Posted on Sunday, 5 November 2000
Fitzwilliam Darcy could tell that his fiancée - Miss Elizabeth Bennet - was summoning up the courage to talk to him, but after the memory of the last few days he could wait no longer, "Elizabeth," she started at the use of her full name - as of the engagement he had always called her "Lizzie" or "my darling" (or words of that effect).
"Elizabeth, please, I beg you to tell me what has happened to us over the last few days. Why have we been drifting further and further apart? What have I done?" he said in an anguished voice. (Ever since her rejection of his first proposal he had continually doubted whether he was good enough for her and found it hard to believe that they were to be married by Christmas.)
The lady in question turned to look at him. She caught his eye, "Do you regret proposing to me, Mr. Darcy?" Mr. Darcy turned white and was visibly shaken - he did not know what tore at his heart the most, her doubt or her reverting back to using his formal name (which she had none done since they first became engaged).
"What have I done to make you doubt how much I love and adore you? Elizabeth you have been my torment and my light these last six months - my torment when you would not marry me and my light when you accepted my second offer. I think of you night and day: the way you laugh, the way you smile, the way your eyes sparkled in the light. How could you think that I do not love you? I love you from the bottom of my heart."
As Elizabeth heard his declaration she saw the solitary tear roll slowly down his face. She wished she did not have to do this but she knew she must, it would be better for him in the end (even if she would be wretched for the rest of her life).
"I know you love me," she said, gently, "but love is not always enough to overcome more, material objections. No, wait, let me finish. I have very little dowry and shall gain very little on my parents' deaths. My relations you have long despised," He blushed at this obvious allusion to his first proposal. She continued, "and now Mr. Wickham is numbered among one of them, they can only be more disgusting to you."
He tried to interrupt but she turned away from him and continued, "Both Lady Catherine de Bourgh and your aunt and uncle ---- are against the marriage - and how can they be blamed, considering the circumstances?"
She discretely wiped a tear from her eye, but Mr. Darcy, who had watched her throughout her entire speech, unable to move, noticed it. He was severely puzzled about her speech and what his actions now should be - it was delivered calmly, without emotion, yet the tear proved otherwise.
"Why do you do this to yourself, Lizzie?" but this he asked only in his head. Aloud he said, "As a young boy I resolved to marry for love, without taking anything else into consideration. Now, as a man, I have no qualms about doing that which I determined to do. Only one thing can prevent me from marrying and that is ....." here he faltered, "Miss Bennet, do you withdraw your love from me?"
"No! No!" she replied quickly.
"Why then should we not marry?"
"I would hate...hate to think that you blame me for...for any destroyed relationships that may occur in your family because...because of me!" she sobbed, finally letting her emotion overcome her.
Mr. Darcy finally understood and gathered her into his arms. "Elizabeth, I would never blame you for the stupidness and stubbornness of my relations."
He put his fingers under her chin and tilted her head upwards to look her in the eye.
"Lizzie, I love you, and nobody or thing can prevent me from marrying you."
"Oh William!" she sobbed and hugged him tightly, not wanting to let go.
Posted on Monday, 6 November 2000
They stood there, in each other's arms until Lizzie's sobs decreased and until the many tears that had trickled down Darcy's face gradually dried up.
Darcy, noticing that Lizzie was no longer as upset, gently led her to a nearby bench and sat down with her next to him. They sat in silence, neither knowing what to say.
"You must think me so silly," Lizzie finally said with a humourless laugh.
"No! No! Not at all!" He said holding her hand in his. He looked into her eyes. It seemed to Lizzie that he was searching for something in them.
"I will understand if you feel you cannot tell me at present," he said, faltering, "but I would very much like, nay, I feel I must know where these sudden doubts came from. Has someone said something to upset you?"
She turned away, "No, no, I was just being silly...pre-wedding nerves...that is all. Oh dear!" she said, at last a smile appearing on her face, "I appear to be becoming like my mother!"
