Saturday, December 12, 1812
This has to have been about the worst day of my entire life. For today, I watched Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, my true love, marry another woman. Losing him to any woman would have been bad enough, although I suppose if I had lost him to a society woman, it would not hurt nearly so badly. But to lose him to Eliza Bennet! A woman who brings nothing to him but her "fine eyes"! She may call herself a gentleman's daughter and therefore his equal, but her family! Her mother belongs in Bedlam, her sister Mary is perhaps the worst singer in the country and Kitty Bennet has to be the silliest girl in southern England. Also, does he not realize that by marrying that Eliza, he becomes the brother in law of his sworn enemy? With all these factors in my favor, why does he choose her instead of me?
I realize that unlike Eliza, I am not a gentleman's daughter. My father may have been in trade and my mother may only have been a vicar's daughter, but I would bring to a marriage with dear Fitzwilliam talents that Eliza will take years to learn if she ever does. I can properly conduct myself in London society. After all, I have been doing it for years! I can plan a party, run an estate household and decorate a house in the modern style. Was Charles not pleased with the way I redecorated the London house two years ago?
I know that I should be in bed. After all, did I not hear the clock strike midnight a few minutes ago? But how can I possibly sleep? For years I have dreamed about the day I would become Mrs. Darcy. In my dreams I had the perfect wedding planned. Everything would be perfect to the last detail--my dress, the church, the flowers, the wedding breakfast. Instead, today, the day my fondest dream should have come true, my worst nightmare was realized. I watched my true love marry another. While Eliza Bennet is off in London enjoying the wedding night that should have been mine, I sit here curled in my dressing gown, scribbling in this journal and drinking this wine that I had my maid sneak from the cellar. I do not know why I asked for the wine. It was a spur of the moment decision. I have heard of men trying to drink to forget. I know those long months that Charles was separated from Jane he did it on several occasions. I recognize that trying to get drunk in order to forget what has happened today is extremely unladylike, but society be damned. If getting drunk will ease this terrible ache in my heart, then the damage to my reputation as a proper lady is worth it.
But enough about my current state of misery. Let me describe this ghastly day and record how I got to this state of half-intoxicated despair. When I awoke early this morning, it was overcast, a fitting beginning to a day that would see my true love lost to me forever. I did not go down to breakfast. I sent word that I had a slight headache and that I would eat in my dressing room. It was a lie of course. The truth was that I could not bear to see my precious Mr. Darcy. It would be the last time that I saw him as a single man and the knowledge that I would never do so again was more than I could bear. So I sat upstairs with my tea and toast and steeled myself to make it through this day. Charles did not check on me, but I was not surprised, since his case of pre-wedding jitters began the night before. I was a bit surprised that Louisa did not come to see me, but she has been looking a bit ill these past few mornings. Could she be "in the family way"? Of course not. I doubt that Mr. Edward Hurst has stayed sober enough these recent weeks to manage it! Georgiana eventually came to collect me. She looked beautiful in the dress that the Bennets had selected for their attendants. It's entirely possible, I thought, as I walked down to the carriage with her, that she will outshine at least one of the brides!
The trip to the church was quiet, almost eerily so. I managed to sit next to Louisa in the carriage. For some reason, she looked a little ill, almost as though the motion of the carriage was making her nauseous. Since Georgiana had not been to Meryton before, she looked out the window the whole trip. Edward read his newspaper. I sat and looked at my hands. I kept repeating to myself over and over in my mind "I can do this! I can do this!" I must have said it aloud at some point, because out of the corner of my eye, I could see Louisa glance at me with a curious expression that seemed to say "Do what?"
We got to the church and Georgiana and Mr. Hurst went inside since they were in the wedding party. I told Louisa that I wanted to walk about the church grounds for a bit and she joined me. After a moment or two she declared that she was cold and that she was going inside. She promised to save me a seat. I wandered about the cemetery looking at the old gravestones until one of the ushers stuck his head out and signaled that it was time for me to come inside.
Louisa had managed to get us two seats on the outside aisle. I don't know why she picked that end of the pew, but I thanked her. Sitting on the center aisle I may have been tempted to trip Eliza as she went past. We had been to this church when we were at Netherfield last fall, so I knew that it was nothing more than a simple country church. The decorations were rather gaudy, but since this was not my wedding I had no right to criticize them. I managed to glance at the men in the wedding party a few times. Charles looked nervous, but happy. Mr. Hurst looked uncomfortable. Colonel Fitzwilliam looked handsome in his dress uniform and he was drawing a great deal of attention from the younger women like Kitty Bennet and Maria Lucas. Fortunately, the person in front of me kept me from getting a view of Mr. Darcy.
The wedding march sounded and everyone in the church turned to get a look at the brides. Everyone but me. I could feel Louisa twist around beside me, but I kept my head lowered. I did not look up until I saw them pass by me. For everyone else the march meant that "this glorious day" as Charles had described it had begun. For me, it meant my dreams had been shattered. My heart felt as though someone had hacked it in two. After one quick glance at the altar, I lowered my head again.
When it came time for the vows, Charles and Jane went first. I managed to watch them, even though Louisa asked me for my handkerchief since she was crying and could not find hers. Jane, I must admit, looked radiant and I do not believe that I have ever seen Charles look happier. Then it was time for Eliza and Mr. Darcy. I could not bear to watch it. Just hearing it was bad enough. It was as though my heart, which had been hacked in two by the opening notes of the wedding march, was now being cut into tiny pieces. How I succeeded in not bursting into tears I do not know. It must have taken willpower that I never knew that I possessed.
If the wedding ceremony was sheer torture, the wedding breakfast was at times almost strangely calming. For the meal itself, Louisa, Edward and I were at one end of the table near Mr. Bennet and Mary. Usually, I like to converse at mealtime, but not today. My heart still lay in tatters and I don't think that I could have held a civil conversation with anyone. I do not think that I have ever been more thankful to be in such close proximity to Mary Bennet in all my life, because I doubt she said more than two or three sentences to me the entire meal. Her father said no more than was polite. I'm not sure if he dislikes me or if he is usually that quiet around people he does not know well. Louisa tried to start a conversation with me but gave up after a moment or two. She spent most of the meal talking with Kitty Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam's brother Matthew who were diagonally across the table from her. Mr. Hurst spoke mostly with Mr. Bennet and I mostly stared at my plate, although I did catch Georgiana looking at me once or twice.
After the meal, there was a small party and then the happy couples left Longbourn. Charles and Jane went back to Netherfield and Mr. and Mrs. Darcy (that will take some getting used to) left for London. Before they left, everyone gathered to say goodbye and express their congratulations. I congratulated Charles and Jane wholeheartedly. I may have disliked Jane at first, but Charles has chosen her and I must live with it. Besides, as an in-law Jane will undoubtedly be a vast improvement on Edward Hurst! Congratulating Eliza and Mr. Darcy was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, but I did it without making a complete fool out of myself.
During that small party, there were several incidents that greatly disturbed me. The guests had moved into the drawing room after the meal and since the two couples were at one end of the room, most of the guests naturally stayed at the same end. I spotted a chair near the fireplace at the other end of the room and crept over to it. I was quite content to stay there, out of everyone's way and reflect on the day's happenings. I did take several opportunities to look around the room to see what was occurring. On perhaps the second or third of these glances about the room, I caught Mr. Bennet examining me closely. Our eyes met, but for no more than five or ten seconds. Before I broke away, I recognized an expression on his face. He had discovered my secret in those few seconds. I quickly jerked my eyes back to the fire, but a thought kept running through my mind, "He knows! Dear God, he knows!" I had not recovered from this when Kitty Bennet and Maria Lucas made their way over to me and inquired why I was sitting by myself. I do not know what sort of look I gave them, but whatever it was, it sent them scurrying back to the main group. A few minutes later, Georgiana came over and asked me much the same question. I do not know what I said to her, only that I must have vented all my despair and anger upon her, because when she hurried back to the rest of the party she was on the verge of tears.
The party at Longbourn eventually broke up and everyone made their way home. Georgiana expressed a desire to walk back to Netherfield and Kitty Bennet and Maria Lucas agreed to show her the way. I rode back to Netherfield with Edward and Louisa. Edward had filled his belly with the Bennet's excellent food, so he dozed off as soon as the carriage wheels began to turn. Louisa must have been a mind reader because she did not say a word during the short ride back to Netherfield. Within minutes we were back at Netherfield and everyone went his or her separate ways. I went up to my rooms and locked the door behind me.
I sat there for hours looking out the window, lost in thought. Being lost in thought, was in hindsight, the worst possible thing I could have done. During those hours I stared out the window, I kept rehashing the same two subjects over and over again-the wedding and the confrontation with Georgiana. Eventually, the maid arrived with my tray and my train of thought was broken. As I ate, I resolved to make matters right with Georgiana in the morning. I could do nothing about dear Mr. Darcy now. He was lost to me forever. But I could try and salvage something with Georgiana.
It is time for me to retire now. The clock has struck two and besides, the wine bottle is empty. I do not now what tomorrow will bring, but it cannot be worse than today.
Sunday, December 13, 1812
If yesterday was the worst day of my life, then this morning was a close second. I awoke this morning to a splitting headache and a nauseous stomach that made even the slightest movements difficult. For a moment, I was unsure what had brought on such an undesirable state of affairs, but as I carefully raised my head from the pillows, I saw the wine bottle on the table. It was then that I remembered, rather hazily I must admit, what had happened the day before. I had watched Mr. Darcy marry Eliza Bennet!
