A Sister's Support
Chapter 01: Painful memories
Georgiana Darcy sighed wearily. Since coming back from Kent, her beloved brother Fitzwilliam was not the same. He has always been somewhat introspective, but now he was downright incommunicative. He locked himself in his library for hours only to go out for urgent business. He retreated behind a facade that nothing could penetrate. His vacant gazes and total silence for sometimes days at a time were testimony in themselves of his despondence. After two weeks of this, Georgiana had had enough and resolved to confront the bear with which she lived presently.
"Fitzwilliam." She said when she saw preparing to lock himself once more.
"Georgiana, excuse me; I have business to attend to." And the library door began to close.
"FITZWILLIAM ANDREW GEORGE DARCY!" cried Georgiana in a rare fit of anger "If you close that door on me, I will never talk to you again."
Darcy astonished at the cry at his usually calm and unassuming sister opened the door wider and let Georgiana walk in. He then seated himself in one the chairs and put his head in his hands. Georgiana came towards him and thus began: "Brother, please tell me what bothers you.You have not been the same since you came back from Rosings. What happened there? Please tell me what it is. I can't bear to see you like this. Please, Fitzwilliam!"
"Georgiana, you had better make yourself comfortable. What I have to tell will take time."
Georgiana seated herself beside her brother and waited expectantly.
Part A: A young lady from Hertfordshire.
"To understand my mood, I need to come back some months sooner. As you know, Bingley has rented an estate in Hertfordshire called Netherfield. He was very pleased with it and I considered it good enough for his first attempts as a landowner. A few days after our arrival, we went to an assembly in the little town nearby, Meryton.
There we became acquainted with the Bennets of Longbourn and their five daughters. Bingley immediately became attracted to the eldest of the Bennet sisters, Miss Jane. He was soon quite a favourite among the local people. As for me, you know very well how I fare in a crowd and I refused as many introductions as I could, thinking them below me and not worth my consideration. I was soon very little liked and left alone. After dancing with Miss Jane Bennet, Bingley came to see me and tried to talk to me into dancing. I refused. He pointed the second eldest Bennet sister Miss Elizabeth..." he sighed on her name and Georgiana had a very strong feeling that her brother's mood has to do with this particular woman.
"Miss Elizabeth was without partner and I refused to dance with her saying..." he stopped once more unwilling to repeat to his sister his cruel and thoughtless remark.
"What did you say, Fitzwilliam?" prompted gently Georgiana.
"I said she was tolerable but not handsome to tempt me. And that I was no humour to give consequence to young ladies who were slighted by other men." His pained expression changed to shame mingled with self anger.
Georgiana gasped: "Fitzwilliam, I do not believe you said that. I've never known you to be rude to anyone!"
Darcy shook his hand sadly: "I'm afraid it is true. And the worst of it is that, I believe, Eli...Miss Elizabeth heard me. After Bingley left, she walked right before me with a mocking expression on her face and she began to laugh, glancing at me with one of her friends. Never before has anyone reacted like that to me. I became interested in her."
"What is Miss Elizabeth like, William? She must be an extraordinary woman `to find that remark funny."
"Yes she is an extraordinary. Although she is considered less beautiful than her eldest sister, she is fairly glowing with love of life. She has dark, curly hair and her dark eyes are the finest I have ever seen. They sparkle with humour and intelligence. You can see all her emotions in them. She has very easy, lively, unaffected manners but with very decided opinions. She did not hesitate to debate or even disagree with me like no one has ever done before. She has however a warm and tender heart particularly for her sister Jane and her father. I daresay you would like her if you were to meet her.
"But now I must come back to my story. One day Miss Bennet was invited to tea by Bingley's sisters. She became ill with a cold because she has ridden on the rain. The next morning, I came across Miss Elizabeth who has walked the three miles separating her father's estate, Longbourn from Netherfield. The ground was dirty and muddy,and she was certainly not fit to be seen but she was only concerned by the health of her sister. She was invited to stay until Miss Bennet recovered.
During that time, I began to realise that my attraction to her has reached heights I never felt before. But I decided to hide this attraction to her because I did not imagine a future with her. Although her father is a gentleman, his estate is entailed away to Mr Collins, their cousin. To add to all of this, her mother and younger sisters are quite shallow and silly.
After the two eldest Bennet sisters returned to Longbourn, I was relieved to see them go and thought Miss Elizabeth no longer had power over me. A few days passed and Bingley and I rode to Longbourn to enquire after Miss Bennet's health. We saw all the sisters in Meryton with Mr Collins and a new officer... It was George Wickham."
