A Conversation With Georgiana
Fitzwilliam Darcy strode from the Lambton Inn determined to do something. He stopped by his horse, Star, and pulled on his gloves impatiently. Then he mounted his horse and urged the animal forward. Luckily, Star knew his way through town, because his master's mind was otherwise engaged.
Darcy's thoughts were full of her face. He couldn't shake the image of her standing in the parlor with tears streaming down her face.
"Blast that man," he muttered. By now, he and Star had reached the edge of town. Darcy kicked and the horse began to gallop. As they sped through the countryside, a plan began to form in Darcy's mind.
Georgiana sat in her favorite place, on the grass near the pond. She had spent the morning avoiding Miss Bingley's conversation, and was grateful for the solitude.
She was thinking of how happy her brother had looked last evening, when she caught sight of him racing towards the stables. She stood up, brushed herself off, and made her way to meet him.
She arrived just in time to see him jump from the horse and hastily toss the reigns to the stable boy. The boy looked surprised at the master's mood.
"Fitzwilliam!" Georgiana called.
He spun around as though ready to fight. When he saw his sister, he relaxed slightly.
"Georgiana," he said as she stopped in front of him. "Forgive me. I have much on my mind."
"I can see that, brother. Would it have anything to do with Miss Bennet?" She meant the question innocently enough, but Darcy's face clouded over. "Have I said something wrong, Fitzwilliam?" Georgiana looked as though she might cry.
"No, my dear. Not at all." He took her hand and thought for a moment. "Something has come up and Miss Bennet and her relations must return to Hertfordshire immediately."
"Oh, my. I hope it is nothing serious."
"I am afraid that it is very serious." He stopped speaking, unable to continue.
"Fitzwilliam, please tell me. I can see that you are disturbed about this." She paused. "Is it that you have paid your attentions to Miss Bennet and she does not return them?"
He smiled slightly. "No, my sweet little matchmaker. It is not that."
"Georgiana, I hesitate to tell you for fear that it may upset you greatly."
"I may only be a year older in body, but after last summer, I feel several years older in spirit. Please share this with me."
He smiled again and drew her arm through his. "All right, but we can not speak of this in the house, where we might be overhear." He looked at her pointedly.
"You speak of Miss Bingley."
Darcy laughed. "Little sister you constantly amaze me." He led her to a bench in the garden where they would not be disturbed. Georgiana sat down and looked at her brother expectantly.
"Georgiana, I must first ask your forgiveness for not sharing with you all that has happened during the last nine months. I told you that I had met Miss Bennet in Hertfordshire and again in Hunsford and that I liked her a great deal." He sat down and took her hand. "There are two things that I did not tell you. While at Rosings, my feelings for Miss Bennet became so strong that I asked her to marry me."
"Fitzwilliam!" cried Georgiana, astonished.
He held up his hand to stop her. "I was refused. I am ashamed to say that the manner in which I applied for her hand was not very admirable nor was it gentlemanly. I said some very unkind things about Miss Bennet's family and position in society that it should not have come as any surprise that she refused me. She made two accusations on my character which I tried to explain by letter on the following day."
He stood up and began to pace in front of her.
"She blamed me for separating her elder sister, Jane, from Charles. This I am guilty of. At the time I could perceive no love in Miss Jane's behavior. When we returned to London, I convinced Charles that Miss Jane did not care for him. He was terribly distressed and, as you may have noticed, has not fully recovered." Here he stopped pacing and looked at Georgiana, unsure whether to continue. He sighed then said, "Which brings me to the other accusation laid at my door by Miss Bennet. I did not tell you that, while in Hertfordshire, I was unhappily surprised by the appearance of George Wickham."
Georgiana paled and a hand flew to her mouth.
Darcy sat next to her and put his arm around her. "I am sorry to distress you, dearest, but as you say you are older now and I believe you should hear this."
She composed herself and urged him to go on.
"Not surprisingly, Mr. Wickham endeared himself to Miss Bennet with stories of my mistreatment of him. She was deceived by him and in her softness of heart challenged me on his behalf. As you know, I am not master of myself where Wickham is concerned and unfortunately, my anger vented on Miss Bennet."
