The World Turned Upside Down
"Well...well, Darcy. It is certainly good to have you back in town," Colonel Fitzwilliam said with exuberance. "Since I have settled here, you have barely spent any time at all in London. I was beginning to believe that you were avoiding me!"
Darcy laughed with his cousin, for it was true that the Darcys spent very little time at their London house. "I would never wish to avoid you, cousin," Darcy said as he sat back in his chair, feeling satisfied with the meal he had just eaten, and the fine glass of port in his hand. "For you are one of the few people who can actually tolerate me!"
The Colonel’s elder brother, Edward laughed heartily at Darcy’s statement and the Colonel nodded his head. "This is true...you are a very difficult man to come to know Darcy. However, those who know your true character possess a certain devotion to you."
Darcy smiled warmly for the Colonel’s words were spoken in truth. Fitzwilliam Darcy did not possess a talent for making friends easily. He had many acquaintances, but it was mainly by his own choice to limit his friendships to those generally within his family circle. To Darcy a friend was someone he was willing to invest his time and complete faith in, someone whom he felt was in possession of integrity and devotion, and definitely someone who did not press the advantage of calling Darcy a friend. Throughout his life, this gentleman could count on one hand his true friends, and the Colonel was one of the dearest to him.
The men remained at the dining table, at the residence of Colonel Fitzwilliam and his new wife. The ladies had excused themselves and gone to the drawing room to talk amongst themselves, leaving the cousins to their own conversation.
"You have found a very good cook, Fitzwilliam. The meal was excellent." Darcy grinned, ready to tease his cousin. "Politicians fair much better than I had imagined."
"Do not knock the living, Darcy" the Colonel replied. "We are not all as advantaged as you! You are as spoilt as my dear brother here."
"And you, brother, are not all that disadvantaged and I shall not feel sorry for you." Edward mocked him.
"Indeed. Although I have not always had the advantages that you two have had, I have a life I could never have imagined a few years ago. A beautiful and devoted wife, a promising living and a decent roof over my head. What more could a man ask for?"
"There is not much else to want, Fitzwilliam." Darcy replied as satisfied as the Colonel with his life.
"What are you two talking of?" grumbled Edward as he finished his glass of port and helped himself to another. "I should say you are both in want of a little liveliness."
Darcy looked at his elder cousin, shook his head and went back to his drink. The Colonel however, was never one for letting the remarks of his elder brother slip by the wayside. "What are you talking of, Edward? A little liveliness, indeed!" the Colonel laughed loudly. "You are a fine one to talk!"
"Richard." Edward sat forward in his chair, invading the Colonel’s comfort. "London bores me! There is no fit pursuit for a man in the whole of this city. If it were not for Christine and her desire to mingle in society..." Edward looked over at Darcy and grimaced, "...I should be happy to remain in the country."
The Colonel heaved a sigh, "Edward, you are impossible...if it were not for your wife, you would not be fit for society."
Edward sat back in his chair and glared at his brother and grumbled again. "Well Darcy, what are you to do while in town?"
Darcy took another sip of port and frowned, "One of the reasons we have made the trip, so it seems, is to entertain Elizabeth’s sister and her husband from Hertfordshire."
"Bingley is to come to town?" the Colonel inquired. "We shall have to meet up somewhere Darcy, I do enjoy his company."
Darcy shook his head, "Not Bingley...the other one."
The Colonel took in a breath, "Darcy...surely not...?"
"No, no, Fitzwilliam...Mr. Aaron Moore and Elizabeth’s sister Catherine. It seems that neither of them have ever spent much time in London, and they have a great desire to have a look, so to speak."
"Moore." Edward contemplated. "It that the fellow who is a bit...outlandish? The one who only eats vegetables?" Edward laughed at the thought.
Darcy nodded his head, "Yes, and the one who does not believe in the hunt."
Edward snorted his disgust with Mr. Moore’s eccentricity, "then, pray...what does the young man do for entertainment?"
Darcy shook his head, "I am not sure" he laughed. "All I know is that you would be wise never to wager on a game of billiards against him."
The Colonel smiled, "Darcy, you must promise me a visit while he is here, for this is one person I should dearly like to know." Darcy nodded his head with a grin. "Well," the Colonel said. "I am finding the time away from my wife to be most dispiriting, shall we join the ladies?"
Edward groaned at his brother’s devotion to his new spouse, however the men got up from their places at the table and made their way to the drawing room and to their wives.
Lady Christine, Laura Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy were quite engaged in discussion and planning when the men entered the room. Darcy and the Colonel sat next to their wives while Edward searched the room for a decanter of spirits.
"Edward dear, We have just been planning an outing for Saturday evening." Lady Christine informed her husband. The other women looked to their own husbands, awaiting their approval.
"An outing? Where?" Edward said gruffly, then a look of horror overcame him. "Not the ballet! I beg you madam, anything but the ballet!"
"No dear, I know how much you detest the ballet."
Edward frowned, "That is an understatement if I have ever heard one."
Darcy bit his lip to keep from laughing at his cousin’s banter with his wife. Elizabeth had been looking at her husband and in seeing his discomposure almost laughed herself.
"Edward, Elizabeth’s sister and her young husband are to be in town and we thought they would derive great enjoyment from attending the opera. We could all go...there would be room for us all, in our box and the Darcy’s box as well."
"What is the performance?" he demanded of her, expecting some work of which he despised.
"Don Giovanni," she said calmly.
A smile came to Edward’s face and he looked over at his brother, then at Darcy. The Colonel and Darcy started laughing, they simply could not contain their amusement any further.
"Don Giovanni! Now that is an opera." Edward declared. "Nothing like a little debauchery, boozing and bloodshed to liven up an evening!"
"Edward, please maintain a little civility in the presence of the ladies!" Lady Christine scolded her husband. "I surmised you would agree to attend if the subject matter were about a libertine."
"You are quite right, my dear. You have chose well," he winked at her. "I wonder what your young brother-in-law will think of the opera, Darcy?"
The men all shared another generous laugh, much to the disapprobation of their wives. However, it was agreed by all persons in the party, that attending the opera would be an agreeable outing indeed.
Darcy sat in the breakfast room of his London townhouse, enjoying some biscuits and jam and reading the gazette. Elizabeth entered the room quietly and sat across the small table from him. She poured herself a cup of tea and waited for her husband to acknowledge her company, however Darcy was by far too engrossed in the goings on of London to stop reading. "Fitzwilliam, there is something I would speak to you about", Elizabeth finally spoke.
Darcy looked over the top of the newspaper and perceived the stern expression on his wife’s face. He folded the paper and laid it on the table and gave her his full attention. Elizabeth sighed deeply, and spoke hesitantly, "Mr. Moore and Kitty will be arriving shortly, dear."
Darcy awaited more, however she ended the statement at those words. Darcy’s patience wore a little thin for want of finishing the gazette, "Yes dear, I am aware of it...you also reminded me of it last night...three or four times, I think."
Elizabeth looked away from him desperately working up her courage to continue with her thoughts. "Fitzwilliam...it is only that I wish for everything to go smoothly during their visit."
"Elizabeth...…I am not following you?"
"Then I shall dare your disapproval and speak plain. I know how annoyed you can become with Mr. Moore, especially when he is espousing his most decided opinions." She quickly looked down at her lap, so as not to encounter his discontent with her condemnation of him. "I only wish to avoid conflict, especially since we are forced to remain under the same roof with him for at least a week."
Darcy remained silent, and Elizabeth could no longer bear the suspense of what his reactions were to her demands. She quickly looked up to see him smiling.
"I do not anticipate any conflict, Elizabeth" he said, and she sighed in relief. Darcy lifted his coffee cup, but spoke again before he dared take a sip. "You are correct however in the fact that Mr. Moore is most decided in his opinions, of which at times I find rather irksome."
Elizabeth colored at her husband’s honesty. "I am only making an impassioned plea for your assistance, dear."
Darcy gave up his position and smiled at her again, with admiration reflected in his eyes. "Alright then, I promise to behave myself...for your sake, my love."
