The Not Secret Enough Room
Elizabeth walked again along the wall measuring her steps.
As she turned she saw her husband and Mrs Reynolds watching her with bemused expressions on their faces.
"What are you about, my love," laughed Darcy, pacing the halls, how many steps from one room to the other?"
"There seems to be many more steps here in the hall than in the two rooms," she replied.
"Are you now a student of architecture, Mrs. Darcy?" he said with a grin.
Elizabeth noted the look that passed between Mrs Reynolds and Darcy but she said no more about it vowing to find out if what she suspected were true. She was sure that it was so and that Darcy and the housekeeper knew all about it. Why did he not tell her, but never mind she would do some exploring on the morrow when he was visiting the tenants.
As soon as possible the next day she went into the libray after telling Mrs Reynolds that she would not wish to be disturbed for the rest of the morning, she would, she said, let her know when she wished to have her tea.
As soon as Mrs Reynolds left Elizabeth began to check the back wall of the room, pushing on the panels and looking for hidden latches. "It's here, I know it is," she said to herself. After more than an hour she was rewarded when she found that by moving one of the bookcases a very little bit she found behind it a panel that slid aside to reveal a small but comfortable chamber.
"I knew it," she whispered, it had to be. It is very clean and well kept so Mrs Reynolds must be keeping it in good condition. The furniture is well dusted, the bed made up and no cobwebs. All in all it is a charming place, she thought, as she checked the desk in one corner, tried the chairs and found them most comfortable, lying down on the bed she declared it pleasing also, though small compared to the huge bed she and Darcy shared.
Elizabeth smiled to herself as she thought how she loved sharing the master bedroom with her husband. "We have defied convention since our marriage, have we not, my love," she said softly. What would Lady Catherine and my own mother think if they were to find that we sleep together each night. My poor mother's nerves would not be able to stand the very thought that I do not use my own room at all. Elizabeth giggled at the thought and returned to the library closing the panel and moving the shelves back into place.
Darcy watched his wife with amusement during dinner, he could tell that she was very satisfied with herself but decided not to ask her, but to wait until she brought the subject up herself. He loved the way she smiled at him with her eyes glowing with her secret and waited for her to broach the subject.
Elizabeth wavered between telling William of her discovery and keeping her adventure a secret since he and Mrs Reynolds seem disinclined to tell her anything of the room. In the end she decided to keep her secret and smiling at her dear Darcy she asked if he would like to adjourn to the library to read to her.
Darcy replied that he would enjoy doing so very much if she would first play and sing for him in the music room. "How long will she wait before telling me what has her so excited," he thought.
Part I I
Elizabeth told Mrs Reynolds that she did not wish to be disturbed for at least an hour, "I will send for you when I am finished with my letters she said as she entered the library and closed the door. Lighting a candle she went into the secret room to read Jane's letter again.
Jane had written to tell her that her parents were planning to accompany them when they came to the ball that was scheduled for Lizzie and Darcy's fifth anniversary. Her mother had intended for it to be a surprise, but her father had asked Jane to prepare the Darcy's for the onslaught of Bennets. It seemed that Mary and her husband were making the journey too. Kitty and her husband the vicar of Kempton had already accepted the invitation.
Lizzy was in a quandry, she knew she must tell her husband, but how to break the news. She had hoped that her mother's nerves would not allow the journey but fate would have it otherwise. she knew that her husband would be most upset and she hated the thought of informing him. Maybe if she waited for a day or two it would be easier, but no, he had brought the letter from Jane to her before leaving for a visit to Mr Miller's farm.
If only her mother would remain true to her word. she had written Lizzie weeks ago saying she was far to ill to undergo such a long journey and begged Lizzie and Darcy to come to Longbourn instead.
Lizzie remembered with some little resentment, the smile that had passed over her husbands face at the news. She knew that her mother could be most vexing but he didn't have to be so overtly happy to hear that she would not be making a visit.
Noticing the time she hurried from the room, closing the panel and returning the shelves to their place. She had barly reached her chair when Darcy entered the room with 3 year old Will in hand.