Georgiana paled and gasped: "Oh no."
Darcy put his arm around Georgiana: "I'm sorry dearest."
Georgiana composed herself and said: "Pray continue."
"As usual, Mr Wickham endeared himself to the whole town with stories of my mistreatment of him, and one of those he led astray was Miss Elizabeth. As I learned afterwards, I have made a very poor first impression on her and so in her softness, she believed everything he told her. Please do not blame her for that mistake" he continued as a quick and fleeting flash of anger came into his sister's eyes "I did not give her one reason to doubt his version of the facts.
"I did not see her until the ball that Bingley gave at Netherfield. She was beautiful that night. She wore a simple and yet elegant, golden gown that compliment her figure excellently. In her hair, she had placed little white flowers." For a moment he said nothing more, reliving the moment. Georgiana smiled slightly and poked him in the ribs.
"I asked her to dance and she accepted. This was not a pleasant experience for me because throughout the entirety of the dance she quizzed about Wickham. During our dance, one of the neighbours, Sir William Lucas alerted me to the general expectation of the impending engagement between Miss Bennet and Bingley. Throughout the dinner, Mrs Bennet was very loud about her approbation to the match, while Miss Mary entertained the company with bad singing and Miss Lydia, the youngest, behaved very improperly by chasing after the officers. And the pompous Mr Collins introduced himself without a previous introduction. We left the morning after the ball and returned to London. There, with the help of his sisters, we persuaded Bingley that Miss Bennet did not care for him. I have observed Miss Jane and perceived no love in her. She was serene and sweet but nothing in her attitude spoke of peculiar regard. Bingley was very distressed and has not fully recovered."
"But Fitzwilliam, maybe Miss Bennet was only discreet." "Yes, I know it now. But at the time, I fully believed that I have saved from a loveless marriage and quite unequal to his situation in life."
Part B: Reproofs.
"A few months later, I went to Kent with Cousin Thomas. I was very surprised to hear that Miss Elizabeth was there visiting her friend Mrs. Collins (the former Charlotte Lucas) who had married our aunt's clergyman. I often joined Miss Elizabeth in her walks, of which she took many due to her love of the outdoors. I thought I detected an interest for me in her. One day she did not come to Rosings because of a headache, I went to the parsonage and there I..."
"You proposed to her, didn't you?" Georgiana asked.
"And..." she prompted.
"I was refused."
"I thought as much. What did you say to cause that?"
"All you could not say to a woman, least of all the woman you love. I dwelled on the inferiority of her situation, the impropriety of her relations. I was more eloquent on pride than love for her. I fully intend she would accept my offer."
"But she didn't."
"She said she couldn't possibly accept me after insulting her like that. She had moreover other reasons to refuse me. One is that she could never accept the man who has caused her sister's heartbreak, and the other was that I was the cause of all Wickham's misfortunes. Incensed, I said if I have flattered her since the beginning, she would have assented."
"What was her response?"
"I will never forget it. She replied that the mode of my declaration only spared her the concern she might have felt in refusing me if I behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner."
"But Fitzwilliam, you are the finest gentleman I know."
"No Georgie. I was not a gentleman with Miss Elizabeth, or her family, or her neighbours. She concluded by saying by saying I was arrogant, conceitful, with a selfish disdain of the feelings of others and the last man she could ever marry." The pain in his eyes was clear and tears threatened to appear in them.
"Oh Fitzwilliam!" said Georgiana hugging him tightly. "How much you must have suffered. Did you not defend yourself?"
"The next day I gave her a letter detailing my reasons for separating Bingley and Miss Bennet and my dealings with Wickham."
"Even Ramsgate?" asked Georgiana, her voice shaking.
"Yes. Do not worry. I trust Miss Elizabeth implicitly for her secrecy."
"I do believe that of her too after what you have told me."
"Well this is the reason for my mood lately. I am sorry to have distressed you but it is not easy to see how bad I am."
"William, do not talk so. You are a wonderful man, loving and caring. Would you allow me to tell you what I think?"
"Of course dearest. Go ahead."
Chapter 02: Encouragement
"Fitzwilliam, I understand your sufferings but do not blame yourself too much. I am sure you will find a way to win Miss Elizabeth's favour. You are a fine man and you will make your wife very happy.
You talk of your discomfort in large crowds. Maybe you could follow Mr Bingley's example in this. I'm not asking you to become exactly like him because it is not in your nature. I just think you should exert yourself to talk more, to be interested in the concerns to those around you. After this, you can decide if they are worth your consideration. Maybe you could show more to the world your amiable qualities. I know it will not be easy for you but you can succeed.
