Pain, Growth, Joy, and Laughs
On the evening of the day they had become engaged, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet sat at their respective window sills at Netherfield and Longbourn and stared up at the stars. Paralleling each other's thoughts, both gentleman and lady introspectively reflected on how life had brought them to this current point of supreme happiness.
Darcy's stately countenance turned into a reflective pose as he became lost in thoughts of his pains, growths, and finally joys over the past years. It had been hard enough losing his mother, his family having felt the loss of her presence dearly. When his father then died five years ago, Darcy had not only assumed the immense responsibility of being the Master of the grand Pemberley estate, but also was forced into becoming almost a father-figure for young Georgiana. The former of these duties was an immense job, but Darcy was intelligent and level-headed and handled the business matters of Pemberley with ease and presence of mind. The latter of his duties, meaning looking after his sister's well-being, was much more draining.
With all of his responsibilities, Darcy had nobody to turn to when he himself needed encouragement. He had been too busy looking after the welfare of his estate and his sister that he had nobody to lean on for his own emotional dependence. Sure, there was his friend Bingley, but Bingley was not the soul mate who would complement all that Darcy had to offer the world and bring a sense of lightness to his responsibilities as Elizabeth would do from this day forth.
Darcy's heart shuddered at the void he had existed in for so long, and the emptiness of shutting himself up from the inevitable hurts of the world through his pride as a facade. While the eligible bachelors around him were procuring noble bred wives for the sake of settling down in marriage as society deemed proper, Darcy had always known that he didn't just want to settle. Settling would doom him to a lifelong existence of the emptiness he already knew all to well. So while he was one of the most eligible bachelor's for miles around and women such as Caroline Bingley flaunted herself at him, he didn't budge in changing his philosophy. Funny, for the longest time he had thought that it was his pride that kept him from being attracted to a woman, as with 10,000 a year nobody would be good enough for him. Darcy shook his head in amusement at himself. His Eliza had the gift of being able to laugh at personal faults. Well, here was his first try at that, and he would have to proudly tell her about it when he saw her the next morning.
Over the past year, or in clearer terms ever since he first met Elizabeth Bennet, that protective wall around his heart had slowly disintegrated into such feelings of admiration, ardor, and love that he had never experienced before. He had gradually come to admit to himself that it was not pride, but fear, that held him back from marrying. Darcy had feared to be trapped in a marriage where he was only adored for his money, yet not respected and admired for the man that he was. He had feared a matrimony with a woman who was deemed accomplished by society's standards, but who wouldn't be a match for his wit and intelligence and would leave him night after night alone in his library with only his books as his companions. A wry grimace crossed his face as he thought of his beloved Elizabeth's parents---Mr. Bennet not wanting to be around his silly wife. How awful to not want to be around the one person with which one had pledged to spend their life.
Darcy was a man of business and he regarded any kind of a contract with a great air of seriousness. The biggest contract of all, the wedding covenant before man and God, could not be taken with anything less than strict adherence to the pledge of honoring and cherishing one's spouse. For Fitzwilliam Darcy, Master of Pemberley, had secretly yearned for a wife who would be a true lifelong companion to him, not just a figurehead with the title of "Mrs. Darcy."
Through pain comes joy, Darcy thought to himself. Finally, his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth had consented to his hand in marriage. She had not only changed his life with her words in the past, but would shape his life in the present with her complementary companionship. He was no longer to be alone. Now he would have Lizzy to bring cascading rainbows of joy to his life each day. He would have Lizzy to talk to as a match for his wits and knowledge. He would have Lizzy to lean on when he wasn't sure how he was going to handle a problem and it seemed like it was him against the world. He would have Lizzy to shower with the waves of ardent love in his heart, and he would have Lizzy to genuinely love him in return with her sweet intensity. Soon, it would be Mr. and Mrs. Darcy as a team enjoying the felicity of marriage
Darcy had to laugh at himself again for yet another reason. During that horrible Hunsford proposal, he had mentioned how ashamed he would have been to be related to Lizzy's family. There he had been sitting so high and mighty upon his protective throne of pride that he had failed to see the parallel between the idiosyncrasies of Lizzy's family and his own. There was the shame of the incident with Wickham and Georgiana -- Darcy had never thought that anyone could really understand the heartache he had felt at that incident, but here was Lizzy with her sister Lydia having actually succumbed to Wickham's false charms as well. In spite of his fears in revealing the past to her, Lizzy had not thought anything bad of either himself or Georgiana. In fact, Lizzy was quite protective of them, as she had shown in her gallant rescue of Georgiana that night in the Pemberley music room.