"See, son, I told you Mama would be here," Darcy said as he bent to kiss his wife on the forehead.
Mrs Reynolds followed the two into the room bringing with her the work schedule for the day for her mistress's approval. Mrs Darcy had taken care of the meals before going to read her letter.
"Thank you Mrs Reynolds, Lizzie said as she took the paper from the housekeeper, Would you take Will to the nursery to play with his sister, please, I have something to discuss with the master."
"This sounds foreboding, Darcy said as her sat next to his wife, tell me what does Jane have to say that has you upset. I hope she and Charles will be coming to the ball."
"Elizabeth looked at her husband, "how much I do love this man she thought, but I wonder how much he is going to love me when he hears my news."
"William, she said as she rose to walk about the room, you remember that my parents had planned to stay at home instead of making the long trek here for our anniversary."
"Yesss, Darcy replied with suspicion, what do you mean they had planned to stay at Longbourn. Tell me my love, they have not had a change in plans, your mother is not going to be here for the ball."
"Yes, dear, Jane say's that they plan to surprise us."
"Good God, Darcy exclaimed, I thought we were to be spared your mothers nerves and her indiscretions, what ever possesed them to make such a journey at this time of year. Your mother, fluttering about making remarks about God knows what."
Elizabeth was beginning to get angry, her mother may be fatuous and sometimes fatwitted, but she was her mother.
"Oh yes, as opposed to Lord Darnley and his flatus, Mr Hurst who will be sprawled out in the chair in a drunken sleep, and Lady Whitmore trying to find a rich husband for her three daughters, inquiring about the income and estates of each man who comes into the room, pursuing every elegible male in the house. Oh yes, and we must not forget Lord Cesterly and his pinching and pawing the ladies. Then there will be Caroline and Louisa standing together making sport of all who they see. Yes indeed the members of the ton are completly acceptable but my mother is a bother and an embarassemtnt." Elizabeth said angrily.
Darcy sat down putting his head in his hands, "Why did we not plan a quiet family get together with Jane and Charles, why do we have to have this great ball."
Elizabeth was about to burst into tears, she had worked and planned for weeks sending invitations, supervising the cleaning of Pemberley from one end to the other, getting all the rooms ready for the guests, making up menus, ordering the supplies and food that would be needed for such a large gathering and so many guests staying over, some for as long as ten days or more. She could feel a headache coming on and she got little sympathy from her husband she thought.
"I thought you wanted this, she shouted, you were the one who said we must celebrate these last five years with a party."
"I didn't think that half of England would be here,Darcy shouted back, I thought a few intimate friends and their families."
Not giving him a chance to finish Elizabeth stalked from the room and telling Mrs Reynolds that she was going for a long walk she left the house to clear her head.
Elizabeth walked to the bench below the small hill where the pond was. She sat there remembering the day she had first seen Pemberley and was walking across this part of the lawn when Darcy came strolling down the hill, through the butter cups and into her heart.
She smiled as she recalled the embarassment felt by both of them at his appearance, wet to the bone, shirttails flying in the breeze and his hair so delightfully curling tightly about his head.
It was the day that her life truly began, she thought.
"Why did I become so angry with him just now she thought, wasn't he just voicing what I myself was thinking in my heart."
"How did the guest list get so out of hand,she said to herself. Each time she took a new list of names for his approval he had told her whatever she wanted was fine. She had noticed that toward the end he seemed hesitant, but he had not demurred. Why didn't he just say enough, she thought. She knew the answer to that, he did not care to deny her anything."
"William, William, this is one time when you should have said no, she thought.
Elizabeth hurried to the house when she saw the Fitzwilliam carriage draw through the gate and into the courtyard.
"Wonderful, she thought, Aunt Rebecca is here, I am glad I asked them to come early. Lady Matlock has a way of making difficult things seem much better."
"Elizabeth, my dear, said her ladyship as she gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek."
"Here now it is my turn," said Lord Matlock as he too greeted his favorite neice by marriage with a kiss.
Darcy came into the courtyard and after giving his wife a questioning look greeted his aunt and uncle. "I thought Edward might be with you, he said, he said he hoped to be here a day or two early."
