By Erin H
Part 1|Part 2|Part 3
Once she had told Elizabeth that, Georgiana was no longer frightened. She was actually smiling and mentioning Lady Catherine de Bourgh when Kitty returned. "I'll wager she had no idea that she was helping you! Poor Anne. She wrote to me and told me everything, and then Aunt Catherine wrote me a letter saying that I must tell William to return to Derbyshire immediately. Of course, I didn't. I feel so sorry for Anne, left alone or in the company of Aunt Catherine and that Ick man. I do hope I will not see him often when I go to Rosings in January."
"January? I did not know.." questioned Elizabeth, and Darcy gave her a look that silenced her and told her an explanation would be soon at hand.
"Lady Catherine wrote to me saying that she was so excessively displeased with the both of us that she was retracting her invitation for you in January , and Colonel Fitzwilliam's and mine for April.
"I am thankful! I did not wish to go there to see Aunt Catherine, but poor Anne! She was looking forward to the visit." Georgiana sighed with relief, but her heart bled for Anne.
Suddenly her eyes were attracted to a piece of embroidery laying on a table. Bluebells and little white daisies encircled a small child adorned with a daisy chain around it's head. The child was collecting bluebells in a field. "Who did that?" she asked, her eyes awide with wonder.
Kitty stepped froward. "It's mine. Why do you ask?"
"I have not seen a work of embroidery like that - with a person. All of mine are just flowers. It is very pretty." Georgiana was full of admiration.
"I am not as skilled as Lizzy or Jane, for when they took the time to practise, I was always going off to Meryton with Lydia. I now find it so peaceful and relaxing. I do not know why I always went out flirting with Lydia at the officers, I now regret it. I see it as being quite childish. I am now becoming involved in less scandalous pursuits. Lizzy is teaching me the piano-forte until she gets married."
"Do you like to play?" Georgiana asked
"O yes! I do so wish I had started years ago. It is so fulfilling mastering pieces. Do you play Miss Darcy? I think Lizzy said you did" Kitty's eyes shone with excitement as she talked of her new-found interests.
"O yes! I love music, and I do play and sing, but I prefer to listen to others. Lizzy played for us at Pemberley."
"When did she go to... oh I see. Did you meet her when she went to Derbyshire? Lizzy must have fallen in love with Mr. Darcy when she was there - because she didn't like him at the Netherfield Ball. Did you know your brother so singled her out by only dancing once, and with her that night?"
"No, but I had guessed that that would have happened." Georgiana smiled at Kitty "Is there anyone else our age that lives near Meryton? I have heard of a Miss Lucas, but none else."
"There is Mrs. Long's four nieces, but they are so vulgar, and Miss Goulding is gone to London for the rest of the season. I like Maria (that's Miss Lucas) but she can sometimes be very shy. Shall we walk to Lucas Lodge tomorrow for you to meet her? I think she has seen your cousin Miss de Bourgh at Rosings."
"Oh yes. I think I recall Anne and Fitzwilliam both mentioning her. I should like to walk. I do not walk often, but I will go if you take me."
"It would be my pleasure, Miss Darcy."
"If you will, please call me Georgiana? I should dearly like for us to be friends, and we are to be sisters you must not forget."
"As you wish Georgiana. We will call each other by our Christian names. Are you settling down? Lizzy said you were shy, but would be fine once you were comfortable with us."
"Yes, Indeed, I am perfectly fine now. Should we go to dinner now? It seems as though Lizzy and my brother have left us. I wonder where they have got to?"
"Out to the copse, no doubt, unless Jane and Mr. Bingley have beat them to it" Georgiana and Kitty began giggling, and only stopped when Hill came in to tell them dinner was served, and inquired if they knew the whereabouts of 'Miss Lizzy and the tall, fine gentleman.'
Miss Lizzy and the tall, fine gentleman who was more commonly known as Mr. Darcy were eventually found, and they joined Georgiana, Mr. Bingley and the Bennet's at the table. Georgiana had just been introduced to Mr. & Mrs. Bennet and Miss Mary, and she was keenly observing all who sat around her.
Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam only had eyes for each other, and Jane and Mr. Bingley were likewise. Georgiana therefore felt it should be rude to interrupt them. Miss Mary, who was rather plain, kept referring to Fordyce's Sermons whilst talking of such very moral things, and Georgiana thought that Miss Mary would have been a perfect mate for that reputedly odious Mr. Collins. Kitty usually talked to her mother, for no-one else would. Mrs. Bennet would have once been pretty, but now she possessed a high-pitched, screeching voice, and when she was not ranting on about something silly, she would complain about 'her poor nerves'. Georgiana felt exceedingly sorry for all of the Bennet sisters, having a mother like Mrs. Bennet - she was just as bad as Aunt Catherine! Mr. Bennet seemed inclined to frequently exposing his sardonic sense of humour, and he paid no attention to his wife apart from occasionally asking her if her nerves were improved.
The men retired to the library, even though Mr. Bennet was the only one that actually wished to leave, but they did return in record-breaking time. While they were out, the ladies went out into the front sitting room, and Mrs. Bennet instantly began talking excitedly about the weddings with Jane and Elizabeth; Mary produced a well-worn book and was immediately in a world of her own; and Georgiana seized the opportunity to speak with Kitty. Kitty apparently had had the same objective, only slightly reversed.
"Shall we sit down over there, near the sofa, and talk of something other than Jane's and Lizzy's loves and the approaching weddings?" Kitty rolled her eyes dramatically.
"I should like that very much indeed. It does appear that some subjects may have been conversed about a trifle too frequently for some people to sustain a continued real interest in them, although I am so happy for my brother and Miss Ben.... Lizzy. Pardon me, I am still new to the change of name for your sister"
"You need not my pardon; it is perfectly understandable. Now, we must decide on a different topic. Does music or 'my favourite thing' sound palatable?"
"Of course! My favourite thing would undoubtedly be music. I love to hear, play and read music. It is so soothing and placid. It does not comment on your performance; it brings peace and tranquillity. Many a time it has calmed me when I have been upset." Georgiana spoke enthusiastically.