Darcy smiled with her and decided that, for the present, he would have to leave the subject of what happened, however he resolved to touch on the matter at a later time, when they were both more at ease. As it was he could only try his best to convince her, in every possible way, how much he loved and worshipped her.
They set off walking back to Longbourn.
As the subject turned to how well Bingley and Jane bore Mrs. Bennet's advice and interference Lizzie was glad that she would not have to tell Darcy exactly why she suddenly wondered whether their marriage would be a happy one. No matter how much her head told her that the best thing for both of their happiness would be to end the engagement, she could not deny the love she had seen in his eyes for her, nor the love she had for him. At least now she did not have the disgrace of facing her Meryton acquaintances, once more single - yet she still harboured doubts about how happy William would be if he became estranged from the rest of his family.
She blushed, realizing she had not heard a word that William had just said. "I'm sorry, I was daydreaming. What did you say?"
Darcy thought he knew what she was daydreaming about but mentioned nothing. "I was just telling you how Georgiana hopes for snow at our wedding. She thinks it would be extremely romantic. What do you think?"
"I think it would be extremely cold" she said, laughing, her usual self returning, "besides, as long as I am marrying you, nothing could possibly make my wedding day more romantic!"
Darcy turned her to look at him, his eyes requesting permission. She briefly nodded her head and then found her beloved William kissing her - tentatively at first, but when she felt her return the kiss he became more passionate.
As they neared Longbourn they met Jane and Bingley walking out towards them.
"Darcy!" exclaimed Bingley, "We were just coming out to search for you. We were worried you must have "got lost" again" His eyes were twinkling.
Jane, who was on Bingley's arm, merely smiled at Mr. Darcy and then said to Lizzie, "Lizzie, you must come in at once. Mother was greatly agitated when she could not find you. She wants to talk to you about the wedding arrangements."
"Again!" groaned Lizzie, as she walked off.
Dinner passed as it usually did in the Bennet household when Darcy and Bingley were present: Mrs. Bennet fawned over her two sons-in-law-to-be; Mr. Bennet took every opportunity to make wry, sarcastic comments on the behaviour of his wife and his two un-engaged daughters and Mary and Kitty took great delight in vexing each other.
Neither Darcy nor Bingley noticed. The latter was too busy talking to his fiancée and even had he noticed their behaviour he would have thought little of it. The former was also concentrating on his fiancée yet it seemed that she had little to say to him and tries to avoid catching his eye.
Lizzie had still not shaken off her melancholy thought of earlier, and despite William's apparent forgetfulness of them, she knew that he was probably merely biding his time, waiting until the right moment. She knew that at some point she would have to tell him but she wanted to get her own thoughts organized first. How was she supposed to tell him without upsetting or angering him?"
Darcy noticed Lizzie quietly sigh to herself and frowned, deep in thought.
Mr. Bennet had both heard the sigh and seen the frown. He was greatly puzzled. He knew just how much his favourite daughter and this fine young man loved each other yet why were they both being so reserved? It did not make sense. He decided to keep a closer eye on Lizzie, just in case.
As they rode back to Netherfield, Bingley noticed that Darcy was very sullen. Ever since his engagement, on their return form the Bennets' he would be talkative and happy. There would be a light in his eyes and a bounce in his step. This evening there was no light and his step was sluggish.
When they reached Netherfield they dismounted and went through to the library. Bingley ordered for some Brandy to be brought to them and then stood leaning against the fireplace, wondering where to begin. Darcy had resumed his place in front of the window, staring out into the dark, empty night - a sure sign that something was upsetting him.
"Darcy," Bingley said, softly, "Darcy, I know something has not been right recently and I suspect it to be something between you and Elizabeth. You don't have to confide in me but I want you to know, I am always here for you, should you need to talk."
Darcy remained silent. Bingley wondered whether he had offended him until:
"Good God, Bingley!" Darcy said in an anguished voice. "What am I to do? I don't even know if she loves me anymore!"
