Author's Note: I know that I shouldn't be starting another story, but you know my muse, it is ever so perverse. To set this up, I will tell you that it is partly an homage to all the Golden Age of mystery Ladies, but with a few touches of my own. To save time, Charles Bingley grew up at Netherfield and knew Jane and Lizzie when they were growing up. Jane and Charles are engaged. Jane and Lizzie were VADs during the war, and Lizzie worked in hospital where she took care of Mr. Darcy, after he was wounded. Lizzie and Mr. Darcy haven't seen each other in three years.
It was almost midnight, and the two figures met underneath a streetlight, one could observe that they were at least partly acquainted with one another. "Are you sure you know what you are to do?" the first figure asked the second. " 'Ere now wot do ye tike me for, acourse Oi knows wot Oi gots ta do." replied the second figure in a somewhat affronted tone.
"Good, now as we agreed, half now, and half after you do the job." said the first figure, as he passed an envelope to the second, and as the two figures parted, a thick fog rolled in and both figures disappeared into the midst of it.
"Charles, I am here to shop for the last of my trousseau, and have a fitting for my wedding dress." replied Miss Jane Bennet, her face began to flush prettily.
As the young couple reacquainted themselves, the younger dark-haired woman stared almost open-mouthed at the older dark-haired gentleman who accompanied her beloved older sister Jane's fiancÚ.
Noticing this, and the unusual silence of his Darling Jane's younger sister, Charles Bingley realised that his manners had gone begging. "Forgive me Darling, Jane, this is my very good friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, you remember I told you about him. Darcy, this is my fiancee Miss Jane Bennet and this is her younger sister Miss Elizabeth." he said with his usual cheery smile.
"I believe that Miss Elizabeth and I are somewhat acquainted with one another." replied Mr. Darcy, in a somewhat awkward tone.
Elizabeth Bennet brought her hand to her mouth, and her face flushed rosily.
"Forgive me for staring Mr. Darcy, it is just that the last time I saw you, you were believed not to be able to walk again. I see that the doctors were wrong." said Elizabeth Bennet shyly.
"Apparently they were wrong, Miss Elizabeth, but you did not stay at hospital long enough to find that out, did you?" asked Mr. Darcy in a somewhat sarcastic tone.
"I wished to stay, but for some reason, they didn't need me after your first month there." replied Lizzie, in a similar tone.
"Yes, and we were becoming so well acquainted, were we not? You must forgive me Miss Elizabeth, but it was not I who wished that you leave. My Aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh labours under an extremely false assumption, and it was at her insistence that you were sent elsewhere. I, do not labour under that same assumption, and as I am giving a large houseparty in honour of your Sister and my friend, I would deem it an honour if you would come to Pemberley also. I would just like you to know that I am doing this partly so that you might make my young Sister Georgiana's acquaintance, once more. I have been told that I am quite in your debt, for it was your wit, spirit, and smile that helped me recover from my wounds." replied Mr. Darcy, as he offered his arm to Lizzie, who smiled shyly, but took it.
The two couples soon made their way to a small tea shop, where the gentlemen ordered tea and scones. They spoke of the houseparty and the guests who were expected. Jane and Charles spoke of wedding plans, while Lizzie and Mr. Darcy spoke of what had transpired since they had last seen one another three years before.
"Miss Elizabeth, Charles tells me that you and your sister were his neighbours in Hertfordshire." said Mr. Darcy, when they had reached a lull in the conversation.
"Yes, if that is all he told you, and nothing more about my sordid past, for you see I was considered something of a hoyden, truth to tell." replied Lizzie.
"Lizzie!" Jane Bennet spoke up, her cheeks flushed rosily, as both her next younger sister and her fiancÚ reminisced about her girlhood exploits.
"The best bowler in the county," exclaimed Charles Bingley, his ever present sunny smile spread all the more wider across his face.
"And I spent months on end sewing altar cloths as penance for all the windows I broke. For you see Mr. Darcy, while I may have been an excellent bowler, I was horrid as a batsman." shot back Lizzie, good naturedly. This, and the twinkling light in her fine dark eyes, brought a somewhat reluctant smile to Fitzwilliam Darcy's lips, followed by a rare burst of truly good natured laughter.
Hearing this, and seeing the smile, brought a tear to Lizzie's eye, which rolled down her cheek. Reaching across the table, Mr. Darcy wiped it away with his thumb.
"Now Miss Elizabeth, there is no need for tears. I will always be very grateful to you for giving me the ability to smile and laugh again," said Mr. Darcy, in a gently reproving tone.
The two couples spent the time remaining during tea, discussing the entertainments planned for the house-party, Mr. Darcy was giving, partly in honour of the engagement of his best friend Charles Bingley and partly in honour of his sister Georgiana's sixteenth birthday.
"How is Georgiana, Mr. Darcy? When I last saw her three years ago, she was so worried about you, and whether or not your cousin James would be found." asked Lizzie.