"Indeed, I am in agreement, except that I often will have to wait my turn, for Mary spends hours playing pedantically, and then Lizzy plays. I normally only 'tinker' for small amounts of time, although I cannot deny that I should dearly like to spend more time in front of a pianoforte." Kitty's tone was duller than Georgiana's.
"Do you think, that is, would you like, I mean, uh, perhaps I shall start anew. Mr. Bingley has a delightful pianoforte, I have not yet used it, but I am sure that whenever you are at Netherfield you would be most welcome to come and use it. I am the only other person who would play at it; perhaps I could teach you a duet?"
Georgiana saw Kitty's eyes light up. "Do you think he should mind? It is a splendid idea! I should like that so dearly. Could you really teach me a duet?" Kitty's voice was now as enthusiastic as Georgiana's had been.
"Most certainly. What do you play most?"
"I am not a great proficient, as you will no doubt see. Lizzy has taught me some melodies, and some simple pieces. At present I am learning the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven, but it shall take me a great time to master it. Do you like Beethoven? I do, but I also like Haydn, Von Weber and Mozart. Are you fond of the theatre?"
"I do not venture out a great deal when I am in London. I have been to the theatre occasionally though. I have seen The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet. But my most memorable moments of Hamlet are sad. I thought the scene of Ophelia's madness so melancholy."
"Hamlet is indeed a tragic play. There is so much death - through drowning, poisoning and swordplay. It is as pity-full as Romeo & Juliet. I like Romeo & Juliet though, there are such pretty verses. I particularly like 'That which we call a rose, By any other word would sound as sweet'."
" I must confess that my favourite lines would be 'Goodnight, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.' Dear me! Shakespeare has written such memorable plays and sonnets. I'll wager many years (hundreds perhaps) will pass, and Shakespeare will still be known."
"I cannot disagree with you Georgiana, indeed I cannot."
"Girls, Girls! Kitty! Mary! Make haste and prepare yourselves. The gentlemen will be coming very soon, I daresay" came the unpleasant voice of Mrs. Bennet who had surprisingly ceased talking to Jane and Elizabeth for a time.
Her prediction came true, to the great delight of everyone (excepting Mary, who cared not for them, but the resulting cessation of her soliloquising was distressing to her) in the room. Jane and Elizabeth were directly by their fiance's sides, and Kitty and Georgiana rose. As Jane & Mr. Bingley, and Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy sat on the sofas, Kitty and Georgiana took each others arms and took a turn about the room (which they found so refreshing) for they did not have to see the lovestruck faces of the couples and hear their whisperings.
"Do let us have a little music" cried Mrs. Bennet, tired of the quiet conversations in which she had no share. Mr. Bennet made no comment, Jane and Mr. Bingley absent-mindedly nodded their heads (slowly, as if in time with music) and Lizzy and Fitzwilliam continued talking to one another. Georgiana was about to suggest Kitty played something, but before she could do so, Miss Mary stood up and practically ran to the pianoforte, almost knocking down a vase in her haste.
Georgiana noticed that now Lizzy and her beau were silent, Elizabeth looked uh, well, almost... mortified and her face's content expression fell. Her sister's actions were likewise, and Mr. Bingley appeared as though he knew not how to react. Georgiana was even more alarmed when she saw her brother : did he actually just.... groan? Georgiana looked around the room. Mr. Bennet seemed to be about to cringe, and Kitty was no longer smiling. Georgiana was puzzled. What can have affected them so?
Miss Mary cleared her throat, and Georgiana was ready to begin settling down. She would now hear a lovely sonata, or aria, perhaps a sweet concerto? Kitty had by now seated herself down, and Georgiana joined her. Mary announced that she would be playing a piece that was lively and gay. It was Scottish, and Georgiana knew the song. She recalled that it had several high parts - and was only suitable for the highest soprano. Georgiana herself could sing this, but not in front of an audience. Ah, this is a pleasant tune, at least Miss Mary has acquired some taste, albeit not so fine as Elizabeth's.
The instrument began, but still everyone in the room, save Georgiana and Mrs. Bennet, was pale and looked almost ashamed. Of what? Mary opened her mouth and began to sing.
Georgiana had been expecting to hear a soft, pleasant voice, but that was most definitely what she heard not. Miss Mary Bennet's singing was vulgar. It was shocking. It ought not to have been displayed in front of anyone! She sounded more like a bullfrog than a soprano - her voice was not even high enough to be distinguished as an alto!
Jane and Elizabeth hid their faces with their hands, and their lovers were trying to calm them. Mr. Bennet had disappeared, most probably he had retreated to the library where he could be rid of that wretched noise! Kitty looked down at her hands, which she had placed in her lap, and sighed, determined to not look up until Mary was finished. Mrs. Bennet was smiling and called out to any who would listen "O our Mary is such a proficient. Such nimble fingers! How lovely! Is she not wonderful. Do play again, child! Please do!" Lizzy and William groaned in unison, but Georgiana still could not keep herself from smiling a little, in the midst of this calamity. She had a plan.
As soon as the final lines had been played, and for courtesy's sake everyone had clapped, Georgiana got to her feet and went directly to the sofa where Lizzy and William were. "Miss Bennet, uh, Elizabeth, pardon me, but um, my brother and I have not heard you play since you were at Pemberley last July. Will you not uh, play again for us?"
Georgiana looked desperately at Lizzy. She seemed to get the message and would replace Mary at the pianoforte. Such an alleviation! I do hope no-one saw my sigh of relief! I should give up half my dowry never to hear Miss Mary play again! Elizabeth stood up, and placed herself at the instrument. "Georgiana, would you be so kind as to turn the pages for me? You did it so becomingly at Pemberley."
"It would be my pleasure" Georgiana nervously answered.
Lizzy selected a piece from her selection, and Georgiana peered over curiously. "O Lizzy! How did you know? This is William's second favourite piece! He adores the Appassionata Sonata" Georgiana gasped almost incredulously.