As for Mr Bingley, I am sure you thought you acted for the best. I know you are Mr Bingley's best friend and only tried to protect him from unhappiness. If you have made a mistake, I know you will correct it. Maybe you can persuade him to return to Hertfordshire so he can assure of Miss Bennet's feelings himself."
Darcy regarded his little sister with loving pride. She has grown so much and now she assumed the role of the older sister and gave him advice. He saw more and more of her mother's nature in her. He felt that soon he would part from her. Such gentleness and sweetness of heart will be soon discovered.
She was right. He could not allow himself to sit there in self pity. He would work on himself to become a man worthy of Elizabeth's attention. He would confess all to Bingley praying that his friend would forgive him for his betrayal of his trust.
He smiled and hugged his sister saying: "Thank you dearest. You told me exactly what I needed to hear."
Chapter 03: The road to Pemberley
Georgiana Darcy sat on the carriage. Fitzwilliam was riding beside the carriage with Mr Bingley. Miss Bingley rattled with compliments on Georgiana, and on her brother, his skill as a horseman, and the beauty of Pemberley. As soon as she began to talk (and it was soon), Georgiana closed her ears only making non committal sounds and little nods. Miss Bingley did not need anything more. Soon they arrived to the town where they were to spend the night before arriving to Pemberley. Five minutes after arriving, Darcy told Georgiana: "Dearest, I must go to Pemberley. Mr Jamison has written to me. There is business that requires my attention. I will see you tomorrow." He kissed her cheek and was off.
The next morning, they arrived. Fitzwilliam was waiting for them outside. The sight of his bright and wide smile surprised Georgiana. Used to his melancholic state of the past months, she wondered what happened.
As soon they were able to be alone, Darcy said excitedly: "Georgiana, Elizabeth÷ er÷Miss Elizabeth Bennet was visiting Pemberley yesterday with her aunt and uncle. She was more beautiful than ever. I asked her if I could introduce you to her and she agreed. Would you be willing to go to Lambton now?"
So that explained his smile. "Yes, I would like to go," she replied noticing his joy at her answer "Do you think Mr Bingley will accompany us?"
"I will go tell him. Refresh yourself and we will go."
They soon set off. Darcy and Georgiana were in the carriage while Bingley followed on horseback."
"Now tell me everything, Fitzwilliam."
"Yesterday, when I arrived at Pemberley, it was very hot so I went for a swim in the lake. When I got out, I was only dressed with my shirt and breeches. I came across Elizabeth. We were both very embarrassed: she to find me there, me to be so informally attired. I greeted her with the utmost civility. I wanted to show her I have attended her reproofs. I excused myself to change my clothes. I met her again and she introduced to me her aunt and uncle from Cheapside. The Gardiners are very sensible and intelligent people. I daresay you will like them very much. We went to see the fishing spots with which Mr. Gardiner had voiced an interest in. Soon Mrs Gardiner came to take her husband's arm leaving me the pleasure of walking besides Elizabeth. When they were obliged to go away due to a previous engagement, Elizabeth allowed me to hand her into the carriage. When it set off, she turned back to smile at me. I am so happy Georgiana. She does not seem to hate me anymore and is willing to give me another chance. I will win her even if it takes years. After seeing her again, I realised that I cannot live without her."
Georgiana smiled and hugged her brother: "I am very happy for you, Fitzwilliam."
After that, Darcy ceased talking and stared outside the window during the whole ride with a little dreamy smile. When they arrived at the inn, they were informed that Miss Bennet and the Gardiners were all out but that Miss Bennet was expected back soon. Darcy seated himself in a chair, and Georgiana looked out of the window. It was very important that she helped her brother now. She was looking forward to meeting this Elizabeth who has stolen her brother's heart. Suddenly Fitzwilliam leaped to his feet. Elizabeth has entered the room and curtsied in response to her brother's bow. She discussed a few moments with him then Darcy turned to introduce Elizabeth. They curtsied to each other.
Georgiana looked at her. She was pretty with dark, curly hair and dark eyes. As her brother told her, she noticed the life in Miss Elizabeth's eyes. She was dressed simply but well enough without the monstrous hats and feathers that Georgiana hated on Miss Bingley. Her only jewel was the garnet cross she wore around the neck. Georgiana was happy to see that her brother has settled his affections on such a sensible lady.
"I am very pleased to meet you Miss Darcy. I have heard so much about you." Said Elizabeth with a smile.
"And I about you," replied Georgiana stealing a sly glance at her brother, who, since Elizabeth had entered, had not removed his eyes from her.