"She is well, and that is in part due to your kindness, Miss Elizabeth. As for James, he and Marsden will be putting in an appearance. As you now know, James survived most of the horror that was Flanders, I, however was not as lucky." replied Mr. Darcy, referring to his two cousins.
After reluctantly agreeing to having the gentlemen escort them back to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Gardiner, the Bennet sisters' Uncle and Aunt, they made plans to see some sights before they returned to Hertfordshire.
Posted on Saturday, 26 August 2000
Later that night, after the gentlemen had seen Lizzie and Jane to their Aunt and Uncle Gardiner's house, Jane and Lizzie spent the evening after their young cousins had been put to bed, discussing Mr. Darcy, as Jane was somewhat curious as to how it came about that her younger sister had made the acquaintance of England's most eligible bachelor.
"It was during the time I worked in hospital, Jane," Lizzie replied, somewhat reluctantly. "He was wounded at Ypres and when he was brought to hospital, the doctors had at first believed that Wil. . . um Mr. Darcy would never be able to walk again. His legs were badly injured. I suppose I had something to do with his recuperation, but I had the misfortune of meeting Mr. Darcy's Aunt; Lady Catherine de Bourgh. I was taken in dislike. She wishes to see him marry her daughter, Mr. Darcy's Cousin Anne. Jane, I am telling you this in the strictest of confidences. When Mr. Darcy was brought to hospital, I thought him the most arrogant of men, but I soon came to discover that he is very shy, and I suppose I was able to tease him out of that. I also made the acquaintance of Mr. Darcy's young sister. Miss Darcy is the sweetest girl, but is also shy. Mr. Darcy's Cousin, the Viscount Marsden and his wife brought her to hospital. It would seem that the Darcys are orphans, but Mr. Darcy is about ten years older than his sister and he and Marsden's younger brother were named her guardians. Colonel Fitzwilliam was also in Flanders with Mr. Darcy, but he had survived, but in those first months after Ypres, there was some confusion as his whereabouts. This and worry over her brother's situation caused Miss Darcy to turn more into herself, and my presence there improved both their morale. Unfortunately, Lady Catherine de Bourgh didn't see it that way, and she found some way to see me transferred from that ward." replied Lizzie, in an injured tone, at past injustices.
"Charles had told me about Mr. Darcy. They have been friends since public school at Winchester. They went on to University together, but I didn't know that you had met him Lizzie." said Jane, as she brushed her sister's hair.
"Are you looking forward to Mr. Darcy's houseparty, Jane? Before Lady Catherine de Bourgh had me transferred, Miss Darcy had wished to ask me to Pemberley for a weekend. I must admit that I am curious to see the house, though I am afraid that Mama will be more than overwhelmed by Mr. Darcy's estate." said Lizzie.
Posted on Saturday, 16 September 2000
The following morning, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy called in Gracechurch Street for Jane and Lizzie for the promised sightseeing. The two couples were soon exploring the beauties of Saint Paul's Cathedral. Lizzie especially loved The Whispering Gallery, as Mr. Darcy stood on one side of the gallery and recited some of his and Lizzie's favorite sonnets of Shakespeare.
'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and gives life to thee. '
I wonder did the great Bard know someone like you, that he would write on a subject as this?" said Mr. Darcy after he finished reciting Sonnet XVIII.
"Here is one for you, William," said Lizzie, as she declaimed Sonnet XXIX.
'When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That I scorn to change my state with kings. '
"I never cared for that one until I met you Dearest, Loveliest Elizabeth." said Darcy, as he came back across the gallery to join her.
"I do not know why, but it has always been a favorite of mine." replied Lizzie, as Mr. Darcy took her hand and led her back to where Mr. Bingley and Jane waited for them.
After visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum, Mr. Darcy offered to pay for tea at the Savoy. Which was agreed to, and the two couples soon made their way there, unaware that they were being watched by two figures.
"No you idiot! Neither of those girls, I told you, my intended prey is a little plumper, if you take my meaning. I will have my revenge against Fitzwilliam Darcy if it is the last thing I do." replied the second figure to the first.
Posted on Saturday, 7 October 2000
When Jane and Lizzie returned to their Aunt and Uncle's house, they were just in time to participate in the bedtime rituals of their four cousins, something that they delighted in when they visited in Town, as the two sisters were considered favorite visitors, and the young Gardiners always wished for a story from Lizzie, as she was always looked upon to tell, in her cousin's words," very smashing stories".
It was in the middle of one such story that evening, that the odd telephone call from Mr. Darcy came for Lizzie.
"Elizabeth, Bingley tells me that you, your sister, and Aunt are meeting his sisters at the dressmaker's shop tomorrow. Would it be possible for you to slip away and meet me for an early luncheon at the Savoy? I have something to discuss with you, something of a private nature. Bingley said that he would be glad to drive Jane and Mrs. Gardiner back home." asked Mr. Darcy.