Darcy walked across to the desk and sat there, head in his hands. Bingley came and sat beside him.
Darcy looked up. Bingley continued, "Darcy, Lizzie loves you. I know that, as does Jane ... and her father as he would never let you marry her if he thought she did not. If her own family know that she loves you why do you not? From previous conversations, as well as the way you behave towards each other when you are together, it is obvious that she loves you very much. How could you think she does not?"
"Do you really think that she loves me?" Darcy said, his voice full of hope.
"Before Tuesday, I, too, was certain that she loves me ... yet, after today..."
At this Darcy related to Bingley their earlier conversation in the wood.
"You must get her to explain," Bingley advised. "Tell her what you told me - that you doubt her love - and ask why she seems to be drifting away."
Darcy silently nodded his head.
"Bingley, I feel I must retire. I am afraid that I'm not very good company this evening."
Bingley wished him goodnight, knowing that Darcy wanted, and needed, to be alone, to think things through. He, however, remained in the library for a little longer, gazing into the flames asking why Darcy and Elizabeth could not be as happy as him and Jane.
Especially written for Danielle L., Elli, Anna P. and everyone else who has offered so many nice comments about my story
Mr. Bennet was sitting, reading, in the library when there was a knock at the door.
"Come!" It was Lizzie.
"Sorry to disturb you, father, but could I get a book? Sleep seems to be eluding me tonight."
"Of course, Lizzie. Come in. In fact I am glad it is you as I would like to talk to you. Come, sit down."
She sat down in the chair that he was indicating, opposite.
"So Lizzie, soon you will be leaving me."
"And I shall be left alone with two silly young girls and your mother with her nerves for my companions."
"Kitty may not be so silly now that Lydia has left. Kitty was always influenced far too much by her."
"Yes, you may be right. However, I did not want to talk to you about the merits (or lack of them) of your sisters. I wanted to talk about you. As I said, you will be leaving me soon to marry Mr. Darcy...he is a fine young man."
"And I'm sure you will be one of the happiest wedded couples in the country." Lizzie shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Mr. Bennet was well aware that it was unfair to be manipulating his daughter like this, yet he knew he must do it if he was to make her open up to herself as well as him.
"I hope we shall, Papa."
"Hope, Lizzie? Where has the optimistic young lady who sat in this seat a fortnight ago, convincing me of the merits of her husband, gone? You should be sure that you will be happy."
"I am Papa..." he raised his eyebrows, quizzically, "It's just that..."
"Lizzie, you can confide in me, you know that."
"Well, it's just...can William be happy if none of his relations are? Will he not come to hate me if his relations all reject him? I couldn't bear the thought that he might be tied to a woman he no longer loves."
"You don't seem to hold his love in much regard, Lizzie." Mr. Bennet said, sternly.
"Oh, I do ... it's just..."
"No! Listen to me, Lizzie. I do not often have to tell you that you are being silly, but you are. You see his love every day, you know how much he loves you."
"No buts. A love like his will not wane purely because a few relations don't agree with him. Lizzie, he still loved you, even when he thought that there was no chance of him having you, even when you rejected him so bitterly. Then he knew the consequences, as he does now. His love is stronger than that and I had hoped that you held his love in higher esteem than that. I am disappointed in you, Lizzie."
Lizzie sat, motionless, tears streaming down her face as she took in her father's words. Finally she said, "You are right, of course. I have been stupid. I did not trust his, nor my own, heart enough. I just listened to others. Oh, father! What can I do now?"
"Tomorrow, tell him how you feel and why you came up with the ridiculous theory in the first place. He will understand."
Lizzie got up and moved to the door. "Thank-you father."
"Lizzie?" she turned, "You for got your book!" her father said, smiling kindly at her.
She smiled back at him, fetched her book and headed upstairs.
She opened her door to find Jane already in her room.
"Lizzie, you have been crying," it was not a question.