"Thank you...it means much to me." Elizabeth sighed again, hoping her husband would remain sensible. He always bore Mr. Moore’s intensity and enthusiastic jabs at his character with enough civility to be politely passable, however she knew it grated on his nerves to be in the gentleman’s company for very long-and if the truth be told, Mr. Moore’s character nettled Elizabeth’s nerves as well.
A servant entered with the news that the Darcy’s relations had arrived. The Darcys walked out into the Foyer, then outside. "Lizzy!" Kitty exclaimed as she disembarked the carriage.
"I am so happy to see you!" Elizabeth embraced her. Darcy stood behind his wife watching her as she greeted her sister.
Mr. Moore exited the carriage, "Darcy old man! It is a pleasure!"
Darcy bowed his greeting to his brother-in-law, "Mr. Moore, the pleasure is mine."
"Oh no, sir. I am always honored to be in your estimable company. I thank you for your generous invitation...Kitty is very excited to come to London, and I must admit I have been curious myself to see how the other half live!"
"Well," Darcy acknowledged the young man’s attempt at a compliment. "You are most welcome. Come in." Darcy motioned to the house and their guests entered the impressive building. Kitty gasped when she saw the palatial interior and looked at her sister approvingly. She had never known anything so grand, other than when she had visited Pemberley. Mr. Moore looked around the house and raised an eyebrow. For his taste, it was more opulent than he thought was lawful for one humble man and his wife. Mr. Moore’s views of society were somewhat progressive for their time. He believed in reformation of society and equality for every man, however he was not opposed to enjoying himself while he had the advantage of being a guest to such an affluent relation.
"All this house...for two people...for two or three months out of a year!" Mr. Moore heard himself exclaim as he twisted his head to look up the staircase.
Darcy glanced over at his wife and his eyes narrowed to demonstrate his disapproval. Elizabeth blushed assuming her husband would give comment, however Mr. Darcy remained completely silent.
Darcy managed to remain in control of his composure for the entire day, even though Mr. Moore had considered it his moral duty to make comment on the conspicuous display of affluence, which in his humble opinion, the Darcy’s townhouse possessed. Even Elizabeth found herself annoyed at his comments, but she was especially annoyed with the way her sister would hang on her husband’s every opinionated sentence, almost before it ever left his mouth. Elizabeth believed in being a dutiful wife and she held her own husband’s character and opinions in very high esteem, however it was evident that Kitty absolutely doted on Mr. Aaron Moore. It seemed to Elizabeth that Kitty was quite inhibited in her roll as a wife, almost to the point of being subservient. This was not Elizabeth’s idea of what it meant to be a devoted wife although she was convinced that there were many men who wished their wives to be so. After some contemplation on her part, Elizabeth settled it that Kitty was doomed to be a lamb, since she had never known much of her own mind before her marriage, and since Mr. Moore was so excessively opinionated.
Elizabeth was relieved that there would be a dinner party that evening. Having other guests for Mr. Moore to engage in conversation would be a much welcomed diversion away from Darcy. There would be the easy manners of Colonel Fitzwilliam and his wife to detract from the perturbation of Mr. Moore and the devout attachment of Kitty. Lord Edward Fitzwilliam and Lady Christine had also accepted the invitation. Elizabeth hoped that Mr. Moore would not offend the future Earl with his contrary views. She liked Edward and Lady Christine, although they did have a marital relationship different from any Elizabeth had ever been privileged to know. They appeared happy enough, even though Elizabeth could never see any tell tale signs of genuine affection between them.
As Elizabeth dressed for supper she thought more and more about Kitty’s conduct as a wife. "Perhaps a man truly did prefer a tame wife?" her conscience voiced as she peered into the looking glass. Soon she was obsessed with insecurities of her own performance as a wife and it vexed her greatly. She finished dressing and hurried into the bedchamber in search of Darcy.
"Fitzwilliam?" she called out as she saw him standing in front of the hearth, checking his watch against the time on the mantle clock.
He tapped the crystal of his watch. "Yes, dear?"
"Am I a dutiful wife?" she inquired of him.
He gave no reply, but continued to wind the watch and tap on it, absentmindedly mulling over her question. Elizabeth thought it was taking him longer to answer her simple question, than it by any means should for she greatly required a response.
"Fitzwilliam?" she again called, this time in impatience.
"Hmm?" he looked up from fussing with his watch. "I am sorry, dear...my watch appears to be faulty. What was it that you desired?"
Elizabeth colored at his disregard of her inquiry, "Tell me...am I a dutiful wife?"
"Of course." He smiled shrewdly at her determined manner. "Why do you ask such a question?"
She paced about the room for a moment then stopped and turned to him again. "Kitty seems a very dutiful wife...more so than I could have ever imagined."
"She does appear so. Mr. Moore does seem to demand her attentions however...along with everyone else’s." Darcy jeered.
By now Elizabeth was quite animated, as she waved her arms wildly while speaking. "Yes he does. You would not prefer a wife who was more...like Kitty?"
Darcy had to laugh at his wife’s folly and general appearance. "Elizabeth, had I wanted such a docile wife, I would have married one." Darcy’s countenance turned serious for a moment as he questioned her, "Elizabeth, I thought you were the one who wished to avoid conflict during this visit?"
"I do." she insisted with a stomp of her foot.
"You seem...irritated." He said raising a brow at the declaration. "Why should your sister’s devotion to her husband annoy you?"
"I want to know that you have no regrets in marrying a woman who is less...doting", she huffed.
"My love," he said as he moved closer to her and rested his hands on her shoulders to calm her. "Not every man wants the same thing in a wife...just look at my cousin, Edward." He shrugged and Elizabeth rolled her eyes scornfully. "I am sure the same applies to a woman, does it not?"
"I suppose", she admitted carefully.
"Would you want a husband who demanded your constant and undying attentions?"
Elizabeth’s eyes widened in repugnance, "No."
"A husband who instructed you what to do every moment of the day...according to his own desires? A husband who never allowed you to voice your opinions over his?"
"Certainly not!" she cried out.
"Then, to each his own, Elizabeth. Your sister and her husband appear very happy, and we shall leave them to themselves. As for us...you are the wife I need and want. I know that I am happy with you."
"I also know that I am happy!" she exclaimed.
"Very well then", he said with a wary smile and leaned over to kiss her. "Shall we go downstairs to be consumed by Mr. Moore’s particular opinions?"
Elizabeth gave a sly grin at her husband’s logic and took his arm.
Darcy introduced his relations to Mr. And Mrs. Moore. "I am very glad to know you both." exclaimed an enthusiastic Mr. Moore as he greeted the Colonel and his brother. "I have heard much of you and your lovely wives. Colonel...Mr. Darcy tells me you now reside in London, and are involved in politics. I have no doubt you have been well received, given your meritorious conduct in his majesty’s service."
"Well, Mr. Moore." The Colonel said, a little overwhelmed with the young man’s vivacity. "Indeed, you have heard much of me. I did not know my cousin was so informed of my reputed merits, however I am not sure of their worth?"
Darcy clasped his hands behind his back and looked down at the floor, a small grin spread on his face.
"Indeed they are quite honorable, Colonel!" Mr. Moore spoke up. "As soon as I heard you were a relation of my brother-in-law, I inquired as to your affiliation. I myself am quite interested in politics."
The Colonel smiled and nodded his head, "Why am I not surprised to hear it, Mr. Moore?"
Mr. Moore’s countenance grew gravely serious, "I hope sir, to have a chance to speak with you on a few points. There are many political issues that concern me greatly...those which should be addressed as soon as may be."
"Well, sir...this is a social visit, and I make it a rule to limit my business conversations when I am in the company of my friends and family." The Colonel stated calmly. "Perhaps, Mr. Moore...if you are so inclined, we could all discuss politics over luncheon this week?"
"I would be honored, sir!" Mr. Moore nearly shuddered in anticipation. He bowed quickly to the three cousins and made his way over to his wife to inform her of his good fortune and to refresh his drink.
Darcy could not help but laugh at his cousin, "Richard, I do believe you would do best not to encourage the boy too much. Mr. Moore’s enthusiasm at times resembles the clinging of a leach."
"Nonsense, Darcy." the Colonel chastised his cousin’s ridicule. "I find his eagerness quite refreshing." Darcy and Edward gave each other a sideways look and Edward let out a low chuckle.