"Well we are meeting Mr. Bingley's sisters at the dressmaker's shop for a fitting for Jane's dress, and the bridesmaid's dresses. I suppose that Jane could convince the dressmaker to fit my dress first, as I am the maid-of-honour. As much as I love Jane, and have always known that she and Mr. Bingley would marry, I have never really got on with his sisters. It is hard being a hoyden when they are about, and the least little thing will insult their sensibilities, especially Caroline, I am afraid that she is quite put at this moment because Jane has chosen only "a mere sister" for her maid-of-honour and not her 'Dearest Friend in the Whole World'." replied Lizzie, a mischievous smile crossing her lips.
"You know Miss Bingley quite well. I will have a car sent round at about half past eleven, and I will meet you at the Savoy, if that is suitable to you." said Mr. Darcy.
"I does suit me, and I will look forward to our meeting, now if you will excuse me, I really must go finish the story I was telling my cousins, or they will never forgive me." said Lizzie, as she replaced the receiver on the handset. Author's Note: This is on of those old-fashioned candlestick telephones from the Twenties. YGA
After Lizzie finished telling her cousins their story, Lizzie joined Jane in the room they shared.
"Jane, I just had the oddest telephone call from Mr. Darcy. He wishes to meet me for lunch at the Savoy. It sounds as though he has something important to discuss with me. I have the feeling I know what he wishes to speak to me about. I told Mr. Darcy that you could convince the dressmaker to let me try on my dress first, after you have had yours fitted, as you know, an hour with the "Superior Sisters", is one hour too many." said Lizzie, as she brushed her shingled curls, smiling a mischievous smile.
"Elizabeth Rachel Bennet! If Mama heard you right now. When they are so perfect. What could Mr. Darcy possibly wish to discuss with you? You aren't going to let your temper get the better of you?" asked Jane.
"I have an idea of what, or who he wishes to discuss with me about, but I cannot tell you, as it is not for me to say." replied Lizzie.
Posted on Tuesday, 10 October 2000
Author's Note: Just a friendly little warning that I am going to be playing around with what happened at Ramsgate, so that the consequences will cause the crime that will eventually take place at Pemberley. I do hope that I will not shock the sensibilities of the more genteelly bred young Ladies here, for I am sure that their sensibilities will be shocked.
As he had promised, at half past eleven, Mr. Darcy's Rolls Royce picked Lizzie up at the dressmaker's shop. He was waiting for her with his umbrella, as a light rain had begun to fall, and soon escorted Lizzie into the Savoy's elegant dining room. He gallantly seated her, and then took his own place at table. A waiter quickly appeared to take their order.
Lizzie ordered: Sole Colbert, Lobster a l'americaine, Chicken Almondine, and peche Melba for dessert. Mr. Darcy ordered the same.
As they waited, they both attempted to begin a conversation.
"Miss Bennet. . . . . . ah. . . . that is Elizabeth I really asked you here because I had an ulterior moti. . . . . ." began Darcy.
"Mr. Darcy, please tell me how your sister truly i. . . . . . . ahh. . . . . . It appears that we are trying to have similar conversations on a similar subject." said Lizzie.
"Ahhhh, that is one the reasons that I admire you Elizabeth, you are an extremely perceptive woman. As I started to say, I had an ulterior motive for asking you to have lunch with me, and yes it does have very much to do with Georgiana. I know that we have not seen one another in quite some time, and I will admit that it was due to my Aunt Catherine's manipulations, we parted on terms, that were, to put it mildly, less than pleasant. Elizabeth, you were a saviour to my Sister and myself. You brought back sunshine and laughter back into two lives that were positively miserable, now Georgiana needs your help." said Mr. Darcy.
"My help? How might I help her? Why does she need my help, Mr. Darcy?" asked Lizzie in a shocked tone.
"Forgive me Elizabeth, perhaps I should go back to the very beginning. I am aware that while I was in hospital, while you were still seeing to my care, you made the acquaintance of every member of my family, but do you recall making the acquaintance of a Mr. George Wickham? I ask this, because as one who was standing back and observing them, I wonder if you recall what your impressions of that young man were?" asked Mr. Darcy.
"Well to be honest, he seemed to be charming, too charming, especially to your Sister, or any young girl of that age. He also behaved in fashion towards her that was way too familiar, and he was less than civil to you. I could feel the tension between you the minute he entered your room." replied Lizzie.
