry her, but when I explained his character to him he did not see that as an option to condemn her to a life with him would be punishment to her and not him. He was still worried about her reputation I explained that my cousin and I were the only ones to see and we would say nothing, but if he felt her reputation would be tarnished without a marriage I would be prepared to marry her if that was what she wanted." At this Mr Bennet was shocked. That this man that was known around Meryton as such a proud disagreeable man had offered to marry his daughter to save her reputation now he had heard everything or so he thought.
"She said she did not feel it was my responsibility to make her amends and that she was not worthy of me after what happened and our disparity in situation and that as long as she never saw him again, she would be fine with her family. So she has never seen him again until today, when Bingley and I happened upon them in Meryton today your youngest two daughters were talking to a member of the militia and Mr Wickham there was another gentleman with your eldest daughters I am not sure who he is."
"That would be my cousin Mr Collins who due to the entail is to inherit Longbourne on my death he has apparently been sent by his noble patroness Lady Catherine De Bourgh to offer the olive branch and make amends to my daughters."
"Sir she is my aunt and knowing her as I do she would be wanting him to marry so that she can arrange all his domestic felicity for him. I know this from experience as she is constantly telling me I am engaged to her daughter despite the fact that neither Anne nor I have the slightest interest in marrying one another."
"Then he probably wants a wife from amongst my daughters to make amends for inheriting this place. But he will not get my consent."
"Mr Bennet I hope that you will not mention my name to him if he reports back to my aunt I am here she may turn up to interrupt all our lives."
"I do not think that Wickham noticed Miss Elizabeth or her reaction this morning. As soon as I saw it and recognised the source of her distress I moved my horse forward to block her from the rest of the party while she was trying to recompose herself."
"You said he was with one of the militia men I hope he is not planning to join."
"Mr Bennet I still have more to relate to you about my dealings with him over the past five years and once you have heard what I have left to tell you we will need to work out what to do if he is joining the militia, but I was wondering if you should check on Miss Elizabeth first and If she is well enough to hear the rest of this it will save me saying it twice."
Mr Bennet thought that a good idea. He went to check on his daughter and also ordered tea to be sent to his library. While he was gone Darcy stood to stretch his legs and perused the titles on Mr Bennet's bookshelves. He was impressed with the variety of subjects and could see where Elizabeth had developed her wide knowledge she must have spent a lot of time in this room he had seen that she was her father's favourite daughter. They shared a similar wit and were both studiers of character he wondered if they had figured him out by now.
The rest of the walking party had returned some time back and were in the drawing room chatting Bingley was not worried where his friend was or how long he would take to show up he was quite content talking to his angel now, she had gone up to see her sister when they first returned, but she was sleeping at the time, so did not stay away from his side for long. He was content to have her back to talk to.
Mr Bennet upon reaching his daughters room found her just waking up. "How are you feeling now?"
"I am a lot better I am worried about running in to him again. There was talk he might be joining the Militia that means he will be here all winter."
"Are you feeling up to talking and listening more about this man he does not seem a very nice sort of character, Mr Darcy indicated that he has had more dealings over the last five years with him. My opinion of Mr Darcy has greatly improved this morning."
"Papa I was actually thinking over all my acquaintance with Mr Darcy and I believe I have miss judged him by focusing on his last comment of the conversation with Mr Bingley. I feel there may have been some reason why he did not want to be there that night that had him out of spirits, and I confess that he has twice since asked me to dance and I refused him so I have got him back." At this her father chuckled. "Today he was so kind, caring, thoughtful and pleasing who could not appreciate that, his character is still a puzzle to me but I feel I only need a piece or two to put it all together. Did he tell you everything?"
"I believe so."
"Even your daughter's forward behaviour."
"Yes he told me about the kiss and his marriage proposal."
"The proposal and my reply were done through Aunt I did not see him after he returned me to the inn and neither knew the others name."
"Are you feeling up to coming and having a cup of tea and hearing what has taken place between the two men since that day."
"Have you still got him ensconced in the library, the poor man must have better things to do than talk of the past, let us go down and relieve him so he may get home sometime today." They walked down to Mr Bennet's book room just as Hill was coming out from delivering the tea. "Mr Darcy I must apologise for taking up so much of your time today. You must have much more important things to be doing instead of sitting here reliving the past and I must thank you for telling my father everything. I have been too ashamed of the incident to be able to tell him." She went to the tray and poured them all a cup of tea she remembered he just took it straight.
"There is no need to thank me for anything and if my friend has found his way back with the ladies and is in the drawing room with his angel, he may be able to concentrate on what I am teaching him about estate matters later, yesterday was a disaster." You were no better he thought to himself with the revelation that the two women now were one and the same he would have a lot to think about on the ride back to Netherfield.
"I have told your father everything up until leaving you back with your aunt and uncle at the inn at Lambton and what happened today. Unfortunately my life has crossed Mr Wickham's too many times in between and I feel I need to relate those incidents to you both. After I left the inn I met up with my cousin and Wickham at the solicitor's office where we settled the thousand pound legacy on him we then put him on the post back to Cambridge he was in his final year and only just managing to get through. His father then passed away two months later there was then no gentlemen left in and around Pemberley to think well of him, two young girls from Lambton were both found to be with child to him one fourteen died in child birth with the child and the other fifteen lost the child."
"What has happened to the girl?" Elizabeth asked.
"She has been employed in my household and has recently become engaged to one of my grooms."
"I am glad she has been able to get on with her life then."
"Soon after his father's death Wickham wrote to me declining any interest in having a career in the church, for which I was glad as I had long seen that he was not suitable for that profession. He requested a more immediate pecuniary advancement he stated that he wished to study law and that the interest on the thousand pounds would not be enough to see him through, I felt that the legacy was probably already gone and hoped rather than believed that he would stay at his studies. I gave him three thousand pounds if he relinquished all rights to the living, to which he agreed. I did not see him again for three years he resided mainly in town and there was no contact between us, but I did hear that he was not studying and that his life now free from restraint was one of idleness and dissipation."
"On the decease of the incumbent of the living to which he had previously relinquished any claim he again contacted me telling me his circumstances were exceedingly bad. Which I had no trouble believing and that he now intended to take orders and would I so kindly give him the living that my revered father had recommended. I am sure you will not blame me for refusing him and resisting every repetition of it. He was abusive to me and about me to others all appearance of acquaintance was now dropped I know not how he lived but our paths crossed again this last summer only three months ago under circumstances I would wish to forget. My sister, who is more than ten years my junior, was left to the guardianship of my mother's nephew, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and myself. About a year ago, she was taken from school, and an establishment formed for her in London; and last summer she went with the lady who presided over it, to Ramsgate; and thither also went Mr. Wickham, undoubtedly by design; for there proved to have been a prior acquaintance between him and Mrs. Younge, in whose character we were most unhappily deceived; and by her connivance and aid he so far recommended himself to Georgiana, whose affectionate heart retained a strong impression of his kindness to her as a child, that she was persuaded to believe herself in love, and to consent to an elopement. She was then but fifteen, which must be her excuse; and after stating her imprudence, I am happy to add that I owed the knowledge of it to herself. I joined them unexpectedly a day or two before the intended elopement; and then Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father, acknowledged the whole to me. You may imagine what I felt and how I acted."
At this point Elizabeth lowered her head and began to cry not because of what she had heard about his sister, but the realisation that this was the reason for his sadness and disinclination to dance and enjoy himself at the assembly. How could he when the weight of what his sister was suffering was upon him, she had totally misjudged him and had maliciously slandered him to her neighbours, this gentleman who had saved her five years ago, how could she have repaid him with such cruelty she was utterly ashamed of herself.
"Miss Elizabeth it is well Mrs Younge was sent away and I wrote to Mr Wickham and we have prevented any public exposure, my sister will recover in time."Mr Darcy said with great concern for her, but she waved it away with her arm unable to speak.
After a couple of minutes she finally gathered herself enough to speak. "Mr Darcy I owe you an apology on the night of the assembly I overheard your conversation with Mr Bingley," Darcy went to interrupt her, but she raised her hand to silence his protests. "I had noticed a look of sadness in your eyes on a couple of occasions when no one else did as I had seen it previously on the day we met I should have known it for what it was. I focused my attention on the few words of that overheard conversation that hurt me instead of the whole of it which would tell me that you were in no humour to be present at all and given what you have just told us of your sister you were perfectly justified to be in no humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. I owe you an apology for taking your comments about me and slandering your name to our neighbours when I should probably have been singing your praises for rescuing me five years ago not only from the man on the day but the life with him if my uncle had sort to have him marry me for any perceived injury at his hands. I am truly sorry." She lowered her head to look again at the floor.
"Miss Elizabeth I owe you an apology for the words I said that night I knew as soon as I said them they were not true I suppose you have got me back now in that you have twice since refused to dance with me, I was only annoyed with Bingley I should not have said what I did. If you have said things about me to the neighbourhood that have meant for the first time in years mothers are not throwing their daughters at me I thank you, it is hard to be seen only for your property and bank account and not the man I am, if you could convince Miss Bingley I would be even more grateful." At this he smiled at her showing his dimples for the first time and Elizabeth was struck by how it lit up his face.
"Mr Darcy I did not know you had such a teasing nature." She said.
"I learnt it from a young lady who used her teasing nature to cheer me up a few years back," he replied.
Mr Bennet spoke, reminding the two that there was another in the room, "Mr Darcy, I think we need to work out what we should do now as I do not want Lizzy running into that man."
"The problem is if he is intending to stay and join the militia all your daughters and those of the rest on the village will be at risk."
"Then we first need to find out if he did join up." Elizabeth responded.
"We could check with Colonel Foster, if he does join the militia then my cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam may be able to arrange a transfer for him, but that may take a couple of weeks, in the mean time it may be prudent for Miss Elizabeth to not be seen around Meryton."
"I would rather leave town than be confined to the house could I go and stay with Aunt and Uncle Gardener until he is gone."
"That might be a good idea, my child."
"I could escort her to London sir, but I do not want anyone to know I have gone to London especially Mr Wickham, Miss Bingley and Mr Collins."
"Mr Collins what has he to do with anything?"
"His patroness Lady Catherine De Bourgh is Mr Darcy's aunt, who is planning to marry him off to her daughter much to the two's objections."
"As much as neither of us want the marriage we do not set her to right at the moment as the only contact my cousin has with the world outside of the estate and church is the Colonel and my visit each year at Easter none of the rest of the family visit and were we to tell her at the moment that no wedding were ever to happen between us then my poor cousin would be isolated as we would not be allowed on the place."
"so if you pretend to go north and we go south as If papa was putting me on the post and met in a neighbouring town we could go to London without anyone being any the wiser Suzie could come with me she would not speak of anything when we return mama would never know."
"I will send an express to Edward now, when would you go?"
"Tomorrow sir if you could speak to Colonel Foster this afternoon." Mr Bennet penned his express and called for Hill to see it sent immediately.
"Lizzy would you go and join the others as if you have just come down stairs, I will join you all soon before I go to town."
"Yes papa, thank you for everything you have done for me today sir." She said to Mr Darcy she curtsied to them and then left the room.
"Mr Darcy you should sneak out of here now and get organised to leave I will call at Netherfield after I have seen Colonel Foster, thank you for all that you have done for my daughter and I too must seek your forgiveness I have greatly misjudged your character you are a honourable gentleman I would be honoured to know you better young man."
"Thank you sir I look forward to it." Darcy stood and held out his hand to the older gentleman who shook it and showed Darcy out the door to the lawn before joining the family in the drawing room.
Mr Bennet sat quietly in his corner observing all that was going on around him. Mr Bingley and Jane were conversing only to one another on the far side of the fire place oblivious to all around them, war could break out just outside the window and they would not know or care. Mary was playing the pianoforte in the other half of the room. Kitty and Lydia were trimming bonnets and giggling away at their own conversation, Mr Bennet thought on them for a few minutes they were two of the silliest girls in England if his intelligent Lizzy had only just managed to escape from the likes of Wickham those two would be completely taken in by such a scoundrel and he may not be the only one of his kind in the ranks of the red coats. Yes he would have to be a better parent to them before it was too late he would start this evening. He then turned his gaze to his favourite she was sitting there trying to do her embroidery with Mr Collins looking over her shoulder and talking constantly. He looked at Mrs Bennet who seemed to survey both couples with a smirk on her face, so that was her game was it marry his Lizzy off to that simpering fool to secure her own comfort in the event of his death, let's hope I might out live and out manoeuvre you Mrs Bennet. "Lizzy how are you feeling now my child?"
Lizzy looked up at her father, knowing he was playing innocence. "My headache had almost completely gone, but I find it beginning to return."
"You do not have enough light at that chair my child, you should take that single one by the window, if you were not stressing your eyes so much with the poor light it may leave you be."