"Fitzwilliam," Georgiana interrupted, "I did not think Miss Bennet showed any hostility towards you these last few days. Perhaps she believes you and would like to make a new start."
He smiled, "Indeed, I believed it so myself. I traveled to Lambton this morning, hoping to engage Miss Bennet for a picnic with you and I tomorrow. I wanted you to have the opportunity of conversing with her away from the intrusion of Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst."
"Alas, when I found Miss Bennet, she had just received a letter from Miss Jane with some very upsetting news." He took her hand. "The family have just learned that the youngest sister, Lydia, has eloped with...Mr. Wickham."
Georgiana gasped and paled again. "Oh, no. How terrible for Miss Bennet."
"Yes, she was very upset when I found her. I had to physically stop her from running out into the streets to find her aunt and uncle. She was most distressed. I wanted to give her hope, but I am afraid that, knowing Wickham as I do, I could think of nothing to say. I sat with her until her relations arrived and then left her to their care. She asked me to make her apologies to you."
Georgiana sat silently for several moments. Darcy watched her face carefully. He could tell that she was thinking. Finally she spoke.
"Fitzwilliam, we must do something to help Miss Bennet and her family."
"Indeed, Georgiana, I have every intention of traveling to London and seeking out Wickham and Miss Lydia."
"When do you leave?"
"I will leave early tomorrow morning. I am afraid, dearest, that I must leave you here alone with Charles and his sisters, and Mr. Hurst. And we can not tell them anything concerning Miss Bennet; just that she had to return home suddenly and that I have unexpected business in London."
Georgiana grimaced. "I will make do. Miss Bingley and the Hursts are not my first choice for companions, but they rarely rise before ten or eleven o'clock so I shall have some solitude in the mornings. And Charles will be here to entertain me."
Darcy smiled warmly at his sister. "I will try to find something special for you in London as a reward for your troubles."
"The only thing I want from London, dear brother, is your correspondence. Please keep me informed of your progress."
"I will write you as often as I can." He stood and offered her his arm. "We must join our guests, they will be concerned over our absence."
"You mean Miss Bingley will be scouting the hallways for you," she said with a laugh.
They walked slowly to the house, enjoying each other's company.
Pemberley, 3 months later
Georgiana smiled widely at the letter Mrs. Reynolds had handed her. She decided to walk into the garden to read it. Once she found a comfortable spot, she broke open the seal and began to read.
Netherfield, November --, ----
My dearest Georgiana,
I know you will be happy when I tell you that you are to have a sister. Miss Elizabeth Bennet has this day accepted my proposal of marriage.
This morning, when we made our daily visit to Longbourne, Charles suggested we take a walk. Miss Jane, Elizabeth, Miss Catherine, Charles and I set out. Almost immediately, Charles and Miss Jane lagged behind. Shortly after that, Miss Catherine expressed to her sister her desire to visit Miss Lucas and turned off the lane. Elizabeth and I walked on in silence for several minutes. You may imagine my shock when she began thanking me for assisting her youngest sister's marriage. She continued on to explain that Miss Lydia let it slip that I had been at her wedding and that after hearing of my involvement, Elizabeth contacted Mrs. Gardiner and begged to be told the entire story.
In her countenance, I detected some warmth, so I restated my feelings. She was most gratified to find my wishes unchanged and quickly assured me of her great regard for me. You may imagine, dear sister, my joy.
We hope to be married in early December, along with Charles and Miss Jane. I know you will wish to join us here at Netherfield as soon as possible, so I have sent an express to Cousin Richard and he should be arriving within a few days to convey you to Hertfordshire. I pray you will forgive me for not coming myself. My selfishness must be my excuse. I have no desire to be separated from Elizabeth.
She joins me in wishing your quick arrival and begs me to send you her love. We have invited the Gardiner's to join us for Christmas, so once again, Pemberley will be overflowing with joy.
My beloved Elizabeth awaits my company for our daily walk so I must say goodbye for the present. We will expect you within the week.
Your loving brother,
Georgiana raised her eyes to heaven and whispered, "Thank you."
© 1999 Copyright held by author