"To give you some background on Mr. George Wickham, he is the son of my late Father's steward, and was his godson. Mr. Wickhamperewas a decent, honourable, honest man who served my Father well, and yet his only son's behaviour and habits were quite different, so different that it belies what they say about like father like son, but enough on that subject. Elizabeth, you must realise that Georgiana has grown up considerably since you last saw her as a young girl of thirteen, she is now a very lovely young woman of sixteen. Elizabeth, what I next have to relate is most distressing and very tragic. After I left hospital, I finished my recovery at Pemberley. I was more or less successful with running Pemberley, but I unfortunately was neglectful of my Sister. Georgiana went to Ramsgate in the company of a woman called Dorothea Younge, she came to me with glowing references, I who pride myself on being very perceptive, was taken in completely. When they traveled to Ramsgate, Wickham followed. You must understand that Georgiana was an impressionable young girl of fifteen years, and yes Mr. Wickham does have a certain charm that does work on susceptible young women. I had not thought of Georgiana as being that susceptible, but Wickham used his old friendship to betray my Sister's trust, and before I was able to make my way to Ramsgate, George Wickham had forced himself on her. I dealt with Wickham and Mrs. Younge in a suitable fashion and I was hard put to convince Georgiana that she was not to blame for what had happened. Those are the facts that I gave to my Cousin James, my Sister's other guardian, but here is what I did not let even my Cousin know. Three months after the tragic happenings I have just related to you, Georgiana had a miscarriage. To say the least, she was devastated, and once again I was hard put to convince her that she was not to blame in anyway. Georgiana has slowly recovered from this, and I can believe that I have my little Sister back. She has even found a young man who is worthy of her, this young man is a friend of mine from University, The Marquis of Thornewood. He is even willing to marry Georgiana, even knowing of the tragic circumstances of Ramsgate. They have begun a courtship, but something of a distressing nature has occurred that may ruin all this. I am of the opinion that I am being blackmailed. I received this letter last month, warning me that if I do not give my correspondent the Darcy Ruby, on the day I announce Georgiana's and Thornewood's betrothal, he would have the story printed in the London papers describing in full detail Georgiana's tragedy. As you know, I am not a man to be intimidated, and neither is Thornewood, but he has a relative who makes my Aunt Catherine seem pleasant. Were this relative to discover this, he would object in the strongest of the terms to the betrothal.
Georgiana and I got over the first shock of the receipt of the letter, but since he did not have his answer, this b-----d dares to fight dirty, four days ago, Georgiana received this in the post." said Darcy, removing the lid of a prettily wrapped parcel, to reveal an exquisitely made christening gown. Recognising the significance of the gown, Lizzie gasped," Someone has found out about your poor Sister. If there is anything I can do to help, I will do my best."
Posted on Wednesday, 11 October 2000
"There is a way for you to help Georgiana, Elizabeth. Which brings me to my ulterior motive, Elizabeth, you must understand that you are under no obligation to accept what I am about to propose, and I will not be surprised if you send me away once more with a flea in my ear for proposing it. As you made yourself quite clear on the subject the last time I brought it up. Yet you are the only one I can trust with the facts I just gave you, the only one who can give me my sweet little Sister back and help me stop that blackmailer. I wish that I could give you time to think it over, but time is something I do not have, as I am going to announce Georgiana's betrothal at the houseparty I am giving Charles and Jane, but as I said, you are under no obligation to agree to this." said Darcy, reaching into the inner pocket of his coat, and brought something out.
"You are proposing marriage to me once more, Mr. Darcy?" asked Lizzie in an incredulous ton, lifting on eyebrow.
"Not exactly, Elizabeth, let us just say it is a temporary arrangement. As I said, I am announcing Georgiana's and Thornewood's betrothal at my houseparty. I am not one to be intimidated, and I will not. This b-----d is not going to ruin my Sister's life. By appearing to be my fiancee, you will be able to help Georgiana through this. I know that you are the only one who can, and Charles and your Sister agree with me. I am afraid I took them into my confidence up to a point, though I did not lay before the sad facts of what happened after the sad business of Ramsgate. Yes, Elizabeth, your Sister did bring you to Town for the stated business of you being fitted for your bridesmaid's dress, but Charles and I knew that we would be meeting you the other morning." replied Darcy, as he opened the little jewel box he held in his hand, to reveal a very tastefully designed ruby ring set in antique gold.
"The Darcy Ruby, I presume?" asked Lizzie in a very matter-of-fact tone.
"It is Elizabeth, and to make my plan to catch this blackmailer work, you will need wear it, as we must convince all the guests at my houseparty of the sincerity of our betrothal. In fact, if I have not missed my guess, we will be facing our first test very shortly. This was Charles' and Jane's idea, and not mine. Please Lizzie, I am counting on you, Georgiana is counting on you." said Darcy, trying not to sound like a little boy begging, as he looked around the Savoy's dining room.
Taking the ring out of the box, and taking Lizzie's outstretched left hand, he slipped the ring onto Lizzie's finger, and kissed it.
"Thank you for making me the happiest man in the whole world, Lizzie!" Darcy exclaimed, as he could just hear the strident tones of Caroline Bingley and Louisa Bingley Hurst.
"What!? Noooooooooo!!!!!!!" screamed Caroline Bingley, a young Lady not used to having her so-called plans go so far astray.
Posted on Friday, 13 October 2000
Lizzie kept her head down, but quietly gained Mr. Darcy's attention before Caroline Bingley made her way to their table.
