Posted on Saturday, 9 January 1999
Darcy sat at his desk with his head in his hands. Surely this was the best answer, "Yes, I will do it!" he spoke out loud with out realizing it. He took out several sheets of paper and started writing.
It is with heavy heart that I write you today, on a day that should be the most joyous for you. I feel I cannot with all good conscience perform the task ahead of me today. I know that when you came to me with your request I told you I would stand up for you, but as the time draws near I realize it is beyond my power to do this thing. I have therefore spoken to David and he has agreed to perform the task in my place.
Cousin, I hope with all my heart that you and your lady will be happy and I wish you much joy. I know you will be happy and I know you will make her happy too, it is only that I cannot bear to see the one so dear to me, given to another, even if it is my most loved cousin.
I hope you and Miss Bennet can forgive me, I am going to leave for the Continent this evening, so I will not be able to wish you joy in person. Georgiana will be staying with Lord and Lady Matlock for an extended visit, since I am not sure how long I may be gone. David has agreed to watch over Pemberley for me while I am gone. I do not know when we may meet again, but until then give Elizabeth, forgive me for the informality, my love and take care of her, for you shall have me to answer too.
Darcy folded the letter and addressed it to Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. He called his man and told him to make sure the letter was given to the Colonel in the morning, then he instructed him to make sure his belongings were packed and sent to the London house. He went up stairs to the guestrooms and opened the door to his sister's room quietly, she was asleep but she looked troubled, he took it to mean that she was sad for him, he didn't know how she felt about Richard. He then went to his room, he stuffed a change of clothes into his small valise and closed the door. He took the back stairs out of Netherfield and walked to the stables. He had his horse saddled and then he took out a note he had written for the Bingleys. He told the stable boy to give it to his master in the morning. He mounted his horse and road down the road toward London, stopping only once to look at Longbourn, the home of his beloved, who would soon be his cousin's. Then he quickly urged on his stead and headed for London, and what lay ahead for him.
Elizabeth could not sleep, she knew it was not because of what the morrow held, but what it meant. That she would no longer be his, she had given him up for his good. She would make Richard a good wife, he loved her and she held him in great esteem. But she knew she would have to conceal the love she felt for another for the rest of her life. His aunt had made it clear to her that if she were to marry Darcy, he would loose everything, and although she knew he would risk it for her, she couldn't do that to him. Pemberley was his heritage and she could not take that from him. No, she would not have regrets, it was done and he would never know why, she stood and looked out her window as tears streamed down her face. She thought she saw a rider sitting outside the house, but it was a dark night and she thought it must be her imagination. She turned and looked at her wedding clothes lying in the chair waiting for her in the morning, and she suddenly felt she needed air. "I'll go for a walk, that will help me sleep," she mumbled to herself. She had not yet gotten undressed, so she grabbed her coat and bonnet and crept down the back stairs, so as not to be heard. She didn't know how long she had been walking, but she suddenly realized she was at Netherfield, she saw a light in the window of Georgiana's room and thought she'd surprise her , she needed a friend tonight. She went into the house by the servant's door and crept up the stairs, she found the room she was looking for and gently tapped on it, "Come In," said a soft voice from beyond the door. "Elizabeth," Georgiana said surprisingly when Lizzy had entered the room. "What are you doing here?"
Elizabeth smiled and walked over to Georgiana's bedside and sat down, "I needed air and before I knew it I was here, yours is the only room with a light, so I thought I'd come and talk to you before heading home."
Elizabeth noticed that Georgiana looked like she had been crying and preceded to question her, "Georgie, what's wrong?".
"Oh , Lizzy I don't know what to do, I don't want to hurt anyone, but I am hurting so bad myself, Oh, I can't tell you…."she sobbed.
"Why ever not, I thought we were friends" Lizzy replied.
"It is because of our friendship I don't want to tell you, Promise me if I do, you won't do anything foolish," Georgie pleaded.
"Of course, anything, just what is wrong?"
Georgiana, looked at Lizzy and tears weld up in her eyes, "Oh Lizzy, I love Richard and he's marrying you…do you see why I didn't want to tell you, and William has left tonight to go who knows where, because he loves you….it is all such a mess. "
Elizabeth sat stunned, Georgiana loves Richard? Could this be? "Georgie, why did you not tell me before, I would have never accepted him if I had known"
"But Elizabeth you love Richard, and I wouldn't hurt either of you", she sobbed.
"Oh, " Lizzy said softly.
"Why did your brother leave , he promised Richard to stand up for him."