The party was a lively group that evening around the supper table. Mr. Moore did his best to entertain Lady Christine and Laura Fitzwilliam, while Kitty quietly sat, her admiration of her husband’s social prowess evident in all her expressions. Elizabeth listened to his conversation and every once in a while stole a look over at Darcy, who spent the evening mainly in conversation with the Colonel.
Edward, however remained rather quiet and was content to watch Mr. Moore eat his vegetables. He grimaced a few times, thinking about a diet which consisted mainly of leaves and legumes, and carefully observed as Mr. Moore engaged his wife in conversation. Edward had never been a great conversationalist, and it was not one of the things which had recommended him to Lady Christine. Edward’s main assets were his wealth and hereditary title, and beyond that neither Edward nor his wife cared to speculate.
"Darcy." Edward leaned over to whisper to his cousin. "This fellow Moore, he seems very engaging with the ladies for one so young. A regular paramour."
Darcy sat back in his chair and took a look over at his brother-in-law. He shook his head and leaned back over to Edward. "I have always maintained the young man to be rather..." Darcy cleared his throat "...an innocent."
"Hmm?" Edward grumbled. "Perhaps he is not as innocent as he looks?" He decided that he would keep a watchful eye on Mr. Aaron Moore. In Edward’s opinion, someone with such decided opinions and engaging manners with the opposite sex was not a man to be trifled with.
Edward spoke up, "Mr. Moore, you have not tried the roast beef...it is very delicious. I dare say the Darcys have a fine cook."
"I do not eat meat, sir." Moore commented innocently. "Red meat and strong spirits bring on the gout eventually. I prefer to be attuned to my body."
Lady Christine glared over at her husband, as she noticed him partake of another glass of good red wine. Her eyes narrowed and she wondered what could be his game by questioning this fine young man.
"So you have been married a short time, Mr. Moore. Tell us...…do you find marriage agreeable sir?" Edward asked with an affected smile. The rest of the party awaited Mr. Moore’s reply, however Darcy felt uneasy and rather wished Edward would keep his mouth closed and not ask so many questions.
"I find it very agreeable!" nodded Moore as he looked adoringly over at Kitty. "My Catherine is a wonderfully attentive and obedient wife" Mr. Moore grinned. "Anything I command is done, quite before I can blink an eye. That is how we maintain an efficiently run household."
Darcy groaned, and Edward looked at his cousin and with a snort repeated, "Efficiently run household?"
Elizabeth felt her blood start to boil within her. "Obedient wife?" she mumbled under her breath. "Command?"
The Colonel, being the politician that he was, spoke up. "Surely Mr. Moore, your wife is as devoted as are all our wives, and we as husbands are equally as constant to them."
"No sir, I believe in order for a marriage to function properly, a wife must give of herself unconditionally. Of course a husband must give of himself also, however a man is the master of his household. In our culture at least."
The Colonel raised an eyebrow at the young man’s reply. Darcy sat motionless, definitely at a loss for words. Edward however allowed the young man’s opinion to sink in, and he began to laugh out loud as he looked at his stunned wife. "Now that is a progressive marriage for you...what do you say Christine?"
Lady Christine reddened as fury spread over her features. Elizabeth thought this as good a time as any for the ladies to take their leave of the gentlemen. She would speak to her husband when they were alone about recommending that he attempt to persuade their brother-in-law to adopt another opinion on the subject of husbands and wives.
"We thank you both for a very agreeable evening." Aaron Moore proclaimed as he and Kitty bid their goodnights to their hosts.
Darcy nodded his head, "Good night, Mr. Moore...Mrs. Moore."
Darcy looked down at Elizabeth who was standing next to him. She very sharply curtsied a goodnight and said nothing. He frowned his disapprobation of her behavior, as their guests departed for their rooms. She was clenching her teeth, still fuming at Mr. Moore’s decided opinions on how a man should treat his wife. Darcy decided it best to speak not a word as he turned and motioned his arm towards their own chamber doors. Elizabeth’s cheeks turned crimson and she took off in a huff, with her chin held high in the air as Darcy followed her.
Darcy remained silent as he walked into his dressing room and rang for his valet. He could hear Elizabeth in her own dressing room, banging things and mumbling to herself. His man came in, and Darcy handed him the coat and waistcoat he had been wearing. He angrily fussed with his cravat as his temper rose thinking of his wife’s poor behavior. It was not that he was in agreement with Mr. Moore’s opinions, for he was not. However, he could not help thinking of Elizabeth’s caution to him just that morning, on allowing Mr. Moore’s character and opinions to affect his own temper.
He pulled off his breeches and handed them to the valet, finished undressing and donned his robe. He dismissed the servant and went to wash up. When he was finished he walked back into the bedchamber, sat down in his chair by the hearth, and picked up a book. After a few minutes, Elizabeth stormed back into their room. She paced back and forth in front of him by the hearth, furiously brushing her hair. Darcy looked up from his book and watched her for a few minutes. He tried to return to reading his book, however his attempt was futile for all of her stomping and huffing.
She kept pacing and brushing, and mumbling angrily to herself.
She stopped and looked down at him, "Did you say something, Fitzwilliam?"
Darcy threw his book down on the table as his nerves seemed to crawl over the top of his skin. "Elizabeth, do tell me what vexes you so that you should act so rudely to our guests, then proceed to throw things and stomp about our room?"
"Is that a command, husband?" she vehemently barked at him.
Darcy quickly stood up, reached out and took her by the arm. He led her over to the bed and sat her down, then sat down next to her and let go of her arm, "Elizabeth...you are not being fair. You would treat me in this manner because you are angry with another?"
Elizabeth flushed in discomfort as she thought about her behavior. She reached up and rubbed her forehead, then cocked her head to one side, waiting for Darcy to continue his censure of her.
"Perhaps one day you will come to know that you cannot make everyone in the world behave as you would wish them to," he continued.
"Fitzwilliam, how dare he say such things...and in the company of our friends! How dare he treat my sister in such a way!"
"He is a very young man, Elizabeth...with the ideals of a young man, who has not had the benefit of experience or wisdom to guide him. Eventually he will come to know that marriage is a union, and not a sovereignty." Darcy stopped as Elizabeth turned away from him with a huff. He gently reached out, putting his hand under her chin, and turned her head to face him. "It is not our place to teach them that, nor is it our place to tell them how to live their lives."
"I suppose you are right," she pouted. "How can you put up with my outbursts with such civility, husband?"
Darcy smiled and pulled her to him. He gently caressed her face, kissed her then whispered, "Because you are kind and loving, and you care so much about the happiness of others."
Mr. And Mrs. Moore entered the breakfast room the next morning, "Good morning." Mr. Moore greeted his sister-in-law with a bow and his brother-in-law with a nod of his head. "Mrs. Darcy...it has come to my attention that perhaps you misunderstood my meaning during the conversation at supper last night." He turned around to look at Kitty, and she shyly lowered her eyes and smiled approvingly. "I am sorry if my comments offended you in any way. You must believe that your sister is the dearest person in my life. I would never do anything which did not take her well being into account."
Elizabeth looked at him with reserve, then she glanced over at her husband. Darcy gave her a slight smile and gently tilted his head towards Mr. Moore.
"Thank you, Mr. Moore for your concern. I too must apologize...for my incivility." She replied.
"Mrs. Darcy, you could never be uncivil," Mr. Moore said and took his seat at the table. Darcy chuckled at the young man’s statement as Elizabeth poured him a cup of tea.
"Mr. Moore...I shall be going to the financial district later this morning. You are welcome to come with me, if it pleases you." Darcy spoke.
Aaron Moore smiled enthusiastically, "It would please me very much, Mr. Darcy."
Darcy glanced at his wife, and could tell that she would indeed be relieved to be rid of Mr. Moore for the day. Darcy and Moore departed for the heart of town soon after breakfast. Mr. Moore's enthusiasm to be accompanying his brother-in-law was profound. Darcy found that when the young man was keyed up, he had a hard time relaxing as well. He thought it highly likely that should he have to spend too much time in the company of Mr. Moore, his nerves would begin to suffer.