But if those memories were not painful enough, I recalled how I had spent the late night hours, scribbling in my journal and drinking wine. My journal! I rolled over to the bedside table, as another ferocious wave of pain burst forth from my head. This pounding in my head was met by another attack of queasiness as my stomach issued its' own complaints. I yanked the drawer open and saw that the journal was safe from prying eyes. A sigh of relief escaped from my lips, but even this was reason enough for my head to throb.
As I eased myself slowly back to my pillows, a ray of sunlight slipped through the curtains and added to my misery. When my head was back on a pillow, I pulled another over my face to shield my eyes from the sunlight that was steadily creeping into the room. I soon discovered that if I lay perfectly still, my nausea, while not going away completely, at least subsided a little.
While my squeamishness waned, I lay thinking of Mr. Hurst for some reason. There were many times that I had seen him drink a bottle of wine by himself. But I never remembered him seeing look as bad as I felt. As I lay there in misery, I began to worry about Louisa. If she were indeed pregnant, what would happen to her and her child if Hurst had a drinking problem? On most occasions when Edward had overly imbibed, he was content to sleep on a sofa. Was there a darker side to his intoxication? The more I thought about Louisa and my brother-in-law, the more concerned I became for her.
My concern for Louisa seemed to affect my own state as well. As long as I thought about her, the less noticeable the pain in my head was, although it reappeared whenever I moved my head or neck more than slightly. The quiet of my chamber was soon shattered by what sounded like a twenty-one gun salute. In reality, it was no more than a quiet tapping on the door and I could hear Georgiana asking if she could come in. I tried to raise my voice to bid her come in, but what started out as a call ended in a whimper as my head again threatened to explode.
The door opened and Georgiana came to stand by the bed. I raised one pillow to get a better look at her and a very strange thing happened. I have always thought myself to be adept at judging a person's emotion by studying their face, but I had never seen the transformation that took place on Georgiana's face. In almost an instant, her expression changed from one of fury to one of pity. She knelt down by my bed, as though to study me more closely. My heart sank, for I knew that her opinion of me was worsening by the second. After perhaps ten or twelve seconds, she whispered, " I wish to talk with you, but you are obviously not in a state to do so at this moment. I will see you in the back parlor in two hours. I will have a tray sent up for you." Then she was gone, and the door quietly closed behind her.
My maid appeared in a few minutes with the promised tray. It was a most unusual tray. Instead of the usual tea, there was only water. The toast was there, but in addition to the toast there was a glass filled with a murky brownish-green liquid and a note. As soon as my maid had left I opened the note, which was addressed in Georgiana's hand, "I have seen Mrs. Hudson make the concoction in the glass many times over the last few months and I have taken the liberty of having the cook make some for you. Drink it, for it will settle your stomach and ease the pain in your head."
To say that the contents of the glass looked disgusting would be an understatement. But Georgiana said that it would help and I was desperate for some sort of relief. My first tentative sip proved my theory right, but I nevertheless slowly emptied the glass. After a few minutes my stomach did begin to feel better, although my head took a bit longer. Within thirty minutes, I felt myself able to nibble some toast and have some water. An hour after consuming the mystery drink I had finished eating and had sent for my maid.
When I had bathed and dressed I slowly crept downstairs and made my way to the back parlor. I was not looking forward to this meeting with Georgiana and I paused for a moment to gather my courage. I opened the door and stepped into the parlor. I was startled to see that Georgiana had somehow acquired my cloak and my bonnet and they lay folded on one of the sofas. She soon gathered her own garments and motioned for me to do the same. As we reached the back door, she hesitated for a moment and asked if I knew of any paths near the house that would be suitable for a walk. I said that I knew of several and I led the way towards one that I believed would not be overly strenuous for us.
After a few moments of silent tramping down the path, my curiosity and dread got the better of me. I reminded Georgiana that she had wished to speak to me and inquired as to what the subject of our conversation would be. She stopped and in a remarkably calm voice, considering the anger that I had seen in her eyes earlier in the day, she recounted our conversation at Longbourn the previous day. Georgiana must have a superb memory, for I do not think that she left out a word, which I had said to her the day before. As she repeated my harangue against Eliza, the Bennets and even her brother, my shame grew. If someone had said to me even half of what I had said to her, the famous Bingley temper would surely have erupted.
Our previously steady pace had died almost to a crawl as Georgiana spoke. My shame and discomfort grew with each stride. Georgiana finished her speech by revealing what the original purpose of her visit that morning had been. She had wished to confront me over what I had said the day before, because my angry words about her new sister-in-law, who Georgiana clearly respected, had hurt deeply. Slowly and with a good deal of difficulty I spoke for the first time in the conversation "What stopped you?" I asked.
'The fact that you were still in bed and clearly looking miserable at eleven o'clock in the morning." was Georgiana's reply. "I saw that same misery on my brother's face several times in London earlier this year." I must have given her some sort of confused expression because she hastily added, "Did you not know that Lizzy refused him this past April?" I must admit that I had not heard that, but it did make Mr. Darcy's rather peculiar behavior of the spring and summer logical. I pondered for a moment and realized that Mr. Darcy must have tried to find solace in a bottle several times and that Georgiana had witnessed the results.
I did not have time to think on this point for long before Georgiana asked a very surprising and a rather personal question, "Are you in love with my brother?" she asked. My previous slow pace stopped and I must have shown my astonishment all over my face because Georgiana quickly added, "Yes, I can see by the expression on your face what the answer to my question is." In a faltering voice, I poured out all my despair of the past weeks. Georgiana was hardly the person to tell these things to, but as I told her what had happened, a great weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Georgiana, who had probably not realized that her questions would bring forth such a lengthy confession, seemed to absorb all I told her with a remarkably steady temper. She did not smile or look triumphant as I told her all that had happened since I had heard of her brother's engagement. On the contrary, she merely nodded and her face wore a concerned expression. When I had finished she merely stated that she now understood why she had found me in such a miserable state that morning. I smiled rather sheepishly and said that I had learned the hard way that one could not find comfort in a bottle for long. Georgiana then surprised me again when she said that her methods of dealing with a life-altering event had not proved to be any more effective.
She must have seen the puzzled look that passed over my face, because she began the story of her involvement with Wickham at Ramsgate in the previous year. I realized to my horror that my barb about Wickham that I had thrown at Eliza when we were at Pemberley had instead wounded Georgiana and had done so grievously. I made a note to myself to ask her forgiveness at the earliest opportunity. Georgiana, having finished the Ramsgate portion of her tale, moved onto the aftermath at Pemberley saying that she had desperately needed a confidante, but that she did not feel that she could approach her brother. Instead she had withdrawn even farther into her shyness and her music, sometimes not speaking to her brother for hours. I must say that I truly felt for her, because I too had been motherless at fifteen and would not have known how to handle things either.
When she had finished her story, I apologized profusely for the unintended attack at Pemberley the previous August. Georgiana graciously accepted, adding that since I had known about Ramsgate, I could not have known that any mention of Wickham would cause her discomfort.
We then moved onto what turned out to be a happier subject. Georgiana paused, smiled and asked in a shy quiet voice "Do you think that we will ever have the happiness that our brothers have been blessed with?" I chuckled and a frown crossed Georgiana's face. I hastened to tell her what had brought on the chuckle. After all, Georgiana was only sixteen and was not even "out" yet. There would be plenty of chances for her, and when the right man came along, he would accept her for who she was and that Wickham would not matter at all. I, on the other hand would be twenty-four at the end of January and unless I married soon, I was probably doomed to be a spinster. This statement brought forth a giggle from Georgiana who boldly stated that there was someone out there for me and I would simply have to wait until he came along. I smiled at Georgiana, marveling at the idealism that still remained within her, even after Ramsgate.
When we got back to the house, we were informed that we had missed a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and Mary. I was rather pleased that we had done so, because I could only take so much of Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Bennet's recognition of the jealousy that had passed over my face still troubled me.
Instead I crept up stairs and lay down for a rest. While I was resting I had what I can only describe as a most extraordinary dream. I was at a ball, but I was not dancing. Instead I was sitting to the side entertaining two children that looked like they must somehow be related to me. As I was keeping the children occupied, I noticed a man was coming through the crowd towards us. He was a tall man, almost gangling and all I could see of his face was that he had a brilliant smile that rivaled even my brother's. Very strange indeed. If it happens again I shall have to see if I can remember any more details.
Wednesday, January 6, 1813
The past few weeks certainly have been busy. It is almost impossible to believe that it's Twelfth Night and that the holidays are now over. But this has been a Christmas season like no other and things have happened that will surely take some getting used to.
Louisa, Mr. Hurst and I left Netherfield on the morning of the 16th. I'm positive that Charles for one was glad to see us go. In the past he had always allowed us to stay with him for as long as we liked, but that was when he was a bachelor. As a newly married man, living just three miles from his mother-in-law must have been difficult enough. After all, the woman visited Netherfield at least once a day! Having Louisa, Edward and I always around must have only added to his burden and to Jane's as well. They probably wanted nothing more than to be in the house by themselves. Instead they had all these relatives to entertain, not to mention Georgiana.
Georgiana and I went for a walk every morning and enjoyed each other's company immensely. After our discussion on the 13th, we never discussed her brother's new marriage again. That is not to say that we did not discuss marriage at all-quite the opposite! Her brother's wedding seems to have rekindled Georgiana's romantic nature and on the Monday morning, the 14th, she described her ideal man as we ambled along the Netherfield paths. Georgiana's enthusiasm was very different than my thoughts after Louisa got married. Since I was not particularly fond of Edward at the time, I had pitied Louisa somewhat. Georgiana appears to envy her brother a great deal.