"Mr. Darcy, I will agree to your proposal, if you feel that I in any way can help your Sister, I will even pretend affection for you, starting now." said Lizzie, in a tone of voice meant just for Darcy's ears, as Darcy took Lizzie's meaning perfectly and leaned across the table and gave her gentle, but passionate kiss on her rosy lips.
"I gladly be your bride, Mr. Darcy." said Lizzie, in a more audible tone of voice, just as Caroline Bingley, Mrs. Hurst, Jane, and Charles Bingley arrived at their table. Mr. Darcy motioned to the waiter." I know this is early, but would it be possible to bring us a bottle of your best champagne, as I would like to toast my fiancee. The waiter quickly disappeared
Jane Bennet quickly gave her next younger Sister a warm congratulatory hug, and under its cover, whispered into Lizzie's ear," We knew you would agree to Mr. Darcy's plan. Caroline is furious."
"Mr. Darcy, how could you? How could you ally yourself to that hoyden. Just because she was your nurse in hospital, you would think you owe her for it." Caroline Bingley thought to herself, as she smiled a polite smile at Lizzie, and at a not-so-gentle nudging from her Brother, wished Lizzie and Mr. Darcy very happy.
After the toast had been made, knowing of the obvious tension that now lay between Miss Caroline Bingley and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy offered to give both Jane and Lizzie a ride back to their Aunt and Uncle's house. When they arrived, as Mr. Darcy's chauffeur came to open the door to allow the Ladies to disembark from the Rolls, Lizzie stayed back, as Jane was helped out.
"Jane, please tell Aunt and Uncle Gardiner that I will be in shortly. There is something I need to say to Mr. Darcy." said Lizzie.
"I will Lizzie. I am happy that you have agreed to help Mr. Darcy and his Sister." Jane whispered into Lizzie's ear, as she mounted the front steps of Edward Gardiner's Town house.
"Mr. Darcy, I will help you and act as your fiancee, I will even wear the ring, but beg you to let me remove it, as I will soon be returning to Meryton, and I know that my Mother would soon have the story spread all over, and I do not think you would wish that. You would say that my Mother would be of some help in that, but you probably do not remember my Mother all that well, from your infrequent visits to Netherfield, while you were a boy. I am of the opinion that, while I love her, my Mother will only hinder your plan, so I am telling you that I will remove your ring before I enter my Aunt and Uncle's house. I do not mean to offend you in any way. It is just that I do not wish to have my Mother meddling where she would do the least good. Thank you for lunch, Mr. Darcy." said Lizzie, as she reached out to give Mr. Darcy's hand a gentle squeeze, before Mr. Darcy's chauffeur helped out of the car.
"I will agree to this, Elizabeth. Until I see you at Pemberley, then." replied Mr. Darcy, as he kept Lizzie from fully exiting his car, before he had taken her into his arms in a strangely impulsive, impulsive for him, manner, and kissed her long and hard. Lizzie quickly hurried away from the car, her hand covering her mouth.
Posted on Wednesday, 17 January 2001
Mr. Darcy, as promised had one of his cars waiting at the train station, when Jane and Lizzie arrived at Lambton, after a quick dash in to the local chemist's shop to purchase some headache powders, as Jane had developed a headache that had grown steadily worse since they had left Meryton. The porter helped the chauffeur put the young Ladies luggage into the boot of the Rolls, and the two sisters were on their way to Pemberley. As the car made its way along the road, Jane Bennet noticed that her next younger sister seemed nervous, and enquired about it.
"Lizzie, what is wrong? You are nervous, and you are never nervous. Are you having regrets about your decision to help Mr. Darcy, by going through with this pretend betrothal?" asked Jane, in a concerned tone.
"No Jane, it is not that. It is Mr. Darcy's sister, I have not seen her since the time Mr. Darcy was in hospital, and there were things that Mr. Darcy told me in confidence, that make me worry about what to say to her and how to react." replied Lizzie.
"You will know what to say, Lizzie. Charles told me that Mr. Darcy said that while he was in hospital, you were his saviour, and you were a saviour to Miss Darcy. What ever happened to her, that is causing Mr. Darcy's troubles will come right with your help." said Jane, in an encouraging manner.
The car went for another half mile and then turned off the road onto the drive that was the beginning of Pemberley lands. The sisters marvelled at the fine kept estate, the rolling green hills. Before too long, they had pulled up to the house, where Mr. Darcy, Charles Bingley, his sisters, and a pale young Lady who could only be Miss Georgiana Darcy, and her fiancÚ, the Marquis of Thornewood. As soon as the car stopped, John, Mr. Darcy's chauffeur got out, and helped Jane and Lizzie out of the car. Charles Bingley quickly forgot himself, and hurried down the front steps and embraced his fiancee warmly and gave her a quick kiss, to the amusement of the other guests. Mr. Darcy walked a little slower down the steps and offered his arm to Lizzie, who shyly took it, and brought her to his young sister. The two young Ladies smiled shyly at one another, and then Lizzie held out her arms and the young girl hurried into them, and they embraced warmly.