Mr. Moore tried to engage Darcy in conversation, however Darcy was content to occasionally nod or grunt something resembling an answer in the negative or the affirmative. Mr. Moore's rambunctious character had not allowed him to deduce that Darcy was a man of few words. After some time, Moore managed to bring up the subject of Colonel Fitzwilliam, "He is a very forthright fellow, your cousin."
"Indeed he is Mr. Moore. He has been probably my most trusted friend in life. I can depend on him for anything."
"I am quite envious, Mr. Darcy...for I have never had such a friend." Mr. Moore concluded.
"Mr. Moore, being a friend requires placing someone else's concerns before your own at times; it also involves a good deal of listening, without benefit of comment."
Aaron Moore looked at his brother-in-law, nodded and sat back in his seat in silence. Darcy watched out the window of the carriage and after some minutes rapped on the ceiling. The carriage came to a stop and its occupants disembarked.
Mr. Moore took the opportunity to glance up at the large stone structures of the heart of London and was awestruck. He wanted to investigate the scenery further, however Darcy had already reached the top of the stone steps and was entering the building. Moore ran up the steps and squeezed through the open door before the doorman realized anyone else was entering. Darcy removed his hat and announced himself to his attorney's assistant.
"Mr. Moore, my business will only take fifteen minutes or so. I hope you will not mind waiting?" Darcy told his brother-in-law.
Moore spoke quietly, still awed by the office of a city attorney, "No sir...not at all." He quietly waited in the corner of the reception area and anxiously took note of all the clients who came in and went out. After some minutes Darcy came out of an office followed by another gentleman.
"Mr. Moore, this is my attorney Mr. Anders."
Mr. Moore bowed to the man, and looked at Darcy in appreciation of the introduction.
"Very glad to make your acquaintance Mr. Moore. Mr. Darcy tells me you are a clerk in Meryton and are completing your internship?" Mr. Anders inquired.
"Yes, sir." Moore replied.
"Well young man, if you ever find yourself wishing to move to London...do make inquiries with our office. We are always looking for enthusiastic young men to fill some of our vacant positions."
"I will sir." Mr. Moore bowed again to the attorney, who had turned to bid good day to Darcy.
Another man was walking past them when he suddenly turned around and stared at Mr. Moore. "Moore, is it?" the gentleman inquired.
"Yes sir." Moore answered. "Are we acquainted, sir?"
"You could say that." the man huffed. "I never thought I would find a blackguard such as the likes of you in such a prestigious place of business."
"I beg you pardon, sir?" Mr. Moore looked incredulous, and Darcy and Mr. Anders broke off their conversation at the interference.
"It is of no matter, for any association with you is over and done with," the man bellowed and hurried out the front doors.
Aaron Moore looked back at Darcy, with much confusion. "Mr. Darcy, sir...I have no idea who that gentleman was?"
"That man's name was Mr. Green, I believe." Mr. Anders volunteered.
Mr. Moore shook his head in bewilderment, "I am sorry, that simply does not ring a bell? I have never seen nor heard of a Mr. Green."
Darcy pondered the reasons why the gentleman would have recognized Moore, and even call him by name? Darcy really knew very little of his brother-in-law, however he felt he knew enough of his character to be sure the young man was no scoundrel.
"Well, Moore...I would not let the incident bother you. The man must have been mistaken." Darcy admitted uneasily.
After Darcy and Moore had concluded their business, they arrived at an exclusive hotel a few blocks away from the law offices. They left their hats and coats with the attendant and Darcy smiled at his brother as Moore craned his neck to get a good view of the hotel’s interior. They walked over to the dining room and the maitre ‘d attended them.
"Mr. Darcy, sir. It is a pleasure to see you." The man bowed courteously.
"Hello Walters...are the Colonel and Lord Edward Fitzwilliam here?"
"Yes, sir. They are at their usual place. Come this way." The maitre ‘d escorted them through the dining room over towards a table near to an enclosed courtyard.
"Darcy!" the Colonel exclaimed on seeing his cousin. "Mr. Moore, it is a pleasure sir."
"Richard." Darcy nodded. "Edward. I thought you would both be here, and since Moore and I have been out this morning, I thought we would hold you to your engagement. The one which we were all to have luncheon and discuss politics." Darcy said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
The Colonel nodded with a laugh, "By all means...Mr. Moore, do have a seat."
Mr. Moore sat down with eagerness, and Darcy took up his usual spot at the Fitzwilliam’s table.
"Well, Darcy...Richard and I were discussing foreign investment, what say you?" Edward asked of his cousin.
"I prefer to keep my funds closer to home...where I can keep an eye on them." Darcy shook his head.
Edward laughed at Darcy, "You are most sensible with your money, cousin. I suppose I should learn to be more like you, when it comes to parting with a shilling." He turned and looked at Mr. Moore who had been listening intently to their conversation. "Ah, Mr. Moore. I see you survived the wrath of the ladies after our discussion last evening."
Moore blushed at being the butt of his lordship’s jokes, however he was in no position to protest at the moment. He was in this man’s society now, and he would hold his tongue for as long as was necessary.
"Mr. Moore," the Colonel broke in. "Pay no attention to my brother. He treats Darcy and I in the same manner, however he is quite harmless."
Edward chuckled and settled in for the afternoon, to eat meat, drink wine and listen to political conjecture. Moore was a bit overwhelmed from the experience of the day, and was less commanding than usual. The men did indeed discuss a few burning political issues, and the Colonel and Edward managed to dissuade young Mr. Moore from some of the issues in which the young man had been willing to stand on his bandwagon over.
Mr. Moore found the afternoon to be quite enjoyable, but as it was getting late, Darcy made their apologies to his cousins and stood up to leave. Mr. Moore stood up and turned towards the center of the dining room. A young woman and her escort were walking through and the woman stopped dead in her path upon seeing the face of young Mr. Moore.
"Is it you?" she gasped, ghostly pale.
"I beg your pardon, ma’am. Do I know you?" Mr. Moore politely inquired.
Tears welled up in the young woman’s eyes. "You could so quickly forget the one who was once your betrothed?" She put her hands to her face and hurried out of the hotel, her escort following close behind.
Mr. Moore stood, his eyes wide and his mouth hung open in wonder. Darcy and the Colonel stood in somewhat the same manner. Edward sighed deeply and looking at Darcy grumbled, "Innocent my...", however the Colonel stopped his brother’s speculation with a sharp jab to the ribs.
"Mr. Darcy!" Moore bellowed out with emotion as the two men headed home in the carriage. "I do not know what is going on...but I should dearly like to find out!"
"Aaron, please calm yourself. There must be some reasonable explanation for all of this?" Darcy said very perplexed and a bit rattled from the day’s events.
"That is what I demand...an explanation!" Moore cried. "I beg you sir not to say anything of this to Mrs. Darcy...…and especially not to my wife!"
"Of that you can depend upon!" Darcy sat back in his seat and frowned. "You are sure you do not know that woman...and that man at the attorney’s office?" Darcy stammered.
"I swear it, brother! I have never laid eyes on either of them!" Moore said on the verge of a breakdown.
"We are almost to the town house. Pull yourself together and we shall remain close to home for the next few days." Darcy sighed to himself as he closed his eyes, "Good lord, I hope Elizabeth never finds out about this."
"My dear!" Elizabeth gave him a loving smile. "I do hope you had an agreeable day?"
"Oh..." Darcy stammered. "Our day was...was quite alright."
"I am glad to hear it," she said as she watched her husband absentmindedly take off in the direction his study. She turned to Mr. Moore, however that gentleman had quickly taken his leave and departed for his chambers.
Elizabeth was aware of her husband’s discomfort that evening, in the presence of Mr. Moore and Kitty. He was in the habit of seeming disinterested when trouble was brewing. Mr. Moore also seemed detached with the whole of the evening. She even heard Kitty inquire of him whether he was ill. Elizabeth thought perhaps Darcy and Mr. Moore had quarreled that day while they had been out, but there really was no evidence of animosity between them. It appeared to Elizabeth that the two gentlemen were avoiding each other, more than anything else.