He asked Miss Elizabeth's permission to bring in Mr. Bingley, to which she accepted with a large smile. Only Georgiana could see the passionate love her brother's eyes betrayed as he smiled back and excused himself.
Elizabeth turned back to smile at Georgiana, an action which was returned whole-heartedly by the young girl. There was something so joyous in Miss Elizabeth that you wanted to join in the fun.
They reached the subject of music and Georgiana came alive on it. This was one of her favourite things. It calmed her and help her relax. When she was playing she forgot the outside world to go to a beautiful world, a world of her own. They each expressed their admiration of the talent of the other.
She remembered what her brother told her: "Miss Elizabeth is not proficient at the pianoforte as you are but she plays with such passion and emotion that her technical faults are easily overlooked."
It was now Elizabeth's turn to blush and looked surprised when Georgiana told her of her brother's report of her musical ability. She tried to relieve her awkwardness by making a joke.
Georgiana saw the teasing glint in Elizabeth's eyes but wanted to give her a hint of her brother's sincerity. So she replied very seriously. She added he was the best of brothers. And I hope will come a time where I would not be the only one to say it.
"You make me quite envious. I have no brother; only four sisters."
"I should have liked to have a sister." Like you she thought. The two ladies gave each other a look of appraisal.
Then the eager face of Mr Bingley appeared at the door. Georgiana noticed that Elizabeth looked often between her and Mr Bingley. She understood that she searched to know what the relationship between them was. She has no intention to marry Mr Bingley who was more like a brother than a husband. So she curtsied to both and moved to join her brother.
"What do you think of her dearest?" said an anxious Darcy.
"She is kind and makes me feel at ease. I like her a great deal. Can we invite her and her aunt and uncle to Pemberley tomorrow?"
"That's a very good idea, Georgie." He called Elizabeth's attention "Miss Bennet, my sister has something to ask you."
Georgiana advanced shyly encouraged by Elizabeth's smile and made the invitation. Elizabeth's smile widened and she accepted it gracefully. Georgiana glanced back at her brother with a smile. The smile on his face was brighter and the love in his eyes shone.
The visit did not continue long after this, and the Darcys and Mr Bingley took their leave.
Darcy was the last to leave the room saying: "We look forward to seeing you at Pemberley tomorrow very much, Miss Bennet."
"Thank you, Mr Darcy."
Chapter 04 :Dispelling the sorrow
Georgiana and Darcy waited outside the main gate of Pemberley. All day Darcy had occupied himself in planning the dinner. He wanted it to be as perfect as possible. Georgiana knew why, Mrs Reynolds has her suspicions. Georgiana knew that if she has not taken his arm, he would be pacing around. She placed a comforting hand on his arm saying: "Do not worry Fitzwilliam. Everything will be fine."
"Thank you dearest."
Then the wheels of a carriage were heard and the nervous and longing impatience returned to her brother's eyes. The carriage stopped and a man got out and handed a woman out. Darcy hastened to offer his hand to Elizabeth to step out of the carriage. She thanked her helper with a smile then turned to Georgiana.
"I am very pleased to see you again, Miss Darcy. May I present my uncle Mr Edward Gardiner and his wife Mrs Margaret Gardiner. Aunt, uncle, this is Miss Georgiana Darcy."
"I'm very pleased to see you too, Miss Bennet. Mr and Mrs Gardiner, welcome to Pemberley."
"Pleased to meet you dear and thank you for your kindness" replied Mrs Gardiner. Margaret Gardiner had a sweet maternal air about her and Georgiana felt immediately at ease with her. Mr Gardiner was a kind man with good humour in his face and in his conversation.
They chatted for a few minutes until Darcy said, "I believe dinner awaits us. Shall we?" He offered his arm to Georgiana and the other to Elizabeth who accepted it with a smile and they went to the dining room. Georgiana has made the seating arrangements. Her brother was at the head of the table with Elizabeth on his left and herself on his right. Elizabeth was seated next to Mrs Gardiner and Georgiana next to Mr Gardiner. Mr Bingley has Caroline on his right and Mrs Gardiner has Mrs Hurst. Mr Hurst was next to his wife.
The dinner was quite funny as Georgiana witnessed the inattention of her brother to his other guests. At each course, Miss Elizabeth's approval was searched. Fitzwilliam enquired if the wine was not too dry for her taste. Georgiana and the Gardiners exchanged amused looks. If Elizabeth, Georgiana noticed, was somewhat flustered to be the object of such attentions she accepted it with kindness and good humour.