"Thank you for coming to help my brother and I, Elizabeth." said Georgiana, in a tone that was just for Lizzie's ears only.
"If you will come inside now, for I do not think that Cook will hold lunch off any longer." said Mr. Darcy, as the party entered the house. As they made their way up the stairs, Lizzie begged Mr. Darcy's pardon, for their lateness, as they had had to dash in to the chemist's shop.
Posted on Saturday, 7 April 2001
Mrs. Reynolds showed Jane and Lizzie to their rooms, and they were given a chance to freshen up before they returned downstairs to join the others for the luncheon that was waiting. Already at table were Charles Bingley, his sisters and Mr. Basil Hurst. Also at table was a young man whom the Bennet sisters did not recognise, but was soon introduced by Georgiana as her fiancÚ, Gareth Morrison, the Marquis of Thornewood. Lord Thornewood was a tall young man of the same age, or just a year or two younger than Mr. Darcy. He was fair-haired like Georgiana, and seemed to be a personable sort of young man, just the sort of young man who would help her young friend when she was feeling shy.
"I am very pleased to meet your Lordship." said Lizzie, with a smile.
"Please, call me Gareth. I am still quite new to my title. I inherited it after my Father died of flu." replied Lord Thornewood.
Mr. Darcy's other guests were his cousins, Lord and Lady Marsden and Colonel James Fitzwilliam, whom Lizzie had met during Mr. Darcy's stay in hospital. They greeted Lizzie warmly, and in turn, Lizzie introduced Jane to Mr. Darcy's cousins.
Lizzie felt some relief after the first hurdle had gotten past, and soon was relaxed enough to ask Georgiana about some of the amusements that were planned for the week.
"A cricket match, for one thing, if I know my cousins." replied Georgiana, mischievously smiling at the aforesaid cousins.
"Of course, Eliza is going to insist on playing, if you have a cricket match." announced Caroline Bingley, in a catty tone, that made Lizzie want to give her face a good slap. She really did not like to be called Eliza, and Caroline Bingley had been calling her that since they were girls.
"We are going to have a croquet match also. I was told that your sister likes to play." said Mr. Darcy, smiling at Lizzie, giving her a wink. Lizzie also noticed that he mouthed the words, "Meet me in the library, after lunch."
Posted on Wednesday, 11 April 2001
Following the luncheon, Lizzie joined Mr. Darcy in the library, as he had requested. In an attempt not to look anxious, Darcy had tried to leaf through a folio of nature prints, but Lizzie, being very perspicacious, knew that Mr. Darcy had something very important to say to her.
"Has something happened, William?" asked Lizzie in a concerned tone." You wore such a serious expression during the whole of luncheon."
"Yes, Elizabeth, something has happened, but first I must thank you for agreeing to help Georgiana and myself. I know that I told you that were under no obligation to assist me in my troubles, but when Bingley made it known to me that you were his fiancee's sister, I remembered your: wit, kindness, warmth, courage and compassion, in the face of my behaviour towards you in hospital. How kind you were to Georgie, in allaying her fears with regards to my wounds, even in your standing up to my most distressing relation. I knew that you were the perfect person help me discover the identity of that blackmailing b-----d. I have my suspicions as to that identity, and his threats have gotten personal." replied Darcy, in a stronger tone, as he unlocked a drawer in his desk, and brought out a familiar looking plainly wrapped package.
"How has this person's threats become personal, William?" asked Lizzie, from her chair.
"This package was delivered to Pemberley yesterday morning. I have instructed the servants to have all anonymously sent letters and packages to Georgiana, brought to me. No, no, before you make any quick judgments of my actions, I have done this to protect my sister from any more such deliveries, such as the christening gown I showed you in Town." replied Darcy, as he opened the package, to reveal the back of an exquisitely dressed bride doll, with the same fair hair as Georgiana's. Slowly, Darcy turned the doll over to reveal that the doll's face was hideously smashed.
"William, this is horrible! This was meant to be Georgiana. He is, pardon my language, a b-----d." exclaimed Lizzie, in a very outraged tone.
"Yes, it is meant to be Georgiana, right down to the wedding gown. Apparently someone bribed one of the seamstresses at Georgiana's dressmaker's shop, and found out the design of her wedding gown, and the fabrics chosen for it, for this is an exact representation in miniature of Georgie's wedding gown. The doll was not all that was delivered. I received this." replied Darcy, in a similar tone, as he gave Lizzie a folded sheet of cheap note paper.
Lizzie unfolded the sheet, and read the following:
Ruination is not the only thing that can happen to sweet little sisters.
"Your Conscience? That was how the other letters were signed were they not?" asked Lizzie curiously.