They were having a quiet supper in the dining room, just the two couples that evening. Conversation was a bit thin, for Mr. Moore had elected to remain rather quiet since his return to the townhouse.
"Kitty and I had a wonderful day." Elizabeth offered. "We shopped and visited with the Gardiners."
Darcy smiled and nodded his head.
"We also made our plans for our outing tomorrow evening, Fitzwilliam."
Darcy eyes widened in alarm, "Tomorrow evening?" He gasped as he remembered the engagement, "The opera. Good lord, I forgot!"
Mr. Moore looked up from studying the vegetables on his plate and went pale. "We are to go...out?"
"Yes Aaron. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have made arrangements for us all to attend the opera. We are to sit in their private box, Aaron! Are you not excited to hear it?" Kitty squealed.
"No...not at all! I am very sorry Kitty, but we cannot go out!" Mr. Moore threw down his cloth and quickly left the dining room.
Kitty watched her husband leave and she looked back at her sister in dismay. "If you will excuse me?" she whispered and quickly left in pursuit of her beloved.
Elizabeth looked to Darcy for an answer to Mr. Moore’s sudden departure. "Fitzwilliam...did something happen today? What on earth is wrong with Mr. Moore?"
Darcy again appeared disinterested as he took a drink of his wine, "believe me Elizabeth...I do not know?"
Later that evening Mr. Moore appeared in the drawing room where Darcy and Elizabeth were sitting and reading. "Mr. Darcy." Moore inquired. "Would you take a turn with me? Perhaps in the park across the way?" He looked curiously at Elizabeth as he made his request.
Darcy stood up from his chair and pinched a smile, "Certainly, Mr. Moore. Elizabeth, we shall not be gone long."
Elizabeth raised a curious eyebrow, "Of course, my dear. I shall wait for you here."
The men quickly left the room and headed down the hall for their hats and coats. Once outside on the walk, securely away from the townhouse, Mr. Moore began to speak. "Darcy...this is a terrible mess. Kitty is extremely upset because I refuse to go out tomorrow evening. I must admit, this is quite a strain on our relationship."
Darcy could not help but grin, "Not a very efficient way of handling things, Aaron?"
"No...no, not at all!" Moore exclaimed. "Darcy...I do not know what to do? I brought Kitty to London so she would have the advantage of being in society. Now here we are, presented with such an opportunity and I am bloody afraid to set foot out in public for fear someone will mistake me for...whoever this cad is...who is running around pretending to be me!" Moore stopped to catch his breath after such an outburst.
Darcy felt for the young man, "Aaron, perhaps you are making more out of this than you should. Even if someone claims to recognize you tomorrow evening, Kitty surely knows your character enough to be sure you could never have been promised to another woman before?"
The two men resumed walking in silence, then after a few steps Moore turned to his brother-in-law. "I am not so sure Darcy. I find women sometimes lack reason, when other woman are involved."
Darcy grimaced, "Mr. Moore, do me a favor and do not say that in front of Elizabeth...or I fear you and I will be suffering the consequences."
Moore sheepishly nodded his consent to the request. "I do know one thing...I cannot stand to see the disappointment on Kitty’s face. No...we shall just have to take our chances and go tomorrow night!"
Darcy was not so sure he liked the term ‘we’, however he concurred and the two men headed back to the townhouse.
Darcy left the townhouse late in the morning under the pretense of business. He made his way to the gentlemen’s club which he knew his cousins to frequent.
"Darcy! How we do keep running into each other?" Edward greeted him.
"Edward...Richard. Actually I am here to engage your assistance for the evening." Darcy nervously took a seat and lowered his voice.
"Are we not to go to the Opera this evening?" the Colonel inquired.
Edward chuckled, "Surely Darcy, you would not want to miss Don Giovanni?"
Darcy looked at him cross, "Edward, I need your help...the boy is terrified to show his face in public tonight."
"I do not blame him, Darcy." the Colonel laughed. "He is not acquiring a very good reputation."
"You both must know as well as I that he is innocent. He is far too young, and has been far too removed from London all his life to have come by such a reputation." Darcy tapped his fingers nervously on the table. "There is an answer to all of this...somewhere."
Edward raised a brow in thought. "I suppose you are correct Darcy, however I was content to think of him as a role model for all of us," he jested.
Darcy and the Colonel looked at Edward with disgust. "Good god, Edward," The Colonel chastised him. "Not one of us behaved in such a manner, even before we were married, although I am sure you would like to believe you did...in your own mind."
Edward shrugged, "Well I suppose between the three of us, we could probably keep him shielded tonight. I have an acquaintance in the office of the magistrate...perhaps I could make some inquiries with him this afternoon. You know...check into this business a little."
"Edward, I would be very grateful for any assistance." Darcy sighed, "We have not said a word of this to either Elizabeth or her sister. I would rather not start a family quarrel over all of this rot."
The Fitzwilliam brothers both nodded their heads in mutual agreement on that point. The Colonel offered, "If we find out anything Darcy, we will pay a call before tonight’s engagement."
"Thank you both. I am very grateful for your friendship...both of you." Darcy affectionately shook the hands of both his cousins and quickly departed.
When he returned to the townhouse, Darcy found his wife anxiously waiting for him. "Fitzwilliam, I am glad you are back...you have not forgotten about going out this night?"
"No, no dear....I am back in plenty of time to have some supper and change. Where is Mr. Moore, Elizabeth?" Darcy inquired.
"He went out right after you did. A messenger delivered a letter for him, and he immediately left the house. He has not returned as yet, and I do hope he hurries back."
"Yes...well I am sure he will. My dear, why do you not go upstairs and begin dressing. I will wait down here a few minutes for Mr. Moore, then I shall be up."
Elizabeth nodded and gave her husband an affectionate kiss. Darcy watched as she headed up the stairs and a frown spread over his face. He wondered what was so pressing in this mysterious letter to take Mr. Moore out into public, especially since he had been so adamant about avoiding it. Darcy began to have doubts as to the young man’s integrity.
Perhaps Mr. Moore possessed an alter-ego which no one in their family circle knew of. Perhaps Mr. Moore, and the man known to all the other mysterious people, were one in the same. Darcy told himself that if this were the case, Mr. Moore would be hard pressed to call Fitzwilliam Darcy a friend ever again.
Darcy walked down the hallway after waiting a half hour. As he neared the foyer he saw the footman open the door and Mr. Moore entered. Darcy stood and waited for Moore to acknowledge his presence. The two men stared at each other without speaking a word. Finally Moore could not look Darcy in the eye any longer, and turned away without offering an excuse.
Darcy nodded his head in quiet displeasure, "Mr. Moore...I believe you and I should hasten ourselves for supper."
"I shall, sir." Moore bowed and took off up the stairs to his rooms.
Both men were again quiet at supper, however Elizabeth and Kitty did their best to set a good mood for the evening.
"Have you ever been to the opera, Mr. Moore?" Elizabeth smiled at her brother-in-law.
"No ma’am...never." He whispered, then went back to his meal.
"I am in great anticipation, Elizabeth." Kitty commented, somewhat distressed by the ever increasing low-spirits of her husband.
"I am in no doubt that you will find the experience very enjoyable, Kitty." Darcy concluded as he glanced at Moore, giving him an encouraging nod.
Moore took a deep breath and bucked up his spirits, "Yes my love...I am sure Darcy is correct. We shall all have a very pleasurable evening." He gave his wife a reassuring smile and her eyes glowed with love at the change of his countenance.
As the Darcy’s carriage neared Covent Garden, Kitty and Elizabeth anxiously looked out the windows to see the bustle of opera goers, dressed in all their finery, who disembarked their carriages and walked up the stone steps of the palatial opera house. Kitty was indeed impressed with the sight and she wiggled in her seat in anticipation of every extraordinary moment the night would hold for her. Elizabeth also was caught up in the grandeur of it all, and she smiled happily at her husband. Darcy loved to see his wife so happy, and he delighted in watching her joy at being out for the evening.
Their party entered the grand hall, and Darcy led them through it towards the section in which their box was located. Elizabeth had only been there once before and she was still awed at the grandeur which the opera house possessed, with its splendid gilt detailing contrasting its velvety red upholstery. She held Darcy’s arm tightly as they walked by other couples who extended their greetings as they passed. She always felt as if she were on parade when she went anywhere in London society. She was happy to see familiar faces awaiting when she spied the Fitzwilliams.
