Close your eyes. Let me guide you." William took his sister's hands in his, leading her to her surprise.
At just 15, Georgiana had been left devastated by Wickham's odious deception. William had never held her responsible, knowing Wickham had preyed upon her naÔvetČ and so had relegated the matter to the past. But Georgiana continued living with the oppression of her betrayal and shame. Even though many months had past, she was still painfully quiet and her gaze was usually cast downward, too ashamed to meet her brother's eyes. He had given her every spoken reassurance, but to no avail. He worried for the restoration of her spirit and for the trust between them. How could he relieve the profound sadness he saw in her heart?
The inspiration had come one evening in London, when Georgiana had been seated at the piano-forte. As she played and sang, she was again his dearest sister--serene, seemingly released from her burdens. He had determined then to find an instrument of such craftsmanship that would give her undeniable testimony of his undaunted esteem and provide a permanent source of relief. He had commissioned it personally for her sixteenth birthday with instructions on particular detail of wood and design. Its construction had taken longer than promised. And he had long since lost his patience for its arrival.
William and Georgiana had enjoyed a most satisfying evening meal after having met with Miss Bennet and her Aunt and Uncle at the Inn at Lambton. He wondered in passing if the meal's exceptional taste was due to its quality or the pleasure he had in anticipating sharing a meal with Miss Bennet the next evening. But he focused his attention again on his sister. It was time for the unveiling. Georgiana was standing directly before her surprise, a cloth draped across it to heighten the suspense.
"Open your eyes," he said softly. Then more loudly, "Happy birthday, Georgiana!" William removed the drape with a dramatic flair, his face bright with the anticipation of her reaction.
Georgiana slowly opened her eyes. She drew in a quick breath, placing her finger tips over her mouth, a startled "Oh" all that she could say. Her eyes widened, wondering at the magnificence of such a gift--the rich luster of the dark mahogany, the teak and stain inlay of blossoms and ivy. It was the most exquisite pianoforte she had ever seen. And it was for her! From William.
Her understanding was complete. He had forgiven her stupidity and still loved her with the same generous spirit he always had. In one rushing moment, she felt the release of her sadness, her shame and her apprehension of her brother's feelings. Georgiana buried her eyes in her hands, sobbing with relief.
"Good God! What have I done?" William dropped the cloth he had been holding while watching her countenance and took his sister into his arms, holding her close. Georgiana clung to him, her tears flowing onto the soft material of his coat. He spoke with as much calm as he could muster, trying to keep the alarm out of his voice. "Georgiana, what is the matter? Please don't cry. Are you displeased?"
Georgiana lifted her head, sniffing and wiping her eyes with her hands. William quickly retrieved a handkerchief from his vest. Wiping her eyes with the square of cloth, Georgiana choked between her remaining tears, "Displeased? How could I be displeased? It is magnificent!"
"Then I do not understand your tears." He looked at her with an expression imploring her to relieve his confusion.
Georgiana drew a breath to calm herself, "I am overwhelmed, dear brother. You are more generous in your heart than I had ever allowed myself to believe. Thank you, William." Georgiana embraced her brother again, crying tears of joy.
His alarm quieted, William sighed and hugged her close. He was resigned to his fate of never really understanding a woman's emotions.
Georgiana ran her fingers over the piano-forte with an admiring caress. A smile of appreciation parted her lips. She had loved it the moment William had presented it to her for her sixteenth birthday. Georgiana looked up from her instrument. This was her favorite room at Pemberley. Indeed, she loved her cheery sitting room and her lace-covered bed chamber was soothing, but here music gave voice and wing to thoughts and feelings she had never felt free to confide to anyone--loneliness, fear, wonder, joy, longing...Music had been her companion all her life. Throughout her childhood, her brother had enjoyed the society of many who possessed respectable talent in voice and instrument. So it had been many times that William had encouraged her to join him and his guests in their musical diversion despite her being considered by propriety to be too young. She was thankful her brother had never acted for the approbation of others, allowing her to sit by his side, adrift on the waves of emotion created by the music. William would reach for her hand, unnoticed by others in the room, to give it a gentle squeeze letting her know he was happy for her company and perhaps that he was also moved. William had always accepted her emotional attachment to music, but encouraged her thoughtful appreciation of it, as well, often asking her evaluation of a particular work's composition or performer's technique. Georgiana felt safe expressing her opinions to her brother. He never teased her or laughed at her. He would attend with earnestness and a softness in his eyes, reserved for only those most dear to him. She was never censured for a half-formed evaluation, but encouraged to consider her analysis fully. It had been under William's guidance that at the young age of seventeen, Georgiana had grown to be a woman of well-informed opinion and musical accomplishment, although most had not been admitted to the privilege of hearing either. Georgiana not only shared her brother's love of music, but also his shy and reserved nature. Always mindful of her place as a younger sister, Georgiana had never presumed to consider herself her brother's friend, but she did so love and respect him with a bond stronger than she had observed between any other siblings in their circle. As she started to play, Georgiana reflected with satisfaction that her years of diligent study now allowed her to not only listen to beautiful music with her brother (and now sister), but to be the person giving it expression and life.