"Yes, and the b-----d has typed all of the letters, so I cannot determine his identity by his hand writing. You do understand why I wished to protect her from this coward. I refuse to be intimidated by this, or let him frighten Georgie. In a way, I was responsible for all of this. Instead of letting my Aunt Catherine take the steps she did to have sent to another ward, I would have been on my feet sooner, and I would not have been wallowing in self pity at Pemberley. I would have recognised that Wickham was more than casually acquainted with Mrs. Younge." replied Darcy.
"William, do not blame yourself for what occurred at Ramsgate. You have done your best under the circumstances. I noticed how much you cared for her, even while you were in hospital, no more than what I would have done for Jane." replied Lizzie, reaching out to take Mr. Darcy's hand, and squeezed it hard.
"Thank you Elizabeth. You always knee just what to say, even while I was in hospital. I wish that my behaviour had not given you such a poor first impression of me. I do not usually let my Aunt Catherine try to run my life, but it was at was on her recommendation that I hired Mrs. Younge to be my sister's companion. You had a taste of her tongue, and heard of the supposed engagement between myself and my Cousin Anne. My Aunt has been labouring under this false impression since I was a boy of nine. Now that you have been made aware of the latest developments in this, we must go out on the lawn and give them another show of affection, besides if I know my cousins, the have the wickets all set up for that cricket match, and I would give anything to see just how good a bowler you are." said Darcy, injecting a teasing tone to lighten the mood before they left the library.
"Oh you would, would you? answered Lizzie, in kind, as Mr. Darcy, with the help of his cane, rose to his full height, leaned across his desk, and was about to place a gentle kiss on Lizzie's cheek, slipped, whether accidentally, or intentionally, she was never sure, and his lips gently touched hers own. Instead of pulling back immediately, Darcy kept his lips there just bit longer, and then pulled back. Before Lizzie could react in any way, Darcy smiled mischievously at Lizzie, and said in an enigmatic tone; "Practice, Dearest Elizabeth, just practice."
Posted on Friday, 27 July 2001
Mr. Darcy held out his arm for Lizzie, after taking it, the couple crossed the library to the French doors that opened onto the terrace above the gardens. The afternoon being sunny and warm, the doors had been left open to allow the breeze to circulate. Mr. Darcy and Lizzie exited through the French doors, and were soon crossing the terrace.
"It would appear that I was correct in my surmising that my cousins have been setting up the wickets for the cricket match." said Mr. Darcy, as they approached the stairs that led down to the gardens. Just before they began to descend the stairs, Mr. Darcy smiled mischievously at Lizzie, and once again caught her in a snug embrace and kissed her most soundly. This caused the desired effect, for Miss Bingley had been about to approach, this caused that Lady to turn around with and flounced away.
"Darce! Old Fellow, I see you have brought our star bowler with you." said Mr. Bingley, as they approached that Gentleman and Miss Bennet.
"Now I will see whether or not Charles was exaggerating about your abilities as a bowler. I will say that of my cousins, James has been accounted the second best batsman after. . . . . . . . well he is now the best." said Mr. Darcy, quickly.
"You were about to refer to yourself as the best. Mr. Darcy, I have noticed that you have been using less of your cane, and your limp is not as pronounced as it once was. Perhaps your skill as a batsman will return, if you but practice." said Lizzie, in a teasing tone.
"I imagine they will, and perhaps I might be able to show you the proper way of hitting ball for a six, without breaking any windows." replied Mr. Darcy in a similar tone.
This brought a ripple of sweet laughter to Lizzie's rosy red lips, lips that just begged to be kissed once more, but he had to keep telling himself that they were pretending an engagement. If he showed too much affection for Lizzie in front of his guests, they would quickly put two and two together and get. . . . . . well they would get five. Mr. Darcy thought, as he watched the only woman he would ever love join his cousins who were waiting on the pitch. James would bat for this innings. Authors Note: My Gentle Readers will be advised that having lived in the United States all her life, and her only real exposure to how a game of cricket is played, was in two Regency Romance novels, and one of the Peter Davison episodes of "Doctor Who", Your Gentle Author cannot claim to any true knowledge of the game. If I make any mistakes in playing of the game, please forgive me. LYLAS, YGA
Mr. Darcy soon discovered that Mr. Bingley had not been exaggerating Lizzie's skill as a bowler. For he watched his cousin in valiant attempt to guard his wickets, only to have all three knocked down.
"Brava! Very well done Elizabeth!" he called out, as he came forward to embrace her.
Posted on Thursday, 24 January 2002
Coming from behind his desk, Mr. Darcy offered his arm to Lizzie, who politely took it, and the couple exited through the set of French doors that led out to the gardens, where Darcy was proved correct in his predictions that his cousins had set up the wickets for a cricket match. As they walked along, Mr. Darcy would lean close to Lizzie and appear to whisper in her ear, actions that made at least one of the spectators who had gathered watch the cricket match, more than a little bit angry. As the couple approached the pitch, Mr. Bingley quickly approached his friend." Sorry old man, but I need to borrow Lizzie for a bit." as he led her to her side's end of the pitch. Mr. Bingley gave her a ball, and Lizzie threw it up into the air and caught a few times before turning to the task at hand.
