Miss de Bourgh's Diary
Posted on August 4, 2008
Mama is anxiously looking forward to Darcy and Fitzwilliam's arrival. She dotes on them, and they come and go as they please. I wish I were a man. I would have left home ages ago, and gone to London to live.
I sincerely hope Mama does not go on about my marring Darcy. He used to pull my hair as a child and put gross things down my clothes. Fitzwilliam always rescued me, however, and let me in on his games.
I have to stop now. Mrs. Jenkins is calling and Mama will want my company now. I wonder if Fitzwilliam will be in uniform when he comes? Mama is calling. My chest hurts.
Darcy and Fitzwilliam arrived today, and Darcy seems a little out of sorts. I wonder what is plaguing him. I cannot ask, of course, as Mama takes even the slightest polite speech between us as a confirmation of our so called engagement.
Fitzwilliam was dressed to the first stare of fashion, and not in his uniform, which disappointed me briefly. Still, he looked most agreeable in his burgundy coat.
Almost as soon as they arrived and made their bows to Mama, they ran off, Darcy and Fitzwilliam---to the parsonage to greet the inmates of that house. I wished I could have gone with them, but Mama will not let me. She made Mrs. Jenkins sit me by the fire, and there I remained until dinner time. Mama thinks that it will be bad for my health if I did go, but I would like to walk to the parsonage every now and again. I know the way--- we have driven past many times, and I believe I could be friends with Mrs. Collins, or at least a good acquaintance.
The gentlemen returned in time for tea, and to my irritation, Fitzwilliam was full of Miss Bennet. Mama looked annoyed and my chest began to hurt. Fitzwilliam noticed that my breathing was becoming shallow, and taking pity on me, changed the subject. Darcy seemed relieved.
Before I had an opportunity to wonder at this, Mama had the tea things cleared away and we all went to change for dinner.
Mama allowed Mrs. Jenkins to take me out in the phaeton for an airing today. Darcy had found amusement elsewhere, but Fitzwilliam agreed to ride along side us. Mrs. Jenkins dozed as she will when out of Mama's sight, so I was able to talk to Fitzwilliam a bit. His regiment is stationed in London, for the nonce, so he decided to visit with Darcy for a while. I know that he is still single, and not looking for a wife with any degree of seriousness. I also know, as the second son, he needs to marry an heiress. If Mama were not always hinting that I am to marry Darcy, I cannot help but wondering if. . . just maybe, Fitzwilliam might offer for me. But, I know Mama wouldn't have it, and I suspect Fitzwilliam looks on me as a sister.
I inquired after Aunt and Uncle, and cousin James and cousin Catherine, then Mrs. Jenkins woke up and said that it was time to go in.
Mama let me go out in the phaeton again, and both Darcy and Fitzwilliam joined us. Fitzwilliam wore a very fine green coat today, with tan buckskins, and his boots shone to military perfection. Darcy wore black again.
I have been ruminating on the matter these two days now, and I have decided that I am in love with Col. Andrew Fitzwilliam, second son of the Earl of ---. I came to this somewhat shocking (in the best way) conclusion as I was reviewing several of my old diaries from years back. I was greeted with volumes full of his mention, and only passing references to Darcy. Therefore, I must conclude that I have been in love with Fitzwilliam since I was a child. I will keep this revelation to myself as Mama would never approve. But I don't feel in love. There is less pain in my chest as I think of him, but that is always so.
But back to this morning. Darcy rode with us, and mostly ignored us both, so lost in thought was he. I was glad, though nervous---fearing my newly realized feelings for Col. Fitzwilliam would show on my face. Thankfully, the gentleman in question remained oblivious. We talked about general things, but when he mentioned Miss Bennet---with a conspiratorial wink at me---Darcy looked up, trying to hear what we were saying. I hid my grin in my handkerchief and after sporting with Darcy for a few more minutes, Fitzwilliam changed the subject. I asked after his regiment and that topic ate up the whole remainder of our ride. Mrs. Jenkins woke up and it was time to return to the house.
At dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Collins and their guests joined us again. Mama seated me beside Fitzwilliam, but I couldn't talk to him because she (Mama) was on my right. It did offer me the opportunity to determine that I very much like Fitzwilliam in his evening clothes. He tried several times to talk to include me in the conversation, but Mama kept talking over him, and he finally gave me a rueful smile and fell silent.