"It would appear that our taste in music is exceptionally excellent, and exceedingly similar. The Appassionata Sonata by Beethoven is a classic that I am also quite fond of." As Elizabeth said this, her eyes were fixed on Fitzwilliam. He smiled, looked a touch embarrassed and looked straight back at his beloved, and a repeat of Pemberley's 'look' ensued. Not again! Well at least Miss Bingley had said nothing to trigger that response this time! Georgiana looked away. William is absolutely bewitched by Lizzy!
Georgiana and Kitty discreetly coughed, and Lizzy's eyes soon returned to looking down at the music in front of her. In comparison to Mary, Elizabeth sounded like an angel. William looked absolutely blissful, and Georgiana smiled profusely. Miss Mary perceived that the guests much preferred Lizzy's playing to her own; and was so mortified that she quitted the room.
Can you not see why I enjoyed it? Hopefully I didn't offend any Mary-lovers too greatly... ~Erin
Elizabeth soon finished, but she could not be prevailed on to play a second. She was about to return to her William, but her mother glanced up at the clock and exclaimed at the lateness of the hour. Once she had announced this out loud, in her screeching, wailing voice, the Darcy's and Mr. Bingley felt obliged to begin preparing to leave. The adieus were then bid, and Mr. Bingley's carriage set off in the direction of Netherfield.
"Well, what did you think of the Bennets? Were they as intimidating as you had imagined them to be?" Darcy asked his sister.
"No, indeed, I felt quite welcome, and they seem no harm. Mr. Bennet is probably pleasant company, and Mrs. Bennet.... well, I suppose she is fine if you stop listening to her after several moments."
"That is very true" chuckled Mr. Bingley "And now, what say you about my darling Jane?"
"Jane is very pretty, and so sweet, mild and serene. She has the countenance of an angel, and Elizabeth sounds like one. I shall like them as sisters very well indeed. And Kitty, too. I like Kitty greatly. I told her I would teach her a duet. She is just learning to play. But Miss Mary! Uh, perhaps it would be best to just say that we shall leave the playing to Elizabeth, Kitty and myself."
"That is definitely an excellent idea" laughed William.
"Will we be going to Longbourn again tomorrow?"
"Naturally. You will not mind if Charles and I stay... well, all day there, as we have been doing every day since our engagements?"
"All day! I am certain you do not spend the entire day at Longbourn. I do know that Lizzy is very fond of walking, and I dare say you have become most proficient at it lately." Georgiana gave the gentlemen, but more particularly her brother, an inquiring glance. Their blushes and the goofy expressions they gave each other that appeared to ask 'How did she guess?' proved that she was correct.
"You need not answer, for I know already. Oh, William, have you sent word of your happy situation to Colonel Fitzwilliam yet?"
"Dear me! No, I have not. I had quite forgot."
"Hmph" snorted Mr. Bingley. "Probably has told no-one save yourself, Georgiana. I did it much differently. Everyone I ever was acquainted with knew about my happiness almost immediately."
"Bingley, " began Darcy gravely "I have been, um, more happily engaged in 'other business' ", and he blushed, smiled and laughed.
"Other business! Indeed! Pray tell, what business might that have been?" asked Mr. Bingley rather impertinently.
"Charles" warned Darcy, but before he could continue any further, all in the carriage were laughing.
"Fitzwilliam," said Georgiana when they had settled down, "As you have not yet written to Colonel Fitzwilliam with your news, shall I write to him instead? I know how much you would rather be with Lizzy than being occupied by writing a correspondence. I have other things to tell him, and I could save you time."
"Well, you are correct in your assumption that I should prefer to be with Elizabeth, and you have my permission to write to the Colonel informing him of my approaching nuptials. I shall write to our dear aunt and uncle, the Earl of Matlock and his wife, and tell them myself."
"Ah, Netherfield at last! It's peaceful now, so take advantage of it - Caroline is due in the next se'nnight." announced Bingley, and presently the carriage shuddered to a halt.
"Good night, William. Good evening, Mr. Bingley" Georgiana called as she walked to her chamber. Their responses echoed through the hallway as she drifted past the Billiard room, which was where they had been headed. Georgiana passed Mr. Bingley's study. Tomorrow I shall write this letter.
Georgiana, her brother and Mr. Bingley had just arrived at Longbourn. Jane and Mr. Bingley were already in the process of disappearing, and Elizabeth and William looked as if they wanted to, but Mrs. Bennet had engaged them in conversation with her, and they felt it improper to leave her talking to herself about the wedding. Georgiana could hear a piano-forte playing (but she could not hear Mary singing) and so quickly walked in the direction of the sound. It was Kitty.
"Good morning Georgiana. Mary is soliloquising over the greatness and intellect of Fordyce's Sermons, and I thought it a good opportunity to occupy the piano-forte while I had the chance." Kitty smiled as Georgiana looked at her apologetically.
"What are you playing?" she inquired.
"A song of my own concoction. I like them, for they cannot be played wrongly. Shall we compose something together?"
"I should like to try, but I have not ever done anything like it."
"Come, do not be shy. It is indeed quite fun. Here, sit by me and press your fingers against the ivory keys."
"Very well. Is this what you mean?" asked Georgiana as she played Middle C and then every second key down the scale.
"Yes. Be creative, and I will join you."
Georgiana was at first confused, but soon she and Kitty were laughing their way through a piece that sounded little better than Mary's playing the night before. This song, however, was much more enjoyable to themselves. They only ceased their compositions when Mary came down and rather impolitely requested to use the piano-forte.
At the thought of what was to come, Georgiana and Kitty quickly excused themselves and went to call on Miss Maria Lucas.
"I've become good friends with Maria, especially since my sister Lydia went away after her marriage." Kitty told Georgiana. "Maria is perfectly good-natured and genteel, but she often gets exceedingly shy. She is the eldest non-married Lucas, for Charlotte became Mrs. Collins, the wife of the clergyman who has your aunt as a 'most noble and benevolent patroness' as Mr. Collins would so eloquently say. Oh, did Lizzy tell you that your aunt visited us little over a week ago? She left us so soon that I assumed she was only passing by , but it was quite nice of her to call, do not you think?"
