An Unsuitable Marriage
Darcy rode his horse slowly into the courtyard at Darcy house. He had meant to leave Netherfield much earlier but his reluctance to leave Elizabeth kept him there till well after tea.
To his suprise the house was well lighted and the Darcy carriage from Pemberley in the barn. He had not expected his parents for a senningt, but it seemed that they had returned to town earlier than expected.
He had hoped for more time to prepare for his announcement. A ride to Derbyshire would have given him time to prepare a speach telling them of his betrothal to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
He was certain that his father would welcome the news that his only son was to be wed at last, but he was uncertain of his mothers reaction. Did she really think in spite of all his protests that he would marry his cousin. He hoped not.
As he walked into the salon he was greeted warmly by his family.
"What a surprise to see you all here, he said as he kissed his mothers cheek and moved to do the same to his sister: I had not thought to see you here, I was prepared to leave for Pemberley at first light tomorrow."
"Your mother wished to come to town and there was nothing to keep us in Derbyshire, since you dispensed with the problem that had Mr. Davies up in the boughs, his father answered with a proud smile. Our guests had left soon after your departure and I believe she was getting a bit bored."
Darcy got up from his seat to walk to the mantle staring into the fire for a few minutes before moving to the window and peering out beteen the curtains. As he moved to adjust a vase on a small table heis mother laughed.
"What is it Fitzwilliam, you have something on your mind I know, you always pace about the room when you have a difficult problem to be solved."
Darcy turned to face his parents and with a deep intake of breath he said, "Mother, Father, I have asked Miss Elizabeth Bennet to marry me and she has agreed. Her father has given his consent, the banns have been posted and the announcement will be in the papers."
There was a stunned silence in the room as they all stared at him in disbelief.
"Oh William, I am so happy for you, I like Miss Bennet so very much," Georgiana cried as she rushed to kiss her brother.
"Go to your room, Georgiana, her mother said in a cool voice, we wish to speak to your brother."
"But Mama," Georgiana started to go on before her father said quietly, "Go to your room Georgiana, dear, please, at once."
"Yes Papa," Georgiana said with a smile for Darcy.
Rising from her seat Lady Anne walked about the room for a few moments to collect herself and for Georgiana to be out of earshot.
Turning to face her son she said, "How could you do this Fitzwilliam, how could you get yourself engaged to this girl without consulting us."
"I thought you liked her Mother, he said, you enjoyed her company greatly when she was at Pemberley"
"I do like her son, she is lovely, intelligent, amusing, well read and a connoisseur of the arts, but she is most unsuitable to be the wife of the heir to the Darcy estates."
"Why, Mother, Darcy said cooly, surely you do not still believe that I would marry cousin Anne."
"No, dear, I have known for some time that you were averse to that union, but you must find a young woman in our own set, William. Miss Bennet will be most out of place with the members of our social circle."
"Though she is, as I said most lovely and amiable, she is best suited to be the daughter of some clergyman or a country gentleman, such as her father. Surely you can see this son."
"Indeed I cannot, Darcy replied in a tight voice, I thought she fit quite well into our social circle, all our friends were delighted with her, surely you could see that, Mother."
"Of course she did in the situation we were in at Pemberley, but they will treat her very differently when they find out that she is to be your wife."
Turning to her husband she said, "George, can you not talk some sense to your son, please, dear speak to him."
"There is nothing he can say, Mother, I love Elizabeth Bennet and I shall marry her, I would hope that you could find it in your heart to wish me joy, but if you cannot, so be it, I will not change my mind."
"Go up to your room, Will, his father said quietly, your mother and I will discuss this and we shall speak again in the morning. For now though I think it best that we all go to bed and sleep on this. You have given us a very shocking announcement, we must have time to think and consider."
"George, Surely you cannot give your blessing to this union, he heard as he passed down the hall, we will be a laughing stock, you must do something before this goes any further."
The next day Darcy walked into the breakfast room to find his father there alone.
"I had hoped to find you both here, Father, he said, I wish to get this settled. I want to go to see Grandmother Darcy and tell her my good news. she at least feeels the same way I do about Elizabeth and does not consider her beneath me."
"Your mother has a headache son, she will not be down for some time. Perhaps it is better that you go to Briarwood for a few days. It will be some time before your mother can think sensibly about this. If you go to your grandmothers there will be less tension in the air and we can talk about it. I do wish you had consulted with me though, Will. You must understand how your mother feels, she had such high hopes that you might marry Lady Nancy Hardy or Lady Marian DeWitt, or someone of their position."
"Nancy Hardy or Lady Dewitt, Darcy laughed, surely not Father, they are such silly foolish women, I should be bored to death."
"But they are titled, Will, you know how important that is to your mother and her sister."
"Lady DeBourgh, Darcy sneered, why does mother let her rule over her so, why does she not think for herself."
"It has been so since their childhood, son, this is one of those old habits that is hard to break for your mother."
"Well, I shall have to tell Martins to pack for me if I am to be banished to Briarwood, Darcy grinned, When do you wish me to come home, Father."
"Friday, Will, that will give me time to try to make your mother understand your feelings."
"I love Elizabeth with all my heart , Father, I will not be dissuaded from marrying her. She is the only woman I shall ever marry."
Darcy smiled at his grandmother as they enter the blue room at Darcy House. She squeezed his hand and looked about her. George Darcy stood by the mantle, and unhappy look on his face. Lady Anne sat nearby with a stoney look on her beautiful face.
"This does not bode well for my grandson, she thought, Anne is still very angry."
Before anyone had the chance to utter a word they heard the stridant voice of Lady Catherine DeBourgh, "Out of my way fool, I know this house better than even you, I do not have to be announced."
"Oh, dear God, Catherine," he heard his grandmother mutter."
Charging into the room waving a letter in her hand she shouted, "There you are you foolish boy. What do you mean writing to tell me that you are engaged to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. That is impossible."
"I came to town a month ago to warn you that the girl had designs on you and what do you do; you go to Hertfordshire and fall into her trap. Weak, weak that is what you are weak and foolish."
"This is the gratitude she shows me after I welcome her into my home and give her the benefit of my knowledge. She steals my daughters intended husband.
"This mariage you seek will never take place, I forbid it."
"I told that woman that you and Anne were promised to one another
My words to her at Longbourn have been ignored, This is why she would give me her promise that she would never accept an offer from you. She planned to get you any way she could. What arts and allurements did she use to entrap you."
"Catherine, of what are you speaking, Lady Anne asked, when did you got to Longbourn to see Miss Bennet."
"A month ago, you were still at Pemberley, when you should have been here to watch over your son, see what your neglect has done."
"Fitzwilliam is not a child to need tending, George put in, he is his own man. By what right do you interfer in his life, you have nothing to say about who or when he marries, woman."
"I have every right, Catherine, shouted, We have planned this union between him and my daughter for 23 years."
"You planned it, Catherine, George snapped, no one has agreed to this, no contracts have been made, it has been in you mind and your mind alone. We have known for these past five years that our son would not marry your daughter, but you would not listen, you would have your way. That marriage will never take place, Cathereine, you have my promise on that, you will not become Mistress of Pemberley."
"I have no intentions of becoming Mistress of Pemberley, my daughter shall be though, mark my words, this is true, is it not Anne."
When her sister did not answer at once Lady DeBourgh, turned red with anger. "This marriage that you aspire to will not take place Fitzwilliam Darcy, mark my words on that."
Turning to her sister and brother in law she stormed, "If he persists in this you will disown him George Darcy, that woman will not be allowed to pollute the shades of Pemberley. Anne will not have her in the house."
"Turning back to Darcy she snapped, "What do you say to that nephew, do you think that fortune hunter will marry you when she finds you without a grand home and an income of over ten thousand a year." '
"She planned this from the first time she laid eyes on you, she knew she only had to find a way to lure you into her web, and you stupid foolish boy have allowed yourself to be entrapped."
They all gaped at Darcy when he replied with a laugh, "If that be true Aunt, why did she refuse me the first time I asked her."
"The first time, Fitzwilliam, of what are you speaking, when did you ask her to marry you before, his mother gasped.
"When we were at Rosings Park last Easter, he replied. "If you will recall the last night I was there Miss Bennet did not accompany the Collins' to dinner. As you know I left soon after we finished dining. I went to the parsonage to ask Miss Bennet to marry me. she however refused me in no uncertain terms. When I think of what I said to her that night I am thoroughly ashamed, I insulted her and her family, I was arrogant and condescending, I thought that she would be grateful for my offer but she was disgusted instead. "
He smiled softley as he went on, "She said that I was the last man in the world she would ever wish to marry. She told me that she found me arrogant and conceited, and with a selfish disdain for the feelings of others. A statement that after careful consideration I had to admit to myself was true."
"She refused you, impossible, Lady Cathrine snorted, I do not believe a word of it. Every single woman in England would have been only to happy to accept you. That this simple country lass, would refuse such an offer is not to be believed."
"Catherine, you will leave us now, George Darcy commanded, we will settle this among ourselves, it is of no concern of yours."
"I will not leave until you tell me you will disown this ungrateful wretch of a son if he persists in going through with this marriage."
Turning to Darcy she said "What will you do then, boy. Where will you and your bride go, if you have no money and no home."
"I have made sound investment, Darcy replied quietly, I have enough to support my wife."
"Ha, see how long it lasts, once she gets her claws into it. Where will you live, to rent such a home as you are accustomed to will cost a pretty pence."
"They will lived at Briarwood, his grandmother said quietly, It shall be my wedding gift to them. Though it is not as grand as Pemberley, it is better than most that I know of. It will be a great relief to me to have someone to handle the tennants, and the income is between eight and ten thousand a year. I believe we can get on with that."
"Briarwood, Lady DeBourgh, screamed. Briarwood is to be Georgiana's."
"Georgiiana's", Mrs. Darcy scoffed, "where did you get that idea, Catherine, it is farfetched, even for you."
"Your grandmother gave it to you, it is only right that you should give it to your grand daughter."
"Don't be foolish Catherine, Georgiana will make a fine marriage and have her own home, Briarwood has always been meant for Fitzwilliam. I thought that he would have it in trust for his second son, but if you disown him, as she insists, George, he shall have it now."
"You cannot do this, I will not allow it," Lady Catherine screamed.
Lady Anne could see how angry her husband was becoming when she said to her sister, "Please Catherine, leave us, we will settle this, then I will contact you."
"No, I shall not leave until it is done, you cannot make me," Catherine shouted, brandishing her stick.
"Carstairs, George Darcy called, when the butler came into the room he went on, go to the stables and bring the two biggest and strongest stablehands we have."
Turning to Lady Catherine he said, "If you do not leave now, under your own power, I shall have the two men remove you forcibley, now go."
"You would not dare, Geroge Darcy," Lady Catherine snorted.
The look on his face showed her that he indeed would have her thrown into the street and she scurried out.
Lady Anne looked at her son angrily, "You see what this engagement of yours has done, Fitzwilliam. Your aunt is inconsolable."
"I cannot believe that if the girl refused you, you would still pursue her, Where is your pride, you are a Darcy, have you forgotten that."
"Pride, Darcy snorted, we have a great deal of that don't we Mother, when does pride become arrogance though. Unfortunately I fear we have mistaken the two.
"I was arrogant and prideful all the time I was in Hertfordshire and what did it get me, I was despised by all who met me even the woman I loved almost from the first time I laid my eyes upon her."
"Catherine is right , Fitzwilliam, if you persist in this marriage, I shall have no choice but to insist that your father disown you. We will be a laughing stock at such a union, cannot you see that, son."
Darcy snorted, "So your Fitzwilliam pride is of more importance than you son's happiness is it Mother. Well if that is how you wish it, so be it. I shall have Masters pack my things and leave your house."
Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst glided in to the blue room at Darcy house, where they found Lady Anne and her sister in law Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam, and Lady Fanny Pennington conversing.
"Oh dear Mrs. Darcy we are here to offer you our sincere solicitude at this dark hour in your life, Caroline purred.
"We have been informed that your dear son Fitzwilliam Darcy has forfieted his inheritance to marry Miss Eliza Bennet. We were much shocked and surprised. He does so love Pemberley. That he should give it all up for a country nobody, with no connections and no fortune is unforgivable. I can scarce believe it."
"I knew that she had designs on him when I learned that she and her relations had come to Derbyshire uninvited and wormed their way into Pemberley. I never for a minute believed that preposterous story about visiting friends of Mrs. Gardiner's in Lambton."
"We were so surprised when we learned that they ahd been invited to dine at your beautiful country home, weren't we Louisa."
"Indeed we were, her sister answered; I mean her impertinance and the lack of respect that she showed Mr. Darcy all the time we were in Hertfordshire was insupportable."
"Indeed, Caroline went on, I thought he could find nothing about her to be liked, I certainly didn't. When we returned to town it seemed that he had forgotten all about her."
"This must be why she came to Derbyshire. Her mother I am sure sent her to try to entrap him. The woman made no secret of the fact that she was looking for rich husbands for her daughters."
"Miss Eliza would have done better to marry her cousin Mr. Collins. If she had done so Lady Catherine would have taken her under her wing and taught her how a proper young woman is to act."
"I am certain that none of you will be attending these nuptials. Louisa and I would not be doing so if our brother did not insist, I can assure you."
"Lady Catherine informs me that she has written to His Majesty demanding that Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy never be presented at court, lest she, Lady Catherine DeBourgh, never again set foot there."
"Good Lord, Lady Fanny laughed, surely you are joking, she wrote to His Majesty making demands."
"How like Catherine, Lady Matlock snorted, there is no one she will not order about."
Lady Anne passed her hand over her eyes. The last two people in the world she needed now were the Bingley sisters. "If they do not leave soon, I shall have a headache for the rest of the day," she thought.
"It cannot be true that his grandmother threatens to give him her estate as a wedding gift to replace the loss of Pemberley, Caroline purred, eyes wide with curiosity. Surely she would not deprive her family of all that to give it to such as Miss Eliza Bennet."
Lady Matlock could see that the visit of the sisters ws becoming a strain on Lady Anne and she determined to get rid of the two of them with all haste.
"What business is it of yours what Mr. Darcy or his mother do, she snapped.
"What do you know of Miss Bennets connections. I understand that Longbourn, though small is very comfortable and quite lovely. It has been in the Bennet family for over 200 years. It was a wedding gift from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to her lady in waiting, who married Mr. Bennets ancestor, as I am given to understand it."
"And who told you that, Caroline snorted, Miss Bennet, Mr. Gardiner?" Surely you do not believe such a tale, your ladyship."
"Miss Bennet nor Mr. Gardiner had nothing to do with my information, Miss Bingley. It is a matter of record, Lady Rebecca said coldly.
"I am sure that a carriage makers daughter would know nothing of how to gain such insight into ones background."
As to if we will be attending The marrriage of Fitzwilliam and Miss Bennet. That is none of your business, Miss Bingley and I would thank you not to inquire into my affairs."
Caroline turned white with anger.
Standing, she turned to Lady Anne saying, Louisa and I will take our leave, Mrs. Darcy, we only came to offer your our help if you should need us."
As they left the courtyard in the Hurst carriage, Caroline was still seething, "How dare she, how dare she Louisa, tell us that we know nothing about family background."
"When are we ever going to be rid of the stigma of our father being in trade, Caroline, her sister sighed. You will have to make a brilliant marriage sister, you must marry a title. It is the only way. Forget about Fitzwilliam Darcy that was a dream which would never be. You must look higher, sister."
As they passed through the gates unheeded by them the carriage of Lady Catherine DeBourgh entered.
Stomping into the room Lady DeBourgh glare at the two visitors.
"What are you two doing here, she snapped. Trying to convinced my sister to accept this unforgivable marriage, eh, Rebecca. There is no limit to how far you will go to vex me."
"As you know I have forbidden my brother to attend this wedding or acknowledge it in any manner. If he does so I shall never see him again."
"Will you swear to that Catherine," Lady Matlock answered with a smile.
"I shall not even honor that question with an answer," Lady Catherine snapped.
Turning to Lady Anne she said sharply, "When is George going to draw up the papers disowning that ungrateful son of yours. I asked my solicitor if he had done so and was informed that he knew of no such document being filed."
"Where is he, he must do this at once, I demand it. I will not have Pemberley fall into the hands of that woman."
"You will not have it Catherine, Lady Rebecca snorted. You have nothing to do with it. It is George and Anne's decision, stay out of this Catherine."
"I have nothing to do with it, Lady DeBourgh shouted, I have everthing to say about it. He is to marry my Anne, she is to be the next mistress of Pemberley."
George Darcy walked into the room.
"What is going on here, he demanded, I could hear you from the courtyard, Catherine, shouting like a fishwife."
"I have good reason to shout, you have done none of what I told you, Catherine snapped. You are weak George Darcy. You have not disowned your son. You have not forbidden your mother to give them a home. You are as weak as water. Just like Henry DeBourgh, weak, weak, weak."
You will leave this house immediatley, Catherine, I will not have you upsetting my wife."
"She is weak too, she always has been, you could have done much better, George Darcy, but you wanted my baby sister, and look what it had earned you."
Lady Catherine swept from the room.
Lady Matlock and Lady Fanny rose to leave also.
"Go to bed, Anne dear, Lady Rebecca kissed her cheek. I know you have a headache. How could you not, considering the morning you have had."
"What did Catherine mean, you could have done better, George, who else wanted to marry you when we wed," Lady Anne asked looking at her husband closely.
"Who would know, he sighed, Catherine was just babbling, dear."
Chapter VI Part A and B
Georgiana peeped shyly from under her lashes at her mother and father as they sat at the breakfast table. No one seemed to be eating much. Everyone was silent. As a matter of fact there had been a great deal of silence in Darcy house these past three days, since Williams wedding to Elizabeth Bennet.
Georgiana was glad that her brother had married Elizabeth. She knew how much he loved her. He had explained all to her while they were taking a pony ride around the park. He said he loved Elizabeth more than position or material things, such as Pemberley and Darcy House and the income that he would receive from his their fathers estates. He said that he would rather be poor with Elizabeth than rich with his cousin Anne.
Georgiana had to agree with him when he said that where Anne went her mother would go and he could never live under Lady DeBourgh's thumb, and that was just what would happen to whoever married her daughter.
He told her how much Elizabeth loved him, but that she too didn't need all the trappings of wealth to be happy, all they needed was each other.
She was glad that her Grandmother Darcy had given them Briarwood and her townhouse too. She could see them when she went to visit her grandmother. she knew that her mother would never forbid her that, even if her Aunt would insist that she do so.
She was sad to see that her father had brought his papers to the table again and kept his head in them, not looking at she or her mother.
"Goerge," Lady Anne said quietly.
"Not now, Anne, leave it, I do not wish to discuss it."
"But George, we must discuss this sooner or later."
Before he could answer they heard the sharp, strident voice of Lady Cather DeBourgh, "Where are they, tell me at once."
"Good God, at this hour, George said angrily, Does that woman have no sense at all," picking up his papers he left by the servant's entrance before Lady DeBourgh entered the room.
"Well, he did it, it is all here in black and white for all to see, Lady Catherine shouted shaking the paper that she brought with her in Lady Anne's face. That ungrateful son of yours has married Elizabeth Bennet."
"Georgiana, dear, why don't you take your cousin Anne to the music room with you, Lady Anne smiled at her daughter, perhaps you could teach her to play some notes."
Georgiann was only too happy to escape before her aunt could start what she knew would be a long tirade.
"They all attended too, Lady Catherine went on pacing about the room. Our brother and Rebecca, Lady Sophia and Lord John, Lady Fanny and Edward and all the others who I farbade to attend, they were all there.
It is here in the guest list. Even Richard, who has always done my bidding, Richard stood up for him. It is unforgivable. You know now who will stand beside you, Anne, it seems that I am the only one who respected your wishes. We shall wash our hands of the entire lot of them, it will be you and I together against the entire world, Anne, I shall not desert you as they have, we will never see any of them again."
Helping herself from the sideboard she went on, "I have had my attorney draw up the papers, since your husband seems to be so reluctant to do so. I have had him name me as executor of Darcy estates should anything happen to you and George."
Placing the papers on the table she said, "All you and George have to do is sign these and give them back to me and I will deliver them to Hasings, Fitzwilliam will be disinherited and this will all be settled."
Anne stared at her sister in disbelief, this was too much even for Catherine. George would never sign such an agreement and neither would she. If she presented this proposition to George she would cast her sister from Pemberley and all the Darcy houses.
What could Catherine be thinking of. Could it be true that all she wanted was to get her hands on Pemberley.
"Catherine, leave the papers with me, I will take proper care of them. If you try to present this to George he will never do it, you know how stubborn he can be."
"Bah, men they are all alike, Catherine snorted, but if you think it best Anne dear, I shall leave it to you this time.
"I think Anne looks very ill Catherine, perhaps you should take her to Bath, you know how the waters have helped her in the past, Lady Anne said, trying desperatly to divert her sister and get her to leave as soon as possible, If you leave now you should be able to get there today."
"I have been thinking of taking her there myself, Lady DeBourgh said, I thought perhaps in a day of two when we have this all settled."
"But I shall need time, George will not take to this lightly, I think you should go now and let me handle this myself," Lady Anne replied.
"Your brother has married Miss Bennet, has he not, Anne said quietly to Georgiana, I am glad, I like Miss Bennet, she was very kind to me when she was at Rosings last spring. I was afraid that mama would make him change his mind and force him to marry me."
Georgiana gaped at her cousin, "You did not wish to marry Fitzwilliam."
"No, Anne replied, if they had tried to make me do so I would have run away to the Sisters Of Mercy."
"But Anne, that is a nunnery, Georgiana gasped, why would you go there."
"I think I would be quite content there away from mama, and the bleeding that she forces me to have, I would not have them there. I would not be afraid of a little work, which I am told one must do there. I never want to marry anyone. Mama has told me what a woman has to do if she if married and I would never wish to do that," Anne said wrinkling her nose in distaste.
"Anne, Where are you girl, we must be off, we go to Bath today," Lady Catherine shouted as she came down the hall.
As she watched her sister's carriage Lady Anne picked up the papers and walking to the fireplace she tossed them in.
Lady Anne sat at her desk writing her letters. As she looked at the calendar she thought, "This is Fitzwilliams third anniversary, so much has happened since then.
When she did not receive her papers her sister had come to the house bringing a fresh set. An angry confrontation had ensued between Catherine and George and as she had predicted he had banned her from all the Darcy estates.
In the three years since she had frequently been called to Rosings Park where Catherine and her odious clergyman had tried to convince her that she could disown her son with or without her husband.
Lady Anne knew that Mr. Collins' interest was more in punishing his cousin for refusing his proposal of marriage than any great concern for Pemberley.
She knew that Fitzwilliam and his wife had a son, she knew that George went frequently to see them but she could not confront him and ask him not to visit his mother so she accepted it quietly, never broaching the subject.
She smiled to herself as she thought of her sisters reaction to the birth of her and George's grandson. Catherine had been enraged. When Fitzwilliams wife showed no sign of being with child in the first year of their marriage Catherine had declared that the marriage was cursed and there would never be any children. She had reveled in the thought and when she was proven wrong and the child was even a son she had been frightening in her anger.
Lady Anne could even think of her son these days without pain. She was very happy. The young Vicount Albert Dewitt had taken a fancy to Georgiana and a fortnight ago had asked George's permission to court her. "Georgiana, Duchess of Ashburn, she thought, how well that sounds."
Last night the two of them had come to her and George to ask their permission to marry.
They had very gladly given their consent.
Georgiana was so happy, she had bbeen singing all morning long.
Mr. Carstairs came into the room to announce that the Duke and Duchess of Ashburn were in the blue room.
As she went down the hall to see to her guests she sent Carstairs to Mr. Darcy's reading room to fetch him.
"Your Grace, Lady Ashburn, Lord Ashburn, how nice of you to call she said as her husband entered the room, please do sit down, I imagine you are here to discuss the wedding our two children are planning."
"There will be no wedding, Lady Ashburn declared coldly, we cannot consent to this."
"No marriage, but he asked for our consent last night and we have given it, Lady anne stammered, why will there be no marriage, they love each other."
Albert will not marry the daughter of a mere country gentleman , Lord Ashburn answered, he will marry no less than the daughter of the Duke of Cornwith or her grace Sylvia, Duchess of Avon. We have made this quite clear to him this morning. Unlike your son he was not willing to give up all for a girl whose connections are so far beneath him."
"Her Uncle is the Earl of Matlock, Lady Anne said coldly, she has connections and thirty thousand pounds."
"She is but the grand daughter of an Earl, Lady Ashburn said, haughtily, Albert will do better than that."
"We came to put an end to this before it could be spread about, the Duke said kindly, surely you understand, you have not seen or spoken to your own son since he made such an unsuitable marriage, it this not true Mrs. Darcy."
"You have in fact disowned the boy, as Lady Catherine tells us."
"Albert will go to Italy for the next year, I am sure that you can explain this to your daughter, we have sent him this morning.
"Lady Cathereine told you we had disowned our son, George said in surpressed anger, when did she tell you this."
"We saw her this morning at Almacks, her grace answered, when we informed her that we could not allow our son to marry Miss Darcy she was very understanding."
"Very understanding indeed, his grace snorted, she was most anxious to put her daughter foreward as a bride for Albert. Though the girl stands to inherit a grand estate she is not suitable for Arthur. He must have a wife whose health is not so poor, we must have a grandson to inherit, the name of Asbury must go on."
After they had taken their leave Lady Anne turned to her husband, white with anger, "How dare they, how dare they say that Georgiana is beneath their son. What gall, Georgiana is a Fitzwilliam, a name as good as Ashbury. "
I cannot believe that Catherine would be so callous as to agree with them and try of promote her sickly daughter as the next Duchess."
"Come, Anne you know your sister well enought to believe what you were told, Catherine will go to any length to gain a title for Anne, especially since Fitzwilliam refused to marry her."
"Never have I been so humiliated, so debased, Lady Anne, cried, never has anyone in my family been declared not good enough. "
"How can I bear this, it is so degrading. Has there ever been such humiliation in this family. Who would possibly know how dreadfully I feel."
"Your son's wife," George said softly.
"Elizabeth, Lady Anne gasped, but this is entirely different, my father was the Earl of Matlock. Georgiana is his grand daughter. This is nothing at all compared to the Bennets."
"It is the same to Lord and Lady Ashton, George replied. If you recall your sister wanted Edward to marry Lady Margaret instead of Rebecca because she was the daughter of the Earl and Rebecca is only the grand daughter of an earl."
"There was more to it than that, dear, Lady Margaret is more pliable than Rebecca, which suited Catherine."
George laughed, "You mean Margaret will do whatever Catherine tells her and Rebecca has a mind of her own, don't you."
Lady Anne joined in his laughter, "Yes I suppose that is it."
"What are we to tell Georgiana, George, she will be home from her pianoforte lesson soon."
"Just tell her the truth, it all we can do. How I hate this, she was so happy when she left this morning. Perhaps I will go to my chess club."
"No you will not, George Darcy, you will stay here and help me face this terrible scene we will soon be witness to"
The words were hardly out of her mouth when they heard Georgiana 's voice in the hall, asking where they were.
"Mama, I thought I saw the Ashton carriage leaving as we were entering the park. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst were out wwalking and stopped us or I should have been here earlier. Were they here to make the marriage settlement. When are we to be married?"
"Sit down Georgie, her father said softly, we have something to tell you."
Georgiana looked from one solemn face to the other, "What is it, why are you not smiling, I thought you approved of Vicount Ashton."
"We do approve of him Georgie, her mother said, taking her hand, his parents however do not approve and have forbidden the marriage."
Georgiana jumped from her chair, "That cannot be Mama, I know they liked me, Lady Ashton asked me to play at numerous afternoon parties. She has been so amiable to me. I know she likes me. You must have misunderstood."
"There was no misunderstanding, Georgie, her father said, putting his arms around her. The Ashton's will not allow their son to marry beneath him, they will settle for nothing less than a countess as a daughter in law. They have sent him off to Italy, dear. It is settled, he was not willing to give up his claim to the title and wealth of his family for marriage."
"I thought he loved me as Fitzwilliam loves Elizabeth, Georgiana sobbed, he told me he did, he said he would go to the ends of the world for my love, I cannot believe he would allow himself to be sent off without speaking to me first, explaining things. It is a cowardly thing to run away and not face me himself."
"He is not worthy of you my dear daughter, George said quietly, It is better this way if he is a coward and is unable to speak for himself."
"But I love him, Papa, I thought he loved me. I so wanted a love like Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth have."
Georgiana ran from the room crying. Lady Anne rose to follow her but George took her arm saying, "Let her be for a time, my love, she must set things straight in her mind for herself."
"George this is so humiliating, Lady Anne turned to look out the window. I don't know if I can ever go out into society again, how can I face my friends after this."
"You will go out as always, with your head up, you cannot let this make you reclusive, Anne, that is the last thing you should do. Your friends will be behind you all the way, they love Georgie, and will not think ill of her for this. I doubt if they will have much respect for that young man though."
"We will go to the opera Friday next just as we planned, we must be undaunted Anne, We cannot let anyone make us feel unworthy and will show all that we are unconcerned about what the Ashburns think." Tomorrow you will make calls on Rebecca and even Sophia if there is time."
Georgiana sat at the dinner table eating very little, pushing her food around on her plate.
Lady Anne looked at her husband with concern but he shook his head at her when she started to speak to her daughter.
"Papa, I should like to visit grandmother at Briarwood for a fortnight or more, please Papa. I wish to speak to Elizabeth, she will know how I feel, she will be a great help to me. May I go Papa, please."
"Georgiana, her mother said, but George interupted. "Of course, Georgie, I think that will be the wise thing to do. I shall send a note to Briarwood at first light telling your grandmother to expect you in two days time."
Georgiana rose to go to her father, kissing him on the cheek, "Thank you Papa, I knew you would understand, may I be excused, I wish to start packing."
"George, how could you give her permission to go to Briarwood without consulting me, Lady Anne said sharply. I don't know if I approve of this arrangement. She should be here with her mother at a time like this."
"She should be with someone who understands her feelings, Anne, it is best she get away before the curious start turning up at our door. I would expect Miss Bingley to arrive within two days. She always know the latest gossip before even the papers. Mark my words she and her sister will be here as soon as they hear. I only hope that Georgie gets away before they arrive."
Georgiana left at first light two days later, fortunately the Bingley sisters were late sleepers and did not make there call until the afternoon.
"Oh Lady Anne, how is dear Georgiana, Miss Bingley purred. we heard the dreadful news last night at Lady Birdwell's party. How broken hearted she must be, We have come to console her. What a cad he must be to run away without a word to her."
After a few moments of cold silence after she accepted their words of sympathy and told them that Georgiana was not there the sisters took their leave, very much disatisfied.
"I wonder where she is Caroline mused, do you suppose they sent her to Pemberley. Of course, that is where she is. Louisa we must prepare for a trip to the north country, we must give our best to poor dear Georgiana."
"But Caroline you don't even know if that is where she went, Louisa whined. I should not like to make that long trip for naught."
Don't be foolish, Louisa, where else would she be. They certainly would not allow her to go to her grandmothers with Elizabeth Bennet there."
On the appointed Friday Lady Anne dressed carefully for the opera. she knew she must look her best, that everyone would be watching to see how she was withstanding this blow to her pride.
As they reached the stairs going into the building she heard a murmer and turned to see what everyone was looking at.
Mary Darcy's carriage pulled into the courtyard and Charles Bingley exited followed by her son, the lackey reached in to give a hand to a young woman. Lady Anne thought, "this must be his wife Miss Jane Bennet, she is truly as beautiful as reputed. What a sweet charming face she has," Lady Anne smiled.
Her son however waved the lackey aside and reached to help his wife out himself. The smile she gave him was radient as he kissed her fingers before tucking her arm into his and proceeding on. To Lady Anne's surprise Elizabeth wore no great jewels, laces, or feathers. She was simply and elegantly dressed with such taste as to surprise those who watched. The pearls around her throat were her only adornment.
Lady Anne hurried her husband to their box. She could not face a confrontation with her son and his wife. She had suffered enough humiliation in the last few days, she did not wish any more.
As the opera progressed she could not keep her eyes on the stage, instead she found herself watching the two young couples in Mary's box.
She noticed that her son too payed little attention to the players but seemed more interested in watching his wife's reaction to the drama before them. Turning to him Elizabeth smiled the same radient smile she had given him as she stepped from the carriage. Putting her hand up to touch his cheek she said something which caused him to lean over to kiss her softly.
Lady Anne turned away, she felt she had intruded on a very private moment. "She does love him, she thought, if only Georgiana could have found such a love instead of such heart breaking disappointment. She makes him happy, that is evident, she thought as she recalled Mary Darcy's words to her a month ago, "Their love is a shining thing, Anne."
Lady Anne decided to stay in the box between the first and second acts. George begged her to go into the foyer and mingle with those whom they knew. Lady Anne, however refused, she did not wish to speak to anyone at this time. She wanted to be alone to think upon what she had seen of her son and Elizabeth. The two of them seemed to wish to stay in their box too, while Charles and his beautiful wife left, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth stayed talking to one another.
As she sat back in the box where she could not be observed Lady Anne saw her son again take his Elizabeth's hand and kiss the fingers. Elizabeth moved the hand up to carress his cheek and bring his head down to kiss him.
"Look at the two of them, she heard the harsh voice of her sister, they might as well make love in public. I cannot believe he has the nerve to bring that woman here, parading her about as if she was a prize catch, when she is a nobody and everyone knows it."
"Well, he will be shown. I believe I am about to contract a brilliant match for my Anne, sister. The Duke and Duchess of Ashborn seem very interested in the match also. Think of it Anne, my daughter a Duchess."
"Catherine, how can you come here telling me you are to pledge Anne to the Vicount, you know he and Georgiana love each other. He has been courting her for months."
"Love, nonsense, they are too young to know anything about love. Love is for novels, what is important is maintaining standards. Titles must wed titles. Surely you must see that Anne, dear."
"Georgiana is but the grandaughter of the Earl of Matlock and the daughter of a mere country gentleman. My Anne is the daughter of an Earl and the grandaughter of an Earl and has extensive properties which will come to her, as well as fifty thousand pounds which she will receive on her marriage."
"Catherine, how can you be so cruel, do you have no feelings for Georgiana's pain. She loves that boy and he loves her."
"Bosh, snapped Lady Catherine, I am getting tired of this love nonsense, Anne. Georgiana may think she loves his grace and he loves her but his love does not go deeply enough to give up his title and income for her. If your own son had as much sense as he, you would not be hiding here in this box for he would be married to my Anne and this conversation would not be taking place."
"Ah Catherine, I can hear you from the street," Lady Rebecca Fitzwilliam said as she entered the box to kiss Lady Anne's cheek.
"Being your usual thoughtful, charming self, eh, Catherine she went on as Lady Sophis entered to box also. We heard how you accosted the Duke and Duchess at first chance. Do you think that in view of your past with her grace she would really let her son marry Anne. I think not, dear Catherine. This is just another of your pipe dreams."
"What are they doing her, Anne, Lady DeBourgh, fumed. Unless you ask them to leave immediatly I shall be forced to go. Remember sister, who it is who has stood beside you during this trying time. Who it is who shares your disdain for the marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy and that Bennet chit."
"Catherine, please, there is no need to shout, keep your voice down, I beg of you," Lady Anne pleaded.
"I will not be silenced, tell me at once which is it to be, Rebecca or me."
Lady Anne begged her sister with her eyes to become calm, when that did not work and Lady Catherine again asked her to make a choice in her loud piercing voice Lady Anne shut her eyes begging the lord to help her.
"Goodnight Catherine, Lady Rebecca, smiled, perhaps you can find the Duke and Duchess to commiserate with."
Lady Catherine stormed from the box, as she exited all eyes were on her. "Well what are you looking at, she shouted, get out of my way all of you."
"Thank you Rebecca, Sophia, I cannot face another minute of my sister tonight, Lady Anne whispered, tears forming in her eyes, I should have listened to George, I should have gone with him."
"Odious, thoughtless creature, Lady Sophia, said , how can you stand her company, Anne, she is unbelievably cruel when she wishes to be. I am only glad the dear Georgiana was not here. How is she Anne, dear."
She is with her grandmother Darcy, Lady Anne replied. George says she is in a great deal of pain, but finds solace there away from prying eyes. My poor dear child, I really thought that they would be wed. It never occured to me when he asked for permission to marry her that his parents knew nothing of their feeling for one another." I never for a moment believed that they would object to the union. It is so humiliating."
"She will recover and be the stronger for it, Anne, Lady Rebecca said, patting her hand. If he is this weak you are well rid of him."
"Anne, are you well, George Darcy asked as he entered the box. Everyone is talking about Catherine's visit to you. It seems she could be heard around the hall better than the actors on the stage. I am sorry dear, I should not have left you. If I had been here she would not hve dared to accost you as she did."
"Would you like to go home, my love, I will send for the carriage immediatley if you wish to do so."
"No, dearest, that is the last thing I should do now. I shall stay and leave after the last act with my head held high, I am Mrs. George Darcy, after all."
Lady Anne sat staring at her plate. She soon pushed it aside. she could not eat. Rising she signaled to the servant that the things could be cleared.
She walked to her sitting room and stood gazing out the window thinking of the dreadful quarrel she had had with George four days ago.
When she told him she would not be going to Pemberley for the Christmas holidays but would be going to Rosings Park instead, he had become so angry, more angry than she had seen him in 37 years of marriage.
She had tried to make him understand that she had to go to her sister. A letter had come from Catherine early that morning begging her to come to Rosings so that she would not be alone for the holiday. She had sounded desperate.
"She is alone, George, she has only me now, can't you understand how she must feel. Since Anne ran away she has no one there but Mr. Collins and his wife."
"It is her own doing, he said angrily, what mother with any feeling for her daughter would betrothe her to a man of more than sixty years, with a reputation for being the most notorious rake in history. all to gain the title Duchess for herself."
"She did what she thought best for Anne, it was silly and foolish, yes, but she wanted Anne to have a suitable husband."
"She gave no thought to Anne, She thought only of the title Duchess. Since her plans to marry her daughter to the Vicount Ashburn came to naught and Georgiana married the young Duke of Birwhistle she thought only to raise her daughter to the same level. She did it out of spite and jealousy."
"I wish you did not dislike her so George, I would so like to have you speak to her, to give her comfort. The rest of the family has nothing to do with her at all anymore. Our brother will not even allow her in his house, the house where she was born and raised."
"I think you are cruel and heartless, I shall go to Rosings Park and you shall go to Pemberley by yourself."
"I am not going to Pemberley to spend the holidays by my self. I shall send a letter to Mrs. Longstreet informing her that she will have to manage the holidays for the servants and take care of Boxing day."
"I shall go to Briarwood. since you are determined to spend your time with your family, I shall do the same with mine. I shall leave today as a matter of fact as soon as I possibly can."
As he stormed from the room Lady Anne began to cry softly but she would not go after him begging, she thought, she had too much pride for that.
That had been four days ago but it seemed like a year. She had been able to eat or sleep very little, she was so miserable.
When she saw the Darcy carriage come into the courtyard she rushed to the door thinking, "He is back home, he has been as unhappy as I, he has come to apologize and got to Rosings with me."
Her face fell as her mother in law entered.
"Hello, Anne, dear, Mary Darcy said , I am sorry that you are so disappointed at it being only me, but I will speak to you."
"Please come in mother Darcy, Lady anne smiled warmly, taking her arm We will go to my sitting room it is much cozier than any other."
"Baxter, please bring some tea for Mother Darcy and me."
After the servant had deposited the tea tray and departed Mary Darcy leaned over and took Lady Anne's hand.
"This has gone on long enough, love, she said. I will not stand idly by and see one of the few happy marriages I have known be destroyed. I am going to do something that I had never thought to do, but it must be done. I am going to betray a confidence that my son entrusted to me 20 years ago. I am going to tell you what has caused this rift between your husband and Catherine DeBourghh all these years."
"You have a husband and a son who love you and three beautiful grandchildren who you have never seen. It is time to right things. As much I detest doing this there is naught else to do.
Ann Darcy looked at her daughter in law lovingly.
"Where do I start, She said, I suppose the beginning is best."
"As you know your father and Henry were great friends at their clubs and chess tournaments, though the families did not see a great deal of each other sociably. My husband was not a great lover of social functions, nor am I. We both despised the pettiness and the back biting that went on among the so called menbers of the ton. That is why we spent most of our days at Pemberley until George and Moria were of an age that they should be seen in the best social circles and make friends among their peers."
"Perhaps if we had not come to town Moria would be alive today, but that is neither here nor there. So many died of the pox that year, how fortunate that George was away at school and avoided that plague. or we would have been childless."
Edward and George as you well know became fast friends at school and George invited you family to spend a month at Pemberley after they had graduated."
"Henry had to go ahead to make the arrangements and I rode up with your family."
"As soon as your sister saw Pemberley she was awe stricken at it's beauty. I remember well her look of amazement that turned into one of pure averice so quickly that it frightened me. I knew at once that she wanted this place and would do whatever she had to do to obtain her desire."
"But, that could not be Mother Darcy, Anne interupted, Catherine was betrothed to Henry DeBourgh even then."
"That made no difference to your sister, Anne, dear. On the second morning after your arrival I was in the breakfast room checking that all was well for our guests. I don't remember what it was but something was missing and I went into the butlers pantry to check on it. Just after I entered you sister and your father stormed into the breakfast room, arguing loudly and angrily. Your sister declared that she was going to be mistress of this fine estate and nothing was going to stand in her way."
"Your father was extremely vexed and shouted above her tirade that she had been betrothed to your cousin Sir Henry DeBourgh in he cradle and she was going to marry him, he would never let her break the engagement."
"Cathering stomped her foot declaring that as soon as Henry arrived she was going to tell him that she would not marry him, she was going to marry George Darcy and she fled the room."
"I stayed in the pantry mnot knowing what to do, if I walked out your father would know that I had heard all and be most vexed and embarrassed. Edward however had lost his appetite and soon left."
I watched Catherine and my son closely and saw no inclination toward her on his part. He, however watched you closely and I could see that this was where his interest lay.
Catherine too, saw his looks and did all that she could to gain his attention and keep him from you. I could see that she was becoming more and more jealous.
"If you recall my love you were supposed to go into Lambton with George one morning but when you did not appear, Catherine begged him to take her in your stead."
"I learned from your maid that she had told you that he had canceled the appointment to visit one of the farms and would be leaving very early. You did not come down til much later and were very surprised to hear that the two of them and Mrs. Quick had indeed gone into the village. You, poor innocent accepted her story that there had been a mixup and George had begged that no one wake you since you were so tired the night before and consented to take Catherine in your stead."
"It seemed that every time you and George had an appointment to walk around the gardens or visit the greeneries, Catherine was there instead telling my son that you were not well and had sent her to accompany him."
"When your brother finally saw what was going on he explained to George that there was nothing wrong with you, That your sister was sending you notes canceling the appointments while she was there to go with him. He knew Catherine well enough to know what she was about and between the two of them they managed to upset her well laid plans from then on."
"Even then she managed to corner George and declare her love for him, promising to give fine strong sons. Telling him you were too weak and delicate to bear him any children."
George was horrified, and begged her to cease her raving, telling her he could not allow her to break her engagement to her cousin in the hope of making a marriage that could never be. He tried to point out to her that he didn't care for her and neither family would consent to such an arrangement or a broken engagement. He loved you he told her and meant to ask for your hand that very afternoon."
Catherine was enraged and declared that she would not give up her dream that she should be his wife. She would never let him marry you and make such a mistake that they would both regret in the future.
"How can you prefer that little nothing when I am offering you a real woman," she shouted.
"Poor George, he saw me standing there in the rose garden, mouth agape, knowing that I had heard. He turned on his heel and strode away, Catherine shouting at him to come back. Turning to me she berated me for eavesdropping and turning my son against her."
"I knew it would be useless to argue with her, so like my son I left her there.
"How well I remember that dinner. Henry had arrived only two hours before and Catherine had had no time to speak with him, fortunately. I shall never forget the look on her face when you father rose to make a toast to you and George on your engagement. Never have I seen such a look of shock, then hatred as she stared at you.. You had ruined all her well laid plans and in her mind stolen what she had come to regard as hers."
"She and Henry were married soon after, she would not let you marry first, she had to beat you there. Poor Henry, first he had a fiance who was reluctant to set a date and next one who wished to marry in all haste."
"When Fitzwilliam was born, Catherine refused to speak of him for months. I know you wondered why she was so distant and showed no interest in your beautiful son."
"When Anne was born however she saw in her daughter a way to attain what she had lost to you. She would betrothe the two of them from the cradle and in her mind it was accomplished."
"You reacall, dear that when you were with child the second and third time she begged you to come to Rosings to permit her to see that you got proper care."
"When you miscarried and were so weak and sleeping most of the time she saw an opportunity to extract her revenge. She went to George begging him to come to her bed. to get her with child. She wanted his son. She told him she could not abide Henry's touch and had no further contact with him after Anne's birth."
"When George pointed out to her that if she should become pregnant Henry would know that it was not his and with a little thought would know who the father was."
"Catherine was prepared for his answer and laughed that of course she would let Henry into her bed one time after she was sure that she was with child, he would never know."
"After the second miscarry, she came to George's room in her determination to have his child. She would not be gainsed. George in his disgust told her that he despised her and pitied poor Henry, having such as she for a wife. He would never again come to Rosings Park he told her and would see that you came as little as possible."
"He told me that he started spending the nights sleeping in a chair in your room until he could safely take you away."
"It was the only was he could avoid her, she still persued him, and he was sure that Henry knew what she was up to."
Lady Anne sat there in shock, this could not be. She recalled George sleeping in the chair though and as she sat there staring at her mother in law, somwhere from the dark recess of her mind the memory of her sister trying to tell George that she was not strong enough to be a proper mother to his child came forth. She thought that it had been a dream, a dreadful nightmare but it had been true. Catherine did tell her husband that he was passing up the chance for a real woman for this weak and sickly nothing lying there sleeping all day.
She recalled that after Georgiana's birth Catherine had begged them to come to Rosings Park so that she could nurse her back to health. George was adament however, he would not go to Rosings Park ever again.
Catherine had come to town to see her niece and it seemed that an unsteady truce wa declared. She could visit them in town, but no visits to Pemberley and none to Rosings for George. He had softened somewhat after Henr'y death however and permitted her and the children to go to visit her sister wheneve she wished.
"Anne, Anne, I am so sorry, dear, I know that this has been a great shock to you, but surely now you can understand George's feelings and even your sisters when Fitzwilliam declared for Elizabeth, thrawrting again her plans to be mistress of Pemberley. You can be sure my dear, that though Anne would be married to Fitzwilliam, Catherine would be the mistress of all.
"Anne, dear, are you well, I must leave you. I must return to Briarwood before it is too dark. Is there anyone I can send for. Someone who you can confide in, someone who will be a comfort to you."
"No, mother Darcy, I am well, I must have time by myself to think on this. Please do not worry about me I shall be perfectly well.
Lady Anne tossed and turned throughout the night, scenes from the past passing through her mind. Things that had happened that gave more and more truth to all Mary had told her. Her dear husband had kept this to himself all these years hoping she might be spared the pain of having to face the truth about the sister who she had considered even more of a mother to her than their own mother.
The next morning she rang for her maid.
"You may start packing, Alice, she said, we shall be leaving tomorrow first thing after breakfast."
"But your ladyship, I thought that our invitation to Rosing Park was for next week, Alice said, are we to leave so much earlier. I did not know you had herd from Lady DeBourgh."
"Just pack my things, Alice, I must take care of the arrangements for our departure," Lady Anne said forcefully.
Alice stared at her mistress as she left the room. What had happened, Lady Anne was so determined this morning, she was not her usualy calm quiet self.
Shaking her head she began packing.
Elizabeth moved to stand beside her father in law as he stood looking out the window. As she arrived she saw her husband and four year old son emerge into the courtyard below. As they started across it was apparent that though young Will was tall for his age his small legs could not keep up with his father's long ones. Stooping down Darcy swept his son up to settle him on his shoulders.
Will laughed with glee and spotting his grandfather and his mother waved at them joyfully.
Fitzwilliam turned his face up to the window and with a grin waved to the two them just as his son had.
How alike they look Elizabeth thought, the same dark eyes and curling hair, the same dimples when they smiled.
"Has there ever been born a more wonderful father, she said, he is in his glory, taking his son with him to town."
"She smiled at George Darcy as she said, "He tells me he has had the best model for a father, and I do believe him. It is very obvious how much you care for each other."
Mary Darcy coming into the room laughed, "Yes, they are much the same and it would seem that young Will is following in their footsteps, even at four years of age."
"What a commotion in the hall before thery left. Her fathers sharp reprimand must have been a great shock to Cassandra."
Elizabeth and George laughed as they recalled how Cassie had come running down the hall as fast as her three year old legs could carry her, trying to pull on her coat and crying, "Papa, papa, Cassie come too."
When her father had explained to her that only her brother would be allowed to go with him she had begun to wail, Cassie go with Papa, Please, Papa."
"No dearest, Fitzwilliam said firmly, we will bring you something from Mr. Cerdar's store though, but you must stay here with Mama."
"NO, NO, Cassie, shouted, throwing herself on the floor kicking and screaming, NO, Will stay, Cassie go."
"Cassandra, Her father said sternly, stop this at once. You shall not go, and there will be no gift. I will not have tantrums in this house."
"Take her to her room, Mrs. Daroway he commanded and keep her there until we return."
Cassandra Darcy stared wide eyed at her father, he had never spoken so to her in her three years of life. She had always been the apple of his eye and could get her way from him whenever she tried. Now however she could see, even at her young age that she had overstepped the boundries of his patience and as Mrs. Daroway, her nanny carried her up the stairs she held her arms out crying, "Papa, Papa," plaintively.
"I will not have a Guniverre Fitzwilliam in this house, Darcy said as he looked into the shocked faces of his family, Caroline and James spoil their daughter outrageously and her tantrums are legendary even at three years of age. I will not have my daughter trying to impose her will in such a manner. I know that I spoil her also, but she must learn that there are limits."
"I agree, my love, it is just that I never thought to hear you reprimand her thus, she always seems to know how to get what she wants from you. I am very happy to see that you will set limits for her and am sure that she will remember not to test your patience too far in the near future at least, Elizabeth said reaching up to pull his head down and kiss him soundly, Well done, my dearest husband."
"Well done, indeed, William, his grandmother chimed, I feared that you would spoil her to the point that she would be as bad as your cousin's child, but I am so happy to see that you have better sense than Caroline Fitzwilliam, Lady Hampton as she prefers."
Darcy strode to the door with a smile for his son, saying "Come Will, we must be off if we are to be home in time for tea. Your cousin Richard Bingley will be here, remember, as his father slapped him on the shoulder saying, I agree, my son very well done"
"Come Elizabeth, dear we must finishing preparing for our guests. What a merrry Christmas this will be, with Jane and Charles and their two, and Georgiana and Richard. Mrs. Wilson is beside herself with joy at such a gathering for the holidays, such feasts as she is planning."
"Yes, Elizabeth, laughed, I find it hard to control her enthusiasm, but I cannot let her run wild. Will you come with me to speak to her, Grandmother."
Lady Catherine smiled to herself as she left her housekeeper to follow her orders and made her way into the morning room where her pastor awaited.
Anne would be here in a few days and she must make sure that everything was perfect for the visit.
"I have won she thought, George Darcy has lost his dear wife to me. You see George, you should have chosen me. I would never let a mere sister come between us. Our son would have married whom ever I told him too, he would never have defied his family to marry a nobody."
"Mr. Collins, I would imagine your wife is about finished with her preparations for you holiday in Herdfordshire," she said condescendingly.
"Oh yes your ladyship, she is almost ready as we speak. I must thank you again for your great Christian generosity in allowing us to spend the holiday with the Lucas's. My dear Charlotte is most grateful too, I can assure you." She--
"I would hope she would be, Lady Catherine answered in the middle of his sentence, I am in such a generous mood that I shall allow you to use one of my carriages for the trip."
OH, your ladyship, such generosity, such Christian charity, is there a more wonderful patroness in all of England. I can assure you your lady---
"Yes, yes, enough, her ladyship shook off his sweaty hand, go now and inform your wife. Dawkins will drive you, whenever you are ready."
Matlock Manor, London
"Anne dear, I am so sorry, but I am even more happy that Mary told you this," Rebecca said watching her favorite sister in law as she paced about the room.
"I cannot believe that all of you knew this and yet no one said a word of it to me, Lady Anne cried, why did no one tell me."
"George did not want you hurt, dear, he knows that you and Catherine have always been more like mother and daughter than sisters.
Besides, Anne, we felt that you would never believe any of us. That to try to tell you would only alienate you from the rest of the family. I hope you can understand, love."
"I understand, how could I have been so blind all these years, how could I not have seen that Catherine coveted my husband."
"You have always trusted her completly, Anne, dear, no one has ever been able to make you see her as we all did, selfish, mean spirited, viscious, shall I go on."
"No, Rebecca, Anne laughed for the first time since her arrival at Matlock Manor, I know all the words."
"It is not your husband so much as it is all that came with him, I think, Rebecca went on. I don't believe Catherine is capable of loving anyone, only consequence, and you are in possession of great consequence, Pemberley, the most beautiful town house in London, friends of the highest water, a favorite of the royal family. Catherine would like all of these, but she cannot have them because she herself drives away the very people she wishes to be of importance to."
"What are you going to do, Anne?"
"Lady Anne rose and kissed Rebecca on the cheek, "Right now Rebecca dear, I am going home to see if my packing is done."
Lady Anne descended from the carriage while the lackey gaped at her in astonishment. As she looked up at the windows, lighted and inviting it occured to her that she was quite tired. She had intended to be here hours before but her arrangements had taken longer than she expected and it was now becoming dark. She was a bit hungry too, she had not eaten since tea time not wishing to stop at the inn for a light supper because of the hour she had pressed on, anxious to be here.
The letter to her sister had taken considerable time but she wanted it over with. She wondered what would happen when Catherine recieved the post that she had sent by special messenger.
As she entered the hall she was greeted by a look of astonishment by Mr. Silvers and the housekeeper who gasped, "Mrs. Darcy we were not expecting you."
"I know, Lady Anne smiled, I had not planned to come so soon but decided that I wished to be here before the Christmas arrangements were all made so that I might participate. Where is everyone?"
"You will find them in the drewing room, Maam, Mr. Silvers, stammered, I will announce you."
"No, please get on with your duties I will find my way myself, " Lady Anne replied.
As she walked down the hall she heard the deep, rich voice of her son.
Reaching the door to the room she smiled to herself thinking, "Charles Dickens, how like Fitzwilliam," she knew that he loved the stories by Mr. Dickens and would endeavor to pass that love to his children.
As she stood in the doorway she saw her husband in a chair to the right of the divan, holding a boy of about 4 years on his lap while the child gazed at Fitzwilliam with rapt attention.
"OH, dear, how he does look like his father and grandfather, she thought, this of course must be Fitzwilliam Darcy the second. What a handsome child."
Her eyes traveled to the divan where Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam sat a beautiful little girl between the two of the, leaning against her father.
"What beautiful eyes the child had, so like her mothers, large and dark with those same incredible long thick lashes. She fairly took Lady Anne's breath away.
As she stood there in the doorway the girl turned her eyes to the door and stared, pointing a plump finger at her saying, "Papa, lady"
Fitzwilliam Darcy rose to his feet staring in astonishment for a few seconds before saying hoarsly, "Mother,----mother.
"Anne, she heard George say in the same surprised tone. Anne I had not thought to see you here."
"Anne, dear , why did you not let us know that you were coming, she heard her mother in law say, we would have waited for you."
"I did not know when I would arrive and I certainly did not know how welcome I would be."
"Oh, Anne, what foolishness, of course you are welcome, you should know that, love," Mary Darcy said.
Lady Anne continued to stand in the doorway looking at her daughter in law. How did Elizabeth feel about her sudden appearance at her door, would she welcome her. Lady Anne could certainly understand if her son's wife were to turn her out. Her actions the past few years certainly had done nothing to endear her to Elizabeth.
A radient smile crossed Elizabeth's face as she came forward hands outstretched in welcome.
"We are so happy to welcome you Mrs. Darcy, she said, of course we want you here."
Lady Anne returned the hug her son's wife gave her, clinging to Elizabeth for a few moments crying softly, I have been such a fool all this time, please forgive silly overly proud, arrogant woman."
"It is forgotten, Elizabeth said quietly, come and greet the rest of your family."
As Lady Anne turned to survey the rest of the room she saw for the First time that Georgiana and her husband David were there also.
"Mama, I am so happy to see you Georgiana greeted her with a tearful hug. This will be such a glorious Christmas now that we are all together."
"I believe you know Timothy Bonhiem," Elizabeth said.
"Of course, Timothy how nice to see you it has been too long."
Lady Anne for the first time noticed the rather plump young woman at his side, there was something familiar about her, but her ladyship could not quite put her finger on it. She knew there was something familiar about young woman.
"And this young lady, is she with you," she inquired of Timothy.
She was startled by a burst of laughter from the company.
"Aunt Anne, don't you know me, It is I, Anne, Anne DeBourgh, now Anne Bonhiem," the young woman laughed.
Lady Anne sat down in astonishment.
"Anne, I really did not recognize you. You are so filled out, your complexion is lovely and your eyes and nose are not running, I do not think I have ever seen you when your eyes and nose were not running. What has happened to you dear, you are so well looking, so healthy.
"When I went to the convent, the bleedings stopped and I got stronger and stronger daily. Sister superior said I was being bled all to much and had not chance to recover any health as long as it continued. After two years I left the convent and came to Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth for refuge. It was here that I met and learned to love Timothy. We have been married for almost two years now and have a lovely son Henry."
"But why didn't you come to George and me for help," Lady Anne said, clasping Anne's hand warmly.
"You would have sent me home to my mother, Anne said quietly, we both know that Aunt Anne. I know that my mother has disowned me completly and will not speak my name."
"I have found such happines as I never thought possible, Aunt. We know that Rosings Park is legally mine and we could turn my mother out among the hedgerows, but what would that accomplish. Rosings Park is all she has, so I am content to let her live out her life there."
Mr. Parkinson knows all about Timothy and me and looks out for my interest without mama knowing a thing."
"Mary, Elizabeth, George, this is all too much for me right now, I am so very tired. Please forgive me but I should like to retire to think about this night. I am so very tired, it has been a long, long day," Lady Anne said, this has been shocking news, I must have some time to digest everything. Please excuse me."
"Of course, my love, I will take you up. Have your bags been seen to," George replied, taking his wife's are tenderly.
Lady Catherine took the letter from the maid who brought it to her on a silver tray.
"Ah a letter from dear Anne, she said with a smile, perhaps she plans to come earlier than planned."
She took the letter and walked into the garden, it was such a beautiful December day and a brisk walk about the rose garden was just what she needed as she read her sisters letter, she thought.
Stopping to check her favorite, the Fitzwilliam Rose, which she had nutured and developed herself she smiled contentedly to herself. She sat down on the bench beside the rose and opened her letter.
Leaping to her feet she screamed, "NO, No, it cannot be. She cannot do this, I will not have it. Who told you she screeched, who told you about George. It was Rebecca, It was Rebecca, I know it was her, she will do anything to vex me. she despises me as much as I do her."
Mr. Collins was standing beside the carriage which was to take them to Meryton, telling Mr. Glammon, his temporary replacement for the fourth time about his duties to Rosings Park and Lady Catherine when he thought he heard a scream emanating from the manor.
"Stopping with his foot on the step, he turned toward Rosings, with a frown on his round face. "It must be that peacock, he thought, what a dreadful sound those creatures did make."
As he again started to enter the carriage the scream came again.
"It is a scream," he exclaimed stepping down to start toward Rosing Park.
"Mr. Collins, get into the carriage, Charlotte said, whatever it is, Mr. Glammon can take care of it, Come Mr. Collins we must be off."
"Charlotte, my dear I cannot leave now, I must go to Rosings Park. Lady Catherine may be in need of me," and he trotted off down the path as fast as his bandy legs could carry him.
As he neared the house he could tell that the screams were coming from the rose garden and as her hurried to find out what was the cause of such a commotion he saw Lady DeBourgh swinging the silver tipped walking stick which she always carried at her favorite rose sending it in shreds around her, screaming, "NO, No, No."
"Your Ladyship, what is it, he gasped, what has happened."
His heart sank with fear as Lady Catherine turned to him with such a look of hatred that he leapt back in dismay.
"You, this is all your fault, she screamed, if you had married the Bennet woman as I told you, this would never have happened. She would be mistress of Hunsford and my Anne would be married to Fitzwilliam Darcy."
As she advanced on him swinging her stick Mr. Collins turned and ran, faster than he had ever run in his life back down the path to Hunsford, where her jumped into the carriage, shouting, "Off with you Dawkins, we are late, hurry, hurry.
Mr. Glammon stared in amazement at the lady who followed in a few minutes, shouting, "Where is he, where did he go, the coward. I will have his hide for this."
Continued in Part 3
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