General Whitlock had need of his services for another day, his lordship replied, he will be here on the morrow."
Elizabeth slipped her arm through her husbands giving him a squeeze to let him know that her fit of anger was over.
Darcy smiled broadly as he placed his hand over hers saying,"Let us adjourn to the parlor and have some tea, shall we, as soon as you have freshened up."
Lady Matlock took Elizabeth's hand as they walked into the house saying,"Come with me, my dear, I should like to talk to you while my things are being unpacked.
I cannot tell you how much it cheers my heart to see my favorite nephew so happy, my dearest Elizabeth, and it is all due to you. do not try to deny it, my love, he writes every week to tell me how much joy you bring into his life."
Elizabeth sighed, "I fear that this party is beginning to put a strain on his good nature, William still prefers just his immediate family, but somehow the guest list just seems to have become more than I ever thought, I don't know how I could have let it get so out of hand."
"You have so many friends, my love, and each of them of course wishes to be here to wish you well. I would imagine there will be one who will not be here, she still resents your marriage, silly woman."
"Lady Catherine, no she will not be here, William still insists that she must offer and apology to me before he will allow her into either house.," Elizabeth replied.
Lady Matlock laughed, "Well my dear, you are safe from her for eternity. Catherine DeBourg has never apologized to anyone in her entire life and she is not about to start now."
Is the guest list getting to be a problem between the two of you, I thought I noticed William looking at you with a question as he came to greet us," her ladyship asked.
Elizabeth passed her hand over her head as she said, "It is not the guest list that is the problem it is my mother. She wrote to tell us that they could not come as she did not think her nerves could stand such a long arduous journey. Today, however I received a letter from my sister informing us that my parents would indeed be here, along with my sister Mary and her husband. MOther planned to surprise us, but father begged Jane to let us know of her plans.
Lady Matlock laughed, "I know my dear, Lady Herrington- Rheys, wrote to tell me of you mothers plans. Don't be alarmed my dear, her ladyship plans to arrive on the same day as your parents. Gwendolyn know how to handle you mother. Since she bought Netherfield from Mr Bingley she has taken it upon herself to improve the demeanor and manners of the locals, starting with your mother. I think you will be much surprised, my dear."
Elizabeth laughed, "I should be much surprised if she could handle my mother's wayward tongue and her sometimes vulgar indiscreations."
Elizabeth was all astonishment at her mother's deportment at the party' Indeed Mrs Bennet's manner were those of a lady of sense and wisdom. Elizabeth sent several questioning looks at Darcy as her mother circulated quietly among the guests, all smiles and charm, with no silliness or indiscretions.
Lady Matlock and Lady Herrington Rheys seemed to be on best terms with Mrs Bennet and one or the other of them was at her side for most of the evening, chatting and making introductions.
When her parents arrived with Jane and Charles the Darcy's feared the worst for when the lady alighted from the carriage she at once began a tirade of complaints about the journey, and her poor nerves, that continued into the house.
As Lady Herrington Rheys approached the party all complaints stopped and the nerves mysteriously disappeared.
The morning after the party Elizabeth arose early to meet her father. She wanted very much to find out what had caused this transformation in her mother.
Mr Bennet laughed heartily at Lizzie's question. "As you know, he said, her ladyship bought Netherfield from Bingley. The neighborhood was all agog, especially your mother and her silly sister.
They were soon to find out that Lady Herrington Rheys brooked no nonsense. Your mother and her sister went to call as soon as they thought it proper. They came home almsot in tears, it seemed that the lady had not proven to be the most gracious hostess. She had it seemed asked if the rest of the neighborhood were as vulgar and lacking in good sense and manners as they.
When your mother began to boast of the advantageous marriages made by her too eldest daughters and Lydia's dear sweet Wickham the lady had cut her short, telling her that she knew all about Goerge Wickham, he was a scoundral, a liar and a wastral who had used her dear godson Darcy in the worst way.
Your poor silly mother found out from her ladyship that Darcy had not cheated his former playmate, but had indeed been most generous with him. "More generous than he deserved, by far she had said."