While Georgiana seemed to crave her brother's happiness, she was also concerned for her own. The Ramsgate incident had shaken her confidence a good deal and she was worried that being overly cautious might drive the man of her dreams away. While I understood her fears (after all, I would have the same worries) I sought to calm her, echoing the words that she had used the day before, when I had expressed my own uncertainty about my future. Wickham had also increased Georgiana's anxiety about her brother's role in her future. After all, if she married, especially before reaching 21, her brother would have to give his consent. Again I tried to reassure her, but at the same time, my thoughts drifted back to my own situation. Would Charles be as vigilant in defending my fortune and interests as Mr. Darcy would be in defending Georgiana's? I would like to think that Charles would be able to prevent me from making a dreadful mistake, but would he also interfere unnecessarily if I had made the right choice?
On Tuesday morning, the 15th, we talked mostly about London society. While Georgiana was not "out" yet, she was interested in what happened there. I promised that I would write to her and keep her informed of my activities and everything that I saw or heard. I must say that I looked forward to the assignment. Georgiana and I had grown closer over the last few days and I believe that while we are not yet close friends, we are friends and not merely acquaintances.
Our journey back to London on the 16th was a quiet one, with no problems besetting us. Edward fell asleep before we were out of Meryton and only awoke when we reached the outskirts of London. Louisa looked a little ill once we reached the London road. I looked at her quizzically, since she has never suffered from motion sickness. Not surprisingly, the thoughts that I had entertained on Saturday when I thought that she might "be in the family way" returned. Since Mr. Hurst was asleep, I determined to ask Louisa, but she had nodded off, resting her head against my shoulder. This prevented me from reading my book, but I was not very upset. I had started a book at Netherfield that Charles had recommended, but I was not finding it very enjoyable, so I was content to look out the window and meditate on what had happened over the last few days.
My thoughts followed what must have been a fairly predictable pattern. I contemplated life after Mr. Darcy, which was a strange concept indeed, since so much of my thinking over the last two years had centered on life with Mr. Darcy. I knew that I must put him behind me and move on, but it is so very difficult to suddenly shelve two years worth of dreams and expectations and start again. Georgiana certainly seemed to think that there was someone out there for me, but was that the idealistic belief of a 16-year-old girl? Eventually, I began to ponder the dream that I had had on Sunday afternoon. Was the man in it my future husband? Would it be practical for me to hold out for this man when I had never seen his face? This troubled me a great deal and I resolved to examine the problem further, but our arrival in London kept me from doing so.
Upon our arrival in London, the carriage was unloaded and Louisa, Edward and I sat down to a meal before retiring. My post had been left on a table in my room and I perused it briefly. There was nothing that required my immediate attention so I put it aside and prepared for bed. Once my maid had left me, I opened my book and began to read. After a chapter or two, it began to improve and I read it until I fell asleep. I awoke once during the night when I rolled over onto it and the corner dug into my back. I fished it out of the bedclothes and dropped it onto the floor and went back to sleep.
The next day we all kept very busy. The final touches to the decorations were made and Louisa and I approved them. I finally opened my post and spent much of the afternoon responding to the letters I had received. While I was working on my correspondence, Louisa and Mr. Hurst went to call on old Mr. Hurst, who lived with Edward's brother, George, and his wife. I did receive one visitor while they were out, so I was fortunately able to take a break from my letters, which were becoming tedious.
On the 18th, Edward left for his club and I went to pay a few calls of my own. After extending holiday greetings to several of my friends, I returned home, arriving almost simultaneously with a half-intoxicated Mr. Hurst. Both us of were surprised to meet the doctor in the drawing room, but Louisa reassured us that no one was in need of his services and that he had only been there to impart his own holiday wishes. While this answer was entirely plausible, there was nevertheless a certain glow in Louisa's eyes that puzzled me. I resolved not to press her about it though, realizing that she would reveal her secret when she was ready.
The next week progressed along similar lines as Louisa and I went shopping and visiting, usually together, although she did go shopping with Sarah, George's wife, on at least one occasion. I thought nothing of this however, since it was a common occurrence during the Christmas season.
Christmas Day itself was quiet. It saddened me somewhat to realize that this was the first time Charles and I had been apart on Christmas. But my sadness was tempered a little when I remembered that he would have to endure Mrs. Bennet, Kitty and Mary who would assuredly descend upon them at the earliest opportunity. The gift opening went smoothly and I believe everyone was happy with what they received. I was just about to summon a footman to carry my new belongings upstairs when Louisa asked me to return to my seat. She announced there was one more gift and Mrs. Longstreet, the housekeeper, slipped from the room and reentered with a single package.
Louisa asked Mrs. Longstreet to give the mystery package to Edward. He looked at it curiously and then shrugged his shoulders and tore off the paper. I do not think that I will ever forget his reaction when he saw the package's contents. I have seen many people look incredulous, but he easily surpassed them all. He kept looking at the package and then at Louisa, with his eyes getting larger and his mouth hanging farther open with each passing moment. After my third request to see what had caused such a response, he held up the book, although he still looked a little dazed. One look at the cover of the book, which was about fatherhood, confirmed my suspicions-Louisa was pregnant!
After what seemed to be an eternity, and with several false starts, Edward finally managed to stammer "Are you trying to tell me something?" Louisa giggled and replied "I would have thought what I am trying to tell you should be fairly clear by now!" With that Edward fairly flew across the room and swept Louisa up in an embrace. When they parted, I offered my own congratulations and inquired as to when the child was expected, which turned out to be sometime in July.
The news that he was to be a father created an entirely different version of Edward. I think he has been more attentive to Louisa in the last twelve days than he has in the last twelve weeks! On New Year's Eve, George and Sarah Hurst came calling with their little boy, Roger. When they got to the drawing room, Edward excitedly grasped George by the hands and told him the news. (The look of disbelief on George's face when Edward grabbed his hands came close to surpassing Edward's own on Christmas morning). George and Sarah extended their heartiest congratulations to Louisa and Edward, although I suspect that Sarah knew beforehand and advised Louisa on the book.
On Boxing Day, my pen fairly flew across the page as I wrote to Georgiana with the news. That day I felt an excitement that I had not known for months. I was going to be an aunt! I received a letter from Georgiana on New Year's Eve and her enthusiasm about Christmas at Pemberley rivaled my excitement about the baby. The presence of Eliza at Pemberley certainly seems to have made it a happy time again, although Georgiana, perhaps trying not to cause me pain, was not too effusive when singing Eliza's praises.
I received a reply to my Boxing Day letter today. Georgiana has asked me to pass on her congratulations and those of Mr. Darcy and Eliza to Louisa. So that I may do so, I will close for now.
Thursday, July 22, 1813
What a strange and wonderful day today has been. I have scaled the peaks of happiness and plunged into the depths of anxiety. I have seen a loved one in great pain and I have watched that same loved one as her euphoria soared to new levels that I may never know. But every minute of this day has been worth it, no matter how many gray hairs may be added to my head. For this afternoon, my nephew, little Samuel Matthew Hurst entered this world and I believe that he had already changed it for the better
Little Sam (because Samuel Matthew is much too big a name for such a tiny thing!) was born this afternoon after a labor that lasted most of the day. The birth itself unnerved me a great deal, but I had promised to be there with Louisa so I stayed with her. There were times, however, when Sarah Hurst spent more time ministering to me than to Louisa! Fortunately, the doctor was also there, so he was able to care for Louisa while Sarah tended to me in the corner.
The day's events began at the breakfast table, when Edward noticed that Louisa was in a great deal of pain. Edward has been very protective of Louisa these past seven months. In fact, he has made a nuisance of himself at times. (So much so that Louisa made a small sampler that read "I'm fine. Go away!" which she would hold up whenever he asked if there was anything he could do for her, an occurrence that transpired two or three times an hour when we were at home.) He observed the pain as it passed across her face and hurried to her, his own concern apparent. Within seconds, he ascertained that her time had come and he bellowed for Mrs. Longstreet, the housekeeper, and Mr. Bradshaw, the butler. Two footmen were quickly dispatched, one to fetch Mr. Maxwell, the doctor, and the other to alert George and Sarah Hurst that they were needed.
Sarah has been a godsend to Louisa since Christmas. Before, I was invariably able to help Louisa overcome any difficulty, despite the fact that I am the youngest. This has been an event in which I was unable to offer any assistance. Sarah has capably stepped into the gap and has been such a tremendous support to Louisa that I felt a pang or two of jealousy. My jealousy was instantly forgotten however, when I realized that this was a time when I could not help and that it was proper for Louisa to lean on Sarah, "the old experienced hand" as she calls her. We always giggled whenever Louisa said "old" because Sarah, at 26, is younger than Louisa by at least a year. Nevertheless, if Roger is any sign of Sarah's maternal skills, Louisa has chosen wisely in selecting someone to model herself after.
While the footmen were out delivering their messages and the rest of the staff began making the necessary preparations, Edward and I eased Louisa out of her chair and helped her upstairs. Once we had her in her room, Mrs. Longstreet escorted Edward out of the chamber, while her maid and I helped her into her nightgown and got her into bed. Sarah arrived within minutes (it was fortunate she only lived a mile away) and she quickly moved to the bedside, where she sat in the chair and began to comfort Louisa. Sarah's arrival was well timed, because the pain that Louisa was experiencing had begun to make me nervous. The doctor appeared shortly afterwards and Sarah motioned for me to sit down on the other side of the bed, so I would be in a position to help Louisa.