After the meal, Georgiana offered the ladies tea in the music room. Darcy jerked to his feet and bowed to Miss Bennet and did not remove his gaze from her until the door closed. Georgiana, Mrs Gardiner and Elizabeth made delightful conversation as Miss Bingley sulked in a corner then went to talk to her sister. The sounds of heavier footsteps were heard. Georgiana smiled. It was barely twenty minutes since they left the dining room. The first to enter was of course Darcy who let his eyes search for Elizabeth and after seeing her in conversation with herself let his lips drew into a tender smile. Georgiana reminded Elizabeth of her promise to play. She readily assented and began to sing. Georgiana, next to her, glanced at her brother. He was seated in a sofa facing the pianoforte and his expression betrayed all he felt for the performer. When Elizabeth finished he was the first to applaud and the last to finish. As Georgiana and Elizabeth talked for a few minutes, Georgiana used every open opportunity to extol her brother's good qualities. When Elizabeth asked her to play something, Georgiana reluctantly agreed. She was shy to perform in front of so many people although Elizabeth's presence was reassuring.
As Elizabeth left her, Miss Bingley began to talk to Elizabeth. She noticed the discomfort of her brother who was moving uneasily in his seat. What could this unpleasant woman possibly say? She did not hear what was said until a name from the past arrested her: Mr Wickham! Oh no! Her distress to hear of the man who has caused her so much heartache made her stop her playing. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her brother half rose to help her but Elizabeth was quicker. She rushed to Georgiana in the pretence of helping her to turn the pages. Georgiana sent her a grateful glance as she started again but Elizabeth did not see it because she and Fitzwilliam were locked into each other's eyes.
Georgiana turned her attention to the piece she was playing. However a secret smile spread on her lips. She was so happy to have witnessed this exchange, and she was sure that the understanding that her brother wished to reach with Elizabeth will be very soon. Georgiana tried to make last the melody to let Fitzwilliam and his beloved enjoy their relative privacy. When she finished, the applause brought them back to the reality but her brother did not remove his eyes from Elizabeth as she and the Gardiners made their excuses to leave. He was so immersed in another world that he walked right past her and offered his arm to Elizabeth who took it much more than politeness and a smile more bright than before.
Mr Bingley offered his arm to Georgiana who took it and the Gardiners followed. When they quitted the room, Georgiana walked slowly to let her brother and soon to be fianc»e, she was certain of it, take their leave of each other. She saw Fitzwilliam kiss Elizabeth's hand and Elizabeth sighed. Her brother, her hand still in his, looked up at her his eyes burning with passionate love. He murmured something to her and she replied in the same tone. Then they waited for the others. Georgiana noticed that Fitzwilliam was standing very close to Elizabeth, his hand brushing hers once or twice. He was the one to hand her in the carriage and his hand rested in hers as long as he could and he bid goodnight to her aunt and uncle though his eyes never strayed from their niece one minute. The Gardiners and Georgiana were very amused by his "rudeness". Elizabeth has similar difficulty to focus her attention on other people than the dark and handsome man outside the carriage staring at her with such love and passion in his eyes that she almost drowned in them. The carriage set off and Fitzwilliam remained there.
Georgiana, still on Mr Bingley's arm told him she wished to retire. She heard her brother whisper his beloved's name. After reaching the stairs, Georgiana excused herself and went to her room. She waited till everyone has retired and went in search of her brother who, as she knew, was used to take a turn into the house before going to bed himself. She found him in the music room staring at the pianoforte with a little smile on his lips.
Georgiana put her hand on his arm saying: "Are you happy, Fitzwilliam?"
"I think I am very close of being happy. Oh Georgie, I love her so much. I want to keep her by my side always."
"I think she want this too, dear brother. When will you see her again?"
"I will go to Lambton tomorrow morning."
"When will you propose?"
"When I will be sure she will accept me. I don't want to ruin everything by a bold move."
"From what I have seen in this room between the two of you, I think it will not be long before you can ask her."
"Do you really believe that Georgiana? Do you think she loves me?"
"Yes brother. I believe she does. Even though she has not told you as much as of yet, I believe it will not be long before she does."
"Thank you Georgiana. Now go to bed. Perhaps in the next few days I will tell you that you have a new sister."
"I like her very much. She is perfect for you."
"Yes she is perfect." The dreamy expression came back to her brother's eyes. Then he shook himself and bid good night to her.
"Good night Fitzwilliam. Sweet dreams."
The next morning, when Georgiana enquired after her brother, Mrs Reynolds told her he has gone to Lambton for business. Business indeed! Georgiana thought gaily.