Your mother and your aunt fled in high dudgeon. Storming into the house she proceeded to inform me of her ladyships words. Neither of them could believe it when I told them that all she said was true and Wickham had refused the post at Kempton, indeed, and had been most generously compensated."
"What did he do with such an amount of money, she asked fitfully, he certainly could not have spent it all before joinng the militia. No, what he told us had to be true they agreed
. They were sure that I took Darcy's part only because of his marriage to you, dear Lizzie."
"Neither of them would believe that Darcy was not to blame for her favorite son-in-laws troubles. When I informed them that he had wasted the money on carousing and gambling they accused me of prejudice against their dear, dear Wickham."
The rest of the neighbors however knew of Wickhams shenagins and repeatedly told her that she was the one who was blind to George Wickhams faults. Mrs Long pointed out to her the debts that we had to pay after the marriage and the seductions he was reputed to have been guilty of.
Your poor mother, what a quandry she was in. She wanted more than anything to be accepted by the great Lady Herrington Rheys, but she did not want to give up her good opinion of the son in law who is all charm and flattery.
When she complained of the loss of Netherfield and her dear Jane. Lady Rowena reminded her that the Bingley had moved due to her daily day long visits and her taking over their home for her won purposes, she went to Lady Lucas and Mrs Long for sympathy. Both ladies had, had their fill of her and her constant complaints about herladyships treatment of her. Lady Lucas in defense of her won sanity informed your mother that the entire community was in agreement with Lady Harrington Rheys and she did not want to hear another word.
"If you do not attend to you tongue Fanny, you will soon become an outcast in your own home, she told her, for years we have put up with your silliness and vulgarity for the sake of your family but you get only worse, you see only the faults of others and refuse to acknowledge that you have a great many yourself."
Your mother and your Aunt Phillips were in a state of shock and refused to believe that they could become parriahs. They were forced to acknowledge that perhaps something was wrong with their deportment as the invitations came few and far between, even though they knew that teas and parties were going on as usual they were being for the most part left out. Most hurtful of all was the fact that the grand soirees that were being hosted at Netherfield were completly off limits to them.
I could not give them the comfort they needed as I had been telling them for years that they were silly, vulgar women.
Finally your mother went to Netherfield Hall to call on her ladyship and beg her to teach her to act like a lady of sense and proper deportment.
It was a battle at first for your mother did not wish to give up her nerves and pride in the wealth of her sons in law.It did gradually sink in that a lady does not crow about the advantages incured by the marriages of her daughters. A true lady of class and nobility would never mention money. Not the income of the husbands, and most certainly would never ask or mention in any way the cost of anything in the house or on the person one was speaking of.
Everytime you mother slips into her old ways you will note that a look from either Lady Rowena or Lady Matlock silences her at once."
Elizabeth laughed as she recalled one time the night before when her mother began to gush about what a fine house her daughter Lizzie was mistress of, an "Ahem,"from Lady Matlock had made her mama turn from the subject at once.
"I understood that Lady Rowena had mad many changes since her move to Netherfield, but I certainly did not know that most of them was in Mama, she laughed as they entered the house to greet the guests who were staying at Pemberley.
(I will tie the secret room in soon)
Elizabeth turned to her husband saying, "Mama was a great example of how a proper lady should behave, was she not."
"Indeed she was, Darcy replied, there were others who could take a lesson from you mother tonight. Caroline was insufferable, she tried her best all evening to embarass your family. Fortunately your mother was able to turn aside all her insinuations with courtesy and forbearance. If it were not for James I would forbid her presence in this house."
Aunt Rebecca and Lady Rowena were quick to jump to your mothers assistance at every turn. Caroline was frustrated almost to tears."
Elizabeth laughed as she told Darcy all that her father had related to her.
"I fear that when the two ladies are not present Mama returns to her nerves and silliness. Papa says he doesn't think he could stand like at Longbourn if she were completly transformed."
"That explains a great deal, Darcy said, I suppose that we will be treated to a case of nerves the moment the Fitzwilliams and Lady Rowena depart."