While the ladies exchanged their greetings and the Colonel occupied Mr. Moore in conversation, Darcy made his way over towards Edward. The two men moved away from the rest of the party. "What news, Edward? Did you find out anything at all?" Darcy spoke in a hush.
"Not a blasted thing, Darcy. No one has ever heard of a Mr. Aaron Moore, or at least no complaints have ever been filed."
"I suppose that is good news, Edward."
Edward did not look convinced, "Darcy...are you positive the young man has never been in London? What if he is deceiving us all?"
Darcy sadly shook his head at the question, "Edward, I am not sure of anything at all."
An usher gave the call for seating, and everyone made their way to their places before the production began. Darcy moved Elizabeth off to their box, where she and Kitty took the front two seats. The gentlemen sat behind their wives as the curtain went up. Darcy leaned back in his seat, silently watching the spectacle on the stage, and every now and then glanced over at Mr. Moore. Moore and Kitty appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely. It look as though to Darcy however, that Moore exhibited signs of discomfort every time Don Giovanni would boast of one of his many conquests.
Elizabeth reached behind her for Darcy’s hand. He leaned forward and she ecstatically whispered into his ear, "Is this not the most exciting thing, my love?"
"Yes, quite." Darcy quipped. He sat back in his seat, more comfortable than he had been in some time. He told himself that this whole affair was completely ridiculous. That Mr. Moore had simply been mistaken for another, and the poor lad was by no means a libertine. Darcy chuckled to himself thinking that Mr. Moore could possibly resemble a character such as Don Giovanni. "Impossible." He laughed at his own folly. "Nothing but pure coincidence."
By the time it was intermission, Darcy was ready to stand up and stretch his legs. The party stepped out of their box and back into the gallery. The ladies excused themselves to visit the powder room, leaving the gentlemen to fend for themselves.
"Well Mr. Moore...how do you like the opera?" Edward inquired of the young man.
Mr. Moore grinned as if all were back to normal, "Very well, sir...it is quite violent, however...and a little...licentious?"
"Indeed it is!" Edward chuckled. "The opera is a good excuse to exhibit all of society’s vices, and call them art!"
The Colonel groaned at his brother’s propensity to provoke good people into a battle and criticize society at the same time, however this once Mr. Moore thought that Edward’s comment was somewhat amusing.
Darcy walked over to an attendant who was carrying a tray of spirits and helped himself to a glass. He took a sip and glanced around the gallery at all the people milling about. He heaved a sigh of contentment for the second act of Don Giovanni held more interest for him than the first, and he was rather enjoying himself. He was watching the crowd ascending the staircase when he noticed the familiar face of a man. He wondered where he had known the man from, but he could not remember making the acquaintance. He only knew that the gentleman looked familiar. Two woman came up behind the gentleman and immediately Darcy shuddered as he recognized the younger of the ladies. His eyes flew open wide and he quickly placed his empty glass back on a passing attendant’s tray and hastily strode back to his party.
"Richard!" Darcy grabbed his cousin’s arm. "Take Mr. Moore into our box...please!"
The Colonel stared at Darcy strangely, however Darcy made his demand with such enforcement that he did exactly as Darcy had asked.
"Mr. Moore, will you join me in the Darcy’s box a moment?" the Colonel quickly inquired, and he hustled Moore away from the gallery.
Edward looked over at Darcy for an explanation and noticed the pasty white complexion of his cousin. "Darcy, what is wrong with you, man?" he growled.
"Edward...that...that woman who was Moore’s accuser...she is here!" Darcy stammered.
"What?" bellowed Edward.
Darcy looked at his cousin in mortification, "We shall have to find a way out of here without being noticed!"
"No one leaves the opera without being noticed...unfortunately." Edward was a cynic, "Darcy...tell me at once what this is all about?"
"The young woman, Edward...the one from the hotel! Good God, I should have known!" Darcy took a deep breath. "Yesterday, before Moore and I met you for luncheon we were at the office of my attorney. A gentleman there recognized Moore...even called him by name. He was very agitated with seeing Mr. Moore and accused him of being a rogue."
"Yes?" questioned Edward, furrowing his brow still in puzzlement.
"I just saw that man...together with the young woman!" Darcy’s eyes nearly popped out of his head as he spoke "Over there...on the staircase...they must be seated somewhere close to here."
Edward’s eyes widened to match Darcy’s and both men stood in alarm, wondering what to do next.
"Edward!," came a voice from behind and both men practically jumped in the air on hearing it.
Edward turned around, his hand over his racing heart, "Christine! Good god, you nearly frightened me out of my skin!"
"Frightened you? Why on earth would I frighten you, dear?" she replied.
Edward turned around and rolled his eyes as Darcy saw his own wife coming to greet him, along with her sister.
"Elizabeth...my dear...Mr. Moore and Fitzwilliam are in our box. Why do you not take your seats and I shall be there directly." Darcy suggested to her as he wiped a bit of perspiration away from his upper lip and pointed her in the direction of the entrance to their box. "Tell Fitzwilliam to come out here a moment, will you please?"
"Certainly my love." Elizabeth beamed. "Do not be long," she sweetly sang as she smiled at him lovingly.
Darcy shook his head and looked back at Edward in dismay. Edward cleared his throat, "Yes...Christine, Richard and I will join you and Laura in a moment also."
The ladies went back to their seats to settle in for the second act, and the Colonel made his way back to the gallery. "What the devil is going on?" he demanded upon his exit from the Darcy’s box.
Darcy told him the whole story as he had explained it to Edward, and the Colonel was just as astonished as his brother had been. "Richard, how are we to make it out of here without being seen?"
"We shall leave before the ending, of course." The Colonel said.
"What shall be our excuse, Richard?" Edward demanded.
The Colonel shrugged, "I do not know...we shall have to fabricate one?"
Darcy stood fidgeting while holding his head in his right hand. "Perhaps we could remain for a while afterward, until the gallery has cleared?"
"What would be our excuse for that?" Edward demanded again.
Darcy and the Colonel glared at him, "You are not helping, Edward!" Darcy snarled. "Richard, I cannot believe that you could lead hundreds of men into battle...but you cannot figure out how to sneak six people out of an opera house!" Darcy was besides himself, spitting out his words with force.
"Darcy!..." the Colonel began to lose his composure as he squared around to match Darcy’s fervor.
"Both of you! Listen to me!" Edward belted out. "What in heaven’s name you two fighting about?" Darcy and the Colonel backed down and listened to their older relation. "Darcy...you will simply have to get Moore out of here before anyone else. Think of something...anything! You are so adamant about helping the man...and he is your relation! Richard and I will see that Elizabeth and Kitty get home safely."
Darcy heaved a sigh. Edward had the only viable plan that could be formulated. Darcy nodded his consent as the call came out for everyone to take their seats.
Darcy could barely remain in his seat throughout most of the second act. He was extremely nervous and could not keep his foot from involuntarily tapping on the floor. Elizabeth turned around in her seat on two occasions when the tapping became exceedingly annoying, and raised her brow in question of her husband’s impropriety. Darcy would only nervously grin and try to check his watch in the dark.
The climactic ending had begun when Darcy reached over and tapped Moore on the shoulder. Moore turned around and Darcy rolled his eyes over to the entrance of the box and gave him a slight motion to follow him. Moore wore a look of confusion, however he nodded to confirm that he would accompany his brother-in-law.
"Elizabeth." Darcy whispered in her ear. "Mr. Moore and I will meet you at the carriage...Edward and Richard will escort you out when the opera if finished."
Elizabeth turned around in her chair. "What is the matter, Fitzwilliam? Are you ill?"
"Uh...yes dear, I am feeling a bit...queasy." Darcy lied quite convincingly.
A look of great concern overcame her features, "then we shall all leave directly, my love."
Darcy’s mind raced, "Alright dearest...I am very grateful." Darcy tried to look as if he were ill, and he actually did a fairly good job at it.