Lizzy smiled at the veiled comments to Mr Collins, "Thank you papa I appreciate your concern." With that Elizabeth got up and moved to the chair by the window where Mr Collins could not follow her and continued her work in peace.
Mr Bennet caught sight of Mrs Bennet out of the corner of his eye and she was not happy to have Lizzy moved away from Mr Collins at all. Mr Bennet now thought it was safe to go into Meryton to see Colonel Foster.
Posted on: 2010-05-17
Meanwhile riding home from Longbourne via Oakham mount laneway to avoid Meryton Mr Darcy was deep in thought the young girl who had so moved him to find every women he had met since wanting in some area of her character and the woman who in the last month that had given him hope that there were such wonders to be found amongst the fairer sex were one and the same He now knew that he would find no other in his circle that could equal her, What were the arguments he had been using against her in this last month, that her mother was mercenary, but her father and herself were not and her younger sisters were out of control, I hope Mr Bennet will deal with their behaviour now there is a real threat to them in their little village; her uncle was in trade and lived in Cheapside Miss Bingley had said, little did Miss Bingley know they lived in Gracechurch St not Cheapside and it is a very respectable home with very respectable people dwelling in it who have an income equal to or greater than her brothers, he should know since he regularly visited them there, just always making sure their niece was not visiting at the time, but in future he would visit when she was there. Objection number three that she had no dowry, no she still has no dowry, but she does have a trust fund that even she did not know about. Objection number four my family will not like it they expect me to marry Anne, but if Anne marries first will they still object probably because she is not of the first circle or titled, could we live happily with the censure of my family, that he would have to ponder further. He had so much to think about but no time to do it now he was back at Netherfield and Miss Bingley would be waiting for him no doubt. Luckily as he walked in the door he was met by a footman with his mail, he would take it to his room and deal with it before Mr Bennet called in thus avoiding Miss Bingley and her questions. After dealing with all his mail which was all easy things today thankfully he decided to take a walk in the grounds to stretch his legs and be outside for Mr Bennet coming. He had only been wandering for half an hour when Mr Bennet arrived and confirmed that Wickham had joined the militia that day.
"I wonder whether you should warn the merchants not to let the men of the militia buy on credit so that they are not left out of pocket when they leave, just a general not pointed reminder perhaps."
"Is this the sort of thing you would do in Lambton warn them of scoundrels."
"I wish I had, it would have saved me an extra thousand pounds paying off the scoundrels debts when he left."
"I can understand that."
"Mr Bennet would I be able to introduce My sister to Miss Elizabeth when she is in town, given what both have been through she may be able to help my sister get through this where I have failed."
"Mr Darcy if anyone can help your sister it would be Lizzy, there are some times when we men just cannot help the women they need another woman to talk to in a way only they can understand, under the circumstances a sister would be an advantage the way Lizzy and Jane are always there for each other, since she does not have a sister of her own Lizzy would be an excellent substitute and please call me Bennet after all that we have shared today."
"I will be happy to if you call me Darcy."
"I will thank you, now where and when shall we meet in the morning." After organising the time and the place Mr Bennet took his leave and headed home to Longbourne. On his way he pondered the young man he had just left. To be given the responsibilities that he had to take on upon reaching his majority would have been a daunting task. He had been just older than Darcy is now when he inherited Longbourne. Pemberley from what his sister Gardener had said was a very large estate and then he had a ten year old sister to raise. He marvelled at the way he had taken on these challenges. He had been blessed with a good steward luckily. Mr Bennet stopped in his tracks remembering something Darcy had said this morning Mr Wickham had not long out lived his father. Darcy had lost his reliable steward just after he lost his father. He wondered who the young man had to turn to who helped guide him in all that he had to do. Mr Bennet hoped there had been someone an uncle perhaps that would have helped him. His respect for Darcy increased again this was a day of revelations.
A half hour latter Bingley arrived home, "Darcy I stayed at Longbourne thinking you were still around there somewhere and would come and get me from the drawing room before you left."
"Bingley you would have been too lost in your angel's eyes and talking only to her that I could have walked into the room naked and you would not have noticed."
"I am sorry I was not here earlier to go over the estate business with you though could we do that tomorrow instead?"
"Unfortunately I have to head home tomorrow as something has come up that I must deal with immediately I am unsure when I will be able to return so we might be able to deal with your urgent concerns this evening after dinner if you would like."
"Thank you Darcy I would appreciate it."
"I think it is time we went in to prepare for dinner."
Mr Bennet arrived home to a house getting ready for the evening he was hardly in the door when the express from the Gardener's arrived. They were happy to have Elizabeth for as long as she liked to stay and it worked in well for them as Mrs Gardener was suffering from morning sickness and Elizabeth's help with the children would be appreciated. This gave Mr Bennet a reason for Elizabeth going to town which was exactly why Mr Gardener had included the information.
Mr Bennet went to find Elizabeth, she and Jane were in the room that they shared talking, thinking about getting ready for dinner, but Elizabeth was stalling hoping her father would soon have news from town. Lizzy I have just received an express from your Uncle Gardener, your Aunt is suffering from morning sickness again and requests your assistance with the children would you go to London tomorrow."
"I would love to go and help my Aunt out I will need to pack though, may I be excused after dinner to get it all done."
"Yes my child and I will send Suzie with you she may be of assistance to you with the children as well."
"Papa may I be excused to help Lizzy pack also?"
"Yes if your sister wants your help who am I to refuse," Mr Bennet replied.
At the dinner table that night Mr Bennet announced that he had received a request from Mr Gardener for Lizzy to come and care for the children as Mrs Gardener is not well and his obliging them and sending Lizzy in the morning with Suzie to accompany her.
Mrs Bennet began to complain about Lizzy going when she was needed here and that Mary could go instead. Mary protested that she didn't like children and she could stay and do whatever her mother wanted Lizzy to stay and do, Mr Bennet agreed with Mary's offer and would brook no opposition from Mrs Bennet. At the end of the meal the ladies left and Lizzy and Jane hurried up stairs. Mrs Bennet, Mary, Lydia and Kitty headed to the drawing room and were joined by Mr Bennet and Mr Collins soon after. Kitty and Lydia were shocked to see their father make an effort to talk to them. Mr Collins had to content himself with talking to the remaining Bennet daughter and was surprised to find her quite knowledgeable on sermons and moralistic texts. The evening passed well for the both of them. Mrs Bennet calmed when she saw how they were getting on and thought she may get a daughter married to him yet.
As Miss Bingley breezed into the dining room at Netherfield that night feeling on top of the world she planned to spend the rest of the evening as close to Mr Darcy as she could. Now that the country chit was no longer under their roof she was making an effort to be as pleasing as she could, little did she realise that her grand entrance in her over the top dress and well feathered turban had the opposite effect to the one she intended.
He barely made it through the meal with her questions of where he had been all day. She had been surprised that he had been home all afternoon tending to paperwork and then took a turn in the garden later on. "If you had told me you were taking a walk I would have happily joined you." She had said. What would she have said if she had known he had deliberately snuck out the servant's stairs to avoid her and meet Mr Bennet?
As the ladies began to rise from the table to move to the drawing room Darcy turned to her and said, "Miss Bingley I thank you for your hospitality over the last month I have enjoyed myself and appreciated the company I have been in, but today I received information about some urgent business I need to attend to so I will be returning home in the morning, I wish to make an early start so I will retire after I finish explaining estate matters to your brother. Mrs Hurst thank you for your company I bid you ladies farewell till we meet again."
"I hope it is nothing to drastic sir that will keep you from us for long you know you are always welcome to be our guest anytime."
"I thank you Miss Bingley for your concern I hope to resolve the issue quickly, but I do not know how long it will take, these things often take longer than one thinks before you begin dealing with the issue." The ladies left and the gentlemen adjourned to the study. Mr Hurst poured them all a drink and lounged back on the chase by the fire to enjoy it while the other more industrious pair sat at the table with their heads over the paperwork. After two hours they had made some headway Darcy hoped it was enough to see Bingley through till he could explain more. Bingley's mind was wandering and Darcy was struggling to keep his mind on Bingley's problems and not the one he needed to deal with once and for all. So in weariness of body and spirit Darcy headed to his bed chamber where his man was finalising the packing of his things. Darcy organised his paperwork and put it away, organised which books he would have in the carriage and eventually felt he had accomplished all that needed to be done that evening and retired to dream of the enjoyable carriage ride he would have tomorrow.
Lizzy and Jane had started getting her things ready before Suzie came in with the trunk in no time at all they had everything packed and they were in their nightgowns under the covers talking. "Jane I think I was wrong about Mr Darcy he is not proud and arrogant, today he was the perfect gentleman and showed concern for me and was not irritated when papa demanded to know what was going on."
"What about what he said at the assembly?"
"I have reviewed that night in my mind today and I believe I have focused on the last couple of lines of the conversation and not the whole of it when I did remind myself of it all I realised he really did not want to be there at all and I am convinced that something had happened to put him out of spirits."
"Am I finally having an influence on you to look for the good in people?"
"No, but I am beginning to doubt my ability to see peoples characters straight away. I may need to meet people more than once to understand them."
"Are you ready to go to sleep now?"
"I do not think I can fall asleep I have too much to look forward to tomorrow."More than I can tell you sister.
"Roll over and I will rub your back till you fall asleep" she rolled over and Jane rubbed her back and in no time at all she was sound asleep.
Posted on: 2010-05-24
Wednesday November 20th 1811
Early the next morning as the first rays of light were just coming through Elizabeth awoke and quietly so as not to wake her sister got out of bed completed her toilet and dressed for the day she was just brushing her hair when Suzie came in to help her and she pinned her hair up for her. They both headed down the stairs and Elizabeth broke her fast with her father and Suzie saw that their trunks were taken to the coach. Jane came down while they were still at the table and asked if she could come to see Elizabeth off at the post station.
Mr Bennet responded "Jane I would ask a favour of you would you be able to stay here and make sure that Kitty and Lydia do not leave the house before I return."
"Yes papa if you need me here then I will stay here."
"Thank you Jane you are a good girl, I wish your youngest sisters were like you, but I tell you both I intend to be a better father to you all. I am amazed that you two have turned out so well it must be from the time you spent with your Aunt and Uncle Gardener as the other three have not had that opportunity and they are three of the silliest girls in England."
"Papa I think you are too hard on yourself."
"No Lizzy for once in my life let me feel how much I am to blame, I should have taken greater interest in what has been going on and shaping your lives I should have been there for all of you instead of hiding away in my book room, I should have provided better for you, I should have controlled your mother's scheming for husbands that you girls have had to endure, but I must say you have handled yourselves well throughout it all and not been pressured into an unhappy marriage. I hope that you may both find a partner in life that you can love and respect and that they will value you for whom you are, do not accept any one unless you are sure."
"Papa thank you, it is not too late for Lydia and Kitty they can become nice young ladies and Mary does not need that much to bring her out, maybe Jane could take her under her wing while I am in town."
"I would love to do that and be of any help with Kitty and Lydia also."
"Thank you Jane, I may need you to remind me to come out of my room if I look like I am returning to old habits, now Lizzy it is time for us to go." Lizzy gave Jane a big hug and promised to write of what she was doing in town. The three then boarded the coach and headed for Meryton.
As their coach travelled south through the village another grander coach was heading north through the village before it would take a lane way across to another road that met the London road in the next village where the first carriage was waiting for it.
As the Darcy coach pulled to a stop behind the smaller one Mr Bennet handed the ladies out of the carriage and went to greet Darcy "Darcy good morning," Mr Bennet said offering his hand.
"Good morning Bennet, Miss Bennet and this must be Suzie."Darcy responded shaking Mr Bennet's hand.
"Good morning Mr Darcy." Elizabeth responded with a raised eyebrow at her father, who just nodded slightly in response to indicate his opinion of Mr Darcy was greatly improved with the events of the previous day.
Darcy's coachmen had the trunks loaded onto his coach in no time Darcy handed Suzie in while Elizabeth said goodbye to her father.
"Now you do whatever you can to help your Aunt and Miss Darcy." Her father had told her in the coach of Mr Darcy's request and Elizabeth was willing to be of any help she could to the young lady.
"I will papa and I will write of what is happening if you promise to respond to my letter's this time."
"I will make the effort then." He then handed her into the coach then turned to Darcy, "Take care of my daughter young man and she will help you with your sister."
"I will sir and thank you, I will contact you when I see what it is possible to arrange." He then boarded the coach and they were heading down the road to London. Mr Bennet turned and headed back to his coach and returned to Longbourne just as the family was about to leave the table after breaking their fast. He inquired what they were planning to do this day, when Jane said she was going to check on one of the tenants he suggested Kitty go with her and start learning how to look after tenants. Lydia he asked to come to his room. Mrs Bennet was about to protest his arrangements when she noticed it left Mary free to entertain Mr Collins and that was well worth the loss of the other two for the day.