"You mean that my family must depend on your relatives and your God-mother to keep them in line. Well thank you very much Mr Darcy,Elizabeth cried, and she swept from the room.
When she got into the hall she realized that she was wearing her nightgown and peignoir. She would not give her husband the satisfaction of returning to the bedchamber, she thought. She headed for the room behind the wall in the libray instead. Her she would be safe from prying eyes and servants while she worked out her anger.
Elizabeth sat in one of the chairs after lighting the candles. She was very angry at William but she could not figure exactly why, what had he said really, that she herself had not been thinking. She rose and paced the room for several minutes, finally sitting down at the small table and putting her head in her hands she said.
"What is the matter with me, one minute I am laughing with my husband about my mother, the next I am shouting at him for saying that which I myself have in my mind.
I am so tired, it seems that I have been so since we started planning this anniversary party. I snap at everyone for no reason. Perhaps now I can get some rest and will feel better. I love you so much William, I must find a way to make you forgive my foolishness."
"I am very happy to hear that you still love me," she heard Darcy say, behind her.
"William, where did you come from, she exclaimed as she turned to face him, I did not hear you open the portal.
I am so sorry, my love, she said as she walked into his waiting arms. Now that this is over I shall catch up on my rest and will be in a much better humor, I promise. I shall be better by tomorrow, with a good night's rest.
"I think it will take longer than that, Darcy replied with a grin I would think it would be a few months, at least six."
"What are you talking about," Lizzie said in confusion.
"I imagine it will be until after our next daughter is born, Darcy laughed, Elizabeth my love, how long has it been since we have had to practice restraint, I believe this is about the third month, dear."
Elizabeth stared at him in disbelief. "Of course she said, how could I not have known."
"You have had a great deal to occupy your mind, Darcy said with a smile.
Elizabeth laughed again,"How do you know that it is to be a girl, dear, she asked.
"You are one minute happy, the next angry, you are tired a great deal of the time, and you are constantly hungry, just as you were when you carried Cassandra, Darcy said as he kissed her lightly. As I recall when you carried Will you were ill most of the day and the sight and smell of food was abhorant to you. I seem to recall that bacon was especiall bad."
Elizabeth looked at her husband with such love in her eyes, "My dearest William, you noticed all of this and remembered how it had been each time, is it any wonder that I love you so very dearly."
With a wicked grin at her husband she asked, "Are you feeling a great deal of restraint now, my love, I certainly am not."
"Darcy threw back his head and laughed, "I am always fighting my restraint when I look at you, especially when you look at me like that, Shall we retire to the bedchamber."
When Elizabeth turned to go out the libray panel he took her hand saying, "NO my love, this way, and led her to the opposite side of the room where he opened another panel to reveal a narrow flight of stairs. Shutting the door behind them he secured it before he proceeded up the stairs after his wife.
"I would never have dreamed this was here," Lizzie said with a giggle, as the door at the top of the stairs opened to the master bedchamber. "Is this the way the Darcy men brought their mistresses secretly to their bed?"
"Now, there's a thought," Darcy said with a laugh.
"One you had best put out of your head, right now," Elizabeth said as she slipped the gown off and tossed it away.
"Dearest, loveliest, Elizabeth," Darcy replied as his own clothes joined hers, "you are all I ever need or want. I have no need for mistresses."
Elizabeth sat looking at her sleeping husband.
"Dearest William, she thought, what you do put up with for my sake. Not only the hectic weeks before the party and the soiree itself. You, who would rather spend your evenings quietly with friends and family. Why did you not say that you did not wish such a large do."
She knew the answer of course, because he wanted whatever made her happy.
She had not been happy, however. "I have been selfish and unthinking my love, but I shall make it up to you. You who knew even before I knew myself that I was again with child again.
She smiled to herself as she remembered the walk she had taken with her father before their departure for Longbourn.
"Lizzie", he said, "What is it that has you feeling so happy these last few days, it is not only because most all of your guests are gone, there is something more. I cannot miss the smiles and looks that pass between you and Darcy, the way you touch each other whenever you are close, the quick kisses."