She came outside to wait for him. When he returned, his face before so relaxed and happy, has become one of extreme anger and distress. She ran to him as she saw dismount and said: "Fitzwilliam, what happened? Please tell me what it is."
"Let us walk then, Georgie. I do not want to be overheard."
He began: "This morning, I went to see Elizabeth. I wanted to propose to her and her relatives to walk in the orangery with me. But when I arrived, I found my dearest Elizabeth alone and in tears. She had just received two letters from her sister Jane informing her that her youngest sister, Lydia has eloped with one of the officers, to own the truth with Wickham. Her pain was so dreadful. To see her crying tore my heart. I wanted so much to take her in my arms to comfort her but I did not know if I could be welcome, so I refrained."
Georgiana paled; "Oh no poor Elizabeth! Fitzwilliam, we must do something to help her."
"Indeed dearest. I have every intention of travelling to London to search for Wickham and Miss Lydia. I will leave tomorrow at dawn.
"Yes Fitzwilliam. Please write to me of your progress." The two Darcys came back to the house. About a week later, Georgiana received this short missive.
London, August 28th
The Darcy townhouse
149, Belgrave Square.
It is done. Wickham has finally agreed to marry Miss Lydia. The ceremony is in two days and I will stand for Wickham as a groomsman. The Gardiners will escort Miss Lydia. I will be at Pemberley in three days.
Your loving brother,
When Fitzwilliam returned and after a certain time, Mr Bingley talked of returning to Hertfordshire for hunting. Her brother agreed to accompany him.
Before they set off, Georgiana whispered to him: "Please bring me back a sister on your next visit."
"I hope I will, dear sister. I hope I will."
About two weeks later, Georgiana opened her brother's letter with trepidation and read as follows. After reading her brother's letter after the visit of Lady Catherine, she knew his hopes were higher than before.
You have at last a new sister. Yesterday, my dearest Elizabeth told me she loved me and agreed to be my wife.
I am happy, Georgie, as happy as you have always hoped for me to be. By Elizabeth, I became a better man. It is my intention to make her just as happy and content as she has made me, to create a new life with all she deserves to have for the wonderful woman she is. She expressed the wish to become better acquainted with her new sister. Now I have fulfilled my promise to you, Georgie. I will bring back a new sister to you on my next visit.
I have written to Cousin Thomas and asked him to escort you to Hertfordshire. Pray excuse me for not coming myself. I have no desire to be separated from my fianc»e (what joy it is to write that word at last!) We will expect you at the end of the week.
Your loving and blissfully happy brother,
Georgiana sighed with relief and said, "Finally." She moved to her writing desk to compose her reply to her brother.
Chapter 07: Dearly beloved.
Georgiana chatted excitedly with her cousin, Colonel Thomas Fitzwilliam. She shared with him all that happened to her brother in this past year. Thomas was amused by Elizabeth's reaction to his cousin's slight, astonished at Darcy's first proposal, and a little envious at his cousin's luck to encounter the lady a second time. He said his parents and elder brother would be attending the wedding.
Finally Netherfield appeared. Fitzwilliam was waiting outside with a large smile on his face. As soon as Georgiana was outside she ran to her brother's open arms: "Oh Fitzwilliam! I am so happy for you and Miss Elizabeth!"
"Well old man! Congratulations! For Georgiana has told me, you are the knight in shining armour destined to brave a thousand perils to win the affections of the pretty damsel."
Darcy laughed: "Thomas, you tease. You know very well I am too proud to be a knight. I will only say that I am very obstinate and finally wear down the resistance of the damsel. And what I have won is worth any treasures." His eyes shone with love for his fianc»e.
"When we are to be reacquainted to this captivating creature who has turned my ordinarily sane cousin into a grinning fool?"
"You will see her this evening. We are invited to dine at Longbourn. Shall we go inside?"
Georgiana asked her brother: "Will you tell me about your engagement? I long to hear how it happened."
"I will tell you. Fitzwilliam, pray excuse us."
Darcy and Georgiana arm in arm crossed the lawn of Netherfield to arrive in front of a pretty river partially hidden by oaks. Georgiana seated herself in a bench and waited expectantly. Darcy began his tale.
"After Lady Catherine's visit at the townhouse, I had only one aim: to return to Hertfordshire as soon as possible to assure myself of my dearest Elizabeth's feelings for me. When I arrived, Bingley was still at Longbourn with Miss Jane. I tried to stifle the urge to go to Longbourn right away.