Sarah had taken the bedside chair and I looked around the room to see if there was another one that I could move. Unfortunately, the arm chairs by the fireplace were much too bulky to move into the confined space near the bed. I opened the door to request that a chair be brought up for me and I witnessed a most curious sight. In addition to Edward, who was pacing up and down the hallway, there were three other Hurst gentlemen sitting outside the door. The fact that George and Roger were there should not have surprised me nearly as much as it did, but it did startle me a little. What truly surprised me was the presence of old Mr. Hurst, who sat next to little Roger. The four men wore an interesting variety of expressions. Edward was naturally concerned and it showed. Roger, who was only three, had an expression that made it abundantly clear that he was wondering why "Unca Eddie" was marching up and down the hallway. George and Mr. Hurst looked a little amused, both at Roger and at Edward, who stopped and asked me for news.
Edward was a bit disappointed that nothing had happened yet, and he looked even more nervous when his father spoke up and informed him that "These things sometimes take hours son. It took you almost nine hours to come into the world and it took George over twelve. But rest assured that the wait, which I know at times can be agonizing, is well worth it." Mr. Hurst's statement startled Edward a bit, and he resumed the pacing that had stopped when I opened the door. The revelation that the birth could take hours surprised me as well and I momentarily forgot my task. After a moment or two, I collected myself and asked about a chair. George, who could see that Roger was getting restless, sent him to take the message to Mr. Bradshaw or Mrs. Longstreet.
A few minutes later, Roger came scurrying back up the stairs, followed by Mr. Bradshaw, who had brought my chair. The fact that the butler had brought the chair, and not a junior footman puzzled me, and I asked Bradshaw why he had brought it and not one of the footmen. He smiled a little sheepishly, explaining that he had been curious about Louisa's condition. His concern touched Edward and I, and we promised to inform him and the rest of the staff when the baby arrived.
I took my chair and moved it close to the bed. Louisa reached out and I grasped her hand. I could tell from the way she gripped it that the pain was slowly getting to be unbearable. Sarah must have seen me wince when Louisa squeezed my hand even tighter, because she murmured something to Louisa who released my hand. Sarah and I sat there by the bed for hours, trying to comfort Louisa. As time went on, I said less and less. After all, this was the first birth that I had ever attended, and I let Sarah do most of the talking. Several times, when I had not said anything for ten or fifteen minutes, Louisa turned to look at me, as if to reassure herself of my presence.
By early afternoon, when Louisa had been in labor for about five hours, I began to get very anxious. I had never seen anyone in such pain and the fact that I was unable to do anything to relieve it troubled me greatly. Sarah, whose powers of intuition and understanding appeared to increase with each passing moment, must have realized that something was bothering me. She crossed to my side of the bed and, taking me by the arm, led me to the armchairs that were on the far side of the room, near the fireplace. She made me sit down and kneeling next to me, inquired about what was distressing me. I told her, and I must admit that my apprehension about Louisa had me on the verge of tears. Sarah had a remarkable ability to calm people and she quickly eased my fears, telling me that compared to Roger's birth, things were going well, although they were taking longer. Since Sarah and Roger did not appear to have suffered any permanent damage to their health, this story had the desired effect and I soon regained my composure. I stepped out into the hallway to tell the men what was happening and to get a glass of water from the pitcher they had obtained from Mrs. Longstreet.
When I reached the hallway, an amusing scene unfolded before me. Edward was sitting in a chair holding a children's book with Roger asleep in his lap. Across from them, George and Mr. Hurst sat talking in hushed tones. George motioned me over and whispered to me what had happened. Roger had evidently tired of listening to his father and grandfather read to him and had begged for "Unca Eddie" to tell him a story. Edward, who had been pacing again, had sat down and Roger had climbed up into his lap. Halfway through the story, Roger had dozed off, trapping Edward in the chair. Mr. Hurst added that two good things had come out of it. It saved considerable wear on the floorboards and it gave Edward some practice in telling bed time stories. I let out a little giggle and Edward looked up and smiled. I crossed over to him and gave him the news about Louisa, which brought on another smile. When Mrs. Longstreet appeared, I asked her for another pitcher of water and some glasses. One of the maids returned with them and I took them back into Louisa's room with me.
I set the tray on the table near the fireplace and when Sarah walked over for some refreshment, I told her what had happened in the hall. My mentioning Roger and his request for a story made her chuckle, but a cry of pain from Louisa sent us hurrying back to her bedside.
We resumed our vigil and several more hours passed. Finally, at about five o'clock, the baby was born. The doctor announced that it was a boy and that it appeared to be perfectly healthy and Louisa sank back onto the mattress and began sobbing. This puzzled me for a moment, until I realized that her tears were not those of unhappiness or despair, but those of sheer joy. As soon as the baby had been wrapped in a blanket, the doctor handed it to Louisa, who held it and looked at it with a beautiful expression on her face. I don't think that I have ever seen her happier. Sarah and I clustered around her and we all studied the little boy. The three of us examined him for a few minutes, trying to determine which parent he more resembled. Louisa spoke first, cooing "Look, he has his father's eyes! And his father's mouth!" Sarah added that his coloring appeared to be closer to Louisa's than to Edward's. I noted that while the baby had Mr. Hurst's eyes, he definitely had the Bingley nose. Louisa peered at him and agreed with me. After about five minutes, the baby who had been remarkably docile, began to cry again.
Sarah then remembered that we had not told Edward the good news! She crossed to the doorway, opened it and motioned to Edward. He came bounding through the door and knelt by Louisa. Louisa pulled the blanket away from the baby's face and said "Edward, I would like you to meet your son, Samuel Matthew." Edward looked down at the little bundle cradled in Louisa's arms and I noticed that a few tears rolled down his cheeks. As I stood watching them, I was pleased by the fact that Louisa had named her son after our father. I felt a tug on my arm and turned to see Sarah at my elbow. "Let's give them some privacy," she said and I followed her from the room.
When we exited the room, George, Roger and Mr. Hurst all clustered around us, begging for a description of the child. Sarah and I happily complied and I noticed a small smile cross Mr. Hurst's face when Sarah mentioned the name. "Could his name be Matthew?" I wondered. That must be it, I thought--Louisa and Edward have named Samuel after his grandfathers! After about twenty minutes, the door opened and Edward stepped out into the hallway with Samuel. He proudly showed his son to his relatives. After everyone had examined the newborn, Edward asked George to inform Mr. Bradshaw and Mrs. Longstreet. George took Roger by the hand and they disappeared down the stairs. After about 10 minutes, Edward and Samuel went downstairs with Sarah, Mr. Hurst and I following.
The staff had assembled in the drawing room. Edward made a little speech, expressing his gratitude for their hard work over the past seven months. He praised all the baby clothes that Mrs. Longstreet and the maids had sewn and thanked the male staff for all the assistance that they had given Louisa. After he had finished speaking, he made his way around the room, letting all the servants look at Samuel.. All of them admired him, even Mr. Bradshaw, who smiled for the first time in years.
Edward took Samuel back upstairs after half an hour and laid him in his crib. I followed him into Louisa's bedroom and noticed that Louisa, no doubt exhausted, had fallen asleep. Edward seemed content just to sit by the bed and watch her, a small smile fixed on his face. I leaned over and in a whisper reminded him that we had promised to send word to Charles and Jane when the baby had come. He looked up and told me that I could write them. He was happy to sit with Louisa. I went down to the library and sat at Louisa's desk. I dashed off a quick message to Charles and Jane that I sent express to Netherfield.
I was in the midst of a longer letter to Georgiana, detailing all the day's activities when the library door opened and Edward entered. He crossed to his desk and sat down. When I had finished my letter I glanced over at him and saw him with his elbows on the desk and his chin resting on his fists. He appeared to be deep in thought. I asked him if anything was the matter and he raised his head. "No," he said "I was just thinking about what has happened today. I am still completely overwhelmed by it. Today is the day my life has changed forever." I got up to leave and as I reached the door, I thought, "Today is the day all our lives have changed forever."
Sunday, December 12, 1813
Why did I ever come back to this place? What persuaded me to come back to the house where I spent some of the unhappiest days of my life? Oh yes, I remember now, family obligation, that sense of duty which causes you to ignore all other instincts, including those that ensure your own sanity. No, that is a bit harsh on Charles. He probably never realized how unhappy I had been here when he invited us back to Netherfield to celebrate his anniversary.
The invitation arrived on Guy Fawkes Day. We had spent the three months since Sam's birth spoiling the little babe. He was the apple of everyone's eye from his parents to even the lowliest members of the staff. Everyone truly seemed to enjoy doing things for him. In early September the maids and Mrs. Longstreet had made him his "winter wardrobe", as Louisa calls it. Not to be outdone, the footmen and the driver carved him a chest full of new toys. The driver worked on one for weeks, carving it as he waited for us while we were shopping or making calls.
It was a happy time. My life revolved around my London friends and little Sam. I kept fairly busy socially, and my letters to Georgiana were full of the details of London's summer and fall fashions. I looked forward to the upcoming season, where perhaps I would at least see this mystery man who still inhabited my dreams on occasion. My quiet, peaceful little world, where I did not think at all of Fitzwilliam Darcy, came crashing down that Friday afternoon in early November.