Moreover, there was his feisty and disagreeable aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, to reference her in official terms. Had there been a woman more prejudiced or self-righteous in all of England, he couldn't have believed it. Yet, in spite of the pain that his aunt had brought to his Elizabeth in trying to dissuade her acceptance of his hand in marriage, Lizzy stood strong with an admirable resilience. Darcy knew that Lizzy loved him despite his own family relations, and wandered how he could ever have thought it impossible to return that unconditional love to her in relation to her silly mother and sisters, or that her relatives had no connections in the world of materialism.
Okay, so it was time again for Darcy to laugh at his personal follies. While he had once looked down on the Gardiners without even knowing them for the petty reason of their class status, these same individuals he now almost saw as surrogate parent figures to himself. After spending so much time with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in patching up Lydia and Wickham's marriage, Darcy had learned to feel quite comfortable in their presence. The Gardiners related to each other with the ease and comfort that his own parents had shared.
Darcy was very thankful that Elizabeth HAD rejected his first proposal. For it was through the pain of her rejection that he had been forced to grow not only as a gentleman, but as the caring man that he was always meant to be who would be worthy of such a gifted wife. Darcy now fully comprehended the phrase that sometimes one must go through the depths of pain in order to experience the depths of joy.
Elizabeth Bennet, dreamily thinking about how she was soon to be Elizabeth Darcy, smiled in the midst of her introspective thoughts.
Unlike the silliness of her younger sisters and her mother's constant blabbering, coupled with the general level of immaturity that her family displayed quite often, Lizzy had always felt that she was different. Her father obviously sensed this also, as he counted on her to understand the level of his wit and humor which were above the heads of the other family members. True, Lizzy held Jane very dear in her heart, and was grateful for all of the love, kindness, and gentleness that her sister so generously bestowed upon her. But Lizzy had felt in her heart for a great while now that there was something more out there on the level of complementary companionship and a somebody who truly understood her and appreciated her for who she was.
For this reason, she had been so set in her resolve of not marrying unless for the deepest and strongest of loves, whether or not it meant securing a fortune. Money was so inconsequential when weighted against true love. There had been many times for as long as she could remember that she had winced at the lack of intimacy between her own parents. Deep down she knew that there was more to life than for a husband to be shut up in his library for hours on end to avoid his wife. A thought of how content her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner were entered Lizzy's thoughts, and she smiled in knowing that she and Darcy would have that and so much more.
A wave of excitement washed over her entire being as she thought of the joy and extraordinary happiness she would have in living life at Darcy's side. She had a deep respect and admiration for him, as he was the only man she had ever met who could hold a decent conversation with her and challenge her mind with his own intellect.
Lizzy uttered a sigh filled with both relief and contentment as she thought of the future ahead of her. Relief that she would no longer have to look out for the best interest of her family while her father remained shut in his library, as in her plea that Lydia should not have been allowed to go to Brighton in the first place. Relief that Darcy loved her in spite of her family, and actually understood her embarrassment...since he had endured a similar incident with Whickham and his sister, as well as the fact that the illustrious and opinionated Lady Catherine de Bourgh was none other than his very own aunt. Lizzy laughed at the absurdity, resolving to herself that she would soon teach Darcy the art of how to laugh at circumstances instead of taking them personally.
Lizzy's sigh had also been overflowing with contentment that not only had she found her equal and would no longer feel like a part of herself was missing, but that he admired and loved her so ardently. Lizzy gasped at the intensity of his love and how he had tried to suppress it for many months, but could not and thus made positive changes in his life because she deemed them to be necessary. She felt the tingle of her heartbeat at the thought that her future husband weighed her opinions with such high regard. She had never seen such a fervent love in all of her observations of people and society in general, and she had definitely been one to observe the world around her.
When she had first met Darcy, she had not been looking for love. And before she could embrace such deep love as she had dreamed of, she had to undergo the necessary growth of shedding the layer of prejudice that had almost cost her the one man in the world who was her perfect match. After all was said and done, love had found her and promised her a life of fulfillment in marriage. Funny how the beauty in life can sometimes take one by surprise. With this thought in mind, Lizzy began to laugh.
© 1999 Copyright held by author