"Uh, yes" Georgiana coloured as she said this, for she knew that the afore-mentioned visit had certainly not been a pleasant civility.
"We turn down this lane here to get to Lucas Lodge. Just up there, I believe, is where Mr. Darcy proposed to Lizzy. I had just left them alone to go to Maria's, because I was afraid of staying with your brother, but he does not appear so proud and haughty as he was last year. In fact, he seems friendlier. I wonder if Lizzy has anything to do with his miraculous transformation."
Georgiana felt it might be best if she made no comment, and so instead changed the subject by saying "Is that Lucas Lodge?"
"Yes, indeed it is. I do hope Maria is at home" Kitty replied, and then looked rather stunned. "Maria? Oh dear! Whatever is the matter? Is there something wrong?"
Maria Lucas was running up the pathway, almost tripping on her dress, but stopped when she saw Kitty was come. "Oh Kitty! Guess what. Charlotte has come to Lucas Lodge, and Mr. Collins is come as well!. Do not begin to fret now, for my news is not yet finished; it is worse! They are to stay until Lady Catherine de Bourgh allows them to return! They say that she has been rendered exceedingly angry by hearing from Mr. Collins of Mr. Darcy's engagement. You see, she wanted Miss de Bourgh to marry him. Lady Catherine blames Charlotte and Mr. Collins because they invited Lizzy to Hunsford with me in March. Mr. Collins is to be here for an age - and if I hear his snivelling voice much more I think I shall go mad! It is too much! Why is not everyone as unhappy as I am? At Hunsford I was almost always half a house away from him, but here he will be in the next bedchamber! I cannot bear it!" she wept, but dried her eyes and attempted to smile when she saw Kitty was not alone. "O, pray forgive me, I did not see your companion. I am in such a miserable state this morning."
Kitty stepped forward to make the necessary introductions. "Georgiana, this is Miss Lucas; Maria, this is Miss Darcy" Georgiana curtsied, as did Miss Lucas.
"I am exceedingly apologetic that my aunt is so disagreeable, and that as she has consigned Mr. Collins to Lucas Lodge, she has distressed you. I have not ever met him, but I must admit that what I have heard about him has not even remotely excited my anticipation with regards to an introduction."
Maria gave a small laugh. "If I were you, I should try to miss out on the opportunity of meeting him. Once he ascertains that you are a niece of his esteemed noble patroness, he will follow you like a sheep, offering the most ridiculous opinions and waffling on worse than my papa. At least Papa does not give such a concise and sleep-enhancing talk about every minuscule thing he can conceive of talking about."
"I am grieved greatly for you, my dear Maria. Come to Longbourn as often as you please, and we shall stay from Mr. Collins whenever possible." Kitty offered.
"O thankyou Kitty, and Miss Darcy. You know not how comforting it is for me to hear that."
"Do, please call me Georgiana. I am sure that Kitty and I will do our best - to not encounter Mr. Collins in the near future" Georgiana smiled lightly. "My cousin Anne has told me such things of him that I hold no desire to ever meet him. Pardon me, I hope I do not offend your sister, Mrs. Collins, but it is indeed the truth."
"Do not worry, I in fact wish that I had never met him. At least he is only a relative through marriage, and not related by blood." Maria giggled slightly, but her face turned decidedly pale as the front door of Lucas Lodge brought forth and admitted the odious figure of Mr. Collins. "Quickly, follow me" Maria incoherently gasped, and the three women dashed into the copse, leaving Mr. Collins calling out repeatedly for his "dear olive-branch expecting wife Charlotte's beloved younger sister Maria."
Chapter Twenty-One: An Introduction
Georgiana, no matter how much she wished to, was not able to entirely escape the acquaintance of Mr. Collins. Anne's, William's, Colonel Fitzwilliam's, Kitty's and even Miss Lucas' descriptions all corroborated with each other, and seemed to not greatly exaggerate, but instead fit him perfectly - almost. He was actually even worse than his portrayal had been. Georgiana felt utter and sincere sympathy for Mrs. Collins, especially as she was expecting a child of whom he was the father; but she had apparently chosen to marry Mr. Collins with her eye's open, and so it was her own doing.
Mr. and Mrs. Collins called on the Bennet's, and everyone, including Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, was present. Georgiana could see that Elizabeth was happy to see Mrs. Collins, and vice-versa, but only Mary appeared pleased to again meet with Mr. Collins. "Far too soon I daresay" Mr. Bennet was heard whispering as he excused himself to his library.
Mr. Collins said that he "would have given his fair cousin Elizabeth his and his dear Charlotte's congratulations, but his most noble and esteemed patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh had forbid his doing so, as she was most seriously displeased and put out at the union of my cousin Elizabeth and her nephew, and of course I must voice and agree with her opinion as she is not present to do so herself " ('For how could anyone not agree with the opinion of Lady Catherine, when it was so condescendingly presented' were Mr. Collins' thoughts at the time).
Nobody's concentration (except perhaps Mary's) would allow them to listen to more than half of his lengthy rambling, and Mrs. Collins was much more agreeable to listen to as she hugged Elizabeth and wished her joy. "Do you now believe my telling you at Hunsford that Mr. Darcy seemed partial to you Eliza? There was a time when you could and did not believe me." she smiled, as Lizzy blushed and replied that yes, that had been the case, but in such cases as these, a good memory was unpardonable.
Mr. Collins then began his obsequious civility towards William, and also to Georgiana, as soon as he had established who she was. Georgiana noticed that William seemed to bear it with calmness, and decided that he was acting so meekly for the sake of Lizzy. Georgiana's forbearance was at an end. She looked despairingly at her brother, and was finally able to politely excuse herself and escape to Kitty.
"Mr. Collins seems to be well suited to Lady Catherine, and when they are together, I daresay the conversation is unbearable"
"I hope I never have the opportunity of seeing it, but I think Lizzy might have said something like that when she came back from Hunsford; but she did appear very out of sorts, especially when Lydia and I gave her the happy tidings of Wickham."
"Yes, indeed." Georgiana responded quickly, than changed the subject before Kitty could reply.