The invitation did not specifically mention the Darcys, although I had no reason to believe that they would not come. After all, this sounded very much like a family gathering. Charles and Jane had been joined together on the same day as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth (Georgiana has quite correctly pointed out that I should refer to her as Elizabeth or Mrs. Darcy), why should they not have a joint party? For some entirely illogical reason that I do not understand even now, I convinced myself that the Darcys would not be at Netherfield. That some factor that I did not know about would keep them away. That dream, which had no basis in logic or reality was broken the following Tuesday when we received a letter from Charles that revealed that Jane and Elizabeth had been planning this party for weeks. "Oh lord, if Elizabeth is planning it, then the Darcys will surely be there!" was the one thought that I remember running through my mind for the rest of the afternoon
I spent the rest of November mentally preparing myself to be in the presence of Mr. Darcy once again. I had not seen him since "The Day", yet the remnants of that old pain came back to the surface. It was surprising how much of a blessing little Sam had been to me. Ever since the Christmas announcement that Louisa was pregnant, I had worried about her. In the time since Sam's birth I had worried about him. Now I was put back into the position of having to worry about myself. How would I react when I saw Mr. Darcy again? Would I faint? Would I get an attack of "the nerves" like Mrs. Bennet? Would I be able to say anything at all? I constantly had a vision of coming face to face with him, turning white as a ghost and standing there unable to say a word as Elizabeth and her sisters laughed at me.
Our departure to Netherfield this past Friday was delayed. Edward and his brother George had some business that they needed to attend to, so our mid-morning departure was delayed for several hours. When we eventually departed, Louisa, Sam, and I rode in the carriage with the nurse and Louisa's maid. We had decided in the interests of space in the carriage that we would share a maid for the week we would be at Netherfield. I gave my maid a week off to see her family in Middlesex, since she would be spending the holidays with me. Edward rode his horse, joking that for the first time in months he could enjoy a little "peace and quiet". Louisa gave him a sharp look but I could not help letting out a little giggle.
We made good time to Netherfield, considering the recent snow. Sam kept us entertained for a while (it is amazing how he can keep us all enthralled!) but he dozed off after a time and we rode the rest of the way in silence. Louisa eventually fell asleep herself while her maid worked on her sewing and the nurse read. I was glad that we did not converse for the remainder of the journey. It gave me time to steel myself for the meeting that I had spent the past month dreading.
As it turned out, our arrival at Netherfield was just in time for dinner. Jane quickly had places set for us and then explained why the group in the dining room seemed so small. The Darcys, accompanied by Colonel Fitzwilliam, had arrived the day before and had gone to dine at Longbourn with the Bennets. They would be expected later. I felt a strange mix of emotions at the news. Part of me was glad that they were not there and that the reunion had been delayed. Another part of me was slightly disappointed. I had entered the house as emotionally prepared as I could be and now I was afraid that I would let my guard down.
Dinner was enjoyable, as everyone spoke about what they had been doing. Not surprisingly, Edward and Louisa spoke about nothing but Sam. Sam was also a feature of my own conversation, although I did pass along the latest society news to Charles and Jane.
When we broke up after dinner, the nurse brought Sam to Louisa. Jane had not seen him, and she fussed over him a great deal. While she was doing so, she asked Louisa a lot of questions about babies and pregnancies. Louisa and I quickly deduced why she was asking and we asked Jane if she had her own "bundle of joy" on the way. Jane smiled broadly and confirmed our suspicions, telling us that her child was due in late May or early June. Just as we finished congratulating her, the gentlemen returned and Louisa and I were able to congratulate Charles as well. We all retired after that and as Louisa's maid was helping me get ready for bed, she passed on the news from the servants' hall. The excitement that was sweeping through there was "Very familiar", she said. I nodded and sent her to help Louisa. I climbed into bed blew out my candle and fell asleep.
The next morning at breakfast I was startled to see that there were no gentlemen at the table. Jane informed me that Charles, Edward, Mr. Darcy and the Colonel had already eaten and were out shooting. Elizabeth and Georgiana had gone for a walk and would eat later. I was disappointed, for I had emotionally prepared myself and once again I had not seen Mr. Darcy. My fear of that sudden unexpected meeting grew with each passing moment. I only hoped that the nightmare in which I acted foolishly was just that, a nightmare.
The remainder of the morning was uneventful enough. I read in the library for a time until I heard Georgiana and Elizabeth return. Upon hearing their voices, I crept up the staircase to my room where I wrote several letters. Jane had told me when luncheon was to be served, and a glance at the clock revealed that it was very nearly time to eat. I packed up my writing materials and made my way to the dining room.
When I got there, Jane announced that the meal would be delayed while we waited for the return of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. She suggested that we adjourn to the sitting room and wait for them. After perhaps fifteen minutes, Jane had tea served and the assembled group continued its' pleasant conversation. I sat on a sofa with Louisa and Sam and spoke with Louisa, Georgiana (who sat across from me) Charles and Jane. I had just placed my cup and saucer back on the table when it happened. He walked in and I stopped, with my arm still reaching out towards the table.
Before I realized it, the nightmare began to come true. I just sat there, with my arm in the air as every part of my body screamed "Get out! Run! Get out!" But I just sat there, as motionless as a statue and my face must have turned a deathly shade of white because I could see the concern evident on Georgiana's face. I tried to get her to read my thoughts as they continued to scream at my body, which still refused to respond. She must have realized what I wanted after a moment or two because she made some excuse to Charles and asked if I would join her. Hearing her voice broke the spell my body was under and I could feel my legs move me out into the hallway. Georgiana and the housekeeper waited with my garments and I fairly staggered outside.
When we were outside in the gardens, we walked until we came to a spot where I knew we could not be observed from the house. I simply stopped where I was and reached out with my hand and leaned against a tree. Georgiana stood near me, with a troubled expression. After a few minutes she asked about my condition. I took several deep breaths and told her. " I never thought that just seeing him again would be like a physical blow. It was almost as though someone had struck me."
Georgiana nodded as if she understood. "Yes," she replied, "I had a very similar experience last night. Mr. Wickham is perhaps Mrs. Bennet's favorite son in law and she mentions him constantly." My eyes grew wide and then Georgiana continued, "She must have been instructed not to mention his name, but every time she spoke about 'My dear Lydia's husband' I knew who she was referring to and it was as though she had struck me."
We walked about the gardens in silence for perhaps half an hour and then made our way back towards the house. When we reached it, I said that I would not be eating and Georgiana nodded. I thanked her profusely for what she had done for me and she just nodded again. I could not help but wonder if she realized just what a godsend she had been to me in the last hour. To have someone to confide in, who understood your difficulties and could discuss them without being judgmental was truly a blessing.
We parted in the hall and Georgiana made her way to the dining room while I snuck up to my room and flung myself down on the bed. If the wedding day had been the worst day of my life, this day stood a good chance of besting it. Just the mere sight of him had caused me to make a fool out of myself and I was sure that everyone in the room, except Sam had noticed.
I do not know how long I lay there constantly reliving the scene in the drawing room in my mind. After a time there was a knock on the door and Charles and Louisa came in. They sat on the bed, one on each side of me and looked at me for a moment or two. Charles seemed reluctant to begin so Louisa simply asked, "Caroline, what is the matter?" I sat up and told them about my emotions of a year ago and how difficult the days leading up to the wedding and then the wedding itself had been. How I had curled up in a chair that night writing in my journal and getting drunk. I told them how Georgiana had become my confidante the day after and how she had rescued me again today. My brother and sister merely sat there and nodded, letting me pour my feelings out. I could tell that Charles was becoming uncomfortable during my confession, as though he thought that his invitation to the anniversary party had been a deliberate attempt to cause me pain. He began to apologize and I cut him off, laying my hand on his arm. "Charles," I said "I confided in no one but Georgiana. You could not have known that this reunion would be difficult for me. I had prepared myself to see him as soon as I got here and he caught me with my guard down. It will not happen again. He is part of the family and your friend. I cannot go running from the room every time I see him." That seemed to satisfy them and they left me, informing me what time dinner was to be served.
I stayed in my room and read until it was time for dinner. When I arrived in the dining room, Jane greeted me and asked me if I was feeling better. I paused for a second, unsure how to respond and she added, "You looked a little faint before." I nodded, realizing this was the excuse that Georgiana had made for me. I said that I was feeling better and thanked everyone who asked after me. Georgiana had been seated across from me at the table and when I caught her eye I mouthed "Thank you". She smiled and nodded. The rest of the evening was fairly pleasant, considering the disaster in the drawing room. I found that I could be in the same room as Fitzwilliam Darcy and even speak to him without too much difficulty.
Monday, May 23, 1814
I am an aunt again! This morning my first niece, Frances Margaret Bingley was born. She is an adorable thing, the exact image of her parents. Fanny (that is what everyone has decided to call her) does not seem to have much hair, but the little hair she does have is blonde like her parents. She has Charles' green eyes and Jane's usual angelic expression. The labor was different than Louisa's, it took longer, but Jane did not seem to suffer as much from the pain as Louisa did.
As I reflect on the past day's events, I cannot help but chuckle as I compare Fanny's birth with Sam's. In both cases, their mothers' labors began at mealtime. Jane had just sat down to supper when she gasped in pain. Everyone hurried to her and as Charles and Louisa helped her from her chair, Edward began shouting for the housekeeper and the butler. Mrs. Hampton and Mr. Graham arrived quickly and Edward explained the situation to them. As Mrs. Hampton and Mr. Graham scurried off to perform their appointed duties, Charles and Louisa assisted Jane up to her room. Edward wrote a quick note to the Bennets and dispatched it with a footman to Longbourn. Another footman was sent after the doctor.
When the doctor arrived from Meryton, Louisa and Jane's maid had already changed her into her nightdress and gotten her into bed. Mr. Graham and several of the footmen had set chairs up in the hallway. Edward guided Charles to a chair and told him to sit down. Charles did so and Edward sat down next to him. I sat down across from Charles. We had just made ourselves comfortable when there was a commotion downstairs and the sound of footsteps as someone hurried up the stairs. Charles seemed a little startled and we all turned to look down the hallway in time to see Mrs. Bennet hurry down the hallway, trailed by Mr. Bennet, Kitty and Mary. After the briefest of greetings, Mrs. Bennet entered Jane's room and we could hear her excited tones as she spoke with Jane, Louisa and the doctor.