The party got up to leave and stepped out into the gallery. Kitty was sorry to leave before the ending, and in her disappointment she had forgotten to pick up her shawl. "Aaron, I left my shawl behind at our seats!"
"I shall go and retrieve it, dear," Moore smiled and made his way back to the box.
Darcy stood waiting nervously as precious time was ticking away. He could hear the last bit of recognizable music humming from within the theatre and he began to look even paler.
"Fitzwilliam...are you alright my love...you look dreadfully pale?" Elizabeth sympathetically inquired.
Darcy smiled nervously, "Yes, yes...I will be well...as soon as Mr. Moore hurries himself along!"
Moore exit the box and Darcy quickly grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and began to descend the staircase. The music ended and they could hear the thunderous applause in appreciation of the performance. The theatre doors opened behind them and people began to make their way into the gallery. Darcy turned around to see Mr. Moore drop Kitty’s shawl on the floor and bend down to pick it back up. As he did so, he was consumed by the crowd exiting the theatre.
"Moore!" Darcy shouted out, very uncharacteristically, and as he did Moore stood upright facing the young woman and Mr. Green, whom had just exited the theatre.
"You!" shouted the gentleman, as he, the young woman, and the older woman all looked at the youthful face of Mr. Moore in relative horror.
"Papa!" shouted the young woman, as she clung to her father.
Kitty and Aaron Moore stood dumbfounded as these strangers began to make an offensive scene. The elder woman boldly walked over to Moore and stared at him.
"How dare you show your face in society!" she demanded.
Elizabeth turned around to witness the disturbance, and she could see her sister looking up at her husband as he was being confronted by the lady. Moore spoke not a word, as he faced his accusers.
"Why do you speak to my husband so?" Kitty boldly inquired of the woman.
"Your husband! This man is your husband?" the woman wailed. "We should have known you were married. You have used our daughter very ill, Mr. Moore! I suppose your wife is not aware that you romanced our daughter, and made promises to her and then left her at the altar!"
The Colonel and Edward came out of their box in time to witness the aforementioned scene, and also Lady Christine, who to say the least was completely affected by what she was witnessing.
"You sir are a scoundrel of the very worst sort!" Lady Christine exclaimed.
"Christine...you would do well to stay out of this!" Edward cautioned his wife.
Elizabeth was mortified at all she was hearing. She would not have believed it, if it were not for three people who recognized her brother-in-law and called him by name. No wonder Mr. Moore was such a possessive husband to her sister. He had secrets to hide...skeletons in his closet. He had tried to conceal them from poor Kitty by keeping her ignorant! Lady Christine rushed over to Kitty, who was showing signs of having a nervous fit of discomposure and grabbing her arm proceeded to lead her down the stairs to Elizabeth. Elizabeth took Kitty’s other arm and the two woman began to hustle poor Kitty away from her odious husband.
"Elizabeth!" shouted Darcy.
She turned around and gave him such a look that he was rendered completely speechless. Anger grew within Darcy’s bosom as he looked back up the stairs. Moore still could not speak, however he looked to Darcy for help. In Darcy’s mind there was no question as to Moore’s guilt for this went beyond coincidence. Darcy stormed back up to the top of the stairs and glared angrily at his brother-in-law. "We are through, Mr. Moore...I will have your belongings waiting for you on the front steps of the townhouse. You will pick them up and leave our neighborhood immediately!" Darcy turned around and hurried the ladies outside to the carriage, followed by the Colonel and his wife. Only Edward remained at the top of the stairs, wondering how such a young man with such a promising future could have ruined himself in this sinister way.
Moore looked back over at his accusers, nearly reduced to tears. "I have never seen you before...I my life!" he choked out.
The young woman began to cry and her father and mother tried desperately to drag her down the stairway. She managed to release herself from her parents grasp and turned around weeping, "I loved you...I loved you, Adam Moore!" >
Edward rushed down the staircase and outside the doorways to the street. He ran down the line of carriages until he found his own, and a few carriages behind it was Darcy’s. Darcy was about to embark when Edward called out to him.
"Darcy! I would speak to you!" he shouted.
Darcy turned around, anger and hurt still evident upon his features. "Not now Edward! I just want to leave here. The sooner the better!"
Edward grabbed a hold of his cousin’s arm. "Listen Darcy...perhaps we are all making a mistake? You would not want to accuse a man falsely?"
"Edward..." Darcy snarled, his finger vehemently pointing in Edward’s face as he spoke. "There is proof! There have been no mistakes here!"
"There is no absolute proof Darcy and you know it!" Edward yelled back. "A man should be innocent until his guilt is absolutely proven."
Darcy stared at his cousin, however his hardened features began to ease into those of contrition. He turned around to look back into the carriage at his wife and sister-in-law. Kitty was sobbing and Elizabeth was shaken by the implications that Mr. Moore had been engaged to another woman and so cruelly had left her on their wedding day.
"Elizabeth." Darcy spoke. "Edward will see you home." Darcy turned back towards his cousin, "Edward...you had better be correct. You have chosen a fine time to turn soft at heart!"
Darcy made his way back into the opera house, however upon ascending the staircase found Moore to be gone. He turned around and looked into the gallery below and upon doing so saw the figure of his brother-in-law quickly exiting the building. Darcy sped back down the stair case and out the doors.
Moore was briskly walking down the avenue and Darcy followed him some ways back for a time. Darcy was not sure if Mr. Moore knew where he was going, for where he was headed was a part of town that Darcy was accustomed to avoiding. The street was bustling with people milling about, as Mr. Moore had walked down an avenue which was famous for its pubs, not to mention its houses which were devoted to the service of London’s gentlemen callers. There was always something happening in this part of town, and the walks did not clear out usually until the wee hours of the morning.
Darcy kept up his pursuit of Moore, bypassing surprised street regulars who were not accustomed to seeing a finely dressed gentleman of Darcy’s stature in their neighborhood. Finally Moore came to stop in a small park, which was humming with people. He sat down on a bench and listened as a street ensemble played their instruments to a small crowd. Darcy stopped and watched him for a while, until he saw Moore lean over and put his face in his hands.
Darcy took a seat next to Moore and the young man removed his hands from his face and quickly looked over. His lively countenance was gone as he stared at his brother-in-law. "What are you doing here? Go away and leave me alone!"
"Moore, this is no place for you to be sitting alone." Darcy protested.
Moore’s voice cracked with anger and hurt. "Why not? I have no where else to go...or do you not remember turning me out of your house?"
"It is not safe for you here...a gentleman as you should surely fall to some harm if you remain in the vicinity."
Moore looked at Darcy with incredulity. "You are a contradiction Mr. Darcy? In one breath you call me a gentleman, and with the next a scoundrel...which is it, Darcy? Perhaps you cannot make up your mind?"
"Perhaps I was too severe back at the opera house? The burden of proof is on you."
"How would you propose I do that, Mr. Darcy? My word is not good enough for you and your wife...my word is apparently not sufficient for my own wife or for those who accuse me falsely!" Moore yelled angrily. The street ensemble began to play a familiar tune and Moore looked over in their direction. "Do you hear that tune, Darcy? Is that not appropriate?" Darcy made no move to answer for he indeed recognized the tune. Moore pathetically began to laugh, as he tried to disguise a temptation to cry. "The World Turned Upside Down. That is the title of the tune...a very appropriate piece for my situation. Do you not agree?"
"Yes," whispered Darcy. "What would you have me do? It is my duty to protect Elizabeth and her sister...I think you would expect nothing less from me!"
Moore shook his head and laughed again, although he found nothing amusing in the situation. "I do not know Darcy...perhaps act as a friend, when a friend is needed?"
"Aaron, if I were not your friend...believe me I would not be in this neighborhood," Darcy insisted as he turned and looked about them warily. "Shall we not move off elsewhere...even into a pub?"
Kitty continued to sob as the carriage left Covent Garden for the Darcy’s townhouse. Edward and Lady Christine rode along, and the Colonel and his wife followed behind.
"Kitty...please do not cry so." Elizabeth begged her sister. "It will do no one any good."
"I wish to see my husband, Lizzy!" Kitty cried, "Where is Aaron?"