The Darcy carriage was on its way to London, "I hope you are well this morning Miss Bennet."
"I am thank you Mr Darcy." She said "were any of the Netherfield party awake to see you off?"
"Only Bingley, the rest are not early risers, were any of your family up to see you off?"
"Only Jane, she even wanted to come and see me on to the post, papa had to ask her to stay and keep Kitty and Lydia from leaving the house to stop her from coming with us."
"You and Jane are very close I think, it must be good to have someone you can talk to about things that is of similar age and same sex, my sister is not so fortunate my cousin and I who are her guardians are more than ten years her senior and the opposite sex."
"It must have been hard for you raising her for the last five years, your relationship would have changed not so much big brother and more parent. It must have been hard at times to be both to her."
Darcy looked over at Suzie before he answered to see that she was really asleep. " I have discovered there are a lot of differences between men and women, not only have I had to deal with questions on things I could never answer, but men and women deal with things that happen differently."
"How have you been able to deal with all these things as they arise?"
"I have a wonderful housekeeper at Pemberley who has practically been a substitute mother to Georgie and I, she has been there since I was four years old. I hardly remember the place without her and when my mother died when Georgie was just two years old she took over as the mother figure to whom we could go to when father was away without her at times I would have been lost, but there was also another lady without whom I do not believe I would be here today, her words of encouragement, her philosophy of remembering the past only as it gives pleasure and a very pleasant memory have kept me going through some of the hardest times." Elizabeth blushed as she remembered her forward behaviour in kissing him, but he can't have been to shocked as it was not long before he had responded returning and deepening the kiss until they had to come up for air.
"I am also glad to have that pleasant memory as my first and not what happened the following week." She replied and they both blushed. It was a good thing they were entering a village where they were to change horses at the inn so that they may have the chance to get their colour under control before continuing.
Elizabeth went to freshen up and then joined Darcy and Suzie for a cup of coffee and something warm to eat, despite the rugs they had covering them in the coach it was still cool in there. Elizabeth was impressed with Darcy's care of his servants in letting then all have time to get well defrosted before continuing on their journey.
After they were on their way again Elizabeth noticed the pile of books that were next to Darcy "you seem to have brought quite a few books with you Mr Darcy did you think my conversation would be so lacking that you would require so many to divert your attention," she said with her raised eyebrow.
"Quite the opposite I assure you Miss Bennet I thought you may need something to entertain you as I am not of a disposition who can easily converse with others."
"I wonder did you know the Netherfield library was so lacking that you would need to bring your own to have anything reasonable to read."
"I did know the library was lacking as I came with Bingley for the day in September when he came to view the place we rode out from town and one of the things I noticed was the very poor library."
"Did you also inspect the fields that had recently been harvested and race each other across the field?"
"We did how did you know?"
"I saw the two of you charging across the field while I was out on my walk as I returned from Oakham mount."
"It was a pity we did not meet then I may have given a better impression that day."
They then began a discussion of the books he had brought with him a number of them Elizabeth had read or read something similar that Darcy had also read so they were able to discuss these things between them and before they knew it they were on the outskirts of London, but in the meantime they have learnt so much of one another's tastes in books they understand each other better.
When they arrive in Gracechurch St, Darcy handed the ladies out and Elizabeth knocks on the door they are met by the children Amy 8, Beth 6, William 4 and Henry 2 they were as pleased to see Mr Darcy as they were their favourite cousin. Henry holds his arms up for Mr Darcy to pick him up which he does William stands on his foot and holds his leg so that he is carried along as he walks and the girls each take one of Lizzy's hands and leads them into the parlour where Mr and Mrs Gardener are waiting for them.
Mr Gardener was an amiable intelligent man in his mid thirties who was very knowledgeable in business. Darcy and he had become good friends over the last five years. They had many discussions on the various changes occurring due to the industrial revolution and had made some strategic investments that they had both profited by. These investments were unknown to the rest of Darcy's family his uncle the Earl would have a fit. Associating with tradesmen and deriving income off the estate were definitely not done according to the old school of gentlemen, but Darcy and Gardener both knew they were living in a changing world and needed to be prepared for anything.
"Darcy," Mr Gardener says extending his hand in welcome, "Thomas, told us Lizzy was not coming by post, but a very reliable escort he did not tell us who it was, good to see you again, I see the welcoming committee was up to their usual greeting, will you stay and take tea with us."
"Yes thank you Gardener," Darcy replied.
"Good good and niece it is good to see you again you are welcome to stay as long as you need to your father did not tell us why you needed to come but that you would explain once here are you ready for tea also."
"Yes I am rather parched," Elizabeth replied. Mr Gardener noticed Suzie trying to keep a straight face at this comment.
"Suzie welcome, but you look like you are trying to suppress a response, remember you are amongst friends here and can be frank with us." Suzie looked at Darcy a little dubiously, "yes even him tell us Suzie."
"I don't know what they were like before we changed horses because I was asleep, but since then they have not drawn breath they must have discussed the entire contents of the British library on the way." They all laughed. Suzie was shown to her room the children returned to the nursery and the tea brought in.
"There was one piece of information I was not told that you have kept in contact with my Aunt and Uncle I can see by my nephews greetings that you are a popular visitor to this house, but the treachery of my god son I cannot believe."
"Ah, but think about it Lizzy children also have god father's as well as god mother's." Mr Gardener replied.
"Mr Darcy is the friend from Derbyshire."
"Well the description fits that is what I am."
They sat down to have their tea, "How are you Aunt?" Elizabeth asked.
"I have had a few bad days the last few I only hope they will not last to long."
"Well Suzie and I are here to help you in any way we can, you just tell us and we will do it."
"Thank you I have a few things that you could help me with that would be good experience for you, we can discuss it all in the morning."
Now how long have you two known one another this time?"
"We met in Hertfordshire a month ago," Elizabeth looked at Darcy as if asking for him to continue.
"We did not recognise one another as a previous acquaintance until remembrances were forced on us yesterday," He looked at Elizabeth as he spoke to make sure she was well enough for him to continue. As my friend and I rode in to the village yesterday morning we happened upon the Misses Bennet who was just being introduced to a man who was joining the militia that are stationed just outside of Meryton for the winter." Darcy noticed Elizabeth was getting agitated so he stopped and waited till she nodded that he should continue. "Miss Elizabeth did not recognise him but as soon as she saw my reaction to him she remembered everything. We managed to get him and his friend to leave without seeing Miss Elizabeth's distress, my friend escorted the rest of the party to where they were going and then back to Longbourne, while I escorted Miss Elizabeth home and then spent the rest of the morning explaining everything to Mr Bennet.
"So how are you feeling about the whole thing Lizzy?" Mr Gardener asked.
"Still a little shocked, I had blocked the memory of that day completely from my mind to me it was as it that day had never happened, but as Mr Darcy went red with anger and Mr Wickham white with fear it was their same reactions as that day that brought the memory back I am going to have to deal with the incident instead of blocking it to get passed it now." Elizabeth replied.
"Miss Elizabeth has agreed to meet and talk with my sister it may help both of them get through it, now that I have discharged my duty in delivering your niece safely I will need to go and see my own sister may I bring her to call on you ladies tomorrow afternoon?"
Mrs Gardener looked at Lizzy who appeared keen to meet her and agreed that would be a good time for the call. Mr Darcy then left them. Knowing that his wife would like to talk to Lizzy alone Mr Gardener went to his study to do some work.
"Now there are just the two of us Lizzy tell me what you are feeling."
"Aunt I don't know where to begin I have been so confused, Mr Darcy over the last month has been a complete puzzle to me the first person I was unable to make out their character within one or two meetings every time I thought I had him worked out then another piece came and I would have to try and make it fit then yesterday everything began to fit together, and today in the coach we talked for four hours as if we had been friends for years yet on Saturday we had sat in a library for half an hour and not spoken. On top of this confusion is the feeling like I am tainted because of what happened, I am stained and if he had recognised me my reputation could be ruined and I need to be prepared for the life of a spinster as no man would want me. Then I feel trapped, with him in Meryton I would not have been able to go for my walks or out to dinners and evenings out on the chance that I might have run into him and he tell everyone. I feel so small insignificant and powerless over what might happen in my life it leaves my scared."
This was not the confident young lady with energy for life just bursting out of her every pore that her Aunt was use to seeing. "Lizzy you have been through so much we will just have to take it one day at a time for a while and slowly sort through all of this while you are here."
"Papa gave me some money to buy some new gowns he thought if I was going to see Miss Darcy I might need a couple of better quality ones if other people came they may not approve of her being seen with me in my country fashions."
"There is some wisdom in that we have not met her Mr Darcy always comes to see us here or he meets your uncle at your uncles office, but if we were to go to their house I would wear my best gowns like I do when we go to the theatre."
"Then we will need to go shopping before we can return Miss Darcy's call, life is so complicated in our structured class society."
"It is my dear and the various roles that fit in to that society make it more complex."
"We met a lady who had twenty thousand pounds dowry, but it was made from trade, who thinks she is of the first circle she is so arrogant and conceited and looks down on all our family."
"As a gentleman's daughter you out rank her, she just has the money behind her to try and look the part do not worry about other people's opinions just be yourself and if people like you they like you and if they don't it will be their loss."
"Thank you Aunt."
"Now would you like to have a long soak in the bath to relax and wash the travelling dust off and a rest before an early family dinner with the children?"
"That sounds wonderful Aunt." Elizabeth had a wonderful evening with the children's undivided attention when it was time for them to go to bed she took them up to the nursery and helped them get ready for bed and pray when they were all tucked in she sat down and told them a story, when it was finished the boys were already asleep, she blew out the candles and returned to her Aunt and Uncle for a cup of tea before turning in early herself. A much more pleasant night than her father was having.
Posted on: 2010-05-31
Mr Bennet's evening and how to deal with it.
Mr Bennet had accompanied his wife four daughters and Mr Collins to a card party at the Phillip's it was not long before he noticed a man in a brand new red coat checking out every young girl in the room he assumed it was Mr Wickham, but went over to where Jane was talking to Charlotte Lucus. He quietly asked them if they knew who he is.
Jane replied, "He is Mr Wickham that we met yesterday morning he has just joined the militia. Why do you ask?"
"Since I have been standing back and observing the room I have been watching him he has scanned the room assessed the women and has not given you two a second glance, so your beauty does not appeal to him Jane. Those that he did give a second glance were all under twenty years of age he then gave a third glance to those who were forward in going towards the officers to talk to them not waiting for the officers to approach the ladies and finally settled with not one, but three who were comfortable talking to the officers and he in turn has given each a little wink when the others were not watching. The three are seventeen and two fifteen year olds you know well."
"Lydia, Kitty and Maria, oh Papa what can we do?"
"I believe this fellow has a fancy for young girls we will have to be very careful watching them not letting them in to Meryton without supervision and keeping an eye on them in this sort of setting."
"I will speak to my father tonight when we get home also."
"They appear to be getting ready to set up the card tables I think we should grab this fellow to make a table with us Jane you go and get him and bring him back to introduce me by then the card tables will be set up.
Jane walked over to the group of officers and young ladies conversing first she distracted Kitty and Lydia by getting them off to the side talking to Denny and Sanderson left them there and approached Wickham asked how he was this evening and how he found the regiment before asking if he had met her father when he replied he had not she asked would he like to do so now and brought him over to her father once the introduction was made they were called to take seats at the card tables and Wickham was made to join them the rest of the evening passed in minimal conversation, but Wickham's eyes were forever wandering to the three girls he had hoped to be playing with.
Mr Darcy had arrived home at Darcy House Berkley square to a very surprised sister. She had not expected him to come and he had not written to her of the change of plans so when he walked in to the music room as she finished playing a piece and applauded her performance, both she and Mrs Annesley were both startled. Georgiana got up from her chair and ran to her brother who wrapped his arms around her and spun her around. "William it is so good to see you."
"It is good to see you too Georgie, and you Mrs Annesley."
"What brings you back to town I did not expect you to come till it is time to go to Pemberley."
"You sound like you don't want me here then."
"I am happy you are here just surprised. Will we be able to go out now you are back in town?"
"Actually Georgie I don't want any of our friends to know I am in town I have some business to deal with that it would be best to not be home to visitors while dealing with it. Apart from a young lady I would like to introduce you to tomorrow. You have a lot in common and I think you would be good for each other."
"I would be happy to meet anyone you wish to introduce me to."
"Then we will go and you can meet her at her Aunt and Uncles tomorrow afternoon. I need to go and freshen up, but Mrs Annesley can I see you in my study first."
