Chapter 1: A JOURNEY TO DERBYSHIRE
They dressed themselves as to be the most comfortable for the journey to Derbyshire. The housekeeper and the servants lined up to wish them a pleasant journey. In few days, they had grown very fond of the new mistress not only for her kindness and generosity but also for the obvious happiness she had brought to their master. They could see he was totally infatuated and bewitched by his beautiful wife.
Finally as they rode towards Pemberley, Darcy sighed and said: "Ah! We leave for Pemberley at last! I so dislike London!"
"So do I," agreed his wife "And I'm so very curious to see Pemberley in winter and to see Georgiana again. There's nothing like the country."
"I'm glad that you are in accordance with me, Elizabeth," Seeing Elizabeth shudder, he said with a worried tone, "Are you unwell, Lizzy?"
"No don't worry William. I'm just a little cold."
Her husband took her in his arms and said: "Is that better?"
"Much better, thank you, William." She closed her eyes with contentment.
Finally she began to doze off and her husband watched her sleep with a little and tender smile. She was always so beautiful when she was asleep. He couldn't quite believe that she was truly his wife, that he held her in his arms, and that he was not dreaming.
Finally as they neared Pemberley, Darcy murmured to Elizabeth, "Lizzy, Lizzy dear, wake up. We are approaching Pemberley."
"Oh" said his wife as she awoke with a soft yawn "Oh I'm sorry William. It was so rude of me to sleep."
"Don't distress yourself. I understand that the travel must be tedious. Besides I enjoy watching you sleep, my beautiful Lizzy"
"Thank you, kind sir," but she interrupted herself when she caught sight of Pemberley. The building emerged beautifully surrounded by the snow "What a beautiful place, Fitzwilliam. It looks so peaceful. It possesses a warmth that makes me really at home."
"Lizzy dear you expressed everything I feel when I see it. I'm so happy that you will share it with me from now on. For so long I longed that you would join me here. "
"I must confess that it was when I came here last summer, that I began to love you. Someone who makes this house like it is cannot be all-bad. And after a short silence, "I love you, Fitzwilliam."
"Dearest Elizabeth, you have made me so happy. I love you so much. Every day I thank God for the incredible luck to have you by my side."
"I know you do, I feel the same," she said looking with her loving bright eyes. Her breath had quickened.
A pitch of emotion filled Darcy's pounding heart. He could not tear his gaze from her. Light was filling her face and making it shine, showing the glow of her soul and her absolute love and trust in him. Darcy thought: "This magnificent creature is mine. Mine, solely mine as I am hers till the rest of our days ..." Darcy slowly lowered his head and kissed tenderly her rosy lips. He used it to confirm and reassess his complete devotion to her. She responded to his kiss with equal tenderness and a gentle sigh and her lovely hands caressed his face. He finally pulled back and saw her warm dark eyes regarding him with such deep affection that he felt his heart would burst from exultant gratitude. He was a better man for having known her. He was not any more the proud, arrogant snob who had slighted Elizabeth, but a real gentleman who he hoped was caring, unselfish, concerned for the feelings of others. And she brought all of that change. In just one year, she had completely overwhelmed his usual perception of the world. Now as his wife, she continued to change him to an extent he never thought possible. She softened his critical reserve. He was amazed to see that he had never laughed as often as when he was in her company. He couldn't part from her now. She was truly his soul mate. He made a promise that he would never give her an occasion to regret her commitment to him. Lifting his free hand to raise her chin a little higher, Darcy trailed his finger along her soft blushing cheek, along her eyelids, her chin.
"Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth..." he whispered.
Meanwhile the carriage had entered the courtyard of the house. Georgiana stood outside, very excited to welcome her new sister. She embraced Elizabeth fondly, asking how her trip was and congratulating her once more, saying how happy she was to welcome her as her sister. Mrs. Reynolds welcomed her new mistress with a large and bright smile, congratulating both for their marriage. Darcy offered his arms to his sister and wife to bring them in the inside and said to Mrs. Reynolds: "Mrs. Reynolds, would you please assemble the servants? I would like them to meet their new mistress," and, turning to his wife, "If you don't mind, Elizabeth?"