"I hope that there is nothing you would not tell me that I should know. If it is something you wish to be kept from your mother, I can assure you of my secrecy."
"I am to have another child, Papa," Lizzie said with a smile. "I do not wish Mama to know or she might want to stay for the next six months until the babe arrives. I don't think I could bear that. It is not that I do not love my mother, but her nerves get on my nerves."
"Of course dear, I understand fully, Malcome Bennet replied. So, I am to have another grandchild, am I. Well, the way you and William love each other I expect there will be others too."
Elizabeth laughed, "William is certain it is to be a girl, he has noticed that my symtoms are the same as they were with Cassie. He know even before I did Papa, as a matter of fact he told me."
Her father gave Lizzie a long look before saying, "I believe you Lizzie, your husband is most attentive. His love for you and yours for him is obvious. That husband of yours is fast becoming my favorite son-in-law."
Elizabeth snuggled up beside her husband and drifted off to sleep. She was awaked by a knocking at the door.
William crawled from the bed and pulling his robe on went slowly to the door, yawning, saying, "What could it be that would have any of the staff knocking at the door at this time of the morning, It is four o'clock."
As he opened the door Lizzie heard Mrs Reynolds voice speaking with some urgency, she could not understand what was being said however.
"WHAT, here? Tell Carstairs that I will be there directly," Darcy said sharply.
Throwing his robe aside he went to the wardrobe and pulled out a pair of trousers and a shirt, donning them quickly he started out of the room.
"William, dear, what is it?" Lizzie asked.
"Nothing for you to worry about, my love," Darcy replied, "stay here in the warm bed, I hope not to be long." He kissed her on the head and left the room quickly.
Elizabeth rose and went to the wardrobe to get a long woolen nightgown and donned it, pulling her husbands robe on over it she too went out of the bed chamber.
"Whatever is wrong I might be of help," she said to herself.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs she caught a glimpse of Mrs. Reynolds hurrying into the library.
Moving quickly she followed the housekeeper, only to see her disappear into the secret room.
Elizabeth crossed to the portal into the room, as she stepped into the room she gasped in surprise.
"What, how, Mr. Wickham, what are you doing here?"
"Ah, dear sister Elizabeth, how gracious of you to come to welcome me also, Wickham said with a low mocking bow, am I to see my neice and nephew too, where are they."
Moving to Darcy's side Elizabeth asked, "What is he doing here?"
"I have just come for a feiendly call on my rich relations, Wickham sneered, Mrs Reynolds and Carstairs have already made me feel most welcome. Though I would feel more so if Carstairs would put the gun away."
"Money, I would imagine, Darcy said, I would say he hoped to find some here. My father for many years kept small amounts here for emergency purposes. That is until it started disappearing."
"Your father trusted his servants far too much," Wickham put in.
"Yes, you would have him believe that until it was pointed out that the only time any was missing was when you were here," Mrs Reynolds said.
"You would be only too happy to tell him such lies, Wickham snapped at her, you were always jealous of my closeness to Mr Darcy."
"He saw you take it himself, though he scarce could believe it, Carstairs told him. Poor man he so wanted to believe you were worht saving, that you might do something with your life. That is why he put into his will that the position at Kempton was to go to you. He thought that if you went to seminary, you might become a decent human being and a preacher of note, to make him proud, but you threw it all away."
"I threw it away, Wickham shouted, I threw it away, you seem to forget that it was his own son who refused to honor his father's last request."
"Enough, Darcy said, everyone here knows the truth about that matter, you most of all Wickham."
"Mrs. Reynolds have John and Michaels go for the constable."
With that all the bravado fell away from Wickham, and the coward within came forth.
"No, no, you are correct, I do need money, I have debts to be paid."
"To pay off gambling debts, Darcy sneered, I cannot see you with anything resembling a debt of honor. The word is foreign to you."
"It is Lydia, Wickham said, she is to have a child and the military surgeon says that she must be seen by a doctor in London."
"Lydia, Elizabeth gasped, where is she. Is she with you."
"She is at the Inn in Kempton, Wickham replied, and when they all looked at him with questioning stares he went on.