As usual, there was little to do after dinner. Darcy hovered near Miss Bennet while she plunked on the pianoforte (she does indeed play very ill! Poor lady, but any sound is a welcome one.) Mama was busy going on about practice and how much she loves music, so Fitzwilliam was able to leave Miss Bennet's side to sit near me and talk for a few minutes. I was most shocked by what he had to say.
He wants to ask Mama if it would be alright for me to go out for my morning drives without Mrs. Jenkins. If he can get Mama to agree, he said he will start teaching me how to ride! He said he has found a docile enough animal, and that he is tired of seeing me indoors all of the time. I gave him the warmest smile I could muster, and told him it would do me very little good to know how to ride after he and Darcy left, as I would not be allowed to. Fitzwilliam gave me a small smile.
"Which is why my mama will be inviting you to___ for a few weeks this summer." Mama called him away then, and I could hardly breathe at the prospect. I have not seen my Aunt and Uncle in years. Not since Papa died.
I went to bed praying Mama could be convinced.
For four days now, darling Fitzwilliam has been teaching me to ride. The mare he bought for me is small and brown, with white fetlocks and a white star on her nose. She has the kindest eyes of any creature I have ever seen. Fitzwilliam said he bought her before he came to visit especially for me and that I may name her. I asked why he had not brought her to me sooner.
"I came down with Darcy. It would have looked odd to bring a ladies' mount with me. She was brought separately."
Somewhat mollified by this explanation, I allowed him to help me into the saddle and while the groom that usually drives me, looked on in amusement, Fitzwilliam took his place at the horse's head and led us down the park.
What a freedom riding is! And that is what I shall call my mare---Freedom. We went about three fourths of the way down the park, then turned back, as I had to be back inside, but what a joy it was! We got back to the phaeton, and Fitzwilliam helped me dismount and take my seat in the conveyance.
He warned me that I may be sore the next day from the unaccustomed exercise, but that I should try again anyway.
"You did very well; I do believe you are a natural," he told me. I blushed and back to the house I went.
Sore was an understatement! The next morning, it hurt to open my eyes, but I was determined and we were able to go out again without Mrs. Jenkins. We went down the park away from the house, with Fitzwilliam riding himself.
He looked very handsome in his seat, and I wished for the thousandth time that I was pretty. I could not help thinking what an odd sight we must have made; a good-looking young man riding beside a pale, sickly looking thing that was completely and unsuitably dressed for riding. I have no habits and dare not ask for one. I would dearly love to have one, though---in wine red velvet, with red kid boots and a small tricorner with a matching feather. But I will not think about it.
We have ridden every day now and Fitzwilliam says that I am doing remarkably well. I cannot help wondering if he is bored though. He cannot gallop with me and Freedom follows wherever his horse leads.
We did not go out today as it rained. Darcy is still mooning over Miss Bennet, Mama is being more disagreeable than usual with the servants, and Fitzwilliam has retreated to Papa's billiards room, leaving me deal with Mama's ill humour.
I have been fine for days now and even Mama commented that I was looking much improved, but one wet day is threatening to undo all! I have always had a hard time breathing when the air is damp, and add on top of it all Mama's bad mood, I am feeling near fainting today.
I wish Fitzwilliam would come and sit with me for a few minutes.
Before they left today, Fitzwilliam made his invitation for me to visit___ publicly. Mama was surprised, and assuming he was including both, stared to accept. I was instantly downcast, but Fitzwilliam broke in---explaining that aunt wanted me as a companion for a few weeks, while his sister went to Bath to keep house for the Viscount. Mama was taken aback. The Countess had never asked for me before.
"No, ma'am. But this is the first year Catherine has been old enough to go away."
Mama groused a bit, then agreed. I was so relived. Fitzwilliam suggested gently that Aunt would be taking me out in society a little bit (here he glanced at me and I read ‘a lot' in his gaze), so I would need some new clothes.
Mama also agreed to this and set Mrs. Jenkins to writing to Town for a dressmaker. I could have kissed him! I haven't had new clothes in years!
Finally, they went---he and Darcy, though the latter was out of humour. I wonder what happened there? Well, no matter. I will be seeing Aunt in four weeks, with a whole new wardrobe!
I arrived ten days ago and I never want to leave. Aunt and Uncle were very glad to see me, and welcomed me warmly. James and cousin Catherine were indeed from home, so I have become the center of attention. Aunt says that she has been talking to Fitzwilliam, and she has determined I must have a little fun before I waste entirely away in Kent.