"Of course dear. I will be glad to meet them," she said, and Darcy smiled at her, regarding her freely with every bit of love in his heart. The warm, secret glow of her eyes made it impossible for him to look elsewhere. Pure love and affection were shining in her eyes.
Chapter 2: IN THE SERVANT'S QUARTERS.
They arrived to the servant's hall arm in arm. An appreciative murmur ran across the assembled servants when the master entered in the room with his new wife. She is very pretty, though a little embarrassed with so many eyes upon her and it's not hard to see that the master is completely spellbound by her. Even Mrs. Reynolds was captivated by the young woman's manners and beauty as they were.
Darcy spoke. "I thank you for your quick assemblage. I have told Mrs. Darcy that there is no finer household staff, and I know that you will all assist her in the first days. As you know Pemberley must seem very large to an irregular inhabitant at first. I am in no doubt that you will help her to find her way in her new life and make her feel really at home. "
Darcy stopped a moment to smile to his wife, and pursued: "I have every confidence in Mrs. Darcy's good sense. I hope given the same kindness in which you demonstrate to me, you will find her to be a just, generous and honorable mistress."
Elizabeth smiled at Darcy's praise and confidence in her, and she turned to address to her staff with a delightful smile. "I thank you for your kind welcome. I am in no doubt of your help and I hope I will not disappoint you. I don't want to be a sort of meddling mistress. I will only suggest a few alterations but above all I want everything to go on as you have been used to, and like you have always done before me," she said, beaming as she heard the appreciative sighs and they both wished a good evening to them.
As the master and mistress quitted the room, the servants dispersed, telling what a fine choice the master had made. She had looked so refined and tasteful as she greeted them all in their room to welcome them home, a good sort of woman, young no doubt, but with such spirit and life that she had enchanted them all after she spoke two words. She will be, they considered, as thoughtful and wise a mistress as her husband is a master... if she treats them decently they'll work harder for her satisfaction. Not at all like this Caroline Bingley. How often they heard her planning changes in the household staff in their presence. No doubt if he had married her, she would not consent to go down to acknowledge them. What a change it was to have a lady of her talents and character living in the house from now on.
It was a great satisfaction for them to see in two minutes the sincere attachment between their master and mistress. He looked so proud of her and so happy. Yes, the master has made a very good choice. They could hear them both laughing. It had been so long since they had heard him laugh so heartily. She softened his detached manners and drew out his benevolence and some merriment. She seemed to sparkle in his presence. She would no doubt bring joy to this old house. Since the summer when she visited here, the Master had never been happier, even though the path to their marriage had not been a usual one. Some of the servants more observant than others (including Mrs. Reynolds) had noticed a happy light in his eyes that had not been there before he met her.
Chapter 3: THE INSTALLATION.
Meanwhile after this introduction to the staff, Darcy presented Elizabeth to her new lady's maid Hannah. "Oh I remember you" said Elizabeth "Were you not working at the inn of Lambton before?"
"Indeed I was ma'am. May I be so bold as to inquire of the health of your aunt and uncle, ma'am?"
"You may Hannah. They are very well, I thank you."
"Glad to hear it ma'am."
Darcy spoke up: "Very well Hannah. Could you please escort Mrs. Darcy to her dressing room? Maybe you want to change your dress for dinner, Elizabeth."
"I think I will. Please take the lead Hannah"
"I will wait for you outside in half an hour, if it's all right with you."
"Perfectly. Thank you, Fitzwilliam."
Elizabeth departed with her lady's maid. As she entered in her new dressing room she noticed a large bouquet of roses of different colours. There was a little note attached to it with a familiar handwriting saying "For the rose of my heart". Elizabeth smiled widely as she recognized the tender message behind the gift. "Oh Fitzwilliam, I love you so." She thought. She bathed herself and pulled a dress of pale blue silk with pale embroidered gloves, which she made during her engagement, matching the color of the dress. She said to Hannah "Will you please try to place this white rose in my hair. I would like to please Mr. Darcy." Hannah smiled lightly and said "Of course ma'am. I would see to that."
Hannah tied her black hair with a few pearls and silk ribbons. She put the white rose in evidence on her hair. Elizabeth looked at herself in the mirror. She was at ease inside her new evening attire, because it looked like what she was used to wearing before her marriage, but with a graceful elegance. The dress permitted her to move easily and quickly. Elizabeth couldn't stand what she called "torture dresses" such as the Bingley sisters wore. She was of a practical mind and therefore applied the same principle for her outfit. She didn't like flashy, ostentatious or flamboyant colours, but appreciated discrete shades.
As she opened the door she saw her husband making his way towards her. He stopped to admire her. He noticed the rose and smiled widely. The colours suited her admirably, he thought. She sensed his stare and blushed prettily.
"You look so beautiful, Elizabeth. I am quite speechless."
"May I return the compliment sir? You too look very handsome." He wore the same black suit that he wore some months ago for the unforgettable evening at Pemberley. "Thank you for the roses, Fitzwilliam. They are so beautiful."
"I did it because of my love for you, my dear Mrs. Darcy."
"Thank you, my dear Mr. Darcy. I want to please you too."
"I never saw this dress before. Is that a new one?"
"It is indeed. I selected it with my Aunt Gardiner before our marriage. Do you approve of it then?"
"Very much my dear. It is very becoming on you."
"Thank you, Fitzwilliam. I am glad you like it. Now, I think our dinner awaits us. Shall we go?" asked Elizabeth.
Darcy nodded and held his arm for her and they went downstairs.
Chapter 4: THE DINNER.
"My first dinner at Pemberley," said Elizabeth
"But not the last," completed Darcy.
"Or I should say my second dinner here," replied his wife.
"It is your first dinner here as my wife"
"And as my sister" said Georgiana.
"I still can't believe it," said Darcy. "I am still afraid that two letters will take you away from me."
"But it is true. I'm here and I will never leave unless you become insufferable and I will be obliged to go back to Longbourn."
"Oh but you shouldn't dearest because I will lock you in your room and never speak to you again if you do that."
"Did you know my mother threatened me to do the same if I had not accepted Mr. Collins' proposal?" Darcy shuddered at the thought. "Do you imagine me bearing a sermon every morning on how to be an elegant female and how to offer those little delicate compliments which are always acceptable to great ladies or bearing Lady Catherine's advice on how to best place shelves in a closet!"
Darcy and Georgiana laughed as they shared the comic reminiscences of Mr. Collins' manner and Lady Catherine's "advice".
"I didn't know that Mr. Collins had proposed to you," said Georgiana.
"Oh yes he did after the Netherfield ball. And moreover I was obliged to dance with him the first two dances. He was as gracious as a grasshopper!" They all laughed "And this man there," gesturing towards Darcy, "was very amused to see who paired with me."
"Really brother?" said Georgiana
"I'm sorry but I couldn't help it. But then you have a partner who was a professional dancer. It must be a relief!"
"A graceful dancer indeed! A relief indeed!" she answered smirking "You were so unwilling to speak. If I remember correctly, I had to start the conversation. I had to work so hard to extract from you more than a polite sentence."
"My emotions made me tongue tied. You were so lovely that night with little flowers in your hair and that beautiful yellow gown."
"I didn't know that you approved so much my appearance, sir. Did you think the same when I jumped in the mud to see Jane?"
"Even more so. Your eyes were so clear and your cheeks all rosy. I was totally entranced by your appearance."
"So I was not then tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt you?"
"You never were but I was too conceited to acknowledge it."
"Mr Darcy is all politeness" said Elizabeth smiling knowingly.
"Indeed I am, madam," he replied laughingly.
Part A: Georgiana's thoughts.
Georgiana was very surprised to see her brother laughing so heartily. He had laughed so little or joked with other people before. Elizabeth had a good influence on him, although Georgiana was a little shocked to see her tease her brother so much. But she could see he was totally enchanted and able to answer in kind. She herself was surprised to talk so much, but she was so at ease with her new sister and she knew she and her brother would think well of her, no matter what happened. Georgiana loved to laugh, even if she was not quite brave enough yet to join Elizabeth in teasing Darcy. Moreover Elizabeth's assurance in company began to work on her. She began to be able to give her opinion more freely, knowing she would be valued and listened to. Of course Fitzwilliam had always taken her opinion into consideration, but finally things went for the main part on his own way. Elizabeth, however, seemed determined to include herself more in the life of the estate, and to have her opinion on almost every subject. Under Elizabeth's influence, Georgiana's shyness with strangers began slowly to dissipate. Her fear of entertaining guests at the pianoforte was not as strong as before. She was more able to sit and play her music without unease. Elizabeth was good not only for her brother's disposition but for her as well. When she received the letter of her brother with news of his engagement, she was overjoyed and wrote back quickly saying how delighted she was to welcome her new sister. Miss Bennet wrote to Georgiana, thanking her kindly for her gentle welcome and telling her obvious happiness to be her brother's fiancée and how she appreciated having made her acquaintance a few months ago.
Miss Bennet was far a better choice than Miss Bingley who hurt Georgiana's sensibilities with her blunt tongue and her nasty comments. She couldn't quite believe that Bingley was the brother of Caroline. Their personalities were so different. Bingley was all that is kind, friendly, considerate, easily pleased whereas Miss Bingley was...well...sharp indeed. When Caroline mentioned Mr. Wickham obviously to embarrass Miss Bennet, the silent and subtle support Elizabeth offered, when Georgiana's distress made her stop her playing, had greatly increased Georgiana's regard for her, and her understanding of why her brother had fallen in love with her. But Miss Bingley never ceased to lower in her esteem when she witnessed all the jealous actions she took to humiliate her sister-to-be both in front of her and behind her back. She never liked her or felt at ease with her and was very relieved when her brother told her even before knowing Miss Bennet that he had no intentions of making her his wife.
Part B: Darcy's thoughts.
As for Darcy, he could not have been happier this evening. To be the target of his wife's witty and loving arrows, to be able to dine with the two women he loved most in the world, and knowing that Elizabeth belonged at Pemberley from now on, that he would not lose her for long lonely months. That he would be blessed with her company every day. That he would be able to protect her from any evils which might befall her in the future and comfort her by taking her in his arms and kissing her as he wanted so much to do some months ago. That he would not dream this time that she was here. That she loved him as much as he loved her. Darcy could not prevent his eyes from following her each rustle of her gown and even the more slightly shifting of position commanded his full attention.
He was still amazed that just one look from her drew him immediately into her spell. But he not only loved her beauty; he loved her strength of character, her perceptive, sensible, rational and at the same time, highly sensitive, mind, her ability to face truths unpleasant as they may seem. She was noble in her aptitude to forgive errors. She was charming, compassionate, and generous, with a warm and tender heart towards her loved ones. This quality he had recognized from the beginning of their acquaintance, when he witnessed her loving care of her ill sister at Netherfield. Perhaps she was somewhat satirical, impetuous, headstrong, opinionated, and impertinent, but he found those qualities refreshing from the cacophonic chorus of praising women he had met before. Elizabeth, however, had no such claims. She expected to be respected and listened to. She didn't regulate her behaviour to please others but had a firm sense of right and wrong. He loved her ease and liveliness, her ability to make him laugh and be a bit more informal, her amusing wit, her love of life so clearly shown in her laugh and in her exquisite eyes. The aliveness he felt in her presence never ceased to amaze him.
Perhaps in some years they would have the dinner with their children. He was in no doubt she would be an excellent mother. He couldn't wait to hear her suggestions to better his old home to make it her own as well. He made a mental note to see that she would have her likeness hung in the portrait gallery.
He smiled tenderly while watching the conversation between his sister and Elizabeth. Darcy listened with delight to the flow of wit and intelligence of his wife as she made her sister laugh at one of her jokes that he witnessed many months ago and again felt exceedingly grateful to have found and won such a woman who was everything he had always hoped for in a wife. Elizabeth continued what she had left off a few months ago in the inn at Lambton and in the music room here at Pemberley. She tried to encourage Georgiana's share in the conversation, to improve her embarrassing shyness, to bring her out of her shell. She was as true as she appeared. There was no artifice, no Attitude in her. She was so out of the common way. She didn't pretend to play a game like other women did.
She didn't talk to Georgiana solely to please him, but because she found her an interesting, kind, intelligent, compassionate, loving and likeable girl contrary to the likes of Caroline Bingley, who conversed with Georgiana only because she was his sister. She treasured her new sister's inner qualities, not solely her name and wealth. Her charming actions had shown that her sole intent had been to give pleasure to his sister and to make her feel important, loved, cared for and valued. She was all that Georgiana needed to be more confident on her social skills. Elizabeth was able to bring out the best in the people she loved.
Part C: Elizabeth's thoughts.
Elizabeth was very happy and her whole face showed it. Her aunt often told her that if she was happy it could not be by halves. So Elizabeth was happy. She was happy to help Georgiana to be more self-assured in company. With her sweet, kind, gentle and deeply sensitive disposition, she reminded her of her sister Jane. Georgiana was both elegant and graceful and considerate of others' troubles. She was confident her uncomfortable shyness and reserve would improve with time and under her gentle guidance.
She was happy to have found such a wonderful man who answered all her emotional needs. He was even more attentive as a husband than he was as a fiancé. Fitzwilliam was not only her husband and her lover, but also her friend, her most faithful protector, her most trusted adviser. He was so good, so tender with her. She loved him so. They each have placed the other on a pedestal and devoted themselves to one another. She was so ashamed to have thought ill of him. To have welcomed the scoundrel Wickham's attentions and spurned the love of this man. She couldn't hide anything from him and she knew that sometimes he understood her even better that she understood herself. She did the same with him. She could barely remember a time when they were not together. They possessed a wonderful tie so they couldn't bear to be away from each other for a single moment. She was amazed to notice the power of his fascinating stare. She was completely spellbound by it. She loved the sound of his voice. She had never experienced anything that even approached her love for him. His kisses were absolutely delightful. One time sweet, gentle and tender and the other filled with passion.
As Darcy did for her, she treasured his other qualities: His strength of character, his right and sensible judgement, his wide knowledge, his generous behaviour, his uprightness, his concern, attention and thoughtfulness to the comfort of all. He was completely trustworthy. Even his critical seriousness and reserve in large company that so antagonized them before became dear to her. She was so unlike him in disposition but she succeeded to bring out his best qualities just as he did for her. She was delighted to have found her equal in intelligence and wit and someone who could match her spirit and independence.
Darcy, seeing and immediately understanding his wife's thoughts, took her hand, furtively squeezing her fingers under the table and smiling widely at her. He trailed his finger across her hand, savoring each finger with a marvellous slowness; he continued to caress her hand and fingers. Elizabeth sweetly smiled in understanding and approval. She pressed her fingers against his hand as she also caressed his hand in discreet response. A deep joy colored her cheeks and brought a sparkle to her eyes. "Fitzwilliam"...she whispered under her breath. He heard her and whispered back "Lizzy" in the same tone.
With Elizabeth's face only a few inches away, he was immediately enthralled by the sweet expression of her relaxed and happy countenance. Did I deserve to be so blessed? He thought. I want her in my arms. There is no other place more suited for her. She was so beautiful and she held a power over him from which he never wanted to be released. He wished that they were alone.
As usual she heard his silent entreaty and sensed his ardor. She returned with equal passion. How much she wanted to be in his arms! That was her place of peace! She wanted to nestle closer to him and bury her face in his neck. Every other word became unnecessary as they silently communicated to the other their shared heartfelt passion. They wished to be always so loved and cared for by the other. Their marriage had indeed surpassed all their expectations. They loved each other with conviction. Their happiness was true and complete. They looked at each other with undisguised joy and eyes bright and lost all sense of time and place. Their whole world was now the other.
Georgiana, seeing their lovesick expressions, and since the dinner was finished, decided it was best she left them alone. Her brother, usually so attentive, now ignored her. But she was so happy for him. To think some months ago, he thought he would never see Elizabeth again. He was so in love with his new wife and everyone could see that. Elizabeth was truly the best woman for him. She mumbled her good nights and left Darcy and his starry-eyed wife in the room.
Immediately Darcy approached his Elizabeth and encircled her waist with his arms, pressing her against his body as tightly as he could. Elizabeth nestled against him and sighed with happiness. Suddenly she pulled back, unpinned her hair and let it hang loose leaving only the white rose. She came back in Fitzwilliam's arms as he caressed tenderly, her curly hair saying how much he loved her. He took the rose and trailed it caressingly all over her face. Elizabeth took the rose from his hands and put it on the table near her. She slid her arms around his neck and pulled his head down. She buried her fingers in his hair and he did the same. Their lips met. Darcy lifted her in his arms.
Elizabeth rolled back in her pillow to observe her husband sleeping. Darcy was so handsome when he slept, so peaceful but at the same time with a serious air belied by his hair tousled and curlier than they were as usual. Elizabeth decided to wake him up as she did each morning since their marriage. She took some of her curls and swept them gently across his face. It worked each time. Her husband stirred, yawned and smiled lovingly at his wife.
Chapter 5: A NEWFOUND POSITION: MISTRESS OF PEMBERLEY.
After they got dressed, Elizabeth asked Darcy what were the plans of the day.
"This afternoon, I have an appointment with my steward to finish some business about the farms and the cattle. It will last at least one hour. As I must pass by Lambton, maybe you could join me with Georgiana to do some shopping. We must assure your settlement in Pemberley. Does that content you Lizzy?"
"That's a very good idea, William. But since you are free this morning, maybe you could give me a guided tour of Pemberley. If I discovered it myself, I'm sure to be obliged to mark my passing with scrubs of bread or to use a map!"
Darcy laughed: "Of course let us go to discover the secrets of Pemberley."
As they finished the tour, Elizabeth said: "Fitzwilliam, I do not know how to be the mistress of a great estate! I mean I was used to be in sort in charge of a house but it was much smaller. This one makes all my knowledge count for naught. I don't want you to be disappointed in me."
"Elizabeth. Don't worry." he said "I didn't expect you know immediately how to direct an estate like this. But as I said yesterday, I have every faith and confidence in your abilities. It is not a crime for you to repose on Mrs. Reynolds sometimes and I will always be there to help you. Please feel free to ask anything."
"Thank you Fitzwilliam. You know how to reassure me." She said as she hugged him. He held her against him a few moments then pulling her arm on the crook of his and they resumed their walk.
As the days passed, Elizabeth's confidence in becoming the mistress of Pemberley increased. She made a few mistakes, but they were more faults due to her impulsive nature. Darcy was proud of her and never lost an opportunity to tell her that. Every morning they had the habit of going on walks on the grounds, and they discussed estate affairs. They sought each other's advice constantly, bringing them closer than they would ever have dreamed to be. Elizabeth taught her husband not to judge too critically and to relax his standards a little bit, and Darcy taught his wife to verify the facts and deeds before acting. They were complementary and couldn't work without the other's assistance.
As Christmas approached, Pemberley was in a bit of an uproar. The Gardiners were expected with their children. The Bingleys must come also for the first visit of Jane at Pemberley. The Matlocks were expected also with their sons Julian, the heir of Matlock and his wife and Colonel Thomas Fitzwilliam. Pemberley was never so full of guests in the previous years. Moreover the Darcys had decided to hold a ball for the New Year's Day. It would be Georgiana's official coming out in society.
Elizabeth rejoiced to see Jane, from whom she had been separated since their marriage and Darcy to see again his friend. Finally the guests arrived; the festive season was celebrated with much pleasant informality and laughter. Darcy and Elizabeth said several times that they never passed such happy feasts before. Elizabeth's parents came also after the New Year and spent a few weeks at Pemberley. Georgiana, Mary and Kitty grew friends. Mr. Bennet discovered the delights of Darcy's library and Mrs. Bennet, after fawning of her delight at having a rich daughter, discovered the shops at Lambton. Finally they departed, leaving Darcy and Elizabeth a bit exhausted but happy to have provided pleasure to their guests.
Chapter 6: A PICNIC GIFT.
It was the fourth of August and the weather was warm. Darcy and Elizabeth decided to have a picnic. They dined nicely, then Elizabeth sat under a tree and Darcy laid down his head in her lap as she brushed some stray curls from his forehead. They discussed the news.
"Do you know when the Bingleys will be installed in Rochester Manor, dear?" asked Darcy.
"I believe they will be there in two weeks. Jane wrote to me that Charles will travel before her to polish the last details. Jane will follow him with the twins some days later."
In effect, since two months Jane had been the happy mother of a boy Christopher Charles and a girl Marianne Elizabeth. She fairly glowed with complete wedded happiness. The two babies were as blond as their parents. Elizabeth was happy to have become an aunt and to be the godmother of the twins. In her last letter, she had let her sister know that she was going to become an aunt in her turn. She asked to Jane not to tell a soul except Bingley, because she had not yet told her husband. Jane promised and congratulated her sister warmly in her next letter.
As they read to each other after the picnic, Darcy laid down his book and said: "You know, it would be nice to establish a sort of custom and to celebrate the day when we came upon each other at Pemberley every year just the two of us. This day, one year ago you had allowed me to hope that I was not as disagreeable as I was before. Next year we could come back. I love to picnic alone with you" Said Darcy.
"That's a very good idea Fitzwilliam. But maybe the next year we will be not alone anymore," said his smiling wife.
"Dearest Lizzy! Do you mean...? Are you sure?" She nodded with a countenance all shining and said: "Yes Fitzwilliam. Doctor Totter confirmed to me that soon we are going to have a new addition to the family."
Darcy could not say a word for a moment. Finally he said, with his usual strong voice breaking and burying his face in her hair, "That is the best news you have ever offered me, my darling. A baby! Our baby!" And he embraced her tightly and kissed her as lovingly as a father-to-be can be expected to do.
"Maybe we could walk back to home. I would like to tell Georgiana about our news," said Elizabeth.
Darcy nodded and they walked back to the house. Darcy had difficulty to tear a wide smile of extreme delight from his face. Two sentences kept repeating in his head: "My wife is with child. We are going to be parents".
Georgiana saw her brother and sister approach. She had never seen such a wide smile on her brother's face. Even though he had smiled widely before, she had never seen such a large grin. He seemed overjoyed for some reason. Georgiana had some suspicions, because she had observed Elizabeth these past months, but didn't want to presume too much.
Darcy stepped forward: "Georgiana. We have something to tell you." He couldn't stop smiling.
Elizabeth said "How should you like to be an aunt, dear sister?"
"An aunt! A baby! You are expecting a baby! I knew it! Are quite sure Lizzy?" Elizabeth nodded, her smile never leaving her radiant face "Oh Lizzy, I'm so happy! I'm so happy!" she said as she embraced them both.
Darcy and Elizabeth laughed to see the usual calm and reserved Georgiana excited. The happy parents-to-be and the aunt-to-be entered the house to convey the news to Mrs. Reynolds and to the staff.
Chapter 7: COMPLETION.
Darcy paced back and forth restlessly in the sitting room of Pemberley. It was the third of March. The weather was rainy. Darcy found it matched his mood admirably. Bingley had given up trying to calm his friend, as well had Mr. Gardiner, and they just watched him tiredly. The anxious expectant father had tried to read but concentration eluded him. All he could think of was his wife giving birth upstairs. He was so worried. His mother had died in childbirth and Darcy didn't want to lose his beloved Elizabeth. Every faint cry he heard increased his fear. Jane had come in a few minutes ago to reassure him that the labor was progressing satisfactorily. Then she returned to help her sister along with her Aunt Gardiner.
Never in his life had Darcy so hated the custom that the husband must remain downstairs until everything finished. He felt utterly powerless. He hated not being able to help his wife by being at her side. Finally he sat his head in his hands staring fixedly the floor. He didn't hear Jane come in.
"Brother" she said putting her hand on his shoulder.
Darcy looked up, fear plainly written in his face: "Elizabeth? Is she...?"
"She is fine, brother. She awaits you with your family in the nursery."
Darcy grinned and ran upstairs with Bingley and Edward Gardiner on his heels, screaming: "Elizabeth, I am coming."
He was stopped at the door by the doctor Totter: "Congratulations sir, you have a fine, healthy family."
"Yes, yes where are they?" said an impatient father.
"Fitzwilliam, do come in and meet your family," said the sweet and somewhat tired voice of his wife. Darcy flew at the bed and take his wife's hand "Are you well, Elizabeth? I was so worried about you."
"I'm just very tired which is very normal. But meet your son and heir Frederick Phillip Darcy. Frederick this is your father, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Fitzwilliam Darcy, this is your son Frederick." Darcy moved to take his son when Elizabeth stopped him by saying: "And we must not forget the young Miss Amelia Jane Darcy," said she with tears of joy.
"Oh my god! Two twin babies! A son and a daughter! They are so beautiful! Lizzy, you are amazing! You've made these two perfect wonders."
"We've made them. Look at them! Frederick has your curly hair. "
"And Amelia has your eyes."
The happy parents embraced lovingly and looked down on their babies with pride and joy. And they were indeed fine babies who grew into well-behaved children and fine adults. They were followed three years later by a brother, Matthew Bennet Darcy, and another sister, Emma Georgiana, one year after. Then came Cecilia Elizabeth and Mark Daniel.
Frederick learned quickly the management of Pemberley. He possessed a sense of justice and fairness and became a well-respected master as his father before him. He had his father's fine looks but possessed his mother's shining eyes and lively disposition and captured hearts of many young ladies.
Amelia Jane grew into a very accomplished and lovely young lady. As her aunt and godmother Jane Bingley, she had a gentle disposition, and was disposed to think well of everyone and to make herself useful to everybody. She had, however, a wit of her own and a just perception of the people surrounding her.
Matthew Bennet, as his older brother, grew fine and amiable with a propensity to tease and laugh at other people's absurdities like his mother. Emma Georgiana was a reverse disposition of her older sister. She was closer to her mother in disposition and temper. She was always willing to go on long walks or ride with her father to visit the tenants. For Cecilia and Mark they were somewhat shy in unfamiliar company like their own father but not painfully so.
The Bingleys also had one boy and one girl besides Christopher and Marianne. Miss Fanny Alice Bingley born in the same year has Matthew Bennet and Mr. Thomas Henry Bingley, born one year after Emma Georgiana. The cousins kept a close bond throughout their lives.
Miss Georgiana Darcy grew very fond of her other guardian. At nineteen she became Mrs. Thomas Fitzwilliam and raised one boy and two girls.
Kitty Bennet, under the tutelage or her older sisters, grew very accomplished in manners and temper and a proper young lady. She met, fell in love and married James Howard, rector of Kympton. She had eight children, four boys and four girls.
Mary Bennet married a brilliant attorney in Meryton who became a well-known judge in London. Her marriage greatly improved her and she lost her sanctimonious manner. But Mrs. Charles Sidney still delighted in teaching her children and her cousins. She had two boys and one girl.
But that's years later. For the moment we leave Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy with their two children in the comfort of their family party at Pemberley.
(I chose the fourth of August for the date of the picnic because MacKinnon and Chapman used this date for the first meeting between Elizabeth and Darcy at Pemberley in Chronology of Pride and Prejudice. The third of March is my birthday. Pardon me for the lack of humility but I cannot think of another. This third work is dedicated as always to my net friends Christine Tartamella (Christine T.) and Mary S. (Mary Catherine) Merci de votre soutien..)
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