"You could not expect me to bring her here, I did not know how welcome we would be and you certainly could not expect me to take her to Lambton."
"How much do you need, Darcy asked, will Lydia be staying with the Gardiners while she is in town."
"Yes, we hope that they will receive her and make her welcome, Wickham replied, and 500 pounds should be enough."
"500 pounds, Elizabeth gasped, what would she need so much money for. Sureley the doctor would not be so expensive."
"We will have expenses, Wickham said his bravado returning."
"200, and not a pence more," Darcy said sharply.
"200, Wickham snorted, you are too generous brother, do you think you can spare such a great amount for your poor relations."
"Take it or leave it," Darcy said coldly, "take it and be gone with you, if you cannot settle for such a sum, the stable hands will escort you off the propery with all haste, I am sure."
"I'll take it, it is better than nothing,"
Darcy turned to his housekeeper, "Mrs Young do you have enough in the household money to give to him, I will replace it as soon as possible."
Let us go into the foyer and get out of this room."
"Keep the gun on him Carstair, I will send John and Michaels to help keep watch on him whilst we collect his money."
Elizabeth went down the hall with them.
"William, I can give you 50," she said quietly.
"50, Darcy stopped to look at his wife fondly, no, my love that is your money from your father, I could not take it, you must get yourself something with that."
"William, do not let you pride keep me from making my contribution," Lizzie begged, after all this is my sister."
"If you insist, my love, Darcy kissed her softly, it will be a great help, I assure you. Collecting 200 pounds is not an easy task at this time of the night and on such short notice."
Darcy entered into the bedchamber to find his wife sitting before the fireplace in tears.
"Is he gone," she asked.
"Yes, gone with an escort to Kempton, he replied, everyone will be watching day and night for some time to make sure that he does not return."
"Enough about him, my love, why are you weeping," Darcy asked as he took her from the chair to seat himself there and pull her into his lap, kising her gently.
OH, William, my family is nothing but trouble for you, she sobbed, will it ever end. I love you so much, but it seems there is always something to bring you pain."
"Your family brings me no pain, he laughed, they have brought a great deal of color into my life, so do not worry your lovely head any longer."
"Do you believe anything he said, she sighed as she nestled into his arms, I think he was lying. I have been thinking about it and I think that if Lydia was with child she would have been the one to come to me, or she would have written begging for me to send her money.
She would have contacted Jane first for Jane has a soft and generous heart, which Lydia knows very well.
I think he need it for something else. I have a bad feeling about this, my love."
8 months later.
Elizabeth Put her new daughter into her nanny's arms, kissing the small sweet face as she did so.
"She is ready to sleep now, Agnes, she said, you will have to put her down before her father can say his goodnight. I do not know what is keeping him, but I am sure he will be here soon. He loathes to miss saying goodnight to the children."
As she reached the landing Darcy came through the doorlooking dour, followed by his cousin Col. Edward Fitzwilliam.
Putting her hand to her throat she asked , "Have they found him? Have you found Wickham?"
"No," Darcy replied "but we think we know where he is."
"Did you get your information from Mrs. Younge," she said, "if anyone knows where he is it would be her."
Fitzwilliam sighed, "It would seem that Mrs. Younge has vanished too. She has sold her house and no one in the neighborhood seems to know where she has gone."
"Oh, dear," Elizabeth herself sighed, "I was certain that you would find them together."
"Come into the sitting room," Darcy said, taking her arm.
"It would seem that what you think is true, my love," Darcy said to his wife pulling her down onto the couch beside him.
"When we found Mrs. Younge gone too, we went to call on her mother, hoping she could help us. She informed us that Mrs. Younge had sold everything and left for the colonies. When we informed her of Wickhams disappearance, she became very angry."
"She declared that she suspected that he had something to do with Mrs. Younge's going. Her daughter was so secretive about these affairs, whereas at anytime except when she was involved with Wickham she told her mother everthing and sought her advice."
"Her daughter promised to write to her as soon as they are established, so now we can do nothing but wait," Fitzwilliam added, "he faces the noose if we find him."