Once in the study Darcy asked how his sister was. Mrs Annesley told him she she seemed to be making small progress, Darcy then told her that the young lady he was introducing his sister to had similar trouble with Wickham five years ago they may be able to help each other through this. He instructed her to encourage the friendship between them and let them work it out. Mrs Annesley agreed to be of assistance in any way she could.
Before heading for a bath after his travels Darcy sent off a note to his cousin to come see him as soon as he could that he needed his help with something.
The Darcy's had a quiet night after dinner Georgiana played some new pieces she had learnt in the last month and they retired early for the night.
Thursday November 23rd 1811
Elizabeth woke the next morning and initially could not remember where she was. As she realised, she remembered her Aunt would be feeling poorly this morning. Resolving to go up to the nursery and keep the children entertained until her Aunt was well enough to come and find her. By the time her Aunt was well enough to find her the children were up dressed breakfasted and sitting quietly doing lessons or quietly playing when she put her head in the door.
Leaving Suzie to look after the children Elizabeth went to join her Aunt and Uncle at breakfast. Her Aunt decided they might go to her modist first thing this morning so they could at least get some gowns ready. Elizabeth was relieved it was not the stressful event it normally was with her mother. They chose some materials that were of better quality than she normally would wear and without the lace and adornments that her mother normally insisted upon it was not that expensive. In no time at all they had chosen three morning and one evening gown that would be ready Monday morning. When completed they headed back to Gracechurch St.
Mr Bennet had been thinking ever since he had woken how he could protect his daughters from this cad. As he sat at the breakfast table he told the rest of the family that he did not want the girls walking in to Meryton without him with them, Lydia, Kitty and Mrs Bennet all protested. After five minutes of intense noise noticing that the others had finished their meals he asked Mary Jane and Mr Collins to leave them while he spoke to the other three.
"Mrs Bennet" he said "I noticed last night that there was a man checking out our two daughters here."
"What a fine thing another gentleman to marry one of our girls."
"Unfortunately this man was no gentleman. He was looking at what fun he could have with these two daughters without marriage ever entering his mind."
"I'd like to have some fun with this man." Lydia replied.
"As you see Mrs Bennet this child is too silly to know the dangers she is placing herself in and what it would also do to her sister's reputations as well. You would not want Mr Bingley and Mr Collins to withdraw their attentions from your other daughters by the foolishness of the younger ones. The behaviour of these two could see you starving in the hedgerow if you do not bring them in line." Mr Bennet stopped and waited for Mrs Bennet to take it all in after five minutes she responded.
"Mr Bennet I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that the gentlemen will not withdraw their attentions from our older girls would you spend some time teaching them also?"
"Mrs Bennet I intend to do just that I will have Kitty come to my room as soon as she has finished. Girls there will be no dancing and parties unless you follow all that we tell you. If you fail to follow our instructions then it will be as if you are not even out. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes papa." Kitty replied.
"Lydia, do you not understand?"
"I have to do what you say or I don't get to do what I want."
"That is one way of looking at it." Mr Bennet rose from the table and headed to his room to await Kitty.
"Lydia you can come with me to go over the household accounts it is time you learnt the skills to run a household." Mrs Bennet directed.
So that morning Lydia learnt about running a household and Kitty talked with her father about the things she would like to learn and they began reading some poetry together and discussing it. Early in the afternoon Mr and Miss Bingley called to issue an invitation to a ball at Netherfield Tuesday next. After they had left Mr Bennet turned to his daughters "this is incentive for you two to behave if you are to attend. Mr Collins would you please spend the next hour instructing my youngest two in the proper manners of young ladies that your patroness would expect, she is of the first circle Mrs Bennet and would know what rich young men would expect when looking for a wife, Mary can you come with me please." As they left the room Mr Bennet could hear Mr Collins begin his tirade of Lady Catherine's advice for the comportment of young ladies.
Once in his book room Mr Bennet asked, "Mary, how are you?"
"I am fine papa." She replied with a questioning expression.
"I have noticed Mr Collins seemed to be paying particular attention to you yesterday and last night, how did you find that."
"Papa I am not use to a gentleman paying me particular attention so it is a little uncomfortable, but he is a respectable man and has a good moral standard so I think I would like to get to know him better at this stage."
"That is wise Mary, I just wanted to see how you felt and let you know that despite all your mothers carrying on you will not be forced to Marry if you do not want to marry the man, the decision will be yours I will only veto any that are rakish or unable to support you girls."
"Thank you, papa for your support."
"Let us return to the parlour."
At the door to the parlour Mr Bennet addressed Mr Collins "Sir would you be so kind as to escort Mary for a turn in the garden she needs some fresh air." Despite the cool November air it was over an hour later when the two returned to the parlour. "Lydia, will you come with me now?"
Lydia and her father were gone for the rest of the afternoon trying to find a topic that they could discuss was difficult until Mr Bennet realised with her one tracked mind that anything about a man who wore a red coat would be of interest finding an article on the goings on in the peninsula and reading it to her, Lydia was still very confused with all the place names that were mentioned in the article so Mr Bennet took out his atlas and helped her find all the places mentioned on the map this then helped her to understand the article more so they continued with other articles until they had been through Europe, Africa and India. And it was time to get ready for dinner that night. At dinner Mr Bennet brought up a few things that they had read that day and Lydia was able to make sensible responses. Jane had observed the whole of the goings on today and thought she should write to Lizzy about it, but decided to see how things went in the morning first.
Darcy sat at his desk in the study trying to deal with all his estate matters as quickly as possible so he would not feel guilty leaving it to go visiting this afternoon. He was just finishing when Georgiana knocked on the door, he asked her to come in and have a seat. "What can I do for you Georgie?"
"William I was wondering about this Lady that you are going to introduce me to. I am worried whether she will like me, or whether she might think little of me because I what I have done."
"Georgie I am glad you asked because there is something I should tell you about this lady. I originally met her five years ago when I came upon her being forcefully kissed by a man. I was able to return her to her family before he had gone any further, I then was introduced to her a month ago and we have met on many occasions over the last month though we did not recognise one another from our prior meeting. Then on Tuesday Bingley and I happened upon her and her sisters as they were making a new acquaintance once she saw my reaction to him it brought her memory back of that prior meeting."
Georgiana looked up at him then and said "It was Mr Wickham wasn't it."
"Yes Georgie it was so her father asked me to escort her to her relatives in town away from him while he is in the village he did not appear to recognise her and I told her and her father of what happened this summer her father thought you two may be able to help one another."
"I understand brother I will be happy to meet her."
"Good we will leave at one; if there is nothing else I would like to just get this last bit finished before we go." Georgiana left to get ready and Darcy finished up what needed to be done and readied himself, at one o'clock they were in the coach to Gracechurch St.
At Gracechurch St Elizabeth was nervously putting on her best morning gown and fidgeting while Suzie tried to repin her hair "Miss Elizabeth If you don't stop moving I will never get your hair to stay in place."
"I am sorry Suzie I am just so nervous about meeting Miss Darcy." As soon as Suzie had finished getting her hair right they heard a carriage pulling up out the front so Elizabeth hurried down to the parlour to join her Aunt.
Mr and Miss Darcy were announced and shown in to the parlour. By the time the introductions were finished Elizabeth was no longer nervous Miss Darcy was so shy not at all like the Miss Bingley style woman she had expected. Within half an hour Elizabeth had put Georgiana at ease and was drawing her out exactly how Darcy thought she would he was pleased, he allowed the younger ladies to talk between themselves and spoke only to Mrs Gardener unless directly addressed by them. While they were having tea Mr Gardener arrived home and joined them. He had not been home long but he had already discerned Darcy admired his niece and thought he should talk to him about it.
Posted on: 2010-06-07
Mr Gardener asked Darcy to join him in his study. "You seem to have had an eventful couple of days my friend."
"Yes you could say that, she had not told her father that was probably the hardest telling him all that had happened to his daughter."
"So what is happening now?"
"I am waiting for my cousin to get back to me and we will try and get him transferred somewhere else and Mr Bennet is trying to keep the rest of his daughters away from him."
"Sounds like you got the easier task of the two."
"Yes well enough said."
"Darcy I have to ask what is between you and my niece."
"Gardener I must say I am an idiot, the first night we met in Hertfordshire I insulted her so until Tuesday I believe she had a very poor opinion of me, but we settled our differences then and are starting afresh."
"Darcy there is more to it on your side isn't there I saw the way you looked at her in the parlour."
"Gardener you have been my friend for too long I owe you the truth, for five years I have compared every woman I met to her and none came anywhere near her until I met a lady in Hertfordshire it gave me hope that it was possible to met her equal and I thought I might find one like her in the ton, but she capture my heart in the way she previously captured my mind and then I discovered the two were one and the same, my intentions are honourable towards her."
"Darcy she has just been through a few days of such an emotional challenge, she had a nightmare last night I ask you not to add to that at this stage give her time to sort out the rest before you think about adding your suit be her friend first and allow the two ladies as much time on their own for now."
"Have you considered the difference in station, fortune and connections?"
"I have thought of little else this last month, my friend is taken with Miss Jane Bennet so his sister has been actively trying to find out all the reasons she can against the match including 'an uncle in trade who lives in Cheepside.' I can now laugh knowing she is referring to you."
"Yes, but Lizzy does feel the difference in station to you and your sister she and my wife have been shopping for better quality gowns this morning so that she will feel more comfortable returning your sisters call, you might not find it significant, but others will notice it and comment on it you and Lizzy will both have to be prepared to deal with these issues."
"She had not seemed to have a problem with what she wore in my friend's house in Hertfordshire."
"No, but none of the ton were likely to show up either."
"I understand I will have to remember she has always seemed so confident, I had not considered her feeling uncomfortable in my home."
"When my wife was talking to her last night she noticed how out of character she was the main one being her lack of confidence, but also fear for her reputation and him being near the rest of her sisters."
"The last I hope we will be able to remedy very soon."
The gentlemen returned to the ladies and before they took their leave Mrs Gardener and Elizabeth arranged to return the call on Monday afternoon.
The time till the returned call passed quietly in all three households in Hertfordshire it rained until the day of the ball leaving them confined to the house so they spent a lot of time with Mr Bennet, Mrs Bennet and Jane teaching Lydia and Kitty, Mr Collins and Mary were getting to know one another.
In Darcy house things were quiet also Darcy going about his business and waiting for a response from his cousin and Georgiana continued with her studies.
In Gracechurch St on Friday morning Elizabeth kept the children busy till her aunt was ready, they then went to break their fast and afterwards stayed at the table and the housekeeper joined them. Mrs Gardener addressed the other two "Mrs Bryant I would like Lizzy to get some experience of running a household while she is here I am not up to doing much at the moment so I would like the two of you to take over the running of the house for me for the time being do you think you could work this out between you we will take it a week at a time and reassess next Friday morning."
Mrs Bryant looked at Elizabeth, "Miss Elizabeth is a quick learner she will do well ma'am."
"I thank you for this opportunity Aunt I will do anything if it will help you out."
"Then I will leave you to start working out menus and things for this week I would allow for having visitors one night later in the week."
So for the next hour the housekeeper and Elizabeth went over the menus of the last few weeks and compared them and discussed the budget and other constraints for that time of year then they put together the next few days complete and the rest of the week tentatively. Elizabeth enjoyed being able to be doing something of use that involved having to use her knowledge. "What other things do I need to deal with?"
"Mainly the children keep them to their routine and the repairs of cloths."
"I can handle that." Elizabeth went to check on the children and sat and did some lessons with the girls and read to the boys in the afternoon she saw that the boys had a nap and sat with the girls at the pianoforte and helped them with some pieces they were learning they also convinced Elizabeth to play for them which she did before it was time to check on dinner and get ready for it.
Elizabeth had a natural flare for organising the household and it took her mind off all the things she had been worrying about. On Sunday night Her Uncle congratulated her on the way she was managing everything, her Aunt was able to relax and look after herself without the household responsibilities.
On Monday morning Elizabeth received a letter from Jane she was astounded to hear of what had been happening at home. It could not possibly be the same household. She began to wonder what had caused this transformation.
That afternoon in one of her new gowns Elizabeth and Mrs Gardener went to Darcy House. When they pulled up and they saw the front of the house Elizabeth thought he probably has a right to be a bit proud, but the gentleman who met them was definitely not proud they all chatted away for an hour till Elizabeth turned to Darcy "Sir I have had the pleasure of hearing of your Library at Pemberley how does your library here compare to it."
"It contains only half as many volumes as Pemberley, but I am working towards having copies of everything in both when I purchase new releases I now purchase two copies, would you like to see the library?"
"Only, if it is no trouble."
"Not at all, would you like to see it Mrs Gardener."
"Not at the moment thank you."
"I will keep Mrs Gardener company while you show Miss Bennet brother."
