"I say, Fitzwilliam, where is that cousin of yours? I saw the Darcy carriage roll in nearly a fortnight ago. Why haven't we seen anything of him at any of his clubs?" Lord Malcome Cartwright called to Col Fitzwilliam, "Been coming here every day since I saw his return hoping for a game, but in vain."
Richard Fitzwilliam laughed, "Surely you know that Darcy is newly wed, Cartwright, you cannot expect him to leave his bride to come here so soon."
"Of course I can, am I not newly a bridegroom, two days less than Darcy. You don't see me abandoning my club just because I have a bride."
"Ahh but Cartwright, you are not married to the lass from Herdfordshire, the fair Miss Elizabeth Bennet, now Mrs. Darcy," Fitzwilliam said with a grin.
"You keep telling us about the beautiful sisters who Darcy and Bingley wed, but we have seen neither of them. Why do they not bring them out where we can all admire them?" Lord Fitzhugh asked, "It would seem to me that Darcy is not as proud of his bride a you seem to be, Fitzwilliam, else he would have accepted some of the invitations issued to them since the day they returned to town."
"But they did indeed accept some invitations, those issued by family on both sides. My parents Lord and Lady Matlock were enchanted by Mrs. Darcy from the first time they met her, and have had them to dine twice to my knowledge.
They were at the dinner given by Lord John and Lady Sophia last Tuesday and have spent some time with her relatives here in town. I believe you know her uncle Mr. Gardiner, Edward Gardiner. He tells me he has played chess with you on occasion."
"Gardiner, of course, delightful man, good chess player, too. I was not aware that Mrs. Darcy had relatives here in town. Is it true that she is a chess player, too? I have been told this but cannot imagine a woman who could master the game of chess."
Fitzwilliam laughed, "I would rather play against you than that lady. She is indeed a chess master of the first water."
"But what of your Hortense, Cartwright, does she not object to your spending so much time at your clubs and leaving her to her own devices?"
"Oh, Hortense does not mind, she has her horses to attend to, they take up most of her time," Cartwright answered.
Col. Fitzwilliam for a moment pictured Lord Cartwright's wife in his mind. A woman who truly seemed to like horses better than most people. A homely woman who resembled her horses a great deal, he thought.
Lord Cartwright and his bride had been promised from the day she was born, cousins, they were betrothed in the cradle.
Fitzwilliam for a moment smiled as he thought of his aunt, Lady Catherine DeBourgh screaming that Darcy could not marry Miss Elizabeth Bennet, "You and my Anne were promised from her cradle," she shouted.
Shaking his head for an instant to clear the picture of his aunt from his mind Fitzwilliam smiled at the men around him. "If you wish to see the beauties that Herdfordshire has to offer I would suggest that you go to the theater Saturday evening, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a favorite of Mrs. Darcy's and they intend to be there along with Bingley and his bride, come to town just three days ago."
"By Jove, I shall be there," Lord Cartwright roared, "Hortense likes Mr. Shakespeare, I am sure she will be only too happy to attend. Thanks awfully Fitzwilliam. We shall all be there, eh, men."
"Indeed, yes, Lord Raines, agreed, to see Darcy's choice of a wife would make even an evening with Shakespeare palatable."
The other agreed wholeheartedly.
Fitzwilliam grinned, he would not miss this for anything, as a matter of fact he would try to arrange it so that he could go with Darcy, he wanted to see the expressions on the faces of his friends when they caught their first glances of Elizabeth and Jane.
All the above were assembled outside the theater with their wives on Saturday night, waiting for the arrival of the Bingley's and the Darcy's.
As Caroline Bingley stepped from the carriage she mad a great display of her finery for all those watching to admire, "So many of our friends Louisa," she said as her sister and her husband stepped out of their carriage to stand beside her.
"Look even Horsey Caswell is here with her abominible husband Lord Cartwright. What an ugly woman, I swear she looks more like one of her beloved horses every time is see her," she whispered.
"Hush, Catherine, someone will hear you," Louisa giggled.
"And Lord Cartwright, he is not much better than his wife," Caroline went on in a low voice, "how well they are suited to one another, I shudder to think of what their children will look like, if they can bear to look at each other long enough to begat a child."
"Begating a child does not require looking at each other," Mr. Hurst put in, "it is done usualy in the dark."
"Stop it both of you," Louisa said sharply, "you are getting much to loud."
A hush fell on those assembled as Bingley assisted his bride from the carriage.
"Good God, what a beauty," Lord Fitzhugh gasped, "Bingley has indeed done well for himself."
As Darcy handed Elizabeth from the carriage a mummer rose from the crowd.
"Fitzwilliam was right, husband, they are truly two of the handsomest women I have ever beheld," Hortense Caswell said to Lord Cartwright as she moved to greet Darcy and Bingley and be introduced to their wives.
Elizabeth knew before they even reach them that this was Lord and Lady Cartwright. She had heard the Bingley sisters laughing at the looks of her ladyship often. She remembered Caroline saying, "They call her horsey because she looks like one of her animals, long horse face, even her nose is long and flat at the end like a horses." She and Louisa had gone into peals of laughter as she spoke.
Lord Cartwright stood rooted to the ground for a few minutes, starig at the two women on the arms of Bingley and Darcy, until roused by his wife's tugging at his arm.
"Good God," he whispered, "it is no wonder that those men kept these two to themselves, what absolute beauties, Lord above what fantastic eyes Mrs. Darcy has, Fitzwilliam was right, she puts every other woman Darcy has known to shame."
Fitzwilliam smiled to himself, "I believe Cartwright could well fall in love with my cousin's wife," he thought, and gave a small chuckle.
"Lord Cartwright," his lordship heard his wife say, "are you not going to greet these two charming ladies?"
"Oh, yes, quite," he blustered, "pleased to meet you ladies, have been hearing about you, must say all the stories do not do you justice."
Elizabeth smile at Lord and Lady Cartwright, she took and instant liking to the two of them. His lordship reminded her of Sir William Lucas, blustering and kindly, wanting to be liked by all.
Lady Cartwright was indeed a homely woman Elizabeth thought but she saw her kindness reflected in her lovely hazel eyes and knew that this was a woman she would like immensly.
And thus a friendship was started which lasted the rest of their lives
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