After I arrived and was being unpacked, she inspected my new clothes critically, then called her abigail to rip off all the lace and flounces (Thank the Lord!).
Freedom has been quartered here in anticipation of my arrival, and I am to ride every day the weather is fine. Aunt gave me one of cousin Catherine's habits until mine is done, and she sent Mrs. Jenkins to London to visit her own daughter, so I am truly to be free these fifteen weeks. I am beside myself.
Fitzwilliam is to arrive tomorrow, but he may only stay a short time. Still, I am glad he was delayed as my new habit (wine red velvet, just like I wanted!) is ready and I shall wear it for the first time when he takes me riding. For now, cousin Catherine's old habit will do nicely.
Fitzwilliam arrived early this morning, hours ahead of schedule and set the whole household on its collective ear. He had news; his regiment is to go back on active duty at the end of the year, and may be in France for a very long time. Aunt became a bit frantic, but Uncle assured her, as did Fitzwilliam, that his regiment would be in Town until Christmas.
Aunt went to lie down and Fitzwilliam suggested we ride. I agreed and sent him a head so that I could change.
"Good," he smiled. "I am glad Mama has bought you a proper habit."
I went to my room, and Aunt's abigail, Molly, helped me change. She smiled knowingly as she took out my new habit without my asking.
"I knew you was saving it, Miss."
I said nothing, though it felt like I blushed. She put my hair up and helped me into the dress.
I felt like a princess, and as I came around the corner of the house into the stable yard. The look on Fitzwilliam's face was worth the wait. He was standing between the horses' heads, holding their leads, and talking to the groom. The groom spotted me first and began grinning. Fitzwilliam turned to see what he was looking at, and just stared at me.
His eyes traced me from top to toe, and I felt beautiful for the first time in 28 years. He moved away from the horses and the groom took up the reigns he'd dropped. Fitzwilliam came to stand before me and offered me his arm to cross the yard. I took it, and he helped me mount and we set out.
We walked for a while, then I nudged Freedom into a canter, and Fitzwilliam exclaimed in surprise. I laughed and we were soon galloping across the open field. The groom was soon left behind, though I do not believe he was really trying to keep up. Finally, Fitzwilliam suggested that we take a break and we slowed the horses, who were breathing hard, and dismounted to let them a rest.
We walked for a short distance in silence, then Fitzwilliam commented that he was pleased with my progress. I smiled and glanced up at him. He was looking at me as if he had never really seen me before.
"I am glad Aunt offered me the chance to come here without Mama."
He smiled. "Father knows his sister. Aunt Catherine . . . can be a force of nature when she chooses."
I laughed and he kept staring at me. Finally, he suggested that it was time to return. The groom had caught up and was tending the horses when we got back to them.
Back at home, Aunt had recovered herself. She was pleased we went riding and over lunch, she told us of the party she was planning. Cousin Georgiana's 16th birthday is coming up and Aunt doesn't trust Darcy to do it up right.
I haven't seen Georgiana since she was 2. I asked Fitzwilliam, since he and Darcy are her guardians--- how she does. He was vague, but I guess that means very well. Aunt has been trying to give me piano lessions, but I am not sure I like that instrument, and anyway, at 28, there seems little point in starting it.
A wet day and a letter from Mama had me out of humour. Fitzwilliam knows my breathing is bad when it is wet, and spent the whole day with me in my sitting room, with the fire blazing to keep the air dry. Molly was with us for property's sake, but she mostly slept. The room was so hot, it was making her senseless. We even cracked the window a bit, but it didn't seem to help. Fitzwilliam and I talked, and read, and I replied to Mama's letter.
Honestly, I am surprised he stayed with me. I am sure he was bored to tears, so I dearly hope tomorrow is dry so that he may have some amusement.
It finally stopped raining late last night, and I got up early to go riding with Fitzwilliam. He seemed pleased with my company, even after two days trapped indoors in a tiny room with me.
We were out for hours, and it was after tea by the time we returned. Aunt fussed at Fitzwilliam for keeping me out and making me miss two meals and two teas. We laughed at her until my stomach growled and I retreated in mortification. We both ate heartily at dinner time, and spent the evening in a food induced stupor by the fire.