"Do you think the Collinses will depart soon? I do hope so."
"Perhaps. Shall we go into another part of the house, as to be rid of them?"
"That is a fine idea. We can go and calm our poor nerves." Georgiana began to laugh, and Kitty immediately joined in. Georgiana had already heard much about the state of nerves in Longbourn, particularly those of Mrs. Bennet.
Kitty and Georgiana went into the other sitting room, and joined Jane and Mr. Bingley, who had also successfully managed to disappear. Lizzy and William entered next, saying that the Collinses were leaving. All in the room unconsciously breathed a sigh of relief.
Mrs. Bennet, as soon as she was able (which was as soon as Mr. Collins had set foot outside), began talking of preparations for the wedding. A date had finally been set. November 26th. It was a bit later than what Mrs. Bennet would have wished, but it was not her wedding, and it held significance to the engaged couples - as the first anniversary of the Netherfield Ball.
Kitty was to be a bridesmaid, and Georgiana had been asked, but was too fearful of standing up in front of all those people. Darcy and Elizabeth wanted Colonel Fitzwilliam as the groomsman, but would have to wait for his response.
Georgiana, Darcy and Bingley left Longbourn that night, all anticipating the day of the wedding, not a month away.
Chapter Twenty-Two I : Another Arrival
The days before the wedding flew by, and the only events of note were the arrival of a letter from the Colonel, and then himself, and the expected arrival of Miss Bingley (though thankfully she was as yet not come). Georgiana excitedly tore open her cousin's letter as soon as it had arrived, and began to read the short missive.
My Dear Georgiana,
How pleased I was to receive your letter. I am most delighted with Fitzwilliam and his choice of wife. I must own that I did suspect some partiality on his side at Hunsford, and after receiving your long and satisfactory list of details, I am certain they deserve each other.
My parents and I are both eager to attend the wedding, and I wish to see Miss Bennet again, while my parents long to meet the woman that has so stolen your brother's heart.
Of course I do feel sympathy for Miss Bingley; she has long coveted the role of Mistress of Pemberley, but Miss Bennet is by far the superior choice. Give all of my best wishes to Darcy and Miss Bennet.
Your Loving Cousin,
Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam.
The letter itself was not very lengthy, but not six days after it's arrival, the Colonel was residing in Netherfield. He spent his days with Kitty and Georgiana, as Darcy was with Elizabeth from dawn until dusk.
"He does leave us alone, and totally forgets about our existence," Georgiana told her cousin as they walked alone around Netherfield at one opportunity "But I have never seen him happier."
"Nor I" agreed the Colonel. "It in a way convinces me that marriage may indeed be just the thing for me also."
Georgiana blushed, and kept her head turned away from her cousin, who, apart from William , was the only person she truly loved - only this was not just a love because he was kin. "He may be almost twice my age, and he is additionally my joint guardian, but I love him so dearly." Georgiana would often admit to herself. She knew not her cousin's feelings, but she did know her own, and kept silent as her companion looked at her.
"Georgiana! Why do you not speak? I should have imagined that you would have something to say to your cousin, such as retorting with your disagreement and saying I was far too plain to attract anyone, or something similar."
"Why I, that is, I... I do not know what to say" Georgiana almost stuttered. "Is it, I mean, is there someone that you do wish to marry?" Georgiana's voice came close to faltering as she looked up at her cousin, conceiving that he might already have chosen a partner, and only waiting before he made his addresses.
"No, not really" he sighed, and Georgiana had to try forcibly not to breath an audible sigh of relief; "I doubt there is anyone that could love me like Darcy and Elizabeth love each other."
Georgiana was about to begin expressing her protestations, but suddenly forgot to do so as her eyes momentarily wandered to the door.
SURPRISE! HeeHee (Well, we had to be graced with her presence some time soon...) ~ Erin
Chapter Twenty-Two (II) : Miss Bingley!
She came, Georgiana saw, and now here is the continuance...! ~ Erin
"Dear Georgiana" Caroline Bingley uttered as affectionately as she was possibly able (which was indeed not a great deal) "And Colonel Fitzwilliam, what a pleasant surprise! It has been too long since we all last met." she purred. Too long! I think not.
"Indeed" Georgiana hastily replied, in an attempt to not laugh with the Colonel, who was rolling his eyes dramatically in a most Caroline-like fashion.
"Miss Bingley, it is indeed so nice to see you again" he said sarcastically, although Miss Bingley was batting her eyelashes too furiously at him to notice and therefore take offence.
"Are you just arrived?" Georgiana inquired politely.
"Yes, my dear. I shall be here until Charles marries that Miss Jane Bennet. She is a sweet girl, but country-bred and not nearly so sophisticated or accomplished as you or I," she sniffed. "What brings yourself here? And the colonel? I thought you would still be at Pemberley, not here with my brother."
Georgiana was shocked anew with Miss Bingley's atrocious indecorum. Even Colonel Fitzwilliam looked stunned.
"My brother invited us to come until his, I mean, the wedding" Georgiana managed to reply. She wanted Miss Bingley to find out about William's engagement, but not here - not now. At another time when William was present she would probably be even more shocked, and so Georgiana wanted to wait until then. Georgiana noticed that her cousin had an impish grin, but was also keeping his mouth shut about the surprising secret.
"I have not before seen Mr. Bingley so happy since his engagement. Miss Bennet seems to have a similar disposition; it will be a happy match. Have you seen Mr. Bingley yet? Has he informed you that the Bennet's are to dine at Netherfield this evening?"
"What, all of them? Surely there is no need for that" Miss Bingley interrupted.
"Yes, they are all to come. I believe your brother and Darcy have been enjoying the company at Longbourn immensely lately." the Colonel stated and looked knowingly at Georgiana as she began to choke with laughter, which she could scarce hold back. The conversation was terminated by the entrance of Bingley and Darcy.
"Caroline! I did not expect you to come so soon" Bingley started.