Georgiana, held out a letter to Elizabeth, "Here, he left me this note.." she said as Lizzy took it from her.
The note read:
I know I said I would stay for the wedding but I cannot bear to see my Lizzy marry anyone else. I know Richard will take care of her, but I must go away. I have made arrangements for you to stay with Aunt and Uncle Matlock while I am gone, and David will look after Pemberley. I may be gone for quite sometime, but I will let you know where you may contact me in a day or two. I am going to London tonight, as the time drew closer I could stand it no more. So I will stay in town a day or two, then travel on the continent for a while. I will miss you dearly, but I need distance. Wish Lizzy Joy for me on the morrow.
Elizabeth, sat stunned. He was the rider she had seen, she knew what she must do….but Lady Catherine's threat was stopping her.
"Lizzy, I'm sorry, but I feel he is right…I won't be at the wedding either….I don't think I could…"she stopped as she broke into tears.
Elizabeth reached out and took her in her arms, "I'm sorry Georgie, I didn't know….oh but that you would have told me….how you felt…"she sobbed as she held Georgiana.
"If only Lady Catherine….." she muttered under her breath, but Georgiana heard her and looked at her questioningly…."Lady Catherine?" she asked…
"Oh, Lizzy, don't tell me she told you she could ruin William, if you married him….Oh, I can't believe she told you that…..".
"How did you know what she told me?" Lizzy asked
"Anne told me how her mother had more than once threatened someone she felt was after William , with that story….but that you believed her and didn't ask William, oh Lizzy" she exclaimed.
"Lady Catherine said he would deny it and that if I wanted to be the downfall of him I should go ahead and accept him, but she assured me that she would and could ruin him, that she held certain papers that could ruin him, she said she had the power…and she isn't one to ignore." Lizzy explained.
"But she doesn't Lizzy, William's fortune and mine are independent, the only thing Lady Catherine wants is William for her Anne." Georgiana stated.
"I must go to him, Oh, Georgiana can you tell Richard, explain to him I don't have the time to write him, But how will I get there? I have no horse or carriage….Oh, it is useless…' she continued as she paced back and forth by the bed.
"You can take mine, I'll go with you to the stables, we'll have the carriage made up and get you to town in time to see him…" Georgiana said breathlessly.
She grabbed her coat and she and Lizzy went quietly down the steps…I'll send my maid and William's valet with you so you won't be alone…if we can do this no one will know till it is too late…" she continued as they walked.
The coach was made ready, with few questions from the staff, they knew not to question Miss Darcy….Georgiana managed to get her maid and the valet and in less than half an hour Elizabeth was on her way to London.
The ride was a long one, but the coach driver made good time, he was very adept at maneuvering the coach in the dark, and they made London as the sun was rising….Needless to say Darcy was very surprised when his housekeeper informed him, a Miss Bennet was there to see him.
"Elizabeth, what …"was all he got out as she threw herself into his arms and kissed him. "I'm sorry William, it was Lady Catherine…" was all she got out as he drew her to him and kissed her again.
"But what of Richard, Lizzy, we have to go back, " Darcy said…
"No, we don't we'll get a special license and get married here, before anyone else can stop us….can't we?" Lizzy answered him back.
In a moment they were in the carriage headed for the license bureau …Before the day was out they were married.
That morning at Netherfield things were up in the air. Before Georgiana could talk to Richard news came from Longbourn that Lizzy was missing. Col. Fitzwilliam didn't seem shocked. "She probably took a stroll you know how she loves to walk, " he mused. Georgiana pulled him away and told him she needed to talk to him, Richard just laughed and went with her to the Library, "What has she run away with Darcy?" He joked.
"Oh, Richard, it's not a joke….please sit down," Richard's face went white…"She's gone?" was all he could say…
"Richard, she came to my room last night," Georgiana started to explain. When she had related all that was needed to be said, Richard looked at her and smiled.
"Oh Georgie, I thought you didn't care for me so I looked at Lizzy as an alternative, since I couldn't have you…"
Georgiana just smiled and tried not to cry, "Oh Richard" she sobbed as he took her in his arms….there was a wedding but not at Netherfield and not on that day. Georgiana and Richard went to London to ask for Darcy's consent to their marriage and that June Georgiana, became Mrs. Fitzwilliam. Darcy gave them use of the townhouse in London for their home. He and Lizzy preferred the quiet of Pemberley. They were all forgiven for their behavior, when it was found out..except by Lady Catherine…but then she didn't matter to them.