"Yes I have, but Papa showed me that I didn't need to, so there is no need to worry."
"Lizzie, you have always felt that you could confide in me haven't you?"
"Yes, of course."
"I will, of course, understand if you do not wish to confide in me, but Bingley and I have noticed that something is troubling you and Darcy. I am here for you to talk to, should you need to," she said, slowly, as if unsure how much she should say.
"Oh, dearest Jane! I am sorry for neglecting to tell you. It is just I did not know exactly how I felt myself." She went to the dresser. "On Tuesday I received these letters. read them both and you may understand. But would you be very angry if I said that I wished for some time alone to organise my thoughts after what Papa said. I promise to give you a full account tomorrow but I am afraid I owe that to someone else first."
"I understand, completely. Goodnight, Lizzie. Do not worry too much, I am sure that things will be fine." she said as she left.
Neither Darcy nor Lizzie got much sleep that night, both worrying over what they would say to each other on the morrow.
Little did she think that at the same time Darcy, too, was awake and worrying about what the day held in store for them. He, however, felt too confined by his room, so got up and went for a ride to gather his thoughts before breakfast - him and Bingley were dining early so that they could spend as long as possible at Longbourn.
Darcy returned for breakfast and ate silently, making Bingley very uncomfortable. When they were finished they mounted their horses and set off for Longbourn.
Meanwhile, Lizzie was pacing the drawing room floor. She looked around as she heard the door open - it was Jane.
"Lizzie, I return the letters to you. Will you show them to Mr. Darcy?"
"Yes, I believe so. I think I must but I am unsure as to how he will react."
"Do not worry. I am sure all will be fine. Look! Here they come now."
She was right, Darcy and Bingley were nearing Longbourn.
They were show into the drawing room where Lizzie and Jane sat, along with their mother who had joined them as soon as she had heard of the gentlemen's arrival.
Bingley, Jane and her mother entered into a light conversation touching on many subjects but Darcy and Lizzie remained silent. Darcy because he could not catch Lizzie's eye - she kept looking away - and Lizzie because she was too nervous (and also partially too ashamed) to speak.
After what seemed like an age to the silent couple, Bingley suggested a walk. The others all jumped at the idea, and, as Mrs. Bennet was not much of a walker, the two couples, only, set out from Longbourn. Bingley and Jane at a fairly rapid pace as they knew that the other couple needed to talk. Darcy and Lizzie, however, remained silent until they were out of sight of Longbourn (and Jane and Bingley), in a glade where there was a wooden bench.
Darcy took a deep breath while Lizzie summoned up all of her courage.
"Will -," they started simultaneously.
"Elizabeth, you speak first." Darcy said, partly because it gave him more time to think and partly because he hoped that she would explain everything without him having to pressure her. He so much wished for a marriage where she would come straight to him if something was on her mind rather than waiting for him to notice and ask her.
"Well, yesterday you told me that I had seemed distant for the last couple of days. I may have been, but it was not because my feelings for you had changed, it was because... well you may understand better if you read these letters. However, before I give them to you, you must promise not to make any rash decisions after reading them. Promise me you will be calm before you make any decisions over what to do."
"I can only promise that I will try," he said apprehensively.
Lizzie nodded slowly, "This letter I received on Tuesday and this one on Wednesday."
Darcy took the letters, sat down and opened the first one. He seemed to recognise the handwriting but couldn't place it. He slowly read it...
You do not know me but I have become well acquainted with you and your character. I am Lord ----, Mr. Darcy (your supposed fiancee)'s uncle and I am writing to you to inform you how disgusted all his relations are that he is to unite himself with some little fortune-hunter. You may think yourself very clever to have ensnared him where so many others have failed but you are mistaken. His family will disown him and all the honour you may think you will get at court as his wife will be gone, I myself will see to that.
But as I have heard that you are from a poor family, this might not be enough to stop you: no doubt you are in this for the money as well. You may get money at first, as mistress of Pemberley, but no doubt that will diminish just as my nephew's infatuation with you will diminish as he realizes what important family ties have been severed.