The next morning, Bingley and I rode to Longbourn. He proposed a walk. He and Miss Jane, Elizabeth and I, and her sister Miss Catherine went out. Bingley and Miss Jane soon walked ahead of us and Miss Catherine went to visit a neighbour.
Elizabeth and I walked in silence for a few moments, and then Elizabeth began to thank me for my assistance with Lydia. I was caught off guard because I was not aware of her information regarding that matter. It seems that Lydia betrayed my presence at her wedding when she and her husband visited Longbourn. Elizabeth wrote to her aunt for explanations.
I was sorry she heard that, so I told her I thought only of her when I did it. She blushed and sighed. I then told her that my feelings for her were always the same and if hers has not changed to tell me now and I would never bother her again. She then told me that her feelings were quite the opposite than they were last April and that she loved me. You cannot imagine my joy, Georgiana. The woman of my dreams has told me she loved me. I asked her to be my wife and she agreed. And then she permitted me to kiss her. Oh Georgie, I never felt so happy and truly blessed than at this moment."
For a moment Darcy fell silent and seemed to relive that happy moment and totally forget the presence of his sister by his side. But she did not mind. Fitzwilliam has been so serious for years with his many responsibilities. It was time for him to enjoy life and happiness. And Elizabeth was perfect. With her lively and happy disposition, she would lift the seriousness in his disposition.
Darcy continued by retelling the application and the days before her arrival. Then they came back and went to Longbourn accompanied by Bingley and Cousin Thomas. Georgiana liked the house. It was not grand but gave an impression of simple elegance and comfort.
Elizabeth was waiting outside with a tall, blonde girl. Elizabeth introduced her eldest sister Jane and Bingley's fianc»e. Jane was very much like her in temperament so the two ladies liked each other instantly. Georgiana hugged Elizabeth saying: "I am very happy to call you sister now, Miss Bennet."
Elizabeth hugged back replying: "So am I, Miss Darcy. And please call me Elizabeth or Lizzy."
"Only if you call me Georgiana."
"I will be happy to, Georgiana. Good evening, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Welcome to Longbourn."
"Thank you Miss Bennet. I must say I am disappointed though." He said a teasing glint in his eyes.
"Disappointed, sir?" she answered with the same expression.
"My cousin Georgiana has a right to the favour treatment: to be called by her first name and I don't? What does it signify?" he said with mock indignation.
"Oh I am sorry to have offended you, cousin-to-be Thomas!" she replied with mock solemnity. And the four people laughed.
Then Elizabeth addressed Darcy: "Well sir, you have not said one word since you arrived. What's the matter?"
"How could I talk when I am focussing on your beauty and charm, madam?"
Flattery will get you nowhere in life." She sighed dramatically but smiled as Darcy took her hand and kissed it saying softly and lovingly, "Good evening, dearest."
They then went into the house. Elizabeth introduced Georgiana and Fitzwilliam to her parents and two other sisters, Mary and Catherine. Georgiana liked Mr Bennet who was quite similar to his second daughter in disposition. Mary seemed quite serious but came alive when she discussed the subject of music. Catherine was a bit silly but good humoured and kind. Mrs Bennet was very silly but it was apparent she loved all her daughters strongly and only wanted the best for them. She was very gracious in her welcome of the guests in her house. The Bennet family were unique individuals, but also a warm and kind family who put Georgiana at ease.
They sat down to dine. Georgiana noticed with some amusement that her brother has taken his fianc»e's hand under the table and has not released it during the whole of the dinner. They spent the entire meal eating with only one hand. Georgiana, Thomas Fitzwilliam and Mr Bennet exchanged amused glances.
The days and weeks before the wedding were spent in this happy way. Under Georgiana's influence, Mary began to read more novels and go out more. Georgiana also helped her to change her appearance for the better. Kitty copied Georgiana's elegant ways and Georgiana became bolder and more assured with her help. With Elizabeth and Jane, she took walks in the countryside when their fianc»s could not be with them. She spent time with Mr Bennet in the library discussing books and with Mrs Bennet discussing fashion. She, Kitty, Mr Bennet and of course the betrothed couples spent a week in London to shop for wedding clothes for the ladies and preparing the paper settlements and make modifications on the townhouse for the gentlemen.
The rest of the Fitzwilliam family arrived a week before the wedding and approved heartily the choice of their nephew. Georgiana even suspected that her elder cousin Julian Fitzwilliam approved more of his cousin's choice because he has become attracted to the improved Catherine Bennet. Georgiana made a mental note to invite her cousin more when Miss Catherine would visit Pemberley.
Finally came the day of the double wedding. Everything was arranged perfectly. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy would journey to London after the wedding and Georgiana would stay at Lord and Lady Matlock's townhouse for two weeks before joining her brother and his new wife for the return to Pemberley.
In the Longbourn church, Darcy paced back and forth, anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bride until Georgiana gave him a small smile of reassurance. Then the two brides entered on the arm of their father. The smile on Elizabeth's face was wider than before and her eyes shone brightly with love. Even though he appeared as serious as ever, Georgiana saw clearly the joy, admiration and overpowering love his brother's eyes betrayed as he beheld his Elizabeth walking towards him. Then the ceremony began:
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this man and this woman..."
Georgiana settled on Mr Bingley and Jane who since the bride has entered has not removed their eyes from each other. Jane had however taken the time to smile at all her neighbours before gazing at Bingley. Dear Miss Jane, she always thinks of others before herself. I am glad to have gained such a sister. Her and Mr Bingley are truly well match, being quite similar in nature.
"And this man and this woman in holy matrimony;"
It is so good to see my brother so happy and so very much in love. I hope I will find someone who can make me as happy. Georgiana thought that they were of different in temperament, they were equal in the passion and concern they felt for their loved ones.
"...which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church: which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee, and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God."
I fear that Miss Lydia will never have a happy marriage with Mr Wickham. To think I fancied myself in love with such a man, she shuddered. Poor Lydia.
"...Into this holy estate these persons present come now to be joined. If any man can show just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace."
No doubt Miss Bingley would like to say something, she mused as she glanced at the sour face of the tall woman beside her. Georgiana had a one minute fear that she would actually say something but soon her apprehension ceased.
The ceremony continued without a hitch and then came the moment of the promises. Mr Bingley and Jane did first and then came the turn of her brother and Elizabeth. They faced each other and from that moment, never released their intense gazes from each other.
"Fitzwilliam Andrew George Darcy, wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her honour and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?"
Her brother's voice without a hint of hesitation replied: "I will."
"Elizabeth Ann Rachel Bennet, wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after Gods ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?"
Elizabeth carried both deep emotion and certainty as she replied: "I will"
"Who giveth these women to be married to these men?" Mr Bennet advanced with tears in his eyes as he kissed both his daughters' foreheads and gave their hands to their new husbands.
Mr Bingley and Jane said the vows and kissed each other softly and quickly. Then the minister turned his attention to the second couple. He gave the ring to Darcy. When he slipped the ring on her finger the serious expression was done away and a smile of extreme joy replaced it.
"I, Fitzwilliam Darcy take thee Elizabeth Bennet to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth." (*)
Elizabeth, her loving smile growing as she saw the smile on his face replied the same. When the moment came for their kiss, her brother kissed his new wife with such enthusiasm and passion that Georgiana blushed. The parson coughed lightly one time and was not heard. Finally at the second time, the newlyweds separated blushing and followed Mr and Mrs Bingley down the aisle. The smile that has crossed her brother's face grew wider and wider with every passing moment. His mask of seriousness has disappeared to let place to a full, proud, ear to ear smile that rivalled even Bingley's. The Darcys and the Bingleys took their carriages and went to Longbourn for the wedding breakfast. Georgiana was not surprised to see that as soon as the carriage set off her brother and his wife kissed each other.
Very soon Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth were seen to rudely ignore the guests by paying no real attention to the conversation instead exchanging loving smiles across the room and whispering to each other when they were near. Very soon, they made their excuses and summoned their carriage to go to London.
After two weeks, Georgiana was picked up in front of the Matlock town house by her brother and his wife. The bond and closeness between Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth was visible. During the travel, Elizabeth fell asleep on her husband's shoulder and Georgiana asked her brother, "Did you enjoy your stay in London, Fitzwilliam?"
Darcy looked down at his sleeping wife with a tender smile and replied, "Georgiana, I am married to the most wonderful woman on earth and if you find a similar man, I daresay you will be very happy too." And he pursued by telling all they did in the two weeks. Their visits to the opera and theatre, their walks (to Vauxhall Gardens) and dinners in t'te ż t'te. Georgiana smiled widely. Her brother has finally found the right woman for him and was as happy as he deserved.
(*): All the extracts in bold are from "The Book of Common Prayer".
(For this fifth story, I would like to thank Mary Catherine (Mary S.), Julie Jindra (Julianne E.), for their sweet messages and Ally M. for her support and corrections. I want to thank too Linh, Genevieve Dudley as well as Joan Ellen and Kiersten B for their comments on my preceding stories. Merci toutes. Bises. Louisa
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