Elizabeth and Darcy went to the library Elizabeth was impressed with the amount of books and the age of some of the books. After perusing the shelves and noting the way they were arranged by category. Elizabeth asked Darcy which was his favourite.
"I would have to say my collection of Byron's poetry."
"How very modern, sir."
"What is your favourite?"
She found her favourite on the shelf and handed it to him Homer's Iliad and Odyssey "and who is your favourite character"
"See if you can guess"
"It would not be Paris or Menelaus or Priam or Helen or Agamemnon you would not chose Achilles or one of the other soldiers, it would be one of three Odysseus the faithful father, Telemachus the faithful son or the one I believe Lady Penelope faithful to her husband, kept to her word, but outwitted the suitors all the while."
"You are correct sir."
They wandered a bit further "Mr Darcy I received a letter from Jane this morning that has me astounded confused and inquisitive at the same time."
"Sounds like and interesting letter."
"Yes did you say anything else to my father that could have changed him so much?"
"I do not think so."
"Read the letter," she said handing it to him, he hesitated "There is nothing in it apart from the changes at home and that Bingley is having a ball tomorrow night." He took the letter and read it.
Handing it back to her, "I believe your father is reacting out of guilt I did the same with Georgiana trying to be there and do everything that is why I went to Netherfield Georgiana and Mrs Annesley kicked me out of here so they could have some peace, but your father is having a positive result and has seen through Wickham already, If he had not known or had not taken this interest in your younger sisters they would have been easy targets for Wickham."
"I will have to write to my father to encourage him to keep going and not slip back into his old habits."
"And now you are the faithful encouraging daughter, we should return to the others."
Before they took their leave Georgiana asked. "Miss Bennet my brother has told me you are as fond of rambling through the woods as I am," at this Elizabeth blushed remembering her state of arrival after a ramble at Netherfield one morning. "There are no woods here but there is a pretty little park here across the street, would you come and take a walk with me tomorrow?"
"I would love to come if my Aunt can spare me." She looked at her Aunt who nodded.
"Would ten o'clock be ok?"
"Could we make it eleven as I have to keep the children occupied till my Aunt is well enough."
"Then will you stay to lunch and we could play the pianoforte afterwards?"
"Thank you that sounds very nice."
"I will send our coach for you."
Elizabeth and Mrs Gardener left.
Georgiana turned to her brother "Miss Bennet is a very nice young lady, I look forward to getting to know her better, I liked the gown she had on today it is a newer style and suits her figure."
"It would be a new gown, Georgiana Miss Bennet is a gentleman's daughter but her father's estate is small and therefore they don't have the benefit of a clothes budget that you have, her uncle told me she would feel uncomfortable if while she was visiting here some of our friends turned up and she was wearing her usual quality of gown so she has bought some better quality ones for visiting you, I wish you to treat her as your equal, but be aware that many of our circle will not."
"Yes brother I understand, what did she mean by Mrs Gardener not being well enough till later in the morning?" How was he to answer this? He thought then an idea came to him.
"Why don't you ask Miss Bennet tomorrow?"
Tuesday November 26th 1811
The Darcy carriage arrived on time to pick up Elizabeth for her day with Georgiana and in no time at all was pulling up in front of Darcy house she went in and was greeted by both Darcy's it was not long before the ladies were preparing to go for their walk "Are you not joining us Mr Darcy?" Elizabeth asked.
"No it's a bit like taking a turn about the room I would only interfere." Darcy replied. Elizabeth smiled at the remembrance of a previous conversation. Little did she know Darcy planned to observe them from the upstairs window.
The ladies walked out with Timothy a large footman following at a short distance behind. The ladies chatted away for a while till Georgiana asked Elizabeth to call her Georgie and Elizabeth insisted she was Lizzy.
"Lizzy why is your Aunt unwell until late morning?"
"My Aunt is with child and one of the early symptoms is feeling nauseas or vomiting of a morning it gets better as the day goes on but can be bad some mornings it will get less as the child grows."
"No wonder my brother told me to ask you." Elizabeth laughed.
They walked a little further when a voice called from behind them "Miss Darcy so good to see you again,"
Posted on: 2010-06-13
He took one look at Elizabeth's old coat and said "your brother is still out of town as you appear to be slumming it today." The ladies turned around to face him but did not respond. "I passed your brother in Hertfordshire just last week he should probably be getting ready for his friend's ball this evening out enjoying himself and leaving you all alone in London." Elizabeth had hold of Georgiana's hand they were trying to support one another. Georgiana was so frightened she could not speak. Elizabeth had noticed Darcy leave the house just as a red coat was about to knock. They were quickly heading their way and Darcy appeared to be explaining things they would just need to stall.
"So what do you want Mr Wickham?" Elizabeth asked.
"It is none of your business Miss whoever you are it is between Georgiana and me."
"I do not believe Miss Darcy has given you leave to address her thus." Elizabeth retorted.
"We are going to be married we have been engaged for a couple of months now haven't we Georgiana" He said with a smile that would melt an unknowing ladies heart, but these ladies knew him all too well to be fooled by it.
Elizabeth yelled stop in Italian Darcy realising she was speaking to him halted and grabbed his cousin's arm to stop him; Wickham just thought she was swearing in a foreign language.
"Where is your red coat?" Elizabeth asked him.
"Oh! How did you know? I thought it would make life easier see the country meals provided, but..."
"Sold your commission already?" Elizabeth asked.
"No not yet. What is it to you?"
"You don't remember me do you?"
"No should I."
"I'll help jog your memory." With that she lifted her right foot brought it down hard on his left foot and then raised her knee to his sensitive area as he doubled up in pain Timothy and Colonel Fitzwilliam grabbed him and turned him around to face Darcy.
"You haven't deserted already have you couldn't handle the discipline?" Darcy asked.
"You went and made life hard for me the Colonel would not let me out of an evening, but once at which time I got stuck playing cards with two old ladies and an ancient man."
"Be careful what you say Wickham as a relative might hear you and be upset by your comments and do you some harm. Oh, wait the ancient man's daughter just did, you don't want her to use her knee again. He is all yours Colonel."
Colonel Fitzwilliam and Timothy led a sore and sorry Wickham away. Darcy turned to the ladies and offered them an arm each to escort them back to Darcy House. Once inside the house Georgiana breathed a sigh of relief, "Oh Lizzy thank you I don't know what I would have done if you were not there with me," but Elizabeth quickly removed her coat almost throwing it away, but now his cruel words cut into her heart she had no right to be here with the Darcys, they are far above her society and wrapped her arms about her body and began to cry. It had all been too much for her, being strong in the park had taken its toll on her. Darcy led the ladies in to the drawing room and ordered tea for them, but he thought Elizabeth may need something stronger "A glass of wine can I get you one truly you look very ill." He handed her his handkerchief to dry her tears it was torturing him not to be able to take her in his arms to comfort her, but he could not. She calmed down enough to take her tea and Darcy suggested they both lie down and have a rest.
"Come and lay on my bed with me Lizzy and we can talk for a while." Georgiana said.
The two young ladies went up to Georgiana's room helped one another remove their gowns and hopped under the covers in their undergarments. Elizabeth was still holding the handkerchief in her hand, for the next hour the two told one another about their experiences with Wickham. Georgiana had been convinced she was in love with him, but now she realised she had not been. She wondered what it would be like to really be in love and asked Elizabeth if she had ever been in love, to which Elizabeth replied she had not. When Elizabeth told how Wickham had forced his mouth on her and was attempting to lift her gown when Mr Darcy had happened along saving her from anything worse, Georgiana sympathised with Elizabeth being kissed by him so roughly "I would not like that to be my first experience of being kissed."
"It was nearly my first experience of something else if your brother had not come along then, but it was not my first kiss thankfully I have a more pleasant memory for that just a week earlier." Elizabeth said then blushed.
"How was it your first kiss I mean?"
"It was wonderful so soft and gentle I would like to be kissed like that for the rest of my life."
"You may meet someone who will kiss you like that and sweep you off your feet and live happily ever after."
"I think you have read too many fairy tales, in reality they don't come true, could you image people ever marrying outside their class and living happily with the way our society would ridicule that choice even the deepest love would be tested under those circumstances." Elizabeth replied.
"Yes it may not be easy, but I believe true love can conquer all obstacles."
It was not long before they were both asleep and they did not awaken for nearly two hours and then they spent some time doing one another's hair and making themselves presentable before returning down stairs. Before they left Georgiana's room she went into her dressing room and returned with a coat. "Elizabeth, would you accept this coat as a gift from me?"
"Georgiana I can't accept this it is yours, you will need it."
"Elizabeth I have more clothes than I could ever possibly wear, I want you to be comfortable coming to visit me, as I desperately need a friend who will understand me."
"You don't need to buy my friendship Georgiana you have it already.'
"Then accept this from your friend who is concerned for your comfort."
"Thank you Georgiana." Elizabeth said as she hugged her.
As they came down the hall giggling two heads poked out from the study. "I hope you ladies are much better now."
"We are thank you sir." Elizabeth replied.
"Miss Bennet may I present my cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, Richard this is Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
"It is good to meet you Miss Bennet."
"It is good to see you again your timing, is once again appreciated. What have you managed to do with the scoundrel?" The colonel looked at Elizabeth in confusion
"You don't remember Miss Bennet from Lambton Richard."
"No I did not, but I should have by the way she dealt with him, he is in the military brig and will be dealt with."
"Does this mean we may be free of him this time I don't know if I could handle him turning up again next Tuesday, two weeks in a row is to many."Elizabeth asked.
"Seeing him only once in a while is still too often." The Colonel replied.
"Mr Darcy I must thank you again for seeing me back to safety."
"I have only done what any gentleman would and I would be honoured if you would allow the three of us to see you safely back to your relations."
"I must be making the task harder for you if you now require the assistance of your sister and your cousin."
"Not at all Miss Bennet but we are now in London I would not have your reputation tarnished in any way my being seen alone with me."
"Yes and if word got back to Netherfield imaging Miss Bingley's disappointment, when she will only have country nobodies to dance with tonight." They all laughed and headed out to the awaiting carriage. Mrs Gardener was a bit worried when they all arrived to escort Lizzy home. "It is all right Aunt we are all well we have seen Mr Wickham again today but he is now in the military brig and will be dealt with." At this her Aunt calmed down "will you stay and take tea with us." Elizabeth asked they agreed and Mrs Gardener asked them to stay and dine with them so they could speak with her husband. To this they also agreed and Elizabeth quietly left to see Mrs Bryant.
Soon after her return the tea arrived and Elizabeth played hostess and poured the tea after they had finished knowing the children would love to see Mr Darcy she quietly slipped out again and returned with four well presented children. She introduced them to Georgiana and the Colonel the children making their best curtseys and bows, as soon as this was done however they were all over Darcy he ended up with the boys sitting one on each leg and the girls either side of him asking for a story as only he and cousin Lizzy would ever tell a story with all the different voices. This day he told them the story of Cinderella as he finished Georgiana sighed "I told you earlier Georgie fairy tales never happen in real life."
"I wish to continue in the hope that someday my prince will come."
"I am ready to face reality that I need to be prepared to become a governess and I am practicing with my cousins who now need to return to the nursery."
The children began to protest, but Elizabeth silenced them and led them back to the nursery. "Your niece seems to have the children well under control Mrs Gardener." Colonel Fitzwilliam commented.
"She has the whole household under control she has taken on the role of mistress since Friday to help me out and it is keeping her mind off other things, I invited you to dine today and not later in the week to see how she would cope with a last minute change. I believe it will give her back her confidence."
Darcy had just sat and watched the whole scene since he finished telling the story. He hoped Elizabeth would come back to her normal self soon he would do anything to help her.
The meal and the conversation at the table was lovely the ladies adjourned to the parlour and the gentlemen went to Mr Gardener's study to have their port, where Darcy informed Mr Gardener of what had been happening that day he suggested they write to Mr Bennet and let him know also. Darcy began a letter to Mr Bennet letting him know what had taken place that day and that Wickham was in the brig. He only hoped that Mr Bennet would continue in his efforts with his daughters so he told him of Elizabeth's pride in the changes he had made at home to encourage him to continue. Once the letter was complete they returned to the ladies and Georgiana and Elizabeth played a duet on the pianoforte for them.
Elizabeth walked her guests to the door Georgiana hugged her and thanked her for being there today she did not know how she would have coped if she had not. Colonel Fitzwilliam thanked her for the lovely evening and escorted Georgiana to the coach leaving Darcy alone with Elizabeth, "Miss Bennet I thank you for all you have done for us today from protecting my sister making sure we had something to arrest the scoundrel for, to the lovely dinner you presided over this evening. Your Odysseus would have returned sooner if he knew all that was waiting for him and him alone." He looked into her eyes
Elizabeth took out his handkerchief to return to him.