You will find people's respect for you will diminish, too, when they hear that Darcy has a mistress, (which he undoubtedly will) because he is unhappy with his choice of wife. Pemberley will be a very lonely place when your husband ceases to talk to you.
Miss Bennet, rethink your ideas and release my nephew from this ridiculous engagement. I would also warn you now about going after my younger son, Colonel Fitzwilliam, (for I know you set your cap at him whilst you were staying near Rosings). I can and shall make your life extremely unpleasant should you not do as I request.
I do not beg your pardon for presuming to write to you when we have not been introduced. It was the only thing I could do, bar coming to your home and speaking to you however, I shall do this if you continue with this ridiculous charade.
Earl of -------
Lizzie studied William's face as he was reading it. She saw it cloud over and become dark and angry. She had never seen him this angry before - it frightened her.
He turned to the next letter.
It was from his cousin and Colonel Fitzwilliam's elder brother. Its contents were very similar to the first letter but he attacked Lizzie much more directly and viciously than his father, claiming to have first-hand information from Colonel Fitzwilliam as to just how much of a flirt she was! He said that she was nothing but a "fortune-seeking harlot" and that William would see this eventually and come to hate her.
The two letters would have made very little impact on Lizzie had they not both talked of William's love for her fading. As it was she watched her beloved nervously.
As William read the first letter he could feel the anger building up inside him. By the end of it he was furious. How dare his uncle assume such things about Lizzie and their relationship?! When he turned to the next letter he knew immediately who it was from and it hurt him. He had hoped that his cousin would support him.
His cousin said even worse things than his father. His anger became more and more intense as he read through the passages that called Lizzie's reputation into doubt.
He would go now and sort this thing out. He would write them both a letter explaining exactly how much he felt that their opinions should intrude upon his wedding. He stood up.
He saw Lizzie standing there, almost as if, yes, she was afraid. Afraid of him! he immediately felt guilty - she looked awful, so worried. But then she had looked similar to that for the last few days. Why did he not press her sooner?
"Lizzie," he said kindly. He was rewarded with a look that showed such complete submission and dependence on him that it took his breath away.
"Lizzie, come, sit down here with me," he said as he gently took her arm and led her to the bench. She sat down beside him but averted her eyes, ashamed.
"Lizzie, he began, "Lizzie, you did not think I believed the things these letters said about you did you?" He could not understand why they were affecting her so. She never questioned his love when his Aunt Catherine said such rude things about her.
"No," she said, still looking away, "It was just..."
"Lizzie, look at me. Look at me, Lizzie!" he gently turned her head to face his and cupped his hand under her chin to prevent her from looking down again. "Now, tell me what has been worrying you so recently."
"I thought what they said might be true," she said in a rush, "I thought that if you became estranged from your family you might grow to hate me. I couldn't let this happen for you or myself. I don't want you to be unhappy in marriage and I can't bear the thought of you hating me. I tried to give you opportunity to break off our engagement, knowing that I could not do it myself, but instead I managed to succeed in hurting you. I am so sorry. Can you ever forgive me? Please say you still love me, in spite of how I've hurt you." She ended in tears. William pulled her head onto his shoulder and embraced her, not knowing what to say.
As the sobs slowed he said, "I would forgive you, Lizzie, if there was anything to forgive but it is my uncle and cousin who are to blame, not you."
"But I am! I doubted your love for me. I am so sorry," she cried.
"You knew in your heart, otherwise you would have broken off the engagement. No, Lizzie, you have nothing to be sorry for."
He pulled her close to him. As he was embracing her he realised just how close he had come to losing her and just how great a loss that would be to him. For the second time in as many days, tears rolled down Fitzwilliam Darcy's cheeks as he realised how much he had been blessed in being given his beloved Lizzie, all the while wondering how they were going to survive the visit that his aunt, (Colonel Fitzwilliam's mother), had just informed him the family were going to pay...