Mr. Bennet glanced at the door to his daughter's room for a moment or two then turned and spoke with Charles. After perhaps five minutes, Mr. Bennet departed, telling us that he would be in the library if there was any news. Mary soon left and went down to the music room, but Kitty stayed for a short time. She sat down next to me and we talked for perhaps ten or fifteen minutes about London and London society. However, Jane's cries of anguish and Charles' increasingly agitated state frightened Kitty and she hurried downstairs to join her father in the library.
That left only the three of us sitting outside the birthing room. Edward sat across from me looking alternately concerned and amused. After a time, his amusement over Charles' activities won and he leaned back in his chair and began to laugh. Charles had been marching up and down the hallway much like Edward himself had that July morning ten months ago. Charles could not help but hear the sound emanating from his brother-in-law and he spun around, his expression changing from one of agitation to one of anger. I had begun to rise from my chair, fearing that there was about to be some sort of confrontation, but there was no need for me to be concerned. Edward stopped laughing, but the smile remained on his face. "Charles", he said, "Let me give you the same advice my father and brother gave me. The only things that all this pacing will accomplish is to make your feet hurt and to wear out the floorboards!" Charles looked at him for a moment and then made his way to his chair and he sat down.
He remained still for about five or ten minutes and then his restlessness began again. Edward glanced at him for a second or two and then looked at me. "Caroline, what would your parents do when Charles was this restless as a boy?" I thought for a moment and I replied, "Father would read to us or Mother would play on the piano or sing." I then understood why he had asked the question and I went downstairs to find Mary. I did not want to hear Mary sing, but she was not a bad player, considering that she had received no lessons. She was in the music room, sitting on the sofa reading a book. After telling her that there was no news, I explained the situation to her and asked her to play something soothing. Mary crossed to the piano, flipped through the first two or three pieces of music that were on stand and selected something. I listened to the first two or three bars, nodded my approval and went back upstairs.
In my absence, either Edward or the nurse had brought Sam and he was sitting in his Uncle Charles' lap studying his face. I remembered the scene from the previous summer and giggled. Edward looked up and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "It worked for me didn't it?" My smile broadened and I crossed to my own chair and sat down. The music, (Mary had picked an excellent piece for calming nerves), quieted my agitated senses and I soon found my memory drifting back to an earlier conversation in that same music room.
It had been two days since the incident in the drawing room where I had made a fool out of myself upon seeing Mr. Darcy again. After confessing to Louisa and Charles, I found myself actually able to speak to the man. We began simply at first, speaking of the weather and the condition of the roads, but we soon moved onto other topics such as society news and mutual acquaintances in London. The longer we talked, the more my confidence grew. I began to realize that I had begun to put Fitzwilliam Darcy behind me and that I could actually be in the man's presence without falling to pieces like I had two days previously.
Earlier that morning, during our walk, Georgiana and I had agreed to meet in the music room so that we could share the new pieces of music that we had been learning. When we reached the door of the room, Georgiana said that she had forgotten something and that she would meet me inside. I opened the door and stepped into the room. Someone was at the piano and when the person turned, I could see that it was Elizabeth. My presence in the room appeared to startle her and she sat there, looking at me for a moment or two before saying, "I was expecting Georgiana." I must admit that I was as surprised as Elizabeth, but I soon began chuckling and shaking my head. This confused Elizabeth somewhat and she blurted out "What's so funny?"
"This must be Georgiana's way of giving me a well-needed push." was my reply.
My answer only seemed to confuse her and she said, "A push?"
"Yes, a push to do something that I should have done long ago, which is to apologize."
Hearing the word "apologize" really seemed to surprise her, because she sat back on the piano bench with her eyebrows raised. I mustered my courage, made my way over to the chair next to the piano, sat down and began. I started by apologizing for the manner in which I had treated Jane, saying that my impression that she would be unsuitable for Charles could not have been further from the truth. I asked forgiveness for my role in separating them (something that Elizabeth already seemed to know about) and I related how, judging by his letters, the previous year had been the happiest in Charles' life. Elizabeth opened her mouth as if to speak, but before she could do so, I moved onto the more difficult part of the apology.
I took another breath and began with my story about Mr. Darcy. How I had been in love with him and how he had clearly not returned my affections despite my best efforts. I told her that I had seen her as a rival and that I had done my best to destroy her, not realizing that my attempts to deflect Mr. Darcy away from her had exactly the opposite effect. I finished by asking forgiveness for all the pain that my anger and bitterness had caused her. Elizabeth sat still, absorbing what I had told her. A few minutes passed and she looked up, with a strange look in her eye.
"You said that you were in love with my husband. Judging from what happened in the drawing room on Sunday, you still are."
I blushed, looked down at my shoes, and then replied, "I cannot deny that I still have feelings for Mr. Darcy, but they are fading. I have done many things in my life that I am not proud of, but I will not add husband stealer to that list. You have nothing to fear from me." This declaration seemed to satisfy her and after another brief pause, we began to talk about Charles and Jane and even what fun being an aunt was. She could see how I glowed whenever I talked of Sam and I hoped that she could experience the same joy, both with Jane's child and perhaps her own someday.
After talking about children, we eventually moved onto another subject of great interest to us both, Georgiana. Elizabeth stated that she marveled at Georgiana's growth over the last year and I said that most of the credit for that growth probably belonged to her. She blushed and said, "Not all of it. Much of it can be credited to the person she writes to every week!"
It was my turn to redden and Elizabeth rose and touched my arm. "There is no need to blush. It helps to have a confidante." Despite her admonition that I should not be embarrassed, I colored a bit more. Elizabeth smiled and told me how, when she was Georgiana's age, she and Jane had shared everything, even their deepest secrets. She also said that Georgiana obviously told me things that she would never tell her. My tongue eventually began to work again and I agreed that it was wonderful to have a confidante, especially one who had shared so many of life's difficulties. This statement seemed to puzzle her and I merely said, "I know about Ramsgate."
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow and said, "When did she tell you?"
"The morning after your wedding. She had guessed my secret and after I had unburdened myself, she felt the need to do the same." I replied. Elizabeth nodded and our conversation, which was growing more and more pleasant, moved onto...
What in God's name is that noise? The sounds of a piano jerked me back to the present. Edward was dozing with Sam in his arms, but Charles was looking about confused. Mary had evidently abandoned the soothing pieces that she had been playing earlier for something that can only be described as mournful. I lifted a sleeping Sam out of Edward's arms and crept down the hall to the nursery where I laid him in his crib. I then hurried downstairs to speak with Mary.
Mary looked up from her music as I entered the room. "Is anything the matter?" She asked as her fingers stopped. I looked at the music and questioned her why she had chosen that particular piece. She shrugged her shoulders and said that it had been the next piece in the pile.
I then scooped up the pile of selections that were about the piano, looked through them and extracted two or three works that appeared to be excessively sorrowful. I handed the pile back to Mary and added two pieces from a pile that sat on a nearby table. "You are doing a wonderful job of quieting everyone's nerves," I said, "but please, do not play anything that sounds so sad. It's almost like a bad omen." Mary stared at me curiously for a moment and then nodded as if she understood. There was even a small hint of a smile on her face.
Soon afterwards, I went down the hall to the library and slipped inside. Mr. Bennet was asleep in the chair by the fire. His book had fallen from his grasp and his glasses had slid halfway down his nose. Kitty was asleep on the sofa, with a novel clutched in her hands. I eased the book from her grip and set it on the table. I quietly exited the library and almost immediately bumped into one of the maids. I told her to get some blankets and to cover Mr. Bennet and Kitty. After procuring a pitcher of water and some glasses from Mrs. Hampton, I made my way upstairs. Charles was sitting quietly in his chair and Edward was still asleep. Charles drank a glass of water and after murmuring his thanks he returned to his thoughts.
We sat there together in silence for a time, but I must have eventually dozed off after a while, because once again I found myself replaying the ball that I had dreamed about for over a year. All the clues that had been revealed in the previous dreams were there, including the clue from my visit in December, when I noticed that the man making his way towards me did not wear a uniform. There seemed to be something new this time. What is it? Wait, he's speaking, saying something to Charles and Edward who seem to have appeared suddenly. I can't quite make out his voice. He's educated, obviously, and is dressed like an English gentleman, but I can't understand what he's saying. I've heard that sort of accent before, but where? I think I remember now. Why am I being shaken?
I awoke to see Edward gripping me by the arm and shaking me. This had better be good, I thought. When my senses were alert enough to understand him, I could hear what he was saying. "It's a girl!" he grinned. "Looks just like her mother according to Louisa!" I collected myself and stood just as Mr. Bennet, Kitty and Mary came up from downstairs. As we gathered in the hallway, the door opened and Charles came out with his daughter in his arms. We all gathered around and I saw that Louisa's description had been perfect. She did look exactly like her mother. "The face of an angel," murmured Mr. Bennet and I nodded in agreement.
After the staff had been informed of the news, the Bennets went home. I spoke with Louisa for a while and glanced in at a sleeping Jane. Slumber suddenly seemed like a very good idea and I made my way to my room with the dream replaying in my head. "Where had I heard that sort of accent before?" I kept wondering.
Monday, October 17, 1814
This is my first entry from Charles and Jane's new home! They have certainly chosen a fine estate, where they can raise young Fanny in something resembling peace and quiet. The new manor is called Foxchase and it is on the Staffordshire-Derbyshire border about a day's ride from Pemberley. Charles found this estate in early September and Jane and Fanny joined him by the end of the month.