Georgiana's own sense of faithfulness, shaped by her brother's standards of excellence gave her a particular determination during her practice of the pianoforte, usually characterized by almost monotonous repetition in her desire to master a technique or execution of a passage. This morning though, she played for her heart. The mid-morning sun shone dreamily into the music room, the golden overlay of the decor catching its rays, casting an ethereal spell over the room and its inhabitant. She felt so light and gay. The past two day's had been so thrilling. The headiness of her first ball--Col. Fitzwilliam had made a most complimentary toast in her honor, the kind and particular attentions of so many handsome young men. Her delight had grown with each dance until she felt her heart could hold no more. Georgiana found her fingers playing one joy-filled work flowing into another as she allowed herself to relive the scenes. And she had not fainted! To her surprise she had been strangely exhilarated, wishing to cast off her quietness and respond in a manner more like that of her sister. Indeed she had allowed herself to speak more boldly than was her way. At least until she caught her brother's gaze. He had been looking at her and her partner-in-conversation from across the room with such solemn intensity she had felt it as a reproach--that she must be embarrassing her family and reminded herself to act more fitting of a "Darcy." Georgiana bit her lip at the sour note she hit as she remembered his expression. But her exhilaration was yet too great to reflect on her brother's actions for long. She thought more happily on how Elizabeth had given her looks of encouragement, laughing and dancing with Col. Fitzwilliam and other gentlemen and assuming some of the duties of hostess for the guests who had remained at Pemberley taking leave the following day. If asked, she could not have given words to describe her feelings, their capriciousness strangely new to her. One minute she felt calm, serene, confident. Then with the remembrance of the ball, she felt as though she was floating on air, wishing to dance and whirl about the room. Georgiana played, unaware of the youthful passion filling her music.
< font size=+1 color="#004444">Part III
The morning had already stretched long when Darcy woke to the gentle sounds of music wending it's way from the music room to the bed chambers of the upper floor, his sleep-soaked senses slowly becoming more aware of Vivaldi's Spring. A man of discipline and habit, Darcy usually rose early, dressed and prepared his mind for conquering the battles of the day, whether for real battles in fencing or those of estate business. But today, he had allowed himself to sleep late, the events of the past several days having left him uncharacteristically fatigued. The invitation had read, 'Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy cordially invite you to attend a gala in honor of Miss Georgiana Darcy...' Her introduction to society for which Fitzwilliam had pressed, he thought with some annoyance. They had been dining when he had suggested a gathering of a more intimate number might do for her coming out. It had only been concern for her shy nature had it not that he wanted to proceed advisedly? But the women would have none of it. Elizabeth had first regarded him with a look of surprise then seemed humored by some undisclosed realization. Georgiana submitted to his wishes with characteristic demure, but in her eyes he thought he had seen disappointment. Even Mrs. Reynolds had later added her own say, 'a young lady of Miss Darcy's talent and position is deserving of a special day.' So, plans were made for a great celebration with all the regalia befitting a grand event, and which, as the guest list came to prove, would assemble such number of people to be worthy of the Prince himself. Each name on the guest list had begot another that no offense should be given to any cousin, friend, passing acquaintance or bothersome eligible young man--Darcy's cynicism began seeping through the music's sweetness which had been shaping his mood. But had he not played host to a great number before at Pemberley...he and his new bride? To what did he owe this most particular fatigue?
The change in music captured his thoughts. Now the music was Mozart-well-played as usual, but imbued with a new sense of feeling somehow. It was soothing, yet gripping, calling on his senses. He drew a silent breath, clearing his mind. He wanted to enjoy his morning without the intrusion of particular thought, especially of the ball. He stretched almost imperceptibly for fear of waking Elizabeth as she nestled peacefully within his arms, her head resting in the curve of his shoulder. Darcy caressed the silky smoothness of her hair as he closed his eyes again, allowing the moment to wash over him...the compelling refrain of the pianoforte...the scent of his wife's perfume lingering from the evening before...the warmth of her body against his. He let out a husky sigh of contentment. He had no other purpose than to stay this way for the remainder of the day. "Mmm," the smallest of sounds came from beneath the pool of chestnut brown hair as Elizabeth nuzzled in closer by his side. Placing a kiss on the locks of her forehead, Darcy greeted his wife in a deep, quiet voice, "Good morning, Mrs. Darcy. Have you slept well?" Elizabeth placed her finger to her lips, "Shhh, I do not wish this dream to end." "Mm," Darcy mused, "And what vision are you embracing?" Elizabeth whispered dreamily, "My soul is carried on the transport of a sweet refrain drifting through my bedchamber…I lie within the refuge of my lover's embrace…" Darcy breathed his pleasure as he enwrapped her more securely with arms of gentle strength. "…His masculine form is beyond compare…My heart beats with his…His lips are warm honey as they meet with mine…" Elizabeth slowly raised her countenance to his, though with eyes yet cloaked, remaining within the dream-like realm. Darcy brushed her lips with his, yet no more, as he restrained the effect of her words to an appreciation of those features immediately before him. His forbearance won reward as her eyes opened, revealing the expression of a heart ardently entrusted to him. "Dearest husband," Elizabeth murmured, invitingly. Darcy lingered in pleasant appraisal as his hand caressed her cheek before entwining itself within the silken waves framing her face. "Dearest wife…" Darcy promised as he lowered to join the warmth of his lips with hers.
Continued in Revelations© 1997, 1998, 1999 Copyright held by author