Darcy and Bingley rode back to Netherfield in silence- Darcy because he was furious and Bingley because he knew better than to attempt to draw Darcy into conversation when he was in this mood.
When they arrived, Darcy took his leave of Bingley and went to his room to pour over the two letters (which Lizzie had given him leave to take away). The handwriting was definitely his uncle's and cousin's yet how they came to such ideas he did not know. He knew it could not possibly have been Colonel Fitzwilliam - he was too honest in his praise about her: if Colonel Fitzwilliam thought she was mercenary he would have warned Darcy, himself, immediately, not complain to Darcy's uncle. No, there was no way Colonel Fitzwilliam was behind the letters, so who was?
While Darcy was deliberating on this Bingley found himself pondering what to do. A letter had arrived for Darcy while they were out. It was marked IMPORTANT and had the Fitzwilliam family crest on the seal but Darcy was shut up in his room and Bingley was loathed to disturb him. In the end Bingley decided he would have to give Darcy the letter and brave his anger. He went up and knocked on Darcy's door. There was no reply.
"Darcy, I have a letter for you," he said softly. Still nothing. "It has the Fitzwilliam seal on it."
The door opened.
"Thank you, Bingley" a hollow voice said. Bingley strove to catch Darcy's eye. He looked better than last night, less haggard, but still his eyes seemed empty and lifeless.
"Goodnight, Darcy," he said as he turned.
"Goodnight, my friend," was the soft reply. Darcy turned and looked at the letter. It was addressed in his aunt's hand. A letter from the very people who almost took Lizzie from him! In a burst of rage he held the letter out to the fire...but pulled it back, just in time.
He slowly opened the letter. It was from his aunt.
My dear Fitzwilliam,
I am glad that you are reading this - I hope this means that you are prepared to listen to me and not just that Miss Bennet has tried to protect you from your relatives.
Firstly, let me assure you that when I wrote to you informing you of our visit I had no idea of the two letters that my husband and elder son wrote to your fiancée. Had I known about them, they never would have been sent.
Last night I informed my husband of our visit. He became angry and said that he would disown you and disgrace your fiancée should you marry. (I am sorry to pain you in this way but I believe that it would be better to have everything out in the open at once.) He let slip that he had sent a letter to her, abusing her most dreadfully. No doubt he was not going to tell me of it as he knows my views on the marriage.
However, I am reminded, that perhaps you do not. I believe that you should marry for love (you know that) I also believe that you are mature and responsible enough to decide for yourself whether you are in love. You know that I never wished you to marry Anne, unlike your other aunt. I am sure that if you believe that the lady is worthy of you then she must be. You have encountered enough fortune hunters to know whether she is one or not. I realise that her family is not as wealthy or as well-respected as your own, but this only serves to make me proud of you - proud that you are strong enough to break the social bonds we all feel obliged to live by. I sincerely congratulate you and am sure that you will both be very happy together.
But this was not the purpose of my letter. The purpose was to try to explain, though I am aware that I can never excuse, their behaviour. (All this I received from not only my husband, but also both of my sons.)
Last week, while I was out visiting a friend, Lady Catherine paid us a visit. As you are aware, she does not think kindly of your marriage, (especially as she has hoped for so long that there would be a union between you and her daughter). From what I can gather she ranted on about your fiancée, (I won't bother telling you what she said - most of it was repeated, word for word, in my husband's letter.) However, my husband tells me now that some things she said that he could never believe of you - let your imagination run wild, you will not be far wrong.
My husband and elder son then spoke to Richard who said nothing but praise about Miss Bennet. In fact he was so gushing that they suspected him of being "drawn in" as well - I know this was not the case but you know how your uncle acts without thinking and Edward seems to be taking after him.
Believe me, they are both heartily sorry and both have promised that, if you ever forgive them and allow them to meet Miss Bennet, they will assess her fairly and disregard any former ideas.