"Keep it Miss Bennet" he closed her hand over it and brought it up and kissed her knuckles "Till we meet again." And he was gone out the door and in the coach before she knew it. That night she went to bed with the handkerchief under her pillow.
In the coach on the way home Darcy asked about the coat Georgiana had given Elizabeth. He was angered to hear that Wickham had insulted Elizabeth as having Georgiana slumming it. Wickham would be pleased with himself if he knew he had made things more difficult for Darcy. Would Elizabeth ever feel comfortable in his level of society, he wondered.
Wednesday November 27th 1811
Elizabeth wrote to both her father and Jane there was not much she could tell Jane only how she was being the mistress of the Gardener household and tell her to keep encouraging their father with how he was working with their sisters. It was hard she had never kept anything from Jane except this.
At Longbourne Mr Collins was in the middle of a marriage proposal to Mary when she finally got the chance to say something she said "Mr Collins you cannot be in love with me after only one week and a week is all it is as you spent the first day looking at Jane and the second at Elizabeth I could not marry you on so slight an acquaintance but I will allow you to court me so that we may get to know one another better and I will speak to my father before you go to him."
"You are very wise Cousin I would be honoured to court you."
"I will go to my father now."
Mr Bennet was in his book room going over his ledger when he heard a knock at the door "enter" he replied. He was surprised to see Mary he had actually expected Mr Collins by what he had overheard earlier. "Mary how can I help you my child."
"Papa Mr Collins has made me an offer of marriage I believe we do not know one another well enough for that so I have agreed to allowed him to court me instead I was just coming to let you know so mama does not push Mr Collins to ask you for more than that."
"Even if he asked for more that is all I would allow at this stage you go about your business and I will deal with him and your mother."
Mr Collins then came in to his room and requested her hand in marriage Mr Bennet then asked him what reply his daughter had given him and he said she had answered in the positive which he knew was a lie. Mr Bennet was not happy and was considering denying him and sending him home when he remembered that Mary had consented to be courted by him even expecting him to try what he had just now done. "Mr Collins I will not, repeat not allow you to marry my daughter at this stage she has only known you a week you have my permission to court her to see if you can in time win her affection if you lie to me again I will have no scruples about removing you from my home do I make myself clear?"
Soon after this Mrs Bennet came in to his room demanding that he make Mary marry Mr Collins Mr Bennet silenced his wife "Mr Collins is courting your daughter madam so a marriage may happen eventually so what is the point of this."
"If she does not accept him now then he may decide against her and then when you die we will all be turned out to starve in the hedgerow."
"Mrs Bennet if he decides against her that will be his loss and he was not worthy of her she cannot be expected to accept him on a mere weeks knowledge of his character, especially after this morning's performance he does not seem very truthful to me and I was nearly inclined to put him out of the house now if you decide to continue in this way you may find yourself out in the hedgerow before I die as I will kick you out if you continue."
"Yes Mr Bennet." And she left him in peace.
Posted on: 2010-06-20
Thursday November 28th 1811
Today a letter arrived for Jane from Caroline Bingley noting that the rest of the party had left for London and was in hopes of meeting up with Mr Darcy and his sister as Charles was fond of dear Georgiana and would not return for the winter. Jane was upset by it and wished for Elizabeth's opinion she enclosed the letter with her own asking for her opinion of it. She also responded to Caroline's letter in hopes of receiving an answer soon.
Georgiana and Elizabeth continue to see one another daily alternately between the two houses and their friendship grew and they are almost inseparable except for the times at Darcy house where Georgiana deliberately leaves her brother alone with Elizabeth. At these times they both feel uncomfortable at first, but after the first few times Elizabeth turned to Darcy and said "I believe your sister has deserted us again Mr Darcy have you not instructed her in how to look after her guest."
"I have, but for some reason it is not getting through to her."
"Do you have a book on being a hostess in your vast library?"
"I am not sure why?"
"If you do bring it with you next time as I am sure she will do this again."
At this point they could hear footsteps in the hall and so reverted to silence. Georgiana came in to see them silently sitting in the same seats she had left them in and was disappointed.
The next time she left them alone when she returned she found the hostessing book on her seat open at a page about not leaving an unmarried male and female alone. When she looked at her brother he was wearing his mask no emotions showing at all she then looked at Elizabeth and she had the same mask on, but when she looked back at the book she didn't notice the wink from her brother or the raised eyebrow from Elizabeth to the other they had got her back.
The next visit to Darcy house Colonel Fitzwilliam was there and informed them that Mr Wickham was to face disciplinary action next week. Darcy noticed that this news did not put Elizabeth at ease at all. When Richard began talking to Georgiana, Darcy turned to Elizabeth, "Miss Bennet, are you unwell."
"No I am well, it is just that ... I don't know...he may" she could not get her thoughts together.
"Is it that you worry he may come back again."
"Yes, I feel like he could be just around the next corner and ready to announce to the world I am a fallen woman, he makes me feel like I am just a dried leaf that he can take and crush with just the closing of his hand I don't know if I will ever get passed this now I think it was better when I didn't remember at all." At this she burst into tears. Darcy did not know what to do he went to look to the others for help when he noticed they were no longer there he gave Elizabeth his handkerchief and sat next to her. The next thing Elizabeth remembered when she was getting herself back under control she was in Darcy's arms and he was whispering in her ear that everything would be alright and she was safe now and for the first time she felt safe, in his arms was safety and comfort and love. Richard came back from escorting Georgiana to her room and stopped at the door which they had left open he saw Darcy comforting Elizabeth and in that moment he knew they had found their soul mates if only they knew it. He waited a few minutes until Elizabeth seemed better then quietly went back up the stairs and came down whistling so they would hear him coming. When he entered the room they were sitting on the same settee turned slightly facing one another but now not touching at all Darcy was still speaking quietly to Elizabeth. Darcy looked up as Richard entered the room "How is Georgie?"
"She is upset and has gone to lie down, I am sorry Miss Bennet I didn't think how my announcement would affect you ladies."
"It is not that so much as the fact that he can just keep coming back."
"Well we can blame Darcy for that he would not let me run him through last Summer."
"That is because he is so forgiving and has given Mr Wickham another chance so many times."Elizabeth replied defending Darcy's actions.
"I do believe he needs to be stopped this time, he will not change now, he has had so many chances to choose to do good, but each time he chooses evil." Darcy answered.
"Would you like to have a rest Miss Bennet?"
"No, but I would like to freshen up." Darcy called Mrs Wright to take Elizabeth to a room to freshen up. Once in the room Mrs Wright asked "Are you alright Miss has the Master or the Colonel done something to upset you?"
"Mrs Wright do you know Mr Wickham?"
"Yes I have met the scoundrel tried to elope with our girl in the summer."
"Tried to just take his pleasures with me five years ago lucky for me Mr Darcy came along and saved me, but two Tuesdays in a row I have run into him both times Mr Darcy has come along at the right time, this last time he was arrested and the Colonel just announced he would be disciplined this week."
"you too you poor thing, I hope he gets his just deserts, but it is just like the Colonel to put his foot in it he does not think of the effect it will have on those who hear it that must be why our girl has gone to bed. I must thank you Miss Bennet for cheering up our girl after what happened this summer you have had a positive influence on her and the master."
"I thank you for helping me here" Elizabeth said "do I look presentable again."
"Yes Miss now shall I return you to the drawing room."
"Yes thank you Mrs Wright."
As they entered the drawing room and Mrs Wright announced her return Mrs Wright notice the way the master looked up and admired Miss Bennet as she came in and thought the old place might finally get a mistress again after all these years.
Elizabeth did not stay with the gentlemen long and was soon back at Gracechurch St and checking on the children and dinner, there was much to do, but she did enjoy the roll of mistress. She went to bed that night thinking what it would be like to be mistress of another house in town and with these thoughts in her head and his handkerchiefs under her pillow she fell asleep to have pleasant dreams for the first night since seeing Wickham in Meryton.
The next afternoon when Georgiana came to visit she was not alone her brother accompanied her. They sat and talked with Mrs Gardener for such a long time then Elizabeth quietly snuck out of the room and returned with the children who after greeting both Darcys the boys climbed on his lap and the girls sat either side demanding a story and to everyone's surprise but Elizabeth he told the story of Odysseus and Telemechus and Penelope without much on the war apart from the wooden horse so as not to scare them and the children and ladies alike were impressed with his version of the poem.
Mrs Gardener took the children back to the nursery and Georgiana offered to help leaving Darcy and Elizabeth alone. "Mr Darcy thank you for that lovely version of one of my favourites I enjoyed it as much as the children."
"They are lovely children I am a bit biased with loving the boys as one was named after me and one is my godson."
"As am I biased to Beth and Henry for the same reason but I love them all dearly, you have a way with children sir, but I suppose with your sister being over ten years your junior you have had much longer experience than I."
"You are perfectly capable and have a kind, caring, loving nature you will be a wonderful mother when the time comes."
"If the time comes sir,"
"I am sure it will." And he smiled at her revealing his dimples. Does he know what those dimples do to me she thought and blushed he loved it when she blushed. Georgiana returned then and the Darcy's left, but not before he had left a lingering kiss on the back of her hand.
The next morning a letter arrived from Jane she was very upset she had received another letter from Miss Bingley and had included it for Elizabeth to look at and give her opinion when Elizabeth read it she was sure Caroline was lying but she needed to confirm things herself and she would do so today.
Elizabeth arrived at Darcy house determined to get to the bottom of it. She greeted Georgiana warmly and after a few minutes asked where her brother was she was told he was in the study answering correspondence. "Do you think I would be disturbing him I need to ask him a few questions?"
"I am sure he would not mind I will take you to him."
Georgiana knocked on the study door and Darcy bid them enter he was surprised to see Georgiana and Elizabeth there and when Georgiana said "I will leave you with my brother and will be in the music room when you are finished" he was confused, but could see that something was bothering Elizabeth.
"Is there something I can do for you Miss Bennet?"
"I have a mystery I need to solve sir if I ask you some questions can you give me honest answers."
"Yes disguise of every sort is my abhorrence."
"Sir when was the last time you saw Mr Bingley?"
"As I boarded my coach leaving Netherfield the day we came to town."
"Do you know whether Mr Bingley has any affection for your sister?"
"Only as sister to his friend or sisterly affection to what do these questions pertain?"
"One last question then I will explain. Do you know how your friend feels about my sister?"
"I think he feels strongly for your sister he has considered himself in love before to find the lady is really only after his money, but with your sister it did seem more and I expected him to remain throughout winter at Netherfield when I left, he was planning a ball for the one reason to dance with your sister and trying to explain how to run an estate when his mind was elsewhere was impossible."
"Then you may be surprised to learn that your friend came to town for a few days business the day after the ball and has not returned three and a half weeks later."
"I am surprised."
"You will be even more so when you learn he is supposedly staying in your house. The rest of the party followed the next day and Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst were keen to see your sister in the hope of soon calling her their sister."
'This is just all absurd where is this fantasy coming from?"
"You may read it from the ladies own hand." Elizabeth said handing Darcy the two letters from Caroline to Jane. Darcy read the letters twice handed them back to Elizabeth.
"From your distress I gather that your sister is very upset."
"Yes sir and I cannot write and set her straight as she does not know I am seeing you and your sister here in town so I have no way to relieve her suffering."
"I do not know what to do at the moment, but I will think of something go and See Georgiana and when I have come up with a plan I will come and see you." Darcy sat at his desk for the next few minutes thinking to himself she came to me for help, she wants me to help her. Well if you are going to help her then you best think of a way to help her she is relying on you now.
Elizabeth went to the music room and she and Georgiana played duets together for a while it was not long before Darcy stuck his head in the door and asked if Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle would be available to come for dinner tonight or tomorrow night.
"Tomorrow is Sunday, Monday night would be better for me." She replied.
"I am going out to pay a call and I will be back before you leave I hope." Then he was gone.
Posted on: 2010-06-28
Two hours later Darcy was back yes they would have dinner Monday night with the Hursts and Bingleys. Darcy explained his plan to the ladies and then some details about Elizabeth and her family she did not even know. Elizabeth left to take the invitation and plan to her Aunt and Uncle.
Monday December 23rd 1811
On Monday day the Darcys called at Gracechurch St late morning instead of afternoon to allow Georgiana to get ready for acting as hostess for the first time. "You will do fine Georgiana I have faith in you." Elizabeth told her as they left.
Elizabeth and the Gardeners had arrived earlier than the Bingleys and Hursts thankfully this would give Darcy time to pull himself back together after witnessing Elizabeth's entrance in her new gown she looked absolutely gorgeous the green of the dress set off her dark green eyes to perfection.
When the Bingleys and Hursts were announced Elizabeth and Georgiana were so deep in their conversation they did not notice them. As Elizabeth had her back to them Caroline could not see who she was. "Dear Georgiana who is your friend."
