Part 10 5/2-7/28
Friday, May 2
I am home at last! Maria and I bade our farewells to the Collinses early this morning. Charlotte has chosen her life and she will make the best of it. Mr. Collins will probably never be in love but he fancies himself so and that must be good enough.
We made our journey in one day stopping in Bromley where we were surprised to be met by Kitty and Lydia. I was pleased to see them for their cheerfulness helped dispel my gloom. They were quick to tell us that the militia will be encamping in Brighton this summer and will leave us in a few weeks time. How fervently I wish that time to be here for once George Wickham leaves, I will have one source of my humiliation removed.
I was not surprised to hear that Mary King has been separated from Wickham. Her uncle must have seen through to his mercenary character and has saved his niece from a most foolish choice for a husband.
Tuesday, May 6
Lydia has been invited to visit Mrs. Forster in Brighton and to stay the whole summer and Father means to let her go. I did my best to convince him how imprudent it would be for Lydia to go. First, I think Harriet Forster is as silly as Liddy and she can not be a good model for Liddy to follow. Second, the temptations of the soldier's encamped nearby and within reach every day is too great for a silly, unchaperoned girl. Third, Liddy's behavior has already placed her sisters as objects of ridicule in some circles. Of course, I mean Mr. Darcy and his friends.
Lydia has grown almost uncontrollable and I fear this visit will put her out of our reach completely. But Father sees little harm in her going and would rather her be away than to have to endure her badgering all summer because she could not.
I am angry at Father. He is a sensible, reasonable man but instead of controlling his children, he has let us go our own way and some of us are going astray. He seems more amused at our follies when he should be saddened by them.
Tuesday, May 27
The regiment is leaving tomorrow and Lydia along with them. I am sure it is a terrible mistake, for Liddy can not be trusted to behave sensibly even in the company of her parents. What will she be like only in the company of Mrs. Forster? The town is gossiping about her departure already and I am sure wait with great anticipation for news of her first mis-step.
Mama felt it her duty to have the officers dine at Longbourn today. I have avoided Mr. Wickham all month but could not escape him this evening. I think he detected my coolness to him and barely spoke to me until we had our coffee. I suppose he could not bear the suspense any longer and sought me out specifically to ask about my visit to Kent.
He seemed alarmed when I told him I had seen Mr. Darcy there and had met Colonel Fitzwilliam. I enjoyed tormenting him by saying that Darcy is the same as he ever was. W. did not know whether to rejoice or doubt my meaning so I toyed with him further and told him that since I know Darcy better now my opinion of him has improved. He could not mistake my meaning and I believe was as glad to be called away by Mrs. Forster as I was to have him gone.
Monday, June 23
My Aunt Gardiner wrote to tell me our trip to the north will be delayed by two more weeks. I am disappointed but await it with great anticipation. Lydia's absence has made Mama cross and although Kitty mentions Brighton only once a day now, I know she still feels she has a great cross to bear. Lydia writes rarely and only of soldiers but perhaps I have worried for nought for no bad thing has arisen from her visit.
If only I could take Jane with me on my visit but she looks forward to caring for our young cousins while their parents are away.
Wednesday, July 16
We are finally arrived in Derbyshire and I am greatly fatigued from the long journey. Riding in my uncle's carriage is a vast improvement from travelling by coach but the roads are no less rutted and the miles no less short.
Entering Derbyshire was strange, for I felt Mr. Darcy had spies everywhere who would report my presence and then I would be banished from his county. Foolish thought, I know, and luckily the strange beauty of the countryside makes me forget how near I am to him. There are many steep hills and rocky crags that I have never seen the like of. the countryside seems quite wild but the town is perfectly civilized.
We are staying in Lambton near where my aunt grew up and where some of her friends still reside. We shall use Lambton as our refuge and take side trips to all the wonders in the area and surrounding counties including some of the great homes.
I feel a sense of freedom here that I had not known I had missed in Hertfordshire. I can imagine myself climbing the steep, rocky slopes and feeling I am the only person in the world. Such freedom to be so alone.
Monday, July 28
We have been here almost two weeks and I have yet to receive a letter from Jane! I have written her twice already to tell her what we have seen and I am a bit exasperated that she can not find the time to respond.
Tomorrow we go to Pemberley. I can not believe I have agreed to go. Of course I want to see this place but my heart races when I think of the danger. My aunt assures me there is no danger in seeing just the house and grounds and the owner is not at home. She thinks I will enjoy seeing where Wickham grew up. Little does she know.
Part 11, 7/29-30
Tuesday, July 29
The very thing I was most afraid of happened. Mr. Darcy arrived at Pemberley just as we were ready to quit it. If we had only left five minutes sooner, it never would have happened. And yet I am so very glad it has. He has been most polite to all of us, even those of us who live in Cheapside! He seems not to be angry at all and has even asked me to meet his sister. My heart is still aflutter.