I should not be too surprised that Charles and Jane have decided to leave Netherfield. What did startle me was the fact that evidently Jane has been the advocate for moving away from Longbourn. Her enthusiasm for being able to live so close to her mother was readily apparent at the time of the wedding, but Charles said that Jane has wanted to move away from her mother for months. The baby merely delayed their plans.
In a way, I can understand Jane's desire to leave. She is a married woman now, with a husband and a child. She has her own household to run and if she wants her mother's advice on how to handle a particular matter, she could easily ask for it, since her mother was only three miles away. But Mrs. Bennet seemed to spend as much time at Netherfield as she did at Longbourn and this must have made even Jane's patience wear thin.
Jane will get her chance to run her own household at Foxchase. It is a slightly smaller estate than Netherfield, but it has its own qualities. The views of the countryside from the upper windows are far superior to those at Netherfield. They may even come close to rivaling the view from Pemberley. (Strange how I seem to compare everything to Pemberley!) The grounds near the house are equally splendid and there are several trails that look promising when I take my first walk in the morning. There are even two or three secluded spots where I might sit and think if I choose to do so.
I arrived here with Edward, Louisa and Sam in late afternoon. We will be here a week and then Kitty and Mary Bennet will join us for another week. After that, the Hursts and I will return to London and Kitty and Mary will return to Longbourn. I was at first a little worried that Mrs. Bennet will be here with us, but evidently Charles and Mr. Bennet managed to persuade her to postpone her visit until Christmas.
Having spent the summer maintaining my correspondence with Georgiana, I was actually quite interested in seeing Kitty and Mary without their mother present. For it seems that Cupid has once again been hard at work and Kitty and Mary may be among the latest targets for his arrows!
That Kitty would one day find love does not surprise me. She has always been a pretty, lively girl and my last visit to Netherfield in July confirmed Charles' observation that she has improved greatly, now that Lydia is no longer able to influence her. It is her choice of future husband that somewhat puzzles me. If you had asked me two years ago what sort of man I envisioned Kitty marrying, my answer would have been an immediate "An officer!" I don't think that the idea of her marrying a clergyman ever crossed my mind! But if Georgiana's letters are to be believed, Mr. Medcalf is an exceptionally handsome clergyman, so perhaps that has influenced Kitty somewhat.
If Kitty's apparent interest in a clergyman surprised me, the identity of the man who appears to be interested in Mary Bennet has left me in a state of complete bewilderment. It is none other than Georgiana's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam! This turn of events has left everyone at Pemberley in shock according to Georgiana. Even Mr. Darcy seems to be surprised by his cousin's interest in Mary.
Before I write on for pages about how surprised I am about Mary and Colonel Fitzwilliam, I should probably stop and give a chronology of what has occurred since Fanny's birth in mid-May. The Darcys returned to Pemberley in early June. About three weeks after their return, the new clergyman for their living at Kympton arrived. In her letters, Georgiana described Mr. Benjamin Medcalf as a very handsome man, an opinion that every eligible young lady in the parish seems to have agreed with.
As the summer passed, I began to detect something in Georgiana's letters that worried me. She seemed to have developed feelings for Mr. Medcalf. While I would not go so far as to label the emotions that were in her letters as love, they did seem to show that she was developing an infatuation. I became even more concerned when it became apparent that Mr. Medcalf only showed her the deference that was due to her as the sister of his patron. Georgiana was in danger of having her heart, which had only begun to repair itself, broken again.
The blow came in mid September. When Jane and Fanny left Netherfield, Kitty and Mary, who were on their way to Pemberley, joined them. Everyone was to stay at Pemberley while Charles supervised the final arrangements at Foxchase. Then Jane and Fanny would journey to their new home while the younger Bennets stayed on at Pemberley. Unfortunately for Georgiana, it seemed to be love at first sight for Mr. Medcalf and Kitty. Mr. Medcalf, who had apparently not been interested in any of the local girls, seemed to be badly smitten by Kitty's liveliness and beauty.
I had warned Jane and Elizabeth of my fears and for the next three weeks, the letters flew back and forth between us. Elizabeth wrote that Georgiana tried not to allow her feelings to show, but nevertheless Elizabeth could see that Georgiana had been disappointed. Elizabeth's use of "disappointed" calmed me somewhat, since it looked like Georgiana would not try to make things difficult for Kitty. Georgiana, after some gentle but persistent prodding from the three of us, eventually revealed her feelings. Elizabeth's guess had been correct. Georgiana was not jealous, merely disappointed at having been passed over so quickly.
While Kitty's interest in a clergyman (even an extraordinarily handsome one if Georgiana's description is accurate) left me confused, that confusion paled in comparison to the collective astonishment that ensued when Colonel Fitzwilliam began to spend time with Mary Bennet. I pressed Georgiana for details and she complied, but when I read her letters, I could see that even the people at Pemberley, who noticed the unusual couple everyday, were as bewildered as I was.
Evidently, it began about a week or ten days after Mary and Kitty had arrived at Pemberley. Kitty and Mr. Medcalf would take walks or go riding and Georgiana, still licking her wounds, spent a lot of time practicing the piano or playing with Fanny. Mary, not wanting to intrude on Georgiana's practice time, occupied herself by making use of the splendid library. One day, wishing to take advantage of a beautiful afternoon, she took her book and found a quiet place in the garden to read.
Colonel Fitzwilliam, who was also enjoying the fine weather, was walking about the garden when he came across her. After asking what she was reading, he sat down beside Mary and they talked about the book for the rest of the afternoon. According to Georgiana, when she went looking for them at dusk, they were engaged in a friendly, but spirited debate about Hamlet. Mary, who had only recently discovered Shakespeare after Elizabeth suggested that she try something besides Fordyce, seemed genuinely pleased to have someone to talk with on an intellectual basis. Georgiana also noted that her cousin, who she says is an admirer of Shakespeare, is also equally happy to have someone to talk with, since he has tried and failed for years to get his brother and cousins as interested in Shakespeare as he is.
For the next week, the two of them were practically inseparable, spending their days in the library or in the garden reading and discussing plays. Georgiana seems to think that her cousin is trying to let Mary explore the many types of plays that Shakespeare wrote, because after Hamlet, they moved onto Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In her letters Georgiana declared that Mary blossomed over that week. Georgiana also passed on something that Elizabeth told her, that she had rarely seen Mary so happy. Based on the reports from Georgiana (who included several of Elizabeth's observations), it certainly seems that Mary has developed feelings for Colonel Fitzwilliam. Whether these are the type of feelings that one would have for a friend or if these are something stronger, perhaps even love, I am not sure. As much as I was tempted to write to Georgiana and Elizabeth to urge caution, I am gratified that I did not. Interfering in the romances of others has caused me pain and difficulties in the past, and I decided not to meddle until I had an opportunity to observe matters personally. In a week I will see Mary herself and can ask her firsthand.
I would write more, but I have just noticed a slight tugging on my skirt. It seems that little Sam has awoken from his nap and wants to visit with "Cawo" as he calls me. So I will sign off for now and put my journal away before Sam spills anything on them.
Monday, December 12, 1814
What an interesting weekend this has been! This was the second anniversary of the wedding of Charles and Jane and Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, so another party was held, this time at Pemberley. It seemed strange to be returning to the house I had longed to be mistress of at one time. In fact, I realized as we arrived on Friday that it had been over two years since I had last visited here! My previous visits had all been in the spring and summer and I always thought that the estate was at its most beautiful in the summer, but seeing the house decorated for Christmas, with snow on the ground may force me to change my views.
I journeyed to Pemberley from London with the Hursts. Edward, Louisa, Sam and I stopped at Foxchase for two days to stay with Charles and Jane. When we were there, we met with the Bennets, who had also stopped there. So it was quite a procession that left Foxchase on Friday morning. I rode in one carriage with Edward, Louisa and Sam. Mrs. Bennet was with Mary and Kitty in the Bennet's carriage and Mr. Bennet was with Charles, Jane and Fanny in Charles' carriage. Why Mr. Bennet chose to rode with Charles and Jane and not with his daughters puzzled me at first, but when Charles said that he had wanted to spend time with his granddaughter, I realized what Mr. Bennet was doing. He was not visiting Fanny. He was escaping from Mrs. Bennet!
The after dinner discussion amongst the ladies on Friday evening gave me a chance to catch up with all happenings amongst the other members of the family, especially Kitty and Mary. I had not seen them since we were together at Foxchase in October and I had not maintained my correspondence with them to the same degree as that with Georgiana. Both sisters appeared to be greatly nervous about something, but Elizabeth cleared up my confusion by whispering that she expected an engagement announcement for at least one sister before the weekend was over.
While we talked and played with Sam and Fanny, Mary and Kitty told us the news from Meryton and what their recent activities at Longbourn entailed. Mary has kept up her study of Shakespeare. After reading several more plays, she noticed a copy of Shakespeare's sonnets in her father's library and she set aside the plays to concentrate on the sonnets for a time. But Mary has not been alone in her reading. It seems that her sister, perhaps in anticipation of one day being a parson's wife, has embarked on a course of Scripture study. Kitty has decided that she will read the Bible cover to cover, although she did admit that she had to turn to Mary for aid in interpreting some particularly difficult passages.
The news that Mary had continued her examination of Shakespeare did not surprise her sisters, or Georgiana, but Kitty's attempts to improve her Scripture knowledge did seem to stun everyone, especially Elizabeth. We sat quietly for a moment or two and then Elizabeth (with what can only be described as a mischievous glint in her eye) asked, "Mary, why didn't you try to get Kitty to read Fordyce instead?" Kitty and Mary looked at one another and burst out laughing. While they laughed, the rest of us exchanged puzzled looks.