"O yes, I am here, and dear Georgiana was just telling me that the Bennet's were coming to dinner. I shall be able to see Jane." Miss Bingley stopped for a moment. "I suppose you are eagerly anticipating the fine eyes of Eliza Bennet, Mr. Darcy" she snapped.
Georgiana held her breath in case her brother's reaction may cause her to laugh, and also thought of Miss Bingley's reaction once she knew. O Miss Bingley - I cannot, absolutely cannot wait to see your face.
"I think I hear the carriage now" Colonel Fitzwilliam announced to end the intercourse.
"Miss Bingley, will you accompany Georgiana and myself? I think Bingley may like to welcome Miss Bennet and her family without our interference." he added, allowing Bingley and Darcy an escape.
"Of course, Colonel Fitzwilliam. I should be delighted. You know that I could never refuse a relative of the Darcy's" she said in her ever-so-modest [and charming - she alone thought] voice; and simultaneously the Colonel inaudibly groaned and Darcy smirked, as she linked her arms with his and walked to the door.
Georgiana waited impatiently for her brother and the Bennets to be announced. Miss Bingley was becoming even more tedious than she was normally. Elizabeth didn't start when she came in and saw Miss Bingley, and so must have been previously informed of her untimely premature arrival. She welcomed Colonel Fitzwilliam like an old friend, and Darcy joined them in a conversation, leaving Miss Bingley to fend for herself.
Georgiana quickly went to Kitty and began to chat, and Mary was left to listen to Mrs.. Bennet's numerous effusions about how fine a prospect Netherfield House was, and how pleased she was about her darling Jane's settling there so soon. Georgiana whispered to Kitty that they would have to keep Miss Bingley away from her brother and Elizabeth. Kitty had only a few seconds to respond with her agreement before a servant came announcing that dinner was served.
As usual, the betrothed only had eyes for each other, Mrs.. Bennet could not stop chattering, Mr. Bennet could not be prevailed on to answer as he was ignoring her, and Mary was little different. Kitty and Georgiana managed to keep Miss Bingley occupied, with the occasional help of the Colonel, and dinner passed by with Miss Bingley only sometimes mentioning how quiet Miss Eliza was, and that Mr. Darcy seemed somewhat distracted. Georgiana smirked at the Colonel, who returned the same reaction.
Their humourous glances abruptly stopped when Miss Bingley continued by saying "I had heard that Miss Lydia was married to that fellow George Wickham. Strange, I had thought his affections to be planted elsewhere. Miss Eliza, am I mistaken? O, but I must give my sincerest congratulations" she fluttered, but no-one noticed. Even the lovers had ceased their chatting when they had heard Miss Bingley's speech.
Everyone's reaction was different. Bingley looked ashamed, Jane shocked, Elizabeth pale, William red with anger, Colonel Fitzwilliam gaped, Kitty almost cried, Mary stared, Mr. Bennet flushed and Mrs.. Bennet thanked Caroline for her 'kind' congratulations. Georgiana's emotions were constantly changing, from shocked to embarrassed, surprised to angry and then bewildered. How dare she! How absolutely cruel!
Georgiana could see that Elizabeth needed to leave the room, and to Kitty leaving would be no disadvantage either. "Mr. Bingley" Georgiana stood and addressed Bingley "I, uh, as we have now finished eating, would you mind if I shewed Elizabeth and Kitty that new painting in the gallery?" Georgiana looked unsure of herself, but it was visible to Bingley that she was attempting for herself and the others to be rid of Caroline's snide remarks for a time. And so they ought! "Yes, indeed, and perhaps Jane might wish to join you" he said, and as he leant towards Jane, Georgiana could hear him whisper, "It is alright. I will keep you from her."
Elizabeth and Jane were badly shaken, with Kitty faring only slightly better. "How.... how dare she?" Lizzy began to cry.
"I.. I do not know Lizzy" Jane responded weakly before too breaking into sobs. Georgiana tried to comfort them, but Caroline had touched a sore spot, which could not be instantly healed. It was not long before Darcy and Bingley came to join their fiancees, to console them.
"Caroline is talking with the Colonel and Mrs.. Annesley at present. We will try to keep her from you as best we can," Bingley said, and Georgiana felt sympathy for those left to endure Miss Bingley, especially the colonel. At the same time, she felt what could best be described as jealousy. "I will be making her apologise. Jane, I am most grievously upset that my sister cannot behave herself," Bingley continued.
Lizzy, Kitty and Jane had by now all recovered admirably enough to allow them to rejoin the rest of the guests who were now in the drawing room. "Well, my dear, now.." William began, but was cut short by Elizabeth's saying "I do believe it is time for us to make an announcement to Miss Bingley!"
Thus saying, Lizzy stood and clasped Darcy's arm, and he led her back to the others. As Jane and Mr. Bingley entered, Caroline executed her best attempt at an apology to the women, but Georgiana could see it was an involuntary and forced effort, and a bad one at that.
Kitty and Georgiana joined the Colonel at a sofa, and Bingley and Jane occupied another, as did Lizzy and Darcy. It looked as though Caroline was inclined to and about to seat herself next to Darcy, and Georgiana was hurriedly trying to think of a way to defer her.
From the silence came Elizabeth's voice, and Miss Bingley stood away at a distance, while she spoke. "Just think! Not three weeks to the wedding! I must say (looking at William and smiling) I really cannot wait. O Jane, do you think there's much else we've forgotten? I do hope our dresses will be fine, I would not wish to appear unrefined or indecorous in my dress. But I do suppose Mama has worked everything out, for one needs to look their best at such times as these..."
"You would look fine in a potato sack" whispered Darcy, and before Miss Bingley could ascertain what he had said, she interrupted "My dear Miss Eliza! Why, you sound as if you're preparing for your own wedding! Not just Jane's"
Georgiana's face was as mirthful as Colonel Fitzwilliam's, as Mrs. Bennet speedily replied "Why Miss Bingley! O, of course, it must be true, for have you not heard? Lizzy's getting married too, to Mr....."
"Why...I...Congratulations Miss Eliza. And are you to share your sister's and my brother's nuptials?" Caroline sounded slightly surprised.