"Lizzy may I introduce Miss Bingley" her name was said very formally as if she was a mere acquaintance (well Caroline Bingley was no more than that really) "Miss Bingley may I present by dearest friend Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
Caroline was so taken aback by the way Georgiana addressed Eliza Bennet of all people as her dearest friend she was speechless.
"I believe we are already acquainted are we not Miss Bingley."
"I am sorry Lizzy how silly of me to forget, you know Mr and Mrs Hurst then also?"
"Yes good to see you again."
"And this fellow you will remember also."
"Good evening Miss Bennet"
"He looks familiar I have seen him hanging around the drawing room at Longbourne, but never able to get much of an answer from him."
"Something must have been distracting him there." Georgiana put in.
"I don't think that was the only place it was distracting him, could not keep his mind on estate matters in the study at Netherfield either." Darcy added.
"There was also that last night my sister and I stayed at Netherfield there was something about the fire that night It took ages to tend and then he had to stay close by just in case it needed more attention I think we could have gotten away with one of our lively debates that night and he would not have noticed."
By this stage Mr Bingley was bright red so Elizabeth took pity on him and said "Good evening Mr Bingley."
"Thank you for the distracted welcome he replied."
"It was our pleasure, Mr Bingley."
Bingley may I introduce Mrs Bennet's brother Mr Edward Gardener and his wife Mrs Madeline Gardener, Mr and Mrs Gardener this is Mr Charles Bingley his sisters Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs Louisa Hurst and her husband Mr Geoffrey Hurst."
"Are you staying with your aunt and uncle while in town Miss Eliza?"
"Yes Miss Bingley I am."
"In Cheapside is it?"
"No in Gracechurch St
"Near Cheapside is it?"
"It is past it from here."
"I am surprised with the friends you allow to associate with your sister Mr Darcy. Letting her associate with trade's people a young lady of the first circle should be only with the gentry."
"Then if you are so concerned for my sister not associating with those from trade Miss Bingley I suggest you leave you know where the door is."
"Mr Darcy you know I was referring to others not myself."
"Are you referring to my business associates here Miss Bingley?"
"Sir what sort of business would you be associated with these people in? You are a gentleman and master of a fine estate."
"Miss Bingley, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman Longbourne has been in the family for eight generations, Mrs Gardener is niece to my nearest neighbour in Derbyshire her grandfather handed the estate to his son as they did for generations her father was a younger son and Mr Gardener is the son of a gentleman who was a third son so didn't inherited the families estates so he became an attorney to help raise his family. And Mr Gardener has leased out the estate he purchased and is in London concentrating on his trade business and investments at present maybe you know his estate it is called Netherfield, Your sister has married a gentleman and your brother intends to buy an estate so in this room you are the lowest ranked person and only one who is not connected with the gentry. Yes I know your brother is not yet married to the gentry, but at present that is only because you are working to prevent it by lying to both of them." Darcy tried to maintain his calm while saying all this, but as he went on his blood started to boil with anger.
"Caroline is this true have you been lying to myself and Miss Bennet, what have you been telling her in your letters, have you been assuring her that I will return in the new year as I have asked you?"
"Of course Charles I have told her all you have asked?"
"Let us check shall we what her own hand has said in the letters." Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth handed the letters to Mr Bingley for him to read as he read them he became red with anger towards his sister when he had finished reading he turned to Caroline "Your own hand convicts you, you are not welcome in my home again I will be returning to Netherfield after Christmas before I go I will suspend your allowance and hand over control of your dowry I will not support you anymore. Louisa did you know anything about these letters?"
"I knew she was writing to Jane to discourage her hopes, but I did nothing to support her in that regard."
"You did not try to stop her either I suggest that you both go home now and think about what you have done and the consequences."
"Miss Bingley before you leave as your brother has washed his hands of you and you have only been welcome in my houses for his sake you are no longer welcome and if I find you are using my name to get invitations in the season I will not be moderate in my response." Darcy enlightened her.
"Hurst I will not return to your house this evening I thank you for your hospitality in the morning I will call and remove my belongings from your home."
The Hursts and Miss Bingley left immediately. The rest breathed a sigh of relief and those that had been standing sat down. Bingley turned to Elizabeth "I thank you Miss Elizabeth for this information, I am only concerned that your sister may hate me after these letters, and with the holidays and what I need to set up it will be at least a week before I can get back."
"If your business was only going to take a few days why are you still in town, why are you not now at Netherfield." Darcy asked.
"The business did take longer than I wished I was frustrated at every turn so last week I decided to have Christmas in town before I returned."
"So, now what will you do? I take it you need a bed for tonight."
"Yes I will need one till I return to Netherfield, but Miss Bennet may not wish to see me if I take another week what should I do?"
"Miss Elizabeth what do you suggest Bingley does?"
"I would suggest Mr Bingley you writes to my father telling him you have just found out about your sisters duplicity and that your business has now been increased due to that and as soon as it is concluded you will be returning as you are not sure when that will be would he forgo the practice of him calling first to allow you to call on his family as soon as you arrive. There is one thing I remember from a previous conversation that your letter writing is often not readable my father hates correspondence at the best of times If he can't get the meaning in the first few lines he will throw it in the fire before he has finished it"
"That will give you a good opportunity for you to improve your letter writing skills." Darcy added.
Just then dinner was announced and they were a merry party as they dined Bingley was still trying to work out what was going on with the others. Why was Miss Elizabeth here in Darcy house? She had never seemed to even like him in Hertfordshire, but could there be something more.
After dinner they separated for only a short period of time before rejoining the ladies. Georgiana and Elizabeth played a couple of duets together and they talked for ages Mr and Mrs Gardener decided that they should get to know this other young man who was interested in one of their nieces. Darcy was feeling a little left out of the conversations with Bingley and the Gardeners so he moved to join his sister and Elizabeth.
"Mr Darcy thank you for all that you have done tonight to ensure my sisters happiness It has relieved my mind, that Miss Bingley could have made two such amiable people so sad had angered and frustrated me." At this point Georgiana left to join the others and give them some privacy.
"If you will thank me let it be for yourself alone as much as I respect your sister the wish of relieving your suffering was my main inducement." At his words Elizabeth blushed.
"Then I thank you for relieving my suffering." She was looking down in embarrassment but when she looked up he could see the love in her eyes and she could see it in his also.
"Miss Bennet would you do me the honour of granting me a private interview tomorrow." Darcy asked while silently praying she would say yes.
"I would be honoured Mr Darcy." And she smiled at him and he returned her smile with those dimples she loved. They chatted for a while before Mr Gardener announced it was time for them to go after thanking their host and hostess the Gardeners headed to the carriage. Elizabeth congratulated Georgiana on the success of her first dinner and then Darcy walked her to the door with a lingering kiss on her hand and a "till tomorrow then," they parted.
Georgiana soon retired for the night and Darcy and Bingley went to Darcy's study. "So how are you feeling Bingley after dealing with your sister?"
"I am feeling better, knowing that my angel cares and is upset is strangely comforting, but I must send a letter to Longbourne to relieve her distress can I do that now."
"Yes, go ahead if all goes well I may be able to deliver it tomorrow for you."
"So what is going on Darcy?"
"Miss Elizabeth has granted me a private interview tomorrow."
"This is very quick, you are not normally the impulsive type and not known to be a man easily taken in by women."
"Taken in what is this Bingley?"
"Well when we were in Hertfordshire Miss Elizabeth did not like you; if she is accepting your attentions it may be she wants you for your money."
"No Bingley you have it all wrong when we were first in Hertfordshire she did not dislike me she hated me and rightly so she heard our conversation at the Assembly ball as well my pride was abominable to her I have had a lot to overcome, she is the only woman who has not been swayed by my money, she saw the man behind the money and found him lacking I have spent the last month undoing the damage I did in the previous month."
"It is still very quick only a two month acquaintance how often you could have seen one another in that time you and the Gardeners do not move in the same circles."
"Almost every day for the last month Georgiana and Elizabeth sees one another daily and I did have a four hour carriage ride to London with her."
"No one at Longbourne has mentioned you and Jane only said Miss Elizabeth was staying looking after her Aunt."
"Running the Gardener household and caring for her four cousins aged eight to two visiting with Georgiana daily and me at least every second day. We are having Christmas with them on Wednesday after church."
"So you intend to ask her in the morning and ride to Longbourne and back tomorrow so you can be here for Christmas the next day you had better go and get some rest you have a big day tomorrow."
"I will my friend leave the letter on the desk there when you are finished."
Posted on: 2010-07-19
Darcy was up early the next morning and was surprisingly calm. He broke his fast and gathered everything he needed, including his mother's ring. He arrived at Gracechurch St at nine o'clock; too early for a morning call, but he had a lot to do.
He was shown in to the parlour where Elizabeth was waiting for him. After exchanging greetings, Darcy, suddenly nervous, sat next to Elizabeth. Very gently he reached out and took her hand in his. "Elizabeth. From the moment of our first acquaintance, you have shown me that it was possible to find a lady who would see me as a man and not my fortune. You humbled me when my character and behaviour was found wanting; challenged me to be a better man, which I hope over the last month I have shown you. In Lambton, you captured my mind, in Hertfordshire you captured my heart, and here in London you have captured my soul. I only have my body left to give, so I beg you to relieve my suffering and make me a whole man by becoming my wife."
"Mr Darcy, I understand your feelings, as I return them in full, but before I answer, I must ask have you considered the difference in our station. There would be many amongst your acquaintance that would not welcome me and would shun you."
"If they cannot accept you, then I shall cut ties with them, even if it came down to just the two of us living alone at Pemberley. I would rather live that confined and unvarying life with you, than to suffer through a single social engagement without you by my side."
"What of your family?"
"My aunt Catherine will not be happy but that has nothing to do with you, anyone other than my cousin Anne would not be acceptable to her. Anne and I have discussed this over the years and agreed a long time ago that we were not meant for each other. We do not say it directly to my Aunt, as Anne does not become Mistress of Rosings until next month when she turns five and twenty. Until then, her mother is managing the estate at the moment, albeit poorly. If not for Richard and my annual visits, there would not be anything left for Anne to inherit next month. Until Anne can claim her inheritance, we agreed to not speak about it to my aunt. "
"This must have been difficult for both of you."
"Yes at times it has, but I hope life is about to get a whole lot better. What do you say Elizabeth? Will we walk through the rest of our days on earth together."
"Nothing would give me greater pleasure, Mr Darcy, than to walk through life with you at my side as my husband and me your wife."
"You have made me the happiest of men, but please call me Fitzwilliam." He took her hand and brought it to his lips and kissed it. He then pulled out his mother's engagement ring from his pocket and placed it on her finger, with another kiss. "I would love to stay here with you all day, Elizabeth, but I was intending to ride to Longbourne to see your father, and return tonight. Do you have any letters for me to take for you?"
"I have a letter for Jane ready to send, but could you give me a few minutes to write to my father so I can confirm my acceptance."
She sat down and wrote to her father and within fifteen minutes she had Darcy packed off with her letter and some food to keep his energy while riding. "I will be like Lady Penelope waiting your return."
"I will not get back until after dark, so I will not see you until after church tomorrow." He kissed her hand. "Goodbye my love. 'til tomorrow."
"Until tomorrow then. God speed Fitzwilliam." And he was out the door mounting his stallion and heading north.
Elizabeth was sitting in the parlour admiring her ring when her Aunt came in. "What is this then?" she said.
"Oh Aunt! He loves me and wants to marry me! He is on his way to Longbourne now to see papa and I won't see him until after church tomorrow. How will I get through till then."
"Well, you are going to have the preparations for what will now be a very special Christmas lunch, and decorations to put up with the children. So you are going to be busy until then."
And despite all, that she had to do, Elizabeth was still able to spend too much time worrying about what her father would say.
Darcy made good time to Longbourne and was shown straight into Mr Bennet's book room. "Darcy, what brings you here today? I would have thought you were getting ready for Christmas."
"I don't have much to prepare as your daughter is hosting my sister and me at the Gardiner's tomorrow."
"So you have ridden out from London this morning, and need to return this afternoon. There must be an urgent reason for this call." Darcy blushed and Mr Bennet suspected his purpose.
"Mr Bennet I have come to ask for the hand of your daughter, Miss Elizabeth, who this morning has consented to be my wife."
"Is that so?"
"Yes sir, she has given me a letter for you also."
Mr Bennet read his daughters letter and knew that it was a love match. He had suspected something on the morning they were both in his study. They were a good match in all but fortune.
"Darcy, why do you wish to marry my daughter when you could marry a lady with a title or a significant dowry?"