Colonel Fitzwilliam was the first batsman up. Mr. Darcy's amiable cousin was confident that he would get a six right away, and stood ready. Lizzie wound up her arm, got a good running start and threw the ball, and smash! down went a wicket. This caused even the Colonel to laugh out loud and exclaim; "Bingley was right, you are an excellent bowler, but I know you cannot repeat that throw and get a "hat trick"." This was said in such a challenging tone that Lizzie put on her determined look, and answered challenge for challenge." We shall see." came Lizzie's sweet reply. In the end, of course, Lizzie made all three wickets come crashing down, to the cheers of Jane, Mr. Bingley, Miss Darcy and Mr. Darcy.
The match brought the roses to Lizzie's cheeks, and it soon became evident that her side would win the day. True she had trouble batting, but she had confessed that she was not a very good batsman. Yet, even Lord Marsden, who was the best bowler of the three cousins had to applaud Lizzie's skills and declare her the heroine of the day. What made the game even more exciting was the fact that Mr. Darcy made his first attempt at bat since he was wounded in his leg. This Lizzie applauded with great pride and admiration, as his efforts earned him and his side a six. "Be careful, warned her conscience. or you will find yourself truly falling in love with the man. You are needed here to help him find a blackmailer.
Posted on Tuesday, 19 February 2002
That evening, because Mr. Darcy's guests were somewhat tired from that afternoon's cricket match, especially Mr. Darcy, as his leg had become tired, there were no planned entertainments, but the Ladies and Gentlemen found some ways to amuse themselves. Mr. Bingley and Jane sat together and spoke in quiet tones, that Lizzie could see from her place next to Mr. Darcy brought smiles to the lips of her eldest Sister. Georgiana Darcy sat at her piano playing quietly, while Lord Thornewood gallantly turned pages for her. The Hursts, Caroline Bingley and Lord Antony Casterfield, who was a late arrival, and had been a friend of Mr. Bingley at University, and for some strange reason thought the world of his friend's sister, even though she did not notice this, played a game of whist.
It was such a quiet evening that no one expected the events that occurred next. A package addressed to Miss Darcy arrived in the music room in the arms of a young maid, who had been hired by Mrs. Reynolds as extra help, and had obviously had not heard of Mr. Darcy's edict as to packages like this, and so it was not brought to his study, so upon opening the package, the effect on Georgiana was immediate, she fainted. Lizzie was first to the piano, and seeing the baby doll with a smashed face, brought a determined look to Lizzie's face. She quietly picked up the note that had accompanied the hideous gift, and slipped it into the pocket of her skirt, so that she might show it to Mr. Darcy later that evening. Something was quite wrong, and the blackmailer truly wanted to hurt both Mr. Darcy and his sister.
Posted on Friday, 24 September 2004
Lizzie returned to the library as soon as was possible after seeing Georgiana settled in her room with a cup of hot milk, laced with some brandy. What had just transpired, truly unsettled her. Whomever was blackmailing Mr. Darcy was near, of that, Lizzie was sure. The person may even have come to either Pemberley, or Lambton, or he had a confederate in the house. A fact she wanted to make sure that Mr. Darcy knew.
Mr. Darcy expressed his gratitude to Lizzie upon her entering the library. All in all, his plan was working well, but his conscience kept asking him which plan? Yet, Miss Elizabeth Bennet had been more than kind to his sweet young Sister.
"What do you think of this, Elizabeth?" asked Mr. Darcy, in a concerned tone, as he helped her to one of the two chairs by the fireplace.
"What do I think? I think that your blackmailer is either in this house, or staying in Lambton, or he has a confederate in the house. That is what worries me the most." replied Lizzie.
"That thought has come to me also. Perhaps we might be able to lay a trap for this person, but we must plan it out carefully. I believe this person is become deadly serious. We must be cautious. But it is late, and we shouldn't allow such thoughts interrupt our sleep. Let us speak of more pleasant things, such as your first impressions of Pemberley. What do you think of it?" asked Mr. Darcy.
"It is a lovely house and estate. I can see that you have cared for it well. Your Father would be proud of you. Don't, you can't blame yourself for what happened to your Sister, anymore than she should blame herself. You knew what he had become, but no one could have predicted that he would do what he did. I almost think, after what you have told me of him, he just might be behind this, yet you said he hasn't been heard from in quite some time, like he had dropped from the face of the earth, but we know that this is not the case." replied Lizzie, as she rose from her chair to make ready to exit the library, but once again, whether it was by accident, or on purpose, Lizzie didn't know, yet once more she found herself in Mr. Darcy's arms, being soundly kissed. Once more, confusion reigned.