Finally, after a moment or two, the humor of the private joke they were sharing died down. Mary, between gasps of air, exclaimed, "But Lizzy, I did try to get her interested in Fordyce!" Kitty, who had collected herself a little better, added:
"I thought it best to read the Bible first, but one passage gave me so much trouble that I gave up in disgust! I then picked up Mary's Fordyce and began looking through it. After reading a few pages, the passage that was giving me difficulty seemed easy to understand by comparison. So now I keep it near me when I am studying. When I am having trouble with a particular verse, all I have to do is take a quick look at the cover of Fordyce and my determination to grasp the meaning of the verse is restored!"
After this little anecdote from Kitty, everyone glanced at Mary to see what her reaction would be. If Mary was offended by hearing one of her favorite volumes described in such fashion, she certainly did not show it. In fact, she seemed quite proud that her sister had decided to improve her mind.
We joined the gentlemen shortly after that and the rest of the evening passed by very quickly. As I lay in bed that night after I blew out my candle, I thought about Mary and Kitty and the fact that at least one of them would be engaged within a matter of days. Kitty reminded me of a little girl near Christmas--so full of excitement and anticipation that she might burst at any moment. Mary, on the other hand, was like a woman living in a dream who was afraid that one day she would wake up and find out that it had only been a fantasy. While Mary was certainly a woman in love (it was readily apparent whenever she spoke of Colonel Fitzwilliam), there was nevertheless, a sort of fear about her, like she was afraid of waking up and once again being the poor, plain, spinster Mary. Well, their beaus were expected tomorrow, so I could certainly observe the two couples and see if my conclusions were correct.
Saturday morning was uneventful. After the family had gathered for breakfast, we all went our separate ways. I wrote a few letters and played in the nursery with Sam for a short time. However, after about 30 or 40 minutes, Mrs. Bennet and Jane showed up to look in on Fanny. I can only take so much of Mrs. Bennet, (which seems peculiar, because I am growing increasingly fond of her daughters) so I made my excuses and escaped. I went in search of Georgiana, and found her in the library, reading a book.
Owing to our late arrival on Friday, we had not been able to have one of the private conversations that I have come to enjoy so much whenever we are together. She reminded me that Colonel Fitzwilliam (along with the rest of his family) and Mr. Medcalf were expected for lunch and that they would stay for the remainder of the day. Georgiana's mentioning of Mr. Medcalf alarmed me for a moment, but she does not appear to bear him or Kitty any ill will. In fact, I think her romantic nature is leading her (along with many of the other ladies in the house) to hope that Mr. Medcalf proposes in the near future. These hopes were equally fervent where her cousin the Shakespeare loving Colonel and Mary were concerned.
After talking at length about these two couples, we moved onto another one of Georgiana's cousins, Anne de Bourgh. I had been given (under rather strange circumstances I must add) the opportunity to meet Anne about four weeks previously and I was eager for news. However, for some inexplicable reason, my attention waned and my mind drifted back to the first time I had met Anne.
After our time at Foxchase, I had returned to London with Louisa and her family. We had been there about 10 days when we received word that the Darcys would be passing through London on their way to Kent. It turned out that Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her pastor Mr. Collins had become ill and died and that the Darcys were going to Kent to assist her daughter Anne with the arrangements and to render what aid they could to Mrs. Collins.
A further two weeks passed. Then, I received a note from Georgiana. Her cousin Anne and Mrs. Collins were in London, staying at the de Bourgh's London home. A previous appointment prevented Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth from accompanying Georgiana when she went calling. Would I like to go with her? I was a bit reluctant, since I had never met Miss de Bourgh and I knew Mrs. Collins as little more than a passing acquaintance. But I put these doubts aside and agreed to accompany Georgiana.
During our ride to the de Bourgh house, Georgiana told me what had happened in Kent. Evidently, a disease of some sort had been sweeping through the village near Rosings Park. Mr. Collins had become ill while tending to some of his parishioners. Although he had been very sick, he had insisted on paying his calls to Lady Catherine. In turn, Lady Catherine had also fallen ill. Anne had been sent to stay in the other wing of the house with the Collins' baby as the servants cared for Lady Catherine and Mrs. Collins looked after her husband.
Unfortunately, Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins both succumbed and Mrs. Collins fell ill. Upon hearing that Mrs. Collins was fighting the same illness that had taken her mother and Mr. Collins, Anne had announced that she would nurse Mrs. Collins personally, stating rather emphatically, if Georgiana is to be believed, that "Beth shall not be an orphan if there is anything that I can do to prevent it!" When her companion and the Rosings Park housekeeper had tried to keep her from going to the parsonage, they were told that they "Could get out of her way or be sacked."
These stories of Anne de Bourgh's courageous actions increased her stock in my mind, although I had still not met her. I had always been led to believe (by just about all her relatives whom I had met) that Anne was rather a sickly, quiet young lady. If the anecdotes Georgiana was telling were true, the description of Anne should be amended to include "brave".
The Darcy carriage drew up to the de Bourgh house and the footman opened the door and helped Georgiana and I out. A maid took our bonnets and cloaks once we were inside and the butler announced us before we entered the drawing room. Both ladies rose and set aside their sewing and Anne greeted us both warmly. Charlotte Collins also welcomed us, but did not say more than politeness and good manners dictated. I extended my condolences to both ladies, and they were politely received.
As has become my habit, I observed both the decor of the house (expensive, but in bad taste) and the dress and looks of the ladies as we entered. Anne and Charlotte were both dressed simply in black, but Charlotte looked like she had not recovered entirely from her illness.
We soon settled down and our conversation consisted of family news and what Charlotte and Anne's plans were for their stay in London. After perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, the door opened and a maid brought a child in. This was evidently the Beth I had heard about on the ride over. Ever since Sam was born, the mere sight of a baby reduces me to mush, so I got up from the sofa Georgiana and I were sitting on and crossed to the sofa that Charlotte sat on. We were soon engaged in a quiet conversation and I talked about Sam and Fanny and Charlotte told stories about Beth. Charlotte was a proud mother and Beth was a well-behaved child, but there seemed to be a sense of not only grief but also nervousness about Charlotte.
The time flew by and eventually it was time for Georgiana and I to take our leave. Once we were in the carriage, Georgiana asked what Charlotte and I had talked and I told her. In turn, I asked Georgiana what had been the subject of her conversation with Anne and was surprised when Georgiana answered "You!" After a brief pause to collect my thoughts I replied "Me?" Georgiana said that Anne had been in London long enough to realize that she had no idea of how to dress and act like a proper society lady. Georgiana had replied that much of her knowledge had come from Elizabeth and myself. This answer had evidently impressed Anne, because they had spent the rest of the visit talking about the efforts that had gone into making Georgiana a proper lady.
I was jerked back to the present by Georgiana asking, "Have you heard a word I have been saying?" I was forced to apologize and say that I had not and she began to repeat it. I learned that Anne and Charlotte were to spend Christmas at Pemberley and that Anne had specifically requested that Georgiana and Elizabeth take her into Lambton to go shopping. Anne had also asked Georgiana if a shopping trip in London was possible. I was on the verge of saying that I would be happy to join them when Louisa stuck her head in and announced that Colonel Fitzwilliam and his family were arriving.
Georgiana and I joined everyone in the drawing room to greet the new arrivals. Lord and Lady Matlock were a pleasant couple and it was humorous to watch the Colonel and Mary take quick glances at one another. It was obvious that they were trying not to be caught looking at one another and equally obvious that they were failing miserably! While everyone was being introduced to Lord and Lady Matlock, Mr. Medcalf was announced. He came striding into the room, and everything seemed to stop. Georgiana's description of him as a very handsome man was incredibly understated. Mr. Medcalf was one of the most handsome men I had ever seen! He was tall, with dark, curly hair and an amazing smile. After a few seconds, Georgiana gave me a nudge and I returned to my senses. If he proposed to Kitty, she would have a most handsome husband!
Lunch was a pleasant affair and the rest of Saturday was spent talking with Lord and Lady Matlock and Mr. Medcalf. I asked Lady Matlock about her son Matthew, whom I had remembered from the wedding. Lord Matthew was evidently abroad on a diplomatic mission, but was due to return by Christmas if his ship were not delayed. I later learned from Mr. Medcalf that his first name was Benjamin and that his family was from the Lake District where his father had a small estate. After dinner, when everyone had regrouped in the music room, I engaged in some most unladylike giggling with Georgiana and Elizabeth in the corner while Mary played a beautiful concerto on the piano and Kitty and Benjamin tried not to be caught staring at one another.
On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Darcy took Georgiana and I aside and asked us to stay away from the library for the rest of the afternoon. This was certainly a strange request, but Georgiana and I looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders and complied. Several hours later, I happened to be walking by the library when the door opened. Colonel Fitzwilliam paused in the doorway and as I passed I could see him shaking hands with Mr. Bennet. Both men were smiling. I hurried to the music room and breathlessly told Georgiana what I suspected had just happened. Perhaps an hour later, Georgiana needed something from her room. Evidently she must have made sure to pass the library, because when she returned she was very excited. She had witnessed a similar scene with Mr. Bennet and Mr. Medcalf.
Our suspicions were confirmed that night at dinner as Mr. Bennet rose to announce the engagements to the assembled family. Everyone was happy and the two couples were congratulated. I am truly very happy for the two couples, but nevertheless I felt a small twinge of jealousy as I listened to the announcement. Not so much that Kitty and Mary had become engaged to Mr. Medcalf and Colonel Fitzwilliam, but that they were soon to enter the world of married women while I remained behind.
Continued in Part 2
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