"I didn't know that Mrs. Younge's mother was an aquaintance of yours, or even that she had a mother," Elizabeth said turning to her husband.
"Why does he face the noose?" she inquired, "I did not think that desertion was a hanging offense."
"It is more than desertion," Fitzwilliam replied. "He and Lt Hawkins and Captain Steel, were to pick up the payroll and take it back to the camp."
"Captain Steel's body was found near where Mrs. Younge's house was and Hawkins hasn't been heard from. We don't know if he is in this with Wickham or if he has met the same fate as Steel. The money however is gone and so are Wickham and Mrs. Younge."
"Lydia, what of Lydia?" Elizabeth gasped, "what does she know? What of her child?"
"There is no child," Darcy said softly taking her hand in his, "you were right, my love, he was lying. I suppose he just wanted one more chance to get something from the Darcys."
"What will happen to Lydia, poor, stupid girl?" she cried.
"Your sister knows nothing," Darcy told her, "she seems to think it is all a great mistake, that he will come back when he is ready. In the meantime she is having a fine time with her friend Margaret and the men in the company."
"She was not very happy when we left though, Fitzwilliam laughed. When she was informed that she must return to Longborne until her husband is found she threw a tantrum such as I have never seen.
She is on her way to your father now, with an escort, as a matter of fact she should be at Meryton by now."
"I thing I will try to get some sleep now, Darcy will tell you all I have told him, Elizabeth, though there is little more to tell."
Elizabeth began to cry softly, "Oh, my love, such trouble my family visits on you," she said, starting to rise from the sofa."
"Your family...your family has nothing to do with this, this is Wickhams's doing, do not blame yourself or you family for this the are innocent of any wrongdoing, my love, Darcy replied as he pulled her back to him cradling her in his arms.
Perhaps it will be for the best, my dearest, perhaps we shall be rid of him forever, that would be the best for your silly sister too, though she would not think so at this time. I do not think Lydia will repine for any length of time, however, especially since a new company of militia is to be stationed at Merryton for the next few months."
"Oh dear, no, not another company of militia, my father will be beside himself," Elizabeth giggled, "fortunatly Kitty is safely married, but he will be hard pressed to contain Lydia if there is a red coat anywhere within her sight."
Two years later.
Darcy was surprised when the servant informed him that Mrs. Adams was in the parlor and wished to speak to him. Sending the girl for Elizabeth he headed for the room and their guest.
"Mrs Adams, welcome, "he said with a smile, "my wife will be here shortly, would you like some tea, ma'am."
Elizabeth hurried into the room, she wanted very much to hear what Mrs. Younge's mother had to say to them.
After the introduction and sending the servant for tea she sat down smiling at Mrs Adams, hoping to put her at her ease.
"I will get to the point, Mr Darcy the lady said. I have come to tell you that I have heard from Maudie. Sshe is in a place called Nova Scotia.
She is trying to work and save enough money to book passage back to England. She has a good position as a governess and thinks that she will be back within a year.
It seems that Wickham ran away as soon as they arrived in Canada, leaving here with 500 pounds while he took all she had, plus the payroll and fled across the border to the new country America.
He left her in an inn, telling her he was going to take the money to deposit it in a bank before the could be robbed. Three weeks later she had a letter fom him thanking her for all her help and wishing her well.
I tried to tell her what he was but she would not listen, she said he loved her, and only her. I tried to tell her he loved no one but himself but she simply said I could not understand what they had together."
"I understood very well, he only came to her when he was in trouble or needed something , but she would not see that. Well, maybe now she will have come to her senses."
"I wanted you to know, Mr. Darcy, you have shown me nothing but kindness all these years even after the despicable thing my daughter did to your dear sister."
As she left Elizabeth turned to Darcy saying, "That poor dear woman, what agonies she has suffered. Another life in pain because of that dreadful man."
Tears came to her eyes as she looked lovingly at her husband saying, "I still feel positively ill when I think that I believed all the lies he told me about you."
"Elizabeth, my love, you had every reason to believe him," Darcy said taking her into his arms, "I wish though that you would forget it. Didn't you once tell me to remember only that which makes you happy?"
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