He was an astonishing sight when I came across him along the riverside. I blush now when I think how he appeared--not properly dressed at all--his vest and coat on his arm, his shirt undone and damp. His hair was wet and hanging into his eyes. I am sure he was as embarrassed to be seen in such disarray as I was to see him. I could barely look at him and tried to center on just his eyes. There was such a look of earnestness in them, nothing haughty at all.
Now I can barely remember the sights we saw in his home before he arrived and I tried so hard to retain all the details so I could write a lengthy letter to Longbourn. I am still so agitated. I know the house is grand--as fine as Chatsworth. We saw it first from a crest of a hill. It was mirrored in the lake before it. Everything was delightful--elegant, yet natural. We were granted permission to enter the house by the very pleasant housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds. She had no false grandeur as the housekeeper of such a prominent family as the Darcys might have and she enjoyed our company, I believe. It seems a shame that such a home is so often empty.
Nothing was pretentious about the house. The furnishings were tasteful and fine but also useful and comfortable. I need no reminding that I might have been mistress of this house.
My aunt found a small portrait of Wickham in a case of miniatures. I wonder that Mr. Darcy would keep such a picture still. It speaks well of him for Mrs. Reynolds told us the elder Mr. Darcy was very fond of his miniatures. She also regretfully told us that Mr. Wickham had turned out quite wild. Aunt looked surprised. The housekeeper found that I have met Mr. Darcy. She was glad to gain my agreement that he is a handsome gentleman which led her on a full recitation of all his other fine characteristics. My aunt looked more and more amazed and I felt confused myself for I would never have called D. good tempered and affable even though I know I wrongly gave him less favorable traits.
We were taken upstairs into the gallery and shown a portrait of D. It must have been done in just the last few years for there was little change in his appearance, yet there was a softness, a gentleness in his face I have never seen before. He had a small smile which reminded me of how he used to look at me, contemptuously I thought. Was I wrong even then? I believe I was transfixed before his portrait for some moments for I had to be called away by my uncle.
We were then taken into the gardens and I left my aunt and uncle to walk closer to the river when I saw him. All I can remember is how he looked at me in shock and what his appearance was. I know we exchanged civilities but I was too deeply affected to know if I sounded senseless. I believe he was as distracted as myself for he hurried away after a few moments.
Once he left, my first feelings were those of horror. How strange he must think it that I should be there. Did he think I was chasing him? I told my aunt we must leave instantly and rushed to the carriage which was on the other side of the vast house. My aunt and uncle had trouble keeping up with me. They could not know why I was so agitated.
I finally found the carriage but was stopped short by Mr. Darcy again. He had somehow changed into dry, proper clothes though his hair was still damp and disheveled. I feared at first he had gotten over his surprise and was going to reproach me for trespassing but he seemed distressed to find we were leaving and asked me to introduce him to my "friends". I wondered how he would take the news that my friends were my relations from Cheapside but it seemed not to bother him a jot. I am proud my aunt and uncle are refined, sensible people and perhaps it may mean something that D. sees not all my relations are foolish. He was so polite and perfectly charming. Aunt whispered how surprised she was and wondered how I could have been so wrong about the man.
He invited us to walk along a path we had not yet seen. We walked ahead of my uncle and tired aunt. I finally had control of my tongue and tried to impress on him how we had no intention of visiting if we knew he had been home. He tried to put me at ease by acknowledging that he was not expected to be at home til tomorrow when the rest of his party will arrive. I hope I do not have to see the Bingley sisters though I am curious to see Mr. Bingley.
I know we walked some time in silence but it was not too uncomfortable and I did not want to say too much. He walked slowly and tried to match my shorter stride. I stole a glance at him every now and then. His hair was dry by now but still unruly and I confess I like it very much like that. I could tell he looked at me. My one thought is, does he still love me and if he does, what should I do about it.
He asked us into the house but we declined and he saw us into our carriage. When we drove away I could not resist looking back. He was standing in the driveway watching us and seemed in no hurry to go back to his business.
On the drive home I could barely respond to my aunt and uncle's observations about the man. They both agreed he could not have been more civil and there must have been some great mistake in my earlier opinion of him. Aunt thinks perhaps he is not as handsome as Wickham (I silently begged to disagree). Uncle will not take Darcy upon his offer to fish in his stream for he may not have really meant it. I think my uncle is mistaken. I do not believe Mr. Darcy has ever said anything he did not mean.
Wednesday, July 30
Aunt and Uncle Gardiner were to visit friends this morning. I could have gone with them but chose to visit the marketsquare. Much to my surprise, I was informed by Hