The Unexpected Visitorr
Elizabeth was found to be speaking with Mrs. Reynolds regarding her sister, Jane, and Charles' anticipated arrival for a visit. She was excited that they were visiting, for it had been several months since she had seen either, and Jane had recently discovered she was soon to be a mother. Elizabeth's last visit with her sister had been at Christmas, 6 months ago, to their new home in Nottinghamshire. At that time Jane and Charles had just moved there from Netherfield
Elizabeth had been discussing preparations for the coming visitors;
"If you would be so good as to prepare the guestroom for Jane and Charles...and please ensure there are extra blankets, as it is still chilly in the evenings. Oh, my, of course you know of such things! I apologize, Mrs. Reynolds, I'm just so happy Jane is coming for a visit."
"That's quite all right, Mrs. Darcy, I understand. And she is to have a babe, that in itself is wonderful," answered Mrs. Reynolds, walking towards the door. "I shall go and start preparations. When do you expect them?"
"According to her letter," Elizabeth replied, reopening the said letter, "they are hoping to arrive Thursday afternoon, ...only two days away. Oh, that reminds me I should go and finish wrapping the gifts I have for Jane and the baby. Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds."
She promptly went to her room to complete wrapping the presents. She had made a beautiful nightgown with embroidered roses on the front for Jane, and a small blanket and a toy kitten for the expected baby. As she was wrapping the baby things, she began thinking...
"I am so happy for Jane. A baby! And I'm sure she'll be a wonderful mother." She then paused, saying to herself, "I can only hope that one day William and I will be so blessed. I pray that I will be as good a mother as Jane will be."
"What are you muttering to yourself?" A voice interrupted her thoughts.
"William, you startled me." Her husband walked up to her embraced her, giving her a kiss. When he finally released her, she attempted to continue, "I was just saying how happy I am for Jane, and Charles, of course. How pleased I am they are coming for a visit!"
"Yes, " William replied, "it will be wonderful to see them again." He paused while he watched Elizabeth continue wrapping the baby blanket. "And to be expecting a child, that is truly a blessing they both deserve." As he said those last words, he saw Elizabeth pause in her ministrations for a moment, and then continue.
Suddenly William realized what he had said and how it must have made Elizabeth feel. She had come to him in the library many nights ago, and told him of her concern at not yet producing an heir for Pemberley. He had taken her into his arms and told her that he wasn't in a hurry for an heir to appear, as he wanted to enjoy just being with Elizabeth for a while longer. He also told her that he was certain that in the near future, they, too, would be blessed with an heir.
She seemed to feel better about the situation after that. But now, with what he had just said, and her sisters' condition, he was certain it was at the forefront of Elizabeth's thoughts once again. He went over to her bent figure and attempted to console her with a partial hug. Suddenly she dropped her wrapping and turned within his arms, her head lying against his heart.
"Oh, Elizabeth, it will be all right, my love. We will have our turn one day," her husband said, holding her close against him.
"I remember what you said the other night," Elizabeth said, through tears. "But it doesn't change how I feel."
"I know... sweetheart, I know... I am pleased you are so anxious to have a baby. Perhaps while your sister is here you can discuss with her what it is like to be in such a delicate condition, then you will have an improved opinion of what may occur during your future confinement."
He lifted her up into his arms. Her head snuggled up against his chest. As she wiped away her tears, she said to him, "I hope it will be soon, William, I hope it will be soon."
He held her in his arms for a moment, enjoying the feeling of holding her close. "My love, you look tired. Perhaps you just need some rest. But I see your bed is covered with your beautiful gifts for your sister, let me carry you into the larger bed and you'll feel much better after a rest," William said to her, with a smile.
"Yes, William," she answered, attempting a smile. "You're probably correct. A rest would improve my outlook greatly." And with that said, she brought her arms about his neck and kissed him, as he made his way to the master bedchamber.
Mrs. Reynolds and the other servants had been so prompt at preparing everything for their arrival, Thursday morning found all preparations had been completed in good order, even with a fine vase of flowers located in the guestroom.
Elizabeth went for a walk around the great estate, feeling the need to do so to pass the time until her sister arrived. She couldn't see herself sitting down to do her correspondence this morning; it could wait until tomorrow when she would know that her sister had arrived safely.
And before she knew it, Jane and Charles were arriving in their carriage.
"Jane, Charles, it is wonderful to see you again!" Elizabeth said, running up to the carriage from the pathway.
William had seen the carriage approach, so he was standing on the front steps. "Welcome, Charles, welcome, Jane. I hope you have had a pleasant journey."
Georgiana was just coming out of the front doors and then made her way down the steps towards Elizabeth, Jane and Charles.
"Hello Charles, Jane. It is so very nice to see you again." Was her greeting.
As Charles assisted Jane out of the carriage, Elizabeth noticed her sisters' swollen stomach.
"Jane, I'm so happy for you, " Elizabeth whispered, as she gave her sister a hug.
"Thank you, Elizabeth. Although I feel enormous, and I have another 4 months yet." Jane replied with a smile.
While Elizabeth and Jane were exchanging hugs, Georgiana and Charles were exchanging greetings. William and Charles then exchanged handshakes and pats on the back.
"How are things with you, Darcy?" asked Charles.
"Very well, thank you, Charles. And with you?" William replied.
"With a child soon expected, I'm as happy as a man could be," Charles said with a smile, as the group went into the house.
"Why, yes, of course, Charles, our congratulations to you both on the impending birth." William said to his friend, shaking his hand once again. "You must be very pleased."
"It must be exciting to have a baby," said Georgiana.
"Yes, you could say it is exciting," was Charles' reply. To his wife he said, "Would you say it is exciting, my dear?"
"Yes, exciting, wonderful, and tiring," was Jane's answer, with a smile directed to Georgiana.
"I am anxious to hear all your news, " Elizabeth paused, looking at her sister, "but I will contain my curiosity until you have rested from your journey." And she led her obviously tired sister to the guest chamber.
After Jane had rested, and Charles had taken care of their unpacking, all met in the dining room for tea. It was then that Elizabeth gave her sister the gifts she had made.
"Oh, Elizabeth, they are beautiful, and such fine work. Thank you so much." Jane exclaimed, with a hug for her sister.
"I am pleased you like them. I couldn't resist making something special for my favorite sister when she sent us her good news," was Elizabeth's reply. "And if you feel up to it, I am curious to hear what has gone on over the past months."
As her sister began to tell of all the events occurring over the past months since they last saw one another, Jane spoke of Miss Bingley, and Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, and how they had been spending most of their time in London, now that she and Charles had moved farther north.
I should be very pleased with that, were I Jane, thought Elizabeth. Especially now, with a child soon to arrive.
Jane also spoke of her request of her mother to visit Jane and Charles at their new home, at the end of Jane's confinement. Elizabeth could see why Jane had requested this, as it was a common request to make of one's mother at such a time. But to our mother! Elizabeth thought. Should I be in the same situation I think I should also have Aunt Gardiner. And she suggested this to Jane.
"Do you not think that perhaps Aunt Gardiner would be of help also, Jane?"
Jane looked at her thoughtfully, "Yes, I suppose she would, indeed, be quite helpful. But I had also hoped in addition to mothers' attendance, that you would oblige me and visit as well. But I shall certainly put some serious consideration into asking Aunt Gardiner, how could I have forgotten her."
"I am sure you have plenty on your mind, at present. But you do what you feel is best, Jane," Elizabeth said, as she took Jane's hand.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Mr. Franklin, William's steward, entered the room on hearing his entrance welcome.
"I beg your pardon, sir. The post has come with a most urgent letter requiring your immediate attention."
"Very well, thank you, Franklin." William replied, as he rose from his chair. "Please excuse me, I hope I shall not be long." And with those words he exited the room with his steward.
"Jane, would you feel able to go for a short walk? It is so beautiful outside, and I would so like to show you the garden; with Mr. Walters' assistance, Georgiana and I are very proud of what we have accomplished there." With a smile towards Georgiana, "and of course, Charles, you may join us."
"Thank you, Elizabeth, I should like to." Was Charles' reply.
"Yes, I would like to see your garden very much. I miss being able to putter in my own garden, perhaps next spring..." Jane sighed.
With assistance from her husband, Jane rose from her chair and the couple accompanied Elizabeth and Georgiana outdoors into the warming sunshine.
The next morning Charles came into the dining room for breakfast, alone. William, Elizabeth and Georgiana were just sitting down to have tea, while awaiting their guests.
After morning greetings were exchanged, Charles explained, "Jane was having trouble getting to sleep last night, and couldn't become comfortable. She insisted I not wait for her, and come down now for breakfast."
"Is there anything I can get for her comfort?" asked Elizabeth, putting down her cup.
"No, I don't think so, Elizabeth. Her sleeplessness occurs quite frequently at home, as well, so I imagine she will try to sleep a little now," Charles replied, reaching for a plate and taking a scone from the serving platter.
"Sleeplessness? Jane always seemed to be able to have quite a good sleep at Longbourn, would the child cause her to be so?" she asked, concern in her voice.
"Yes, the last 2 months she has had difficulty getting comfortable, either while sleeping or sitting. And more often than not, has had few hours of sleep during the night. Thankfully the naps she has during the day seem to make up for the nights, but I am becoming concerned. She is always looking very tired." Charles replied, with a sigh. "I try to assist as much as I can, but I am mostly unsuccessful."
With his words, Elizabeth met her husbands glance. She was thinking that apparently having a baby wasn't all bliss and wonderment. She would, indeed, have to ask Jane about it. Georgiana was also listening to the conversation, and coming to her own conclusions on the subject she really knew very little about.
"I am sorry to hear Jane is uncomfortable, if there is anything we can do to assist, you will, I hope, let either Elizabeth or myself know, Charles," William remarked.
"Thank you for your offer, Darcy. I shall certainly inform you if there is," Charles said, and had a sip of tea.
Then William brought up the topic of the new horse he had just recently purchased, and he and Charles began discussing where he had purchased it, and how they should go for a ride.
As the men were discussing the horse, Elizabeth was left to her thoughts about her sister and her condition.
After supper a few days later, William and Charles were in the drawing room playing a noisy game of backgammon. Elizabeth was alone in the sitting room, curled up in a chair close to the fireplace. A fire had been lit to take the chill off the room. This evening she had much on her mind, and found she needed some quiet. The past few days, Jane had been acquainting her with all the feelings, discomforts and wonderment when one was with child. Jane had told Elizabeth that she had been ill the 2nd and 3rd month, but found it to occur only in the morning after arising, and after midway through 3rd month she was no longer ill. She also told Elizabeth that the weight gain was uncomfortable and that it was difficult to sleep properly, which Elizabeth had already heard from Charles. Then Elizabeth remembered something that Jane had said;
"It was wonderful when I first discovered I was going to have a baby. Charles was so happy, for the longest time he was constantly wearing a larger smile than usual, or so it seemed to me. It is still a wonderful experience, but now I feel so heavy, so cumbersome. And to think I shall become heavier before the child is born, I wonder how I will manage. But, when the child first moved, that was...that was better than wonderful...extraordinary, even those words don't explain the feeling properly. To feel a life move inside me....." Jane had said, with a catch in her voice.
A tap on the door interrupted Elizabeth's thoughts. It was opened and Jane peeked around it.
"William said you might be in here. He told me they were too noisy for you tonight."
"Yes," Elizabeth replied, "I felt I needed some quiet this evening."
"Are you feeling ill?" Jane said with concern, as she sat down in a chair across from her sister.
"No, I'm fine, Jane. Just thinking about all the things you have told me."
Her sister nodded, thoughtfully. "It is a great deal to comprehend. Had I not been living it, I too, should be in confusion."
"Are you still having difficulty sleeping? Is there anything I can do to help make you more comfortable?" Elizabeth asked, her eyes meeting Jane's.
"I thank you for the extra pillow, that certainly helps. But some nights are better than others," her sister answered. "At home when I can't sleep I go down into the library and look through some of the books there. I must admit I have gone down, late at night, into the library here to look at your books."
"There is quite an extensive collection. I like to go there sometimes to browse myself. Most of the books were collected not only by William, but also by his father and grandfather. Of course feel free to go there at anytime of day or night."
Jane gathered her shawl tighter around her shoulders.
"Jane, you should move closer to the fire to keep yourself warm." Elizabeth urged, getting up to assist her sister.
"I'm fine, really, Lizzy. I just had a momentary chill."
"Well, then you must wrap up in this blanket. I insist! You shall not have a chill in your condition, Jane." And Elizabeth had a large woolen blanket and began wrapping it about her sister.
Jane looked at her sister as Elizabeth regained her chair, and she suddenly asked, "Do you have any other visitors?"
"No, ...just you and Charles...why do you ask?" Elizabeth answered, sitting up in her chair.
"Well...one of the nights I went down to the library, I was sitting on the sofa looking at a book about roses. I had this feeling someone else was in the room, as I looked up there was this lady in a very fine white dress, with dark brown hair, sitting at the desk. She looked like she was writing something, and when she looked up and saw me looking at her, she smiled. I didn't recognize her, and she certainly wasn't dressed as a servant, so I just thought maybe you had another visitor that had perhaps, just arrived."
"Oh, no, we would have introduced you as soon as she arrived," Elizabeth replied, her curiosity raised. "How long did she stay at the desk? Did you speak to her?"
"I said hello, and asked who she was, but she gave me a smile and continued on with her writing," was her sisters' answer. "I thought I would go over to the desk to see what she was writing, but as I closed up the book, and prepared to get up from the sofa, I looked up and she was gone."
"Did you hear the door close? Perhaps she left that way?" Elizabeth replied, but then paused, "no, she would have walked past you to get to the door wouldn't she have?"
The two sisters looked at each other with a mixture of fear and wonderment. Who or what had Jane seen???
"Did you go to the desk to see what she had written?"
"I was nervous about going there, but I did, but there wasn't any sign of anything being written upon."
Turning to her sister, Elizabeth asked, "How old do you think she was? Dark brown hair, you mentioned. Anything else you remember?"
"I'm not a good judge of age, but I would say Mothers' age, maybe a little older..." was Jane's reply. "And I think she wore an amethyst ring on her left hand, for that was the hand she was using to write with. Do you know who she might be?"
"No, Jane, not at all. Especially when I know, you know what Lady Catherine and Cousin Anne look like. Very mysterious. You'll tell me if you see her again?"
"Yes, of course," Jane answered. "Whew, I'm tired. I think I shall go to bed now, and try to get some sleep." She rose awkwardly from the chair, and moved towards the door.
"Yes, I should be off to bed as well. I'll follow you to your chamber, if you'd like." With a nod of her head, Elizabeth took Jane's arm as they left the sitting room.
Part 2 of 3
Later that night, Elizabeth found she was having trouble sleeping, herself. She had the feeling that she must know who this woman Jane met in the library was, but she just couldn't seem to put her finger on it.
Suddenly she felt the urge to go to the gallery now, and see if any of the portraits there showed a woman of similar appearance.
As she walked down the gallery hall, holding the candle up towards the portraits to see them better, the place began to have an eerie feeling.
"Maybe I should wait to do this until tomorrow," Elizabeth said to herself, aloud. "It is nearly 2 o'clock in the morning and I'm starting to see things here, that I know are not."
The light from the candle was making ghostly shadows upon the portraits, causing some of them to appear in movement. Elizabeth had not reached halfway down the hallway, before she felt it necessary to turn around and go back to the comfort of her bedroom.
"Silly me for thinking of venturing here at such an hour," She muttered to herself. Suddenly there was a loud "thud" from where she came. "I wonder what that was? But, I'll not go see until morning, for my imagination cannot handle any more..." Elizabeth increased her pace until she had reached the safety of the door to her room.
The next morning, Elizabeth's first intention after breakfast, was to go to the gallery and see what caused the noise she had heard in the early hours. As was Williams' usual habit, he had arisen early that morning for his regular ride about the estate, before breakfast. During breakfast, he commented to her that he noticed her absence from the bed. She partially explained that she couldn't sleep and therefore went downstairs. She didn't like to avoid his question by being vague, but she was going to solve this mystery herself, and she didn't want William to think she had gone daft, or Jane either, for that matter.
William had a feeling Elizabeth was up to something, but thought it best to let the situation sort itself out. William and Charles had planned on going for a ride after breakfast, as William was going to give him a tour of the grounds. Georgiana was to accompany them, as well. As soon as the threesome had finished breakfast, they said their good-byes to Elizabeth and headed for the stable.
After finishing her breakfast and tea, Elizabeth arose heading for the door of the dining room.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Darcy," Mrs. Reynolds, said as she came through the same door.
"Yes, Mrs. Reynolds," Elizabeth answered, stopping before the open door.
"Judith has discovered a portrait has fallen in the Gallery Hall." Mrs. Reynolds said, as she held the door open for Elizabeth to pass through. "It is a portrait of Mr. Darcy's mother, Mrs. Anne Darcy."
"Oh, has it been damaged badly?" Elizabeth asked, with concern in her voice. It would be disastrous to have Williams's mothers' portrait ruined.
"No, thankfully, it appears only the frame is somewhat damaged, the canvas itself is in good condition. I have taken the portrait to the drawing room to ascertain the repairs required."
"I hope it will be repairable, Mr. Darcy will be unhappy to hear it has been damaged," was Elizabeth's' reply as she followed Mrs. Reynolds to the drawing room.
There on the table lay the large frame-damaged portrait. It was a very beautiful frame for a very lovely portrait of Mrs. Anne Darcy, painted several years before her death. There were golden leaves and flowers making their way about the rectangular frame, which was nearly as tall as Elizabeth. In her portraiture Mrs. Darcy was wearing a lovely floral dress, and holding a single white rose. Elizabeth knew that there was a rose bush in the garden that white roses flowered from. William had told her his mother planted it when he was born.
"It's such a beautiful frame...do you think it is easily repaired?" inquired Elizabeth.
"I do not know, Mrs. Darcy, we have called for Edward to come and have a look." Mrs. Reynolds answered. Edward was the carpenter at Pemberley, and was very respected. There wasn't anything he couldn't make or repair.
"Please let me know what he says, and of course, if he is able to repair it, I would be obliged," said Elizabeth. "I will tell Mr. Darcy of the incident as soon as he returns from his ride. But now I should go see how my sister is faring this morning."
Elizabeth went to her sisters' chamber and quietly knocked on the door. Soft enough that if Jane were to be still sleeping it would not awaken her, but loud enough to be heard if she were awake.
"Come in," was the sleepy reply.
"Jane, I didn't want to wake you. Did you have a pleasant sleep?" asked Elizabeth, as she came into the room.
"No, I was awake, just lying in bed. I did have a good sleep, though." Jane answered, as she sat up in bed.
"I just wanted to see how you were. We had a bit of excitement here this morning." And Elizabeth went on to explain to her sister about her midnight sojourn and how the portrait was discovered damaged.
"Apparently the hanger gave way, after many years, and that appears to be the cause of the portraits' fall," she said, and ended by saying, "So there's no mystery at all to that incident."
During the tale, Jane had gotten out of bed and was getting dressed behind the screen. "Oh, I'm sorry to hear about Mrs. Darcy's portrait. Do you think you could show it to me, after I have something to eat? I'm suddenly very hungry."
"Of course, but I thought I had shown you the "Wall of Relatives" on one of your previous visits. The damaged one is in the drawing room at present, and after seeing that one, I'll be pleased to show you the rest, if you feel up to it."
After an enjoyable breakfast, Jane was ready to see the portraits. Elizabeth first led her to the drawing room to see the damaged one. Edward was there, as was his helper, Peter. They had taken the canvas out of the frame, and were preparing to remove the frame to the workshop to begin repairs.
"You will be able to repair the damage, then, Edward?" Elizabeth asked.
"Yes, Mrs. Darcy, shouldn't be too difficult at all. The Master's mothers' portrait should be hanging back up within a few days." Edward replied, as he and Peter carried the frame out of the room.
"Wonderful," Elizabeth replied. "I'm most grateful, Edward."
"My pleasure, Mrs. Darcy," was the reply heard down the hall.
Elizabeth turned to see her sister staring at the canvas in astonishment.
"What is it, Jane?"
"Is this, Mrs. Darcy? Williams' mother?" She inquired, gesturing towards the canvas.
"Yes, it is. Wasn't she beautiful? She also had very expressive eyes, didn't she?" Said Elizabeth, with a smile.
Jane suddenly felt the need to sit down, she moved to the chair closest to the canvas.
"Jane? What's wrong? Should I call Charles?" Elizabeth exclaimed, reaching to assist her sister.
"No, no, I'm all right...don't call Charles, Lizzy. I'm fine. It's just...it's just...that is the lady I saw in the library the other night. Except she had a white dress on, not one with flowers, and her hair was done differently." Jane said, a shocked expression on her face.
"W-h-a-t?! No Jane, you must be mistaken! Mrs. Darcy has been dead for...for years, 11 years I think." She was beginning to have a funny feeling that Jane was being very serious. "It couldn't have been!" she said, shaking her head.
Jane looked at her sister with frightened glance, and then gesturing towards the portrait, pointed out the purple ring on the portraitures' left hand, which was holding the white rose.
On returning to Pemberley after their ride around the estate, William, Charles and Georgiana found a very quiet pair of ladies having tea in the sitting room. Both seemed to be engrossed in their own thoughts, almost as though something very troublesome had occurred.
"Elizabeth?" William said, touching her shoulder.
She came out of her reverie with a start, "Oh, William, how was your ride?" she looked up at him, somewhat detached.
"Elizabeth, what is wrong? What has happened?" He knelt down so his face would be level with hers. While William was questioning his wife, Charles was attempting his own questioning of Jane.
"Pardon? Oh, sorry, William," she seemed to snap out of it, "Oh, yes, I must tell you that your mothers' portrait has fallen and the only damage is to the frame, which Edward is now repairing."
"Thankfully Edward is able to repair it, but you, are you all right? You seemed quite dazed when we came in."
"Oh...oh, yes, well, Jane has been telling me what it's like to be in such a delicate condition," Elizabeth attempted to give him any excuse but the real one.
William noticed that Elizabeth wouldn't look him in the eye, he most definitely knew something was going on, something that had bothered Elizabeth greatly. And he was certain it wasn't anything Jane had said today, for they had discussed the information Jane had given Elizabeth, several nights ago.
Charles appeared to be having the same success querying Jane, as he had with Elizabeth. In fact, Jane had complained of a headache, and Charles was now assisting her to their bedchamber. As the eldest sister passed her younger, the two locked eyes for but a moment, as though a secret pact had been formed. William had not missed this look.
"Sweetheart, will you accompany me for a short walk about the garden?" He asked, hoping maybe if he could get her in a different place it would revitalize her, and maybe she would tell him what was going on.
"No, thank you, William. I should just like to sit here for awhile longer," she said, becoming distant again.
He went over to Georgiana, who had been watching the goings-on with interest. She had never seen her sister-in-law like this. He whispered a request to his sister, that perhaps if she were to ask Elizabeth to go for a walk, it might be more agreeable to her at this moment. He told Georgiana how he felt that something was going on, and that he would like to try to find out what it was. She smiled her reply to her brother, and after he had left the room, went over to Elizabeth.
"Shall we go for a walk about the grounds, Elizabeth? It is a warm and sunny day, today."
Elizabeth looked up at Georgiana for a long moment, and then she replied, "Yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea. I do think some fresh air would be beneficial."
With that the two ladies removed to the beautiful outdoors, where summer was indeed becoming noticeable.
William stood watching them outdoors from his sitting room window. Charles knocked, and came in when beckoned.
"I can't seem to get anything from Jane, as to what happened. I thought maybe it was a problem with the baby, but she insisted it was not."
"I know what you mean, Charles, Elizabeth was the same way. She even refused to walk with me. That in itself is a rarity, or has been so far in our marriage." He shook his head. "I thought if Georgiana asked, she might be more agreeable and that seems to have been successful," he said, gesturing out the window.
"Very strange, indeed, think you not, Darcy?"
"Yes, yes, very strange. Perhaps I should ask Mrs. Reynolds if anything untoward occurred while we were gone." And he left to go find the housekeeper.
Meanwhile, Georgiana and Elizabeth had been walking for quite some time without a word spoken between them. Georgiana also sensed, as her brother had, that there was a great deal on Elizabeth's mind. By this time they were quite a distance from the house, and Georgiana felt they would not be disturbed.
"It seems there is something that is greatly troubling you, dear sister. Pray tell me and perhaps I can be of help?"
Elizabeth stopped walking and stood looking at Georgiana. Dare she tell Georgiana of the phantom that Jane had seen, and the corresponding events? What would she say when told that Elizabeth and Jane felt the phantom was her beloved deceased mother??? She felt she needed to talk to someone about this, and perhaps if she was a bit vague on specifics....
Elizabeth looked thoughtfully towards the group of trees, and then back at Georgiana.
"I understand that sometimes older estates like Pemberley are said to be inhabited by spirits, do you know if this is so with Pemberley?"
Georgiana looked stunned, then replied, "I have heard that also, but I do not know of Pemberley being haunted, but Mrs. Reynolds or even Will would know that better than I." She paused. "Might I inquire why you ask?"
Elizabeth gave a big sigh, facing Georgiana she clasped the younger girls' hands in hers, and began. "I need to talk to someone about this. I couldn't speak to William about it, he would think I've gone daft!"
"No, Elizabeth, I am sure he would not! As I will not either. If you wish to tell me, I shall be a good listener."
Elizabeth smiled, and led Georgiana to a small bench encircled by some trees.
"Let us sit here, and I will attempt to tell you all that I know."
Georgiana patiently waited, while Elizabeth began pacing back and forth. Then Elizabeth began telling Georgiana about Jane's mysterious visitor in the library and her description. Then she told her about her own early morning sojourn to the Gallery to discover the likeness, and the crash that she heard. About how this morning, Mrs. Reynolds had told her about the damaged portrait. And how, after Jane had seen the canvas portrait, they discovered that the portrait and the phantom were very similar in appearance, and both were wearing an amethyst ring on the same finger. Elizabeth concluded with:
"I cannot say whether I believe in phantoms, and spirits, but the things Jane has told me and her reaction to the portrait.... I don't know what to think!" With those words, Elizabeth sat down, her hands covering her face.
"Oh, Elizabeth," Georgiana whispered. "I had no idea, as I'm sure neither do Will or Charles. Such a shock! My mother! Is it possible? Why would she be here now, so suddenly, and not before?"
After thinking on the subject for a moment, she said, "Elizabeth...do you think...I mean no disrespect, but do you think perhaps your sister imagined it? I heard that sometimes women who are with child are not always right in their minds, an imbalance or something..."
"I think Jane actually saw something, judging by the surprise on her face when she saw your mothers' portrait. I can honestly say I've never seen Jane look like that."
"Have you seen the phantom or spirit, yourself?" Georgiana inquired.
"No ... No, I have not. The way I feel now, I don't know if I would want to. I don't know what to do. Or if I should do anything. Perhaps it was the only sighting that will be had..."
Suddenly Georgiana had an idea. "I suggest we go speak to William about it. I know Mothers' things are packed in a trunk somewhere. I'm sure he will know where, and we can go and have a look in it, perhaps there will be something there that might help us understand."
"I don't know if I could face him, I have been avoiding some of his questions recently. And I still feel he will think I've gone daft or worse." Elizabeth said, trying to restrain her emotions.
"It will be all right, I'll tell Will if you like. You can be my support."
Elizabeth finally assented, and Georgiana led her back into the house. William and Charles had been watching them from the window. William could see that Elizabeth was upset, and appeared to be close to tears. He was becoming very concerned, Mrs. Reynolds had said there wasn't anything unusual that had occurred that she was aware of, other than the damaged frame. Whatever it was must be serious to upset Elizabeth so. He was about to go find where his wife and sister had disappeared to, when there was a knock at the door.
Georgiana and Elizabeth entered the room. Charles also noticed that Elizabeth was upset, and felt that something private might be discussed, so he excused himself from the room. Elizabeth looked at her husband, and just as their eyes met, she looked away and walked towards the window. Georgiana walked over to her brother.
"Will, Elizabeth has been telling me what is troubling her and Jane. It is really quite interesting and astounding all the same. But I fear you should be seated when I tell you. For I will tell you, as Elizabeth is still distraught, and wished me to do so for her."
So his sister began to tell him the things that had occurred over the past few days. Needless to say, he was, indeed, surprised at the events. He would look over to Elizabeth standing at the window, many times, but she continued to look outside. And then, Georgiana asked him if he knew where their Mothers' trunk might be located.
"Yes, I believe it is in the attic. I recall seeing it up there many years ago. Perhaps you are correct, Georgiana, shall we all go and see what we can discover?" He rose from the chair and went to Elizabeth by the window.
"I understand, now, why you are upset and have been distant. I wish you could have found it in your heart to tell me sooner. I would do anything for you not to be unhappy or upset." He put his arms around her and drew her close in a hug.
"I didn't want you to think I was going mad. I wanted to find out what was going on, before I told you. I don't know, I'm starting to wonder at the sense of it all. Maybe Georgiana is right, that maybe Jane didn't see what she thought she saw..." she nestled closer to his chest.
"Well," he said looking down at Elizabeth, "shall we go and see what is in that big trunk of Mothers'? It should be quite an experience, I've not seen her things for many years."
As the threesome stood at the top of the stairs, peering into the attic, it was apparent by the mass of cobwebs that no one had been there for quite some time. There was a child's bed, a pram and a box of toys in one corner. In another, there were stacked several trunks of various sizes. Several picture frames were leaning against one wall, and many wooden crates stacked together were in another area of the room. The candelabras that William and Elizabeth held gave sufficient light to see around the entire room.
"Oh, my...the memories held in this room." Elizabeth said, thoughtfully, as William began clearing a path through the cobwebs towards the trunks.
"Most of our trunks have our initials engraved on them near the closures, so I would assume it would be the same for Mothers'." William said, as he cleared the cobwebs away from a dark brown trunk.
"Then I should imagine your fathers' things are up here as well?" Elizabeth inquired, glancing at the plates on several trunks.
"Yes, his things are in that trunk, there, with the dollhouse next to it." William gestured in the direction of a large wooden dollhouse.
"Oh, the dollhouse, how I remember this!" Georgiana exclaimed, rushing over to it. She wiped away the cobwebs and then began opening the doors and windows to see if there was any tiny furniture inside. Georgiana, with Elizabeth's assistance, turned it around to access the rooms. It stood 5' high, and had several bedrooms, a dining room, library, and sitting room, complete with furniture. There were even wooden figures for the family of the house.
"Ah, here it is...of course, at the bottom," William said, as he removed his jacket. He would need to first remove two trunks that were on top of his Mothers' before it could be opened.
On hearing this, Georgiana moved to stand next to Elizabeth, and took her hand. Elizabeth glanced at her, while her husband was grunting under the weight of moving the two trunks. Finally the single trunk was accessible.
"Well," he said, rubbing his chin with his hand, "shall we?"
"You open it, Will," was Georgiana's reply, Elizabeth's story had gotten her imagination started.
"Yes, dear, you open it," Elizabeth also replied, holding Georgiana's hand tighter.
"Why don't we all open it together?" His imagination was also starting to get the better of him.
So the two ladies came to stand on either side of the trunk, while William stood in front. On the count of three they all lifted the heavy lid fully open. Elizabeth began sneezing from the dust flying; William gave her his handkerchief, and then began to look into the trunk.
Inside was a once beautiful dress and matching veil, which had been over the years slowly ravaged by moths. There were also numerous books, a small box with a clasp and a larger box made of a very fine wood. William removed the dress and veil so he could retrieve the boxes.
"Was this Mothers' wedding dress?" Georgiana asked her brother, taking the dress from him and holding it up against herself even though it was in poor condition.
"Yes, I believe so, Georgiana," he said, as he brought out the larger box. "And I remember this contained Mothers' writing paper and pens." And he quickly opened it and found his memory had been correct. Inside were several writing pens, and many sheets of fine paper with the name "Lady Anne Darcy" embossed in gold leaf across the top of each page. Elizabeth went to stand next to her husband to see the contents of the small box.
"What is this?" She inquired, pulling a piece of paper from under several others that was not of the same type of paper. Holding the sheet in her hand, she found it was addressed to William. Sensing that he was intently attempting to read it over her shoulder, she passed the letter to him so he could read it. It was from his Mother, apparently on her deathbed, to her beloved son. She wrote that she regrets she will not be alive to see him or Georgiana happily married, or see her hoped-for grandchildren.
She expressed the wish that both her children should seek a marriage partner that they deeply love, for, she records, that she was quite fortunate to have truly loved her husband, George Darcy. Her wishes for Georgiana's welfare, and regret for leaving her at such a young age, with so many things to know of the world. Her hopes that her husband, Mr. Darcy, and her son, Fitzwilliam, will endeavor to educate her of those things. She concludes the letter by saying that she knows in her heart that Fitzwilliam will choose a partner that he both loves and returns his love, and a woman who will uphold the fine status of Pemberley.
"Whomever she may be, I am sure you will choose best. For I feel, you will not marry just because it is the thing to do. You will marry only for real and lasting love for a special woman. And I am certain you shall have a long and blissful life together. May God watch over you, Son, and Georgiana, and may Angels foretell happy events."It was signed,
"All My Love, Mother.
"May I see the letter?" Georgiana asked, she had been standing on the other side of William attempting to read the letter's contents.
William passed the letter to his sister, but continued to stare off into the distance. Suddenly he put his arm around Elizabeth's shoulder and enfolded her in a hug.
"Well, I feel that I have done as she wished, for I do love you with all my heart, Elizabeth." He said, holding her close. "Although you were not Aunt Catherine's choice, I feel after reading this letter, that my Mother certainly would have approved. To be honest, I felt it to be so in my heart, but I was not completely confident as I am now." He smiled down at his wife.
"I am thankful that she wishes us a long and blissful life together, but what does she mean at the end, after she says
"'May God watch over you, Son, and Georgiana', it goes on to say...
'And may Angels foretell happy events.'I don't understand."
"Nor do I," replied her husband. "Do you comprehend Mothers' meaning, Georgiana?"
"No, not at present, but I should like to take this letter downstairs with me when we are finished looking at the other things in her trunk."
So they continued looking through the trunk, the smaller box contained some jewelry that Lady Anne had worn. But the amethyst ring shown in the portrait of their mother was not found among the jewelry.
"I do have a ring that Mother wished me to have. But it is not an amethyst; it is a single pearl. Will gave it to me on my thirteenth birthday," his sister said to Elizabeth. "Do you think perhaps Mother was buried with the ring, Will?"
William could not recall clearly whether this was the case, but when they completed searching through the contents of the trunk, it was decided that they should go down and tell Charles and Jane what they had discovered.
Later that evening found the Darcys and Bingleys settled in the drawing room, the men playing a game of chess. Elizabeth was trying to concentrate on reading her book, but was finding it a difficult task. Georgiana was continuing her sewing of a baby nightgown; it was nearing completion. Jane was watching the chess game from a distance. She had not the mind to either read or sew this evening. Elizabeth's tale of this afternoon's events had confused her. The more she thought about the vision she saw that night in the library, the more she realized she might have not seen anything. How could it be that what she felt was real, was not? No one had ever seen any sign of a spirit or phantom within Pemberley, not the housekeeper, or any of the servants. And surely, with so many servants about, one of them was likely to run across something odd within one of the rooms.
"Oh, well," Jane sighed to herself, "I shall apologize for disrupting the house in the morning, for I am exhausted." Aloud she said to all in the room, "Pray, excuse me, I believe I shall retire for the evening."
Charles promptly interrupted the chess game, and assisted his wife to their bedchamber.
"Indeed, it has been an exhausting day. I, too, shall retire. Goodnight, Georgiana." Elizabeth said, as she arose and walked over to her husband. "Goodnight, my love."
"I shall be up shortly, dear," he said, after her kiss. "I have a feeling Charles may wish to suspend the game until tomorrow."
Georgiana began putting away her sewing, "Wait a moment please, Elizabeth, I would like to go with you to our rooms."
Elizabeth and Georgiana left the room and walked up the stairs leading to the bedrooms. William was left to contemplate the days' events alone. Could it be possible that Jane actually saw his Mother? And why Jane, and not himself, or Georgiana, or Elizabeth? Just the fact that he thought it might actually have been the spirit of Lady Anne baffled him. Why did he feel so certain that it was? He shook his head at his thoughts, and told himself he, also, was tired. He arose and left the chessmen as they stood, for he and Charles would most certainly continue the game in the morning.
As Jane had promised herself, after breakfast the next morning she apologized to William, Elizabeth and Georgiana for troubling their house with talk of spirits and phantoms. She said that obviously being with child must have affected her and she must have imagined seeing what she saw, it was the only explanation. Elizabeth tried to comfort her and told her that it was not so much a disruption. Elizabeth still felt that Jane did see something, but how to explain it was nearly impossible. William and Georgiana each had a bewildered look on their faces. They did not think this was all Jane's fault. But for the moment, all agreed to let the matter rest...unless another sighting occurred. Jane also said, that although she was very happy to be visiting with the Darcys, she felt it was time for her and Charles to be going home.
"I'm afraid I seem to be getting a 'nesting' feeling, and it is difficult to nest in another's home..." she said with a smile. "I have so enjoyed seeing you again, Elizabeth, and William and Georgiana, of course. I thank you for your hospitality to us, but I think we should depart tomorrow morning."
"You have only been here a short time," Elizabeth paused, looking into her sister's eyes, "but I believe I understand. I only hope that at another time you will visit for longer." She gave Jane a hug.
"You will see me again, before the child is born. I hope you will be able to come in October?"
Elizabeth nodded, and smiled. She would be with her sister to help in whatever way she could, when the time came.
For the remainder of the day, the sisters spent the time together. Talking about the past, and the future, Elizabeth telling Jane of her hopes.
"You and William love each other so much, that I cannot see how you cannot be blessed, also, Elizabeth." Her sister replied. "It must be difficult, but you must be patient. Time will tell."
Her younger sister nodded, sighed, and then the two clasped arms and walked towards the garden for one last ramble.
The following morning found a flurry of activity in preparation for Jane and Charles' departure. They had previously sat down to breakfast, and now all were gathering for final good-byes. Elizabeth and Jane were hugging, while Charles and William shook hands. All were saying how nice it had been to see each other again, but no one mentioned the mysterious events of the past week. As the carriage drew away from the front steps, Elizabeth waved while tears fell to her cheeks. It had been a very unusual visit, but she had a visit in October to Nottingham to look forward to, as well as an opportunity to see her first niece or nephew. She turned to William, who stood behind her, and went into his open arms.
One August evening, Elizabeth retired to the cooler, east facing drawing room after dinner. William had had some business he needed to complete, so he had gone to his study. She had lately been not feeling herself. She thought that perhaps she was becoming sickly - for the third morning in a row she had been physically ill shortly after arising. The first morning William could hardly avoid seeing her state, he was getting dressed, as Elizabeth started out of bed and suddenly grabbed for the chamber pot under the bed and began vomiting into it. He came to assist her, as much as he could, with all the concern imaginable in a loving husband. She was unsure as to the cause of the sudden retching, but brushed it off as something she must have ate the evening previous. But Elizabeth had been successful for the past two mornings at waiting until William was finished his morning preparations and had quit the room, before she got out of bed.
"But for three mornings in a row, what could it mean," Elizabeth thought. "I feel quite well for the remainder of the day."
She had found Mrs. Reynolds quite comfortable to talk with, about almost anything, but Elizabeth felt that this particular situation would not be so easy to discuss with her. Then she recalled her conversations with Jane, during the Bingley's visit to Pemberley in June. Didn't Jane mention something about being ill during her pregnancy? Elizabeth thought. Why yes, she did, for the early months...A baby! Oh, wouldn't William be pleased, for she herself was becoming thrilled with the thought. But she didn't recall all of the symptoms that Jane had mentioned; so she sat down and wrote a note to her eldest sister, as she may be able to help Elizabeth determine whether she could be in such a condition. And that way Elizabeth wouldn't have to travel to see Mr. Keith, unless her sister's reply warranted it so. Elizabeth found Mr. Keith to be an amiable man, but didn't want to call on the doctor unnecessarily.
Several days later, an anxious Elizabeth was awaiting the post, and a reply from her sister. For her morning illness had not lessened, though thankfully had not worsened. But she was having other odd feelings. She found herself becoming emotional over the littlest things. William had been mentioning that he wanted to invited the Bingleys and the Hursts to Pemberley for a bit of hunting, and had asked Elizabeth if she thought her father or Uncle Gardiner or both would like to come as well. She had become very upset, tears rolling down her cheeks, shouting at him about how could he shoot poor innocent creatures, etc. Needless to say, William was very surprised, as was Georgiana. William had commented on her paleness in the mornings, and inquired if she were in good health. But her appetite! She felt that she was almost constantly hungry. Georgiana was amazed when she had taken more than one muffin than usual, during tea, and William's surprise on her second helping of Cornish hen during dinner. Whatever was going on with Elizabeth, she vehemently hoped that Jane's letter would enlighten.
William had noticed Elizabeth was impatient for the post to arrive. He had overheard Elizabeth ask the housekeeper during breakfast, and now she was asking Judith, who was bringing some tea to the library. There had been a particular book William was looking for, and Elizabeth had followed him there. He was thinking about how changed Elizabeth had been the past few weeks. It was hard to forget seeing ones' beloved retching into a chamber pot, and how pale she was every morning since, even though she had been oversleeping. And her hearty appetite! She was never a dainty eater, but lately it seemed she was always hungry. And that time when she became upset with him when he asked her about her father or uncle coming to Pemberley for a hunting party, he had never seen her so upset. After saying her piece, she had fled the room crying and ran up to her chamber, locking the door. She had never done that before! Maybe he was beginning to see the real Elizabeth, but when discussing the incidents with Georgiana and hearing the concern in her voice, he realized that something was affecting Elizabeth...a sickness maybe. My God, I hope not! He thought. I could not bear it if she were to.... No, I must not think of such things. He shook his head. But, he thought, whatever this eagerly anticipated letter holds, hopefully it will lift her spirits.
"What letter are you expecting, my dear, that makes you so impatient?"
"I am awaiting a reply from my sister, Jane," she answered, somewhat agitated. She had been pacing about the room, unable to sit down. She took a sip of tea, and clattered her cup and saucer as she put them on the table.
"Its contents must be very important for you to be so anxious." He glanced at her, as she stood looking out the window towards the forest.
"I am hoping so, William, I am hoping so," was her vague reply. Suddenly she darted out of the room at the sound of the front door opening, and greetings exchanged.
The post had indeed arrived, and as soon as Elizabeth retrieved the expected letter from her sister, she disappeared into the sitting room. She quickly removed the seal and unfolded the papers. Jane began with the usual salutations, and the hopes that she, William, and Georgiana were in good health. Jane wrote that she was very large now, and that Elizabeth would hardly recognize her, but that she was in good health and eagerly awaiting the birth, even thought it was still 2 months away. She read on, her sister mentioned some of the things going on at Longbourn, which Elizabeth had heard in her Father's last letter, as well as the events in London. Then she came to write in reply to Elizabeth's inquiry; she wrote that the symptoms Elizabeth had spoke of in her last letter sounded very similar to those Jane herself had had when she first discovered her pregnancy. She continued by saying that there were a few, very personal questions, that Elizabeth could answer herself, and if any of them were answered in the affirmative it could possibly mean she was with child. Elizabeth read the first question; 'when was the your last monthly?' That lone question set her thoughts wandering.
"I know that when a woman's monthly has not occurred, that usually means she is with child. But with child one is often ill...and emotional...and hungry... Oh! Could it be?" She suddenly realized that the source to all these new symptoms must be that she was expecting a child. She continued to read the questions in her sister's letter; "do you get upset over the littlest things?" "Are you always hungry?" and on the questions went, each one Elizabeth answering yes to. At the end of her sister's letter, Jane suggested to Elizabeth that it would be best if she were to go see a doctor to confirm her condition, and that her sister hoped that Elizabeth was indeed pregnant. So needless to say, as soon as was possible, Elizabeth was on her way to Lambton to see Mr. Keith. William was surprised by her sudden trip, as was Mrs. Reynolds. When William inquired to the housekeeper where his wife was going, she replied that Mrs. Darcy had gone to Lambton.
"How odd," William thought, as he went back to the library, "why should she need to go to Lambton so suddenly. I wonder what the contents of the letter said. I hope that she would have told me if something is wrong."
As he reached the library door, he suddenly felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He paused a moment, recalling the story Jane told during her visit in June. As he slowly walked into the room he felt her presence before he saw her...his Mother was sitting at the desk, just as Jane had described. She looked up at him as he entered the room, and smiled. He found he could not move his body from the spot. She was gesturing for him to sit down, and while his mind was trying to do so, his body would not. As she moved towards him, he could not take his eyes off of her...this was his Mother's ghost! He must be dreaming! She came to stand in front of him. Suddenly her lips were moving and he could hear what she was saying!
"William, my son, I am happy to have this opportunity to see you. You have grown very tall and handsome, both your father and I are proud of you. And we are very happy for you, for I see you have found a exceedingly charming, good-natured young woman for your wife. She has already been a wonderful influence upon both you and Georgiana. You have had concerns about this at first, but I am pleased to see you have let your heart rule your head in this matter." She smiled at him. "And as you may recall from reading my letter to you, which you discovered in my trunk, I have come for one reason only...to be the angel that foretells happy events."
He was stunned, but at the same time very happy that both his parents were pleased with Elizabeth. But what could be the happy event that his mother, or rather her spirit, was alluding to? His thoughts went back to the time when Jane had seen his Mother here.
"Ah, yes, the blonde woman...she was very beautiful, and with child, which is the only time one can usually see spirits. I have made a special request so that you may see me today. But I had been misinformed at that time, for I understood her to be your wife and that by seeing me, it would have been a sign of a happy event. But I discovered later that you had not found the letter, and she was not your wife, so I ensured the blonde woman would not see me again. But you must relate this to her for me, as I understand she is still troubled by seeing me and not being able to explain it. But enough of that...on to you and your beautiful wife...She has suddenly gone out has she not? Apparently after reading a letter from the blonde woman, who is her eldest sister I now understand? Elizabeth has received some news that will help her to understand herself the past few weeks and she will return shortly with joyous news. News that will make many people very happy. But I shall not divulge the entire secret, suffice to say your father and I are very pleased and are sure you certainly shall be. But I must go now, for I need to rest before I make one final visit, and then I shall leave Pemberley in you and your wife's most capable hands." She reached up and gave her son a kiss on the cheek and a hug.
William was stunned, joyous news did his mother say? So I will never see her again? What about Georgiana?
His mother smiled, and shook her head. "I shall visit Georgiana when the time comes to tell her of a happy event in her life. But for now, I ask that you give her my love. And you may not see me again, but I shall be about...but not so often now, as I can see you are quite capable of running Pemberley, as your father and I always thought you would be. And your wife, well, she has done wonders, I am pleased you are not the same man you were 3 years ago! Although we loved you just the same. Good-bye, Fitzwilliam." And with that, Lady Anne Darcy vanished.
As soon as William realized she had disappeared, he sat down on the sofa.
"Did I really see my Mother, or was I dreaming? I haven't had any liquor for several days, it couldn't be that." Try as he might he could come to no other explanation other than he had, indeed, seen his mother's spirit!
Elizabeth returned a few hours later, inquiring of Mrs. Reynolds as to the location of her husband as soon as she entered the front door. After hearing of his location, and removing her outer clothing, she quickly made her way to the library. She found him in a position she had not seen him in for many months, standing at the window looking out, with a cup of tea in his hand. Her first thought was that he looked troubled, but then she remembered that she had not told him of her abrupt journey to Lambton, and concluded that perhaps he was concerned about her sudden trip. He turned as he heard the door creak open wider. She went over to him with a shy smile and gleam in her eye, and he knew she had returned to the Elizabeth he knew and loved.
"Elizabeth, when you left so suddenly I was concerned. Is everything all right?" He said, as he put down his cup and saucer and met her halfway across the room.
"Yes, William, everything is all right...everything!" She went into his outstretched arms, and whispered her secret in his ear. She stepped back to see the expression on his face at the news, it changed from shock, to surprise, to delight...his eyes lit up and he had the biggest smile she had ever seen. She thought, if this is his reaction, I shall be most happy to give him several heirs to Pemberley.
And so that night, while basking in the happiness of their expected child, Elizabeth told her husband of the events leading up to her discovery. While he in turn, told her of his experience on seeing his Mother in the library, just as Jane had. Elizabeth was pleased to hear that there was proof Jane had really seen what she said she saw, but surprised at the experience he had had.
Several days later after William had left for London on business, Elizabeth had the urge to go to the library to search for a particular book she had wanted to read, as she had finished the book she had previously been reading. As she stepped into the room, she suddenly felt very warm and a little disoriented. There seemed to be a cloud of smoke above the desk, and as she watched, it transformed into the figure of a woman. At first glance she didn't recognized the woman, and then she suddenly realized it was Williams' mother, Lady Anne Darcy, the spirit Jane had seen. Elizabeth grasped the arm of the chair closest to her for balance. As the spirit of Lady Anne began to move towards her, Elizabeth felt she wanted to cry out but she had no voice. As the spirit drew closer Elizabeth saw its mouth was moving as though it were speaking, and although she couldn't hear the words, she began to feel calm, as though the spirit were somehow comforting her. Lady Anne gestured to the chair. Elizabeth moved slightly to sit into the chair. The spirit continued to stand in front of Elizabeth. Elizabeth noticed that on the spirits' left hand was an amethyst ring, the ring shown in the portrait. Suddenly Elizabeth heard a voice.
"I am sorry to give you such a fright, my dear, but I believe you know who I am?" Said a very pleasant sounding voice. "You have, I am afraid, been introduced to my sister, Catherine, who I must say is a very bitter woman now. But that is another story."
The voice continued, and Elizabeth looked up at Lady Anne to find she was looking down at Elizabeth and that her lips were moving.
"I have found that you are a wonderful influence on my son, Fitzwilliam. I was concerned about him before he met you; he was so proud and unhappy. But he has changed for the better since that first meeting. Oh, my, and what a meeting it was!" Both Elizabeth and Lady Anne smiled at the memory.
"But I digress; I have come to visit you today, to tell you how pleased I am on your handling the responsibility of Pemberley and most of all to congratulate you on the anticipated arrival of your first child. You already have discovered this, so it will not be a surprise now, but I felt I must let you know how pleased William's father and I are about it. As you may recall in the letter I wrote to Fitzwilliam before my passing from this world, I hoped that angels would foretell happy events in his life. Well, instead I have the privilege of doing the honor, and unfortunately I believe I erred in thinking your eldest sister was Mrs. Darcy. And although she is a fine young woman, I am happy that you are Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. And you have been a positive influence upon Georgiana, which pleases me greatly. I feel it in my heart that you will love Fitzwilliam for all eternity, as I love my George. But now I have said all I have time to say to you, and I must take my leave. Good-bye, dear daughter, and take care of your husband and children for me." Lady Anne began to move away. Suddenly Elizabeth was full of questions; she grabbed the ghostly arm in an attempt to stop her from leaving.
"No, no, you can't leave yet, I have so many questions to ask you...I would like to know more about you..."
The spirit of Lady Anne turned back towards Elizabeth, nodded and said, "I understand, I have a limited time here and would like to stay longer to answer your many questions, but I cannot. However, if you were to look again in my trunk, you will find several of my journals I kept during my lifetime. Perhaps they may answer some of your questions. I'm sorry, but I must depart now. Good-bye, my dear." And with that, Lady Anne turned away and vanished. Elizabeth sat in the chair for several minutes, trying to comprehend what she had just seen and heard. Then she rose from the chair and went directly to the attic, to Lady Anne's trunk, finding the journals mentioned. When William arrived home a few days later, Elizabeth was found immersed in reading one of the dozen journals his Mother had written during her life.
In mid-October, Elizabeth and William journeyed to the Bingleys' home in Nottinghamshire at Jane's earlier request. Charles had written for William to come visit also, for he felt he might need the support of his friend at such a time. The sisters' Aunt Gardiner arrived shortly after, as did Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Bennet wished to stay at Longbourn, for he felt there was plenty of help, and turmoil, for Jane at the Bingley's home. But in his note Mrs. Bennet brought with her, he said that he hoped he would be invited to visit once the child was born and Jane had recovered, for he had a great wish to see his first grandchild. One evening, during their visit, Elizabeth and William told everyone in attendance of their own future arrival, and all were very pleased. Of course, Mrs. Bennet carried on how about how she was to become a grandmother for a second time, and what a wonderful thing it was. (Which it was!) Jane was safely delivered of a healthy baby boy in the early morning of the 22nd of October. Aunt Gardiner and Elizabeth were in attendance as was the midwife, a Mrs. Brown. Needless to say, Charles was a very happy father on the day Robert Charles Bingley was born.
Five months later, Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and Jane and Charles were staying at Pemberley for the anticipated birth of Elizabeth's child. Secretly, Mr. Bennet felt that with Mr. Gardiner there as well, the two could find plenty to do without being underfoot. He had insisted that he was not going to miss out on seeing Elizabeth's child, for he had just recently been able to leave Longbourn and travel to see Robert, and didn't want to have to wait so long to see his second grandchild. Jane had hired a nanny to aid her in looking after Robert, so she could spend time with her sister. During her convalescence, Elizabeth had been adamant about continuing her morning and afternoon walks, although she couldn't travel as far as in the past. One fine March morning, Jane and Elizabeth were found out on just such a walk. The smell of spring was in the air, the snow beginning to melt under the warmth of the sun. They were making their way back to Pemberley, when Elizabeth felt a sharp pain. She paused, seizing Jane's arm while waiting to see if the pain would go away, which thankfully did. Jane, sensing from experience, the impending birth, encouraged Elizabeth to return to the house as soon as possible.
In the very late hours of March 15th, 1815, a very tired but happy Elizabeth was delivered of a healthy baby boy, with the assistance of Mrs. Cooper, the midwife, her Aunt Gardiner and sister, Jane. Earlier that evening, Mrs. Bennet had retired to her room complaining of flutterings in her chest and pains in her head. William had wanted entrance to the room at the beginning, when he had heard Elizabeth's screams of pain, but the midwife would not allow it. No sooner had he heard their child's first cry, he began knocking on the door, and the midwife ultimately permitted his entrance. The following morning, after a good night rest for all and with much celebration, Nicholas George Darcy was welcomed to Pemberley.
Elizabeth and William did, indeed, have a long and blissful life together, as foretold in his Mother's letter. They had 3 other children after Nicholas; Rebecca Elizabeth born in 1817, Julia Marie born in 1820, and finally James Edward born in 1824. Jane and Charles also had a blissful life together, after Robert they had one child, Grace Elizabeth born in 1818. Lady Anne Darcy's spirit was never seen again, although there were times when Elizabeth or William felt her presence at Pemberley, but with that feeling the knowledge that Lady Anne was pleased.
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