Uncle thought this was most amusing, and suggested we do not ride tomorrow. Aunt kept looking at us thoughtfully and I finally became disconcerted and went to bed.
Woke this morning as sore as my first day of riding lessons, but a hot bath soon set me to rights. Fitzwilliam, being a soldier used to long hours in the saddle---was fine, but we went out in James' high-perch phaeton instead of riding.
We did a bit of shopping; I bought a new bonnet, and a small statue for Mama. Fitzwilliam bought me a swan pin, saying it suited me. When I asked why, he said they were graceful. I demurred, but he insisted.
"But you can't buy a gift like that for a woman you are not engaged to!" He just looked at me and I found myself taking the package from him with bloodless fingers. From there, we went to the bookstore and somehow the awkwardness dissipated.
We returned home with the same reckless abandon we used to leave it. Aunt was most concerned, as we tumbled breathlessly into the house, but Uncle just smiled and said the excitement brightened my eyes and put some colour in my cheeks. Fitzwilliam kissed my hand and gallantly declared that I made a delightful traveling and shopping companion.
At Aunt's urging, though, I went to lie down. I had a very pleasant dream that I now cannot recall.
I am desolate, despite yesterday's great success. Though I am technically not ‘out,' even though I am 28, Aunt insisted I be allowed to dance at cousin Georgiana's party. Georgiana is a sweet girl, and we got on as soon as we were introduced. Darcy was brooding, and not very good company. Fitzwilliam choose to wear his red dress uniform for the occasion, and most of the ladies in attendance were near to swooning at the sight. He looked very handsome.
I wore the new sapphire blue ball gown that Aunt had made for me when I arrived. Fitzwilliam's pearl swan pin matched perfectly, and my hair was up a Grecian style fall that suited my curls. I thought I looked well, and Fitzwilliam was pleased to see the pin, so I felt wonderful.
Darcy led Georgiana out for the first dance. I sat out that one, and Fitzwilliam stayed with me. Then the orchestra played a waltz, and he led me out to open that dance. Mama would have been scandalized, but I thought it was wonderful! He held me very close and quietly counted the steps for me until I got the right of it. I felt like I was flying!
If I wasn't already sure, I would have fallen in love on that dance floor. Far, far too soon, it ended, and Fitzwilliam led me back to Aunt. I didn't get to sit much. Lots of young men wanted to dance with me. I was very surprised. Fitzwilliam claimed me for another waltz, and I stood up with Darcy for a county dance. He still seems out of humour. I wonder what's bothering him?
Fitzwilliam escorted me down to supper and sat beside me. We did not get much chance to talk, however, as young men kept coming over to talk to me. I wanted them to go away so that I could have this short time with Fitzwilliam!
He couldn't dance with me anymore without causing speculation, but Fitzwilliam stayed beside me and fended off my suitors when I began to tire.
It was dawn by the time we got into bed and I was exhilarated and exhausted. I think I had more fun than Georgiana, and it was her party!
I woke late to an express from Mama demanding my instant return. Fitzwilliam argued that I still had time left in my visit and that Mama had no right to do this to me. Darcy and Aunt were looking at him very oddly. He finally seemed to notice, and stormed out of the room, muttering about going to Town to get Mrs. Jenkins.
He shall return tomorrow, and I will go home.
Mama has returned from fussing at Darcy and Miss Bennet to a letter saying they are to be married. I nearly fainted with relief. Mama is furious, and I have retreated behind a locked door.
Georgiana sent me a letter, saying Miss Bennet wishes me to attend her wedding,(the gilt edged invitation was enclosed,) and will set a place for me, though she is sure Mama will not let me come. She is more right than she knows, but I appreciate the thought.
Darcy is safely married, and Fitzwilliam came to tell me all about it, as he stood up with Darcy and Mr. Bingley.
Mama is still furious, so we could only talk when Mrs. Jenkins took me out in the phaeton. Once we were out of sight of the house, Fitzwilliam dismounted and put me up on his horse. Mrs. Jenkins protested, but he just took up the lead and walked away. The groom must have said something, because she stopped fussing.
We were barely in sight of the phaeton, and Fitzwilliam began telling me all about the wedding. I was surprised a man would bother to remember what kind of lace was on (now) Mrs. Darcy's gown, or what kind of flowers Mrs. Bingley carried. But he told me all. When that topic was exhausted, he fell silent for a moment.
"You know, I'll be leaving next week for the Continent," he told me. "I wanted to see you once more before I left." He looked me over and sighed. "I wish---"
He turned away from me and I felt sad. I know my bloom had faded in the five months since I had returned home. I have always thought it; but now I know it---Mama's presence is poisoning me.
"Oh, Anne," Fitzwilliam turned the horse back towards the phaeton. "I will talk to Lady Catherine, and see if she will let you go to Mama for Christmas. If she says yes, I will see to it you remain until at least Easter."
I nodded, though I know Mama will never agree to it.
Fitzwilliam has gone, without being able to convince Mama to let me visit Aunt for Christmas. I am not surprised, though it would have been nice.
December 26, Boxing Day
Christmas mass yesterday felt as if it would never end. I wonder if Mr. Collins notices that half of the congregation is asleep during his sermons, and that the other half is visiting with their neighbor.
I am glad Christmas Day is over. It was spent sitting in the drawing room in a tight silence.
I miss Fitzwilliam.
By the time we get the papers here, they are weeks out of date, but I have been checking the causality lists for any news about the ___Regiment and Fitzwilliam. So far, there has only been word that they have been put back on active duty.
January 6, 12th Night
I did not see the paper for a few days as I couldn't find it, but when I did, I knew why Mrs. Jenkins had hidden it. Fitzwilliam was injured in Spain! Mama was annoyed because I fell into hysterics but she was finally prevailed upon to write to Aunt and Uncle to ascertain the extent of his injuries.
If he lives, I will do everything in my limited power to convince Fitzwilliam to join the church or something equally less dangerous.
Fitzwilliam is to be sent home a decorated hero, though his injuries were at first relatively minor. He took a bullet in the knee and a bad saber wound in the side, but was left on the field for two days, because his officers were unsure where he was---and things began to putrefy.
More hysterics greeted this news and only a liberal dose of smelling salts and an argument with Mama calmed me.
"You act as if you were married to the boy," Mama commented as I cried over Aunt's letter. I thought about the swan pin and glared at her.
"I could be if it were not for your interference!" I yelled at her. Mrs. Jenkins went very still beside me. Mama stared at me, speechless, then rose slowly.
"What did you say?"
"He is going to die and I will be an old maid and it will all be your fault!"
Mama was incredulous. "You mean to say that you want to marry a second son with no fortune to recommend him! Have you taken leave of your senses!"
"No! for the first time ever, I have all of them in full command! If you had let me go at Christmas, I could be with him now when he needs me the most! And yes, I love him! I have loved Fitzwilliam for years!"
Mama reached to grab me, then paused and glared. "Go to your room and you will remain there until you learn some manners."
"No! I am 29 years old! I will do as I like!" I ran out and went to my room. I quickly packed up a few things, and took myself down to the parsonage. Mr. Collins was off annoying someone else for the night, and Mrs. Collins let me stay overnight.
Tomorrow, I am taking the Post to Aunt and Uncle.
I have received word via Mrs. Collins that Mama is unwell and quite bedridden. I have been helping Aunt and cousin Catherine nurse Fitzwilliam, who is recovering slowly. I am quite loathed to leave him, but if Mama is truly ill, I must go and see to Rosings.
Mama is indeed ill. The doctor is certain that she is dying. I have sent word express to Aunt and Uncle and Darcy. I know only Darcy can come but the whole family should be notified.
Darcy and Lizzy arrived yesterday and Mama took herself off for good today. I wish I was sorry.
Directly after the funeral, I returned to Aunt and Uncle's to be with Fitzwilliam. He is mending slowly, and I have already told Aunt and Uncle that when he recovers, if he will have me, I would very much like for us to be married. They were surprised by this rather backwards and unconventional proposal, but I have decided to unconventional for the rest of my life if I can.
Andrew and I were married today. He was very willing to accept my unconventional proposal, but was more surprised that I wanted to be married to anyone.
"Not anyone," I told him. "You. I have been in love with you since I was 6."
Then he told me that he had nearly proposed to me twice last summer, but decided to wait in case I was indifferent. He and Darcy must be reading different pages of the same book.
It is very vexing to think I could have had a triple wedding with Lizzy and Jane, and that I could, like them, be a mother by now.
But we are married, and we agree that we will live at Rosings. But only for a few months a year. At some point in time. Andrew has a house in Town and I want so much to live in Town. We will be leaving for London tomorrow and I can't wait.