"Indeed I am. We all thought it a splendid plan, we are all to be brothers and sisters the same day. After all, Mr. Bingley and my fiance...."
"And to whom may I also wish joy? Who is your affianced?" Miss Bingley curtly queried, her eyes smiling at Darcy because she could now again have him to herself, without the interference of those 'fine country eyes'.
Darcy stood up, his face beaming. His "I am" resounded around the room.
At that same time, Mrs. Bennet was tittering "Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy! How well that sounds!" as Miss Caroline Bingley collapsed on the floor, having fallen unconscious as a result of fainting.
At first it appeared that Miss Bingley had fallen to the ground, but it was actually not so. Her fall was cut short by the presence of Colonel Fitzwilliam's lap, on which she landed into. The Colonel was surprised indeed, (but not sure whether it was actually not a pleasant sensation - it seemed to feel as if it were quite interesting to him, dare he think it) as was most of the rest of the company, save Georgiana. She, instead, was slightly jealous, wishing it had have been her rather than Caroline that fell on the Colonel's lap.
In time Caroline was revived, and the next time Georgiana saw her, her face was distorted with an apparent indignation, grief and hurt pride. She was continually muttering, to any that cared to hear "That Bennet girl and my Darcy! I cannot believe it! Eliza Darcy! O, I shall die!" Georgiana loved seeing Miss Bingley's dejected and mournful state. It gave such an elegance to her misfortune. It also pleased the Colonel no end.
The final days and weeks of Lizzy and Darcy's courtship passed along, with no further interruptions or vexations to any but Miss Bingley. The brides' gowns were finished, the foods for the banquet afterward selected, and Georgiana taught Kitty a few more songs. Georgiana had been asked to be a bridesmaid, but the thought of standing in front of all those people at the wedding caused her to turn down the offer. She and Maria were instead to hold the arch, for the newly-weds to walk under. Caroline was to have no part or significance to the wedding other than being a part of the congregation.
Georgiana heard that Mr. Collins was rather mortified to have not been asked to attend the ceremony, but Charlotte helped him recollect that if his esteemed noble patroness, who vehemently opposed the match, heard that he had played a part and was involved, she would have undoubtedly been most seriously displeased. The truth of the matter was that Georgiana had begged that he not be permitted to undertake the ceremony, for she "would like them to be married before nightfall if it was a morning service." There had been not one jot of opposition, in fact, it was unanimously in favour, and most strongly desired by Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam.
The plans for the Darcy's honeymoon especially pleased Georgiana. Elizabeth and Darcy would work their way to Derbyshire, finally ending at Pemberley. Georgiana would not see them until just before Christmas, when she would come to Pemberley after having spent three weeks with her beloved Colonel ("who was after all her guardian" she reasoned). Georgiana could hardly wait, although she would never admit it to a soul.
There was now only a week remaining until the 26th. Georgiana sat in her toilette as she prepared for the ball at the Meryton Assembly Rooms. It was to be the last time Lizzy and Jane danced as maidens. Georgiana was particularly excited because the Colonel had already asked for her hand in the first and last dances; and even though she was not out and therefore not supposed to dance, she had readily assented.
Georgiana heard a knock, and turned to see Mrs. Annesley. Poor Mrs. Annesley had been so terribly neglected what with Kitty and the Colonel taking Georgiana's attention. But she had, however perpetually composed herself good-naturedly and was constantly to be found perusing a book or embroidering some needlework. Mrs. Annesley was, in fact, proud of the amount of extra work she had accomplished in her time.
"Are you in need or desirous of any assistance, Georgiana my dear?"
Georgiana was not, and before much further ado, the Darcy's, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Bingley (Caroline couldn't bear coming to see Darcy and Elizabeth serenading the night away) were in the carriage, driving in the direction of Meryton. Georgiana was beside herself with excitement, with the others scarcely less so, although for once most times their emotions were kept in better check.
The carriage came to a halt, and the door was opened. The gentlemen got out and the Colonel offered his arm to Georgiana as she stepped out. Georgiana's eyes lit up and shone as brightly as a flame, and her excitement and awe was contagious. Her eyes sought out familiar faces, and she beamed as she caught sight of Elizabeth coming towards her party. They were by now inside. The room drew silent as the Colonel and Georgiana entered. Lizzy later explained that they were newcomers and had not been seen in public before; and that the silence usually occurred in such occasions, as it had when Darcy and Bingley originally arrived.
The dancing and music recommenced, and before long that particular dance was finished. The colonel approached Georgiana and Kitty who were talking gaily, and they took their place in the set, standing opposite each other. Jane and Mr. Bingley were on Georgiana's left side, and Lizzy and William her right. The music began, and Georgiana took her eyes off the Colonel long enough to see both Lizzy and Darcy take in a gasp and then smile at each other knowingly. Georgiana thought that perhaps the music had given them a sentimental memory? There seemed no other logical explanation. Georgiana shook that thought from her mind and instead focused more intently on the Colonel's discourse, and concentrated on the steps to Mr. Beveridge's Maggot.
"Look at those two lovebirds" the Colonel motioned at Lizzy and Darcy, who were obviously totally insensible of anything or anyone but the other.
"I have never seen my brother so happy. Elizabeth is just so wonderful, and they are so utterly in love." Georgiana smiled. "Lizzy told me that she had once promised herself never to marry but for the deepest love, and I believe she has found this. I only hope that the same thing will happen to me. I should hate to not marry for love. What about you? Do you feel likewise?" Georgiana pried inquisitively.
"I suppose that is so. Yes indeed. A marriage should only be for love, a deep love, felt and shared equally by both party; which is why I shall remain a batchelor."
"Do you imply you have no intentions of ever marrying? Surely you cannot be serious."
"Indeed, you must believe me, for I am in earnest. I have seen how people throw themselves at the affluent (such as Darcy), with only their pockets being filled in view, and have seen few examples of true love. As I am not so wealthy (being a younger son) , I find it difficult to believe that I would be sought for money, and I find it even more unlikely that someone should love me enough to marry me, and although I see many fine women thrust at me by do-gooders, I do not wish to call myself violently in love with any."