"Sir, five years ago, I met a young lady, who with her compassion, knowledge and accomplishments set a standard by which I have compared every other woman. I have met and found only one who met that standard. After a month of acquaintance, imagine my surprise when I discovered they were one in the same. I knew then I would never find someone like her amongst my circle. She had captured my heart, and I had insulted her. I have spent the last month trying to atone for my insults and win her heart."
"You have shown me how much you care for her. It was in the way you looked after her that morning when you walked her home from Meryton. But, have you considered others reactions?"
"Yes sir, Elizabeth and I discussed it this morning. If they don't accept us then too bad. The only problem would be my Aunt, and that would be a problem no matter whom I married. My Aunt is quite determined I should marry my cousin Anne."
"And what is the story with your cousin?"
"My Aunt claims that she and my mother planned for us to marry when Anne was still in her cradle and I was a toddler, but I never heard it mentioned until after my father passed away. Anne and I have discussed it and neither of us wish to marry the other. We have not told my Aunt straight out, as she would then not allow my other cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and I to visit Rosings. My Aunt is managing Rosings until Anne inherits, which is next month. However, Aunt Catherine is a very poor manager, and without our visits, Anne might not have anything to inherit. I believe my Aunt only wishes for the marriage to myself for two reasons: to keep the estate in the family, and so that her daughter goes elsewhere to live and she can remain at Rosings. My cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, being a second son would benefit from the alliance with Anne, and it would keep Rosings closer to her family. But were Anne to marry Colonel Fitzwilliam, they would need to live at Rosings, casting my Aunt Catherine to the dowager house, which I believe she would not like, and so she invented the infant betrothal story."
"It all sounds so complicated Darcy. I give you my consent and blessing. I take it you do not want to announce it to the rest of the family yet though so it does not get back to your Aunt. When is your cousin's birthday?"
"January twenty second."
"I guess you need to be prepared for all outcomes as far as your Aunt is concerned. What safeguards are you putting in place in case she decides on your cousin's birthday to announce your engagement?"
"Maybe we should marry the day before."
"That might not be a bad idea."
"We would need to do it without announcing it first, so I would need to have a special licence and the settlement papers for you to sign."
"I will write to my brother Gardiner and he can deal with the settlement papers on my behalf so it will be easier. I will also tell him if for some emergency reason involving your Aunt, you may marry before January twenty first."
"Thank you, sir."
"I will write a letter to Edward and one to Lizzy, if you will give me a few minutes."
"I also need to give you this letter from Bingley. I only hope you can read it, sir, and there is one for Miss Bennet from Elizabeth."
"Why would Mr Bingley be writing to me?"
"It would seem his sister was not the best at passing the truth to Miss Bennet."
"That could explain why Jane has been upset lately."
"Don't worry. Her caring sister set things straight last night. As a consequence, Miss Bingley has lost her allowance and is banned from her brother's home when he returns to Netherfield soon."
Within quarter of an hour Darcy was back in the saddle on his way to London.
Christmas morning, Elizabeth rose bright and early and headed to the kitchen to check on how things were going. Everything was under control food wise, and the children had done a lovely job with the decorations.
Elizabeth went up to the nursery to get the children ready for church service and they all headed off. Elizabeth had difficulty concentrating on the service this morning for some reason and was glad when it was finished. They returned home and Elizabeth took the children to the nursery to change out of their clothes and then returned to check the kitchen.
Darcy and Georgiana arrived soon after Elizabeth joined the rest of the family in the parlour where the children were opening presents. Georgiana and Darcy soon gave them more. When he had emptied his hands, Darcy took Elizabeth's hand and kissed it wishing her a happy Christmas.
"I understand you had a bit of a long ride yesterday Darcy." Mr Gardiner said.
"Yes, but what is fifty miles of good road to a strong stallion when given his head."
"I take it your journey was a success."
"May I announce it to the family then?"
"You may, as long as it does not leave this room, at the moment. I will explain after."
"Family, it gives me great pleasure to tell you that Mr Darcy will soon be part of our family. Cousin Lizzy and Mr Darcy are engaged to be married."
"Oh brother, congratulations! Lizzy, congratulations! I will have a sister."
"Actually, you will have five." Darcy replied, while being hugged from all sides by the Gardiner children. Soon they all headed in for lunch and it was very enjoyable; Elizabeth had outdone herself. "We will miss all your arrangements next year Lizzy" her Aunt mentioned.
"Since we will be monopolising her hosting skills next year, you had better come to Pemberley for Christmas." At which four voices pleaded with their parents to go. Mr. and Mrs Gardiner replied with the most non-committal answer a parent has. "We shall see."
Posted on: 2010-07-25
After lunch, Lizzy returned the children to the nursery with Georgiana's help, and the gentlemen went to the study. Darcy gave Edward the letter from Mr Bennet. Once Edward had read it, Darcy explained about his Aunt and the way they had planned to cope with all the possibilities. After they discussed all they needed to implement their plan, Darcy put down on paper a rough draft of the settlement and showed Gardiner, who thought they had covered everything. They then asked Lizzy to come in. Mr Gardiner gave Lizzy the letter from her father. "So sometime between now and the twenty first of January we will be married." Lizzy stated.
"Yes is that agreeable to you?" Darcy asked, with genuine concern.
"I only hope my Aunt will be well enough to have her mistress role back." Mr Gardiner took Lizzy's hand and said, "My dear you do not need to worry about that. Mrs Bryant could run the house. We just thought you needed something to take your mind off other things, and it gave you some experience for running your own household."
"Well, I must have done all right if someone around here wants me to be Mistress of Pemberley."
"You are a very capable lady, as you well know." Darcy said,
"Would you like to look over the draft of the settlement we have just drawn up?"
"If you don't mind. I would like to be able to help you in any area. To be a partner in all businesses." Mr. Gardiner handed her the papers and upon reading them, she became a bit confused.
"This seems like a lot more than ten thousand a year and a thousand pound dowry."
"Lizzy, there is a lot more than what is rumoured. Five years ago, when Darcy first came to see us after we returned from Lambton, he spoke to me about investments and different options for making money other than through another estate. His father had sold an estate in Ireland a few years earlier because of the instability. When he became ill, he stopped looking and instructed Darcy to find the right way to use the money for the benefit of his children. Old Mr Darcy was thinking of an estate that could be given to a younger son, but having met us through you, Darcy then considered other options, such as investing in new ideas in the early stages and then removing the money when others came into the schemes. It has been making all of us a lot of money, including you."
"Me? How could I have made money when I didn't have money to start with?"
"I set up trusts for each of you girls, knowing that if anything happened to your father, it would fall upon me to take care of you all. So, five years ago, you each had a thousand pounds, and now you all have eight thousand pounds. It doubled in the first couple of years, but not so good returns in the last couple. Darcy also felt he owed you something for helping him through his darkest day, so he set up another account with a thousand pounds, but he added more to it as it went along."
"Why?" she asked.
"I wanted to see what Wickham's money could have become if invested instead of wasted. So, every time I payed him or fixed up the debts he left behind, I added that same amount to your account. The three thousand in the second year made a significant difference. You now have over thirty thousand, plus your eight thousand."
"Thirty eight thousand pounds? Where is Miss Bingley now?"
"As an example, we have enough to give five sons, an estate each plus significant investment income, and still have two hundred thousand to use for daughter's dowries." At this, Elizabeth burst out laughing.
After five minutes she calmed down enough to speak. "I was just remembering the Meryton Assembly when within two minutes of you walking in, the ten thousand a year income was announced, and how if she had known the truth, Miss Bingley would have tried to compromise you."
"I can see your point. She would have made it look like I compromised her so I would have to marry her or be considered a rake."
"Speaking of rakes, you have never said what happened to Wickham."
"He was transferred to a unit to be stationed in India. He is half a world away."
"Oh thank you Lord. Would I be able to have some of my money to go shopping? I have my trousseaus to purchase."
"We can arrange to get some money out next week for you. Would you allow Georgie to take you to her modist and show you all the things you will need for a Derbyshire winter, which is much colder than Hertfordshire."
"I would love to go shopping with her. Speaking of Georgiana, we should get back to her and my aunt."
Friday saw the cleaning of the mistress's suite at Darcy House, and messages sent for the same work to be done at Pemberley. There was so much paper work on Darcy's desk he did not think he would get through it all. Thinking was his problem. He thought about Elizabeth so much, he was not getting anything done. Frustrated, he left the rest til Monday, when she would be shopping with Georgiana, and headed to Gracechurch St.
Monday December 30th 1811
Monday morning began the purchase of the new gowns,warm coats,fur lined gloves and all the other necessities for a married woman of the first circle. Anything ready was immediately taken to Darcy House and began to fill the mistress's dressing room under the supervision of one of the maids that was promoted to look after the mistress. The gowns themselves would be ready for fittings later in the week.
Tuesday December 31st 1811
On Tuesday morning, as Elizabeth and her maid was pulling up in the Darcy coach at Darcy House, ready for her shopping day with Georgiana, she noted another grand coach out the front. As she walked passed it, she noticed a sickly looking woman in the coach and knew she needed to do something. When the butler, Mr Wright opened the door she asked, whose coach it was. On being told that it was the de Bourgh coach, and Lady Catherine was at present with the master – which explained the yelling coming from the study - she asked after the sickly one in the coach. She was told it was Miss Anne de Bourgh, and the maid with her was Miss de Bourgh's personal maid, who cares more for Miss de Bourgh than her own mother.
"Mr Wright this is going to sound presumptuous, given that we are not married yet, but I know Mr Darcy would not stand for seeing his sick cousin stuck out here in the cold. Please have Mrs Wright prepare the best guest room and be prepared to summon the doctor after I have had a look at Miss de Bourgh. Also, I shall need some paper, ink and pen, as soon as you can meet me back in the hall.
Elizabeth walked over to the coach, opened the door, and climbed in next to Miss de Bourgh. "Miss de Bourgh, she said quietly I am Elizabeth Bennet."
"Oh Elizabeth! Please call me Anne. I feel I know you already. Mother received a note from someone claiming to be a concerned friend – though there was no name signed - telling mother that William had fallen under your spell, and you were after his money. I know that is not true, as William had secretly written to me about you, and how you are engaged. Mother was so mad she set off at first light this morning, even though I was exceptionally ill. She said she had to talk to him and stop it, but I want you to marry as soon as you can. You must do it as soon as possible or she will announce that he and I are betrothed."
"Anne, my concern at present is your health." Elizabeth turned to the maid "In your opinion how is she compared to normal?"
"Today is a bad day, but the doctor only does what her mother tells him. He does not really do anything, but bleed her regularly."
"Then we need her away from her mother and get a good doctor to see her. I have asked for a room to be prepared for her. If we can sneak her in without her mother seeing, can you help me get her in."
"I can walk if you hold me on each side." Anne said. So slowly they helped Anne out of the carriage and to the front door. Elizabeth opened it cautiously, to make sure Lady Catherine was not there; Mr Wright opened it the rest of the way. "Mr Wright could you stand at the study door prepared to hold it shut until we have passed. Once we are out of sight find the two biggest male servants, in case we have to physically remove Lady Catherine." Mr Wright moved to the door and stood guard until they were out of sight. At the top of the stairs, the room for Anne was easily found by all the activity. Mrs Wright was just supervising the final touches as they came in.
"Anne is not well at all. Mrs Wright could we send for the doctor as soon as possible and could we have a night gown for Anne to put on. She has no luggage with her so we will need gowns also." Elizabeth said all this as she hurriedly penned her note to Darcy. "I will be back in a minute." Elizabeth raced out the door and found Mr Wright stationing the men outside the door. "Mr Wright you have to take this urgent note to the Master." He looked at her as if to say you want me to go in there? "The sooner that note goes in there the sooner she will be gone. Take a deep breath and be brave. You can do it, and I will be with Anne. Fetch me when the dragon is out the front door." Mr Wright smiled at the young miss' description; he could see why the master loved her. He would do it for her.
Mr Wright knocked on the door between yells so as to be heard. "Yes" was the short reply from the master. He took a breath before opening the door.
"An urgent message from the young Miss, sir." He said handing him the note so he could see her handwriting. Darcy knew it was from Elizabeth and if she wanted to interrupt him that was fine.
"Thank you, Mr Wight. Could you wait in the hall."
Lady Catherine had stopped when the knock came, and thankfully she hadn't turned on him.
Darcy quickly read the note and turned to Lady Catherine. "Aunt you brought Anne with you to London, when she was unwell and left her sitting out in the cold carriage while you came into my house to abuse me?" Lady Catherine went to interrupt, but he raised his hand to stop her. "Anne will remain here, under my roof and my protection until she is well again. Do I make myself clear."
"Yes she can stay; you are a single man and she a single woman. You will have to marry her to save her reputation."
"You may leave now, Aunt."
"I will thank you, Nephew." And she walked out of the house thinking she was about to get what she had always wanted.