Do not fear, however, as, unless you issue a second invitation, we shall not impose upon you, knowing how much the accusations must have hurt both of you. Do not be angry with Miss Bennet if she did not show you the letters as, I'm sure, she will have done this to protect you. Having heard from Richard what sort of character she has, I know you will suit each other perfectly.
We all wish you every happiness for the future and pray, that sometime, we may be reconciled with you.
God bless the both of you.
Posted on Sunday, 25 February 2001
Darcy sat, rereading the letter, not knowing how to act. Lizzie would probably feel uncomfortable if they came, if not angry...yet, after his parents died, it was his aunt and uncle he turned to for help, for comfort, for love. He couldn't imagine the happiest day of his life being complete without them.
He went to his bed and lay down. His last thought before drifting off to sleep was that he would show Lizzie the letter and leave the decision up to her.
When he came down to breakfast the next day there was another letter waiting for him, this time from his steward in Pemberley. He was needed urgently at home. He knew it must be important, for his steward was completely capable and would not disturb his master unless he felt really out of his depth, yet he hated the fact that he must leave Lizzie, especially after all that had occurred in the last few days.
He wrote to her, enclosing his aunt's letter and saying that whether his aunt came or not was Lizzie's decision.
Lizzie was sitting in front of her mirror, brushing her hair, thinking on everything that had occurred. She did not regret showing William the letters, but she worried about what his resulting actions would be. She wanted their married life to begin as happily as she hoped - and in her heart knew - it would go on. She did not feel that this could happen if William was furious with his closest relations. As it was, Lady Catherine was no longer speaking to him.
She was startled out of her reverie by her mother's shrill voice telling her and Jane to hurry up and dress as the gentlemen were sure to be here soon. Mrs. Bennet seemed to think that "the gentlemen" would dissolve their engagements if they were kept waiting for an instant - she could not understand the deep love that tied these men to her daughters.
Lizzie descended the stairs with Jane, eager to see her fiancé but her face fell as she saw only Mr. Bingley. Before she could begin to wonder as to the lack of appearance of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley gave her a letter, addressed in that same, close writing which had addressed the letter she received during her stay at Hunsford.
"Would you excuse me?" she said, hurriedly, to her sister and Mr. Bingley.
"Of course. Go and read your letter, Lizzie."
Lizzie took the letter and went into the garden. She sat down on a bench and, with trembling hands, carefully opened the letter.
My dearest Lizzie,
How I wish I could be talking, in person, with you today, (indeed we must talk soon), but my steward needs me at Pemberley urgently. Please do not think that I would leave you normally but I'm afraid that this business is of the utmost importance. I hope to rejoin you in a little over one week.
I received a letter from my aunt yesterday and I would very much like you to read it. She wishes to come for the wedding, but it must be your decision. Our wedding must be, and will be, perfect, and I will not have it spoilt by my relatives making you feel uncomfortable. It is your decision.
Yours, with deepest love and adoration
Lizzie started to read the second letter, hoping that she could find it in her heart to forgive his relatives, for she knew that she could not, and would not lie to him, yet she wanted them to come for his sake. But she must be brutally honest from now on.
As she read the letter she found herself warming to this Aunt Maria, and even to her husband and son. She found that she could not condemn them for believing Lady Catherine, after all, she had believed Wickham so readily and on such a short acquaintance and Lady Catherine was a close relative to them. No, she did not blame them, but she was bitterly angry that Lady Catherine had nearly ruined her happiness once more.
As she reread the letter, she knew that she would be happy to have this lady at her wedding - she seemed well-mannered, humorous, sensible - and felt sure that "the liveliness of her mind", as someone had so flatteringly described her impertinence, would stand up to the gentlemen, especially as she knew that she would have the support of William and Colonel Fitzwilliam.
That afternoon she sent a letter to Pemberley, telling William that she would be perfectly comfortable - well, comfortable enough - if his aunt came to their wedding and that she was counting the days until his return.