"That cannot be! I can easily believe there are many that love you enough to marry you. Why, I love ...." Georgiana coloured and became silent.
To change the subject, Georgiana glanced over at Darcy. "My! A week more and I shall be blessed with Elizabeth for my sister."
Georgiana could not wait.
Chapter Twenty-Six ~ Conclusion
The sun shone radiantly in the sky, and a maid entered to draw back the curtains. "Good morning, Miss Darcy. It's a lovely day for the wedding." Georgiana opened her eyelids. Sunlight poured through. The wedding!
Finally it had come.
The day when her beloved brother Fitzwilliam and his beloved Miss Elizabeth Bennet would be united. Georgiana quickly rose, and prepared herself for going down to breakfast.
Fitzwilliam and Mr. Bingley were already seated, and both looked as exceedingly jittery as the other. William's teacup was about to spill, and Bingley's knife kept clattering and clinking incessantly.
"Good morning! I can see you are both beside yourself with anticipation" Georgiana teased lightly, then she giggled as her companions fidgeted and eyed each other curiously. They then returned to a heightened sense of nervousness. But their faces, however, shone like never before, and gave one the impression of walking on air, regardless of the state of their nerves.
The occasional clinks were interrupted by the arrival of the Colonel. He took one look at Darcy and burst out laughing. "If only you could see your face my dear Darce! And you too Bingley." he chuckled as he saw Charles. Bingley and Darcy looked at each others faces, which they supposed must mirror their own, and were immediately laughing uncontrollably. As their laughter was contagious, the room was not again silent until Miss Bingley was announced.
Georgiana noted that, as usual, the brightest hue of orange covered her body; and; as usual, it did not become her. Then, Georgiana saw Caroline's face. There was no smile, and her eyes had apparently been crying recently. She was absolutely morose, and Georgiana felt slightly pitiful. After all, Miss Bingley had long been waiting for and dreaming about Darcy's wedding, but not to the particular bride he had chosen. Caroline had so long coveted that position, only to be divided from him by the upstart pretensions of Eliza Bennet! A woman of no rank. (Caroline neglected to remember the circumstances of her own birth, for she was but the daughter of a tradesman - which was a fact she attempted to keep hidden from the world. But the world seemed to remember that fact at the most inopportune times for Caroline).
Miss Bingley's company was not particularly riveting (more irksome and morbid, today actually), and so Georgiana left as soon as she was able. It was time to prepare for the day ahead.
Before much further ado, the Longbourn Church was in sight. The jittery grooms beamed at the thought of what was to come, while Caroline's reaction was to cover her face and moan inaudibly (at least she thought she was silent). Georgiana's eyes darted here and there vivaciously, hoping to catch a glimpse of any of the Miss Bennets (except Mary, of course; Kitty was included for she was Georgiana's particular friend, and she wished to sight the brides for that was tradition - everyone wished to see the brides, especially when they were such beautiful ones as Lizzy and Jane). The Colonel just looked around his party and chuckled teasingly.
They entered the church, which was all dolled up in picturesque and vivid blooms (Georgiana had made sure Sweet William was included in at least some of the bouquets, citing the bringing back of memories as her reason for doing so). Georgiana made sure she was as far from Caroline, and as close to the Colonel as she could be (her reason this time being that she desired to be with family on such an occasion).
The wedding march began, and Georgiana joined the rest of the congregation by looking to the door and beholding the entrance of Elizabeth and Jane, who held the arms of a very proud Mr. Bennet. The faces of the brides exuded radiance at it's fullest potential. The three progressed down the aisle, and Georgiana glanced at her brother. He was utterly captivated; totally bewitched. His current state of mind (which was perfectly obvious - not masked in the least) was indescribable happiness.
Elizabeth took her place by Fitzwilliam, and Jane by Bingley. Mr. Bennet joined Mrs. Bennet and the remaining Miss Bennets. Mrs. Bennet was for once was entirely silent and Georgiana was glad of this for Jane, Elizabeth and their future husband's sakes. The clergyman began with his "Dearly Beloved" and Georgiana could not help but notice that his hair was a trifle diverting to one so young as herself, but in an act of maturity, her silence was maintained.
During the ceremony the couples kept looking at each other, and as the clergyman spoke, images of Lady Catherine and Anne, and Wickham and his wife presented themselves in Georgiana's mind; but as the vows were exchanged only Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were visible. Jane and Mr. Bingley had but only just been married when the clergyman gave a smile and said that he now presented these two people as man and wife. He then continued by saying that William could now kiss the bride, which he did most obligingly. Jane and Mr. Bingley kissed each other softly and quickly, but Mr. & Mrs. Darcy were engaged in a kiss of the most passionate and enduring sorts, so much enduring, in fact, that several "ahems" and clearing of throats could be heard before they separated.
When this was done, the happy couples walked arm-in-arm out the doors of Longbourn Church.
Maria Lucas and Georgiana hurried out to the greenery arch which they and Kitty had spent hours completing, and lifted it high for the newlyweds to walk under. The faces of the four that walked under the arch were filled with joy.
Gone were all traces of previous melancholy, disagreements or depression, and in it's place was radiance, peace, happiness and most especially, love.
Friends and family were joyously throwing rice and leaves at the couples, and Georgiana did so also, but unfortunately discovered that the leafy twig she had thrown had most disagreeably landed at the top of Lizzy's dress, in the chest area, and was wedged there. Oh dear! Well at least everyone will be looking at their faces and therefore won't notice it.
The couples entered the carriages that had been waiting, and waved goodbye. The horses started suddenly with a jolt, and Charles and Jane Bingley, and Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy were led away.
Georgiana stood by Colonel Fitzwilliam, and they watched, hand in hand, the new life of their brother and cousin, which had but only just begun.
I should like to give a tremendous thankyou to all those who have followed the tale since it's conception. One day I shall attempt a sequel, but at present, this is it. Everyone's support has been so encouraging, and I am exceedingly grateful for it, especially as this was my first ever fan fic story. I do hope you all enjoyed it as much as I. Thanking you all again once more ~ Erin H
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