Elizabeth looked over at Edward and Lady Christine in mortification. Lady Christine shook her head sorrowfully. "My dear...it is best to find these things out now, while you are still young. You would not wish to live the rest of your life with that terrible man?"
"Christine!" Edward growled at his wife. As a wife, Lady Christine was the opposite of Kitty. Her definition of a dutiful wife was one who kept a close eye on the actions of her husband, and one who did not allow her husband the liberty of mistakes. Lady Christine had much at stake in her marriage to Edward. If it were in her power, she would see to it that her reputation in society did not suffer from any misjudgment on her husband’s part. Edward obliged her in this for although their marriage appeared lacking in much affection, he was an honorable enough man to believe in commitment.
"Edward, surely you agree in this instance?" Lady Christine chastised her husband openly. "We shall do everything in our power, dear Kitty to secure an annulment to your marriage."
"Christine!" Edward shouted. "You shall heed my advice and keep quiet!" Lady Christine backed down from her position on the subject, for she knew that Edward did indeed have a breaking point. "You would do well to understand that things are not always as they appear to be."
Elizabeth thought back to a few days prior when she and Darcy had engaged in a similar argument. Darcy had convinced her then not to be so hasty in her judgement of others. How could Darcy have witnessed the spectacle tonight and still defend Mr. Moore? This was simply unconscionable, and she would not allow her sister to be taken in. Elizabeth felt that her experience far outweighed Kitty’s in the ways of the world and there was no alternative but to steer Kitty in the correct path.
Kitty looked horrified at the prospect of annulling her marriage. "I do not want to end my marriage! Aaron has done nothing...he is innocent!"
"That is simply not true Kitty! Do not torture yourself with such denial!" Elizabeth began to lose her patience.
"But Lizzy, I know him...and he would never, could never do such a thing!"
As each moment passed, Elizabeth grew more and more frustrated with her sister’s immaturity. She grew angry with Darcy for choosing to remain behind, and she was incensed that she had ever heard the name of Mr. Aaron Moore.
The pub was jumping with people in pursuit of merriment. Darcy moved Moore off to a table in the corner of the room, and a barkeep brought them a bottle of Scotch. Moore quickly poured himself a glass and drank it.
"Here you are, Darcy." Moore said as he poured a glass for his brother-in-law. "The drinks are on me this night, I see no point in not polluting my body...consider it a farewell token of my esteem."
Darcy began to grow weary of his brother-in-law’s insulting manner. There was simply no reason that he had to stay and subject himself to it. How many more chances did Mr. Aaron Moore expect Darcy to provide him? How long was Moore to press the advantage of calling Darcy a friend? "Mr. Moore...if you cannot provide an explanation to this whole affair, then we are wasting our time. Perhaps you can begin with the letter this afternoon, and what was so urgent in it to send you out in public?"
Moore looked up and smiled in the manner which always made Darcy most uncomfortable, "You are correct brother...we are wasting our time."
Darcy’s jaw clenched in annoyance and he rose from his seat at the table without so much as a word. He grabbed his hat and walking stick from the seat next to him and turned around to come face to face with...Mr. Moore.
Darcy took in a breath as his eyes widened, "Good god...who are you?"
"Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy...Mr. Adam Moore." Aaron Moore’s voice came from behind Darcy.
Darcy turned around to see his brother-in-law stand up from his chair. He moved to the side and looked back and forth at the two young men.
"Hello Aaron, it has been a while." The other Mr. Moore spoke.
"Indeed, Adam...a few years. The last I heard you had sailed to Jamaica, and I was feeling quite relieved that there was an ocean between us." Adam Moore smiled quite in the manner which Darcy had grown used to seeing his brother-in-law do. "I am sorry Darcy...this is my elder brother. I believe you can ascertain that we greatly resemble each other."
"To say the least." Darcy whispered, still somewhat in a state of shock.
"So Adam, from what I gather you have been back in England for some time...well at least enough time to become engaged to an innocent young woman and scorn her." Aaron Moore surmised.
"Ah, I see you have met the Greens of Lennox Place."
"Adam, I have always known that you possessed very little remorse for your actions in life, but how could you ruin a respectable family in such a way and break the heart of a lovely young woman?"
Adam Moore sighed, "I truly intended to marry the girl, Aaron...however at the last minute I just could not seem to get myself to the church."
Aaron Moore shook his head in sadness at his brother’s flippancy. "Well Adam, once again I have borne the brunt of your depravity."
Adam Moore nodded his head, "I sail again in a few hours. It was jolly good to see you...and I do apologize for all this business, but it simply cannot be helped."
Aaron Moore watched as his brother left the pub, then sat back down in his chair. Had Darcy not witnessed the scene he would simply not have believed it. He put down his hat and walking stick and quietly sat down across from Mr. Moore. Neither man spoke for some time, Moore in sadness for the odious deeds of his sibling, and Darcy from utter amazement and remorse.
"Aaron, I..." Darcy began. "...I am astonished, and heartily sorry for how I have behaved towards you. I do not even know how to begin to ask for your forgiveness."
Moore flashed his infamous grin, "I never thought Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy would be begging my forgiveness!"
"Please Aaron, let us not be hasty." Darcy raised his brow. "Why did you not tell us?"
"All my life Darcy I have been taking the blame for my brother’s indiscretions. My father always took his side on things, my aunt and uncle always came to his defense. It is a terrible thing to have your character judged based on your family’s conduct, but we live in a society where a man is not judged by his own merits." Moore smiled again, "I believe the letter you referred to earlier to be the correspondence from Mr. Pratt, my employer in Meryton. He sent me an express to ask if I would take care of an urgent business matter for him."
Darcy held his aching head in his hand as every word Moore spoke made him wince at his own fallibility and ignorance.
Moore took pity on his brother-in-law, "I cannot be angry with you Darcy, for you did indeed come after me."
"I am not your champion, Moore" Darcy shook his head sadly. "I came after you on the insistence of Edward...it is he who believed you innocent."
"The viscount...believed me innocent?" Aaron Moore could not believe his ears. "Well, I shall never cease to be amazed."
"He may stand for everything you dislike about the establishment, Aaron...but he is not a bad man. In fact, I find I appreciate my cousin more and more as time goes on." Darcy sighed, "I believe you have just found the friend you have been searching for."
Moore nodded his head in affirmation, "Darcy...if it is all the same to you, I would like see my wife. I owe her an explanation."
The butler held the door for Darcy and Moore as they entered the townhouse. "Mrs. Darcy and your guests are in the drawing room, sir."
Darcy rounded the corner and entered the room to see everyone but Elizabeth sitting quietly. Elizabeth was pacing in front of the fire...much like she had been a few evenings before in their rooms.
"Fitzwilliam!" she exclaimed upon seeing him.
"Kitty..." Darcy spoke. "Your husband is in the library. I believe you and he have much to discuss."
Kitty beamed in delight and relief and began to run for the door, however her sister tried to prevent her from going. "Kitty!" Elizabeth shouted out, but Darcy put his arm around his wife’s waist and held her in place.
"Elizabeth, you shall remain here," he reprimanded her to the astonishment of all remaining.
"Fitzwilliam, have you lost your senses?" Elizabeth protested.
"No, dear...reason and sensibility have just been introduced to them." He held her tightly and turned to his cousin. "Edward...I thank you for your kind interference. You prevented me from making a terrible mistake. One I will not be tempted to repeat."
Edward sighed in relief and nodded in satisfaction. Everyone turned to look at him, and they viewed him in a different light, for it was Edward who could judge a man at face value, and look beyond his position.
The Darcys departed for Derbyshire a few weeks later. They bid their good byes to Mr. And Mrs. Moore, who had accepted the gracious invitation of their brother and sister to remain in the London townhouse, until they could be settled. Edward had convinced Mr. Moore to take a position in London, and the viscount willingly became young Mr. Moore’s benefactor, thus insuring him a promising career. As far as Edward was concern the young man had earned his faith in him, based solely on his own merits. Mr. Moore still did not agree with the lifestyle which his new found friend was accustomed to, however who was he to argue with the good opinion of the establishment. To Mr. Aaron Moore it was purely politics, with a little friendship thrown in for good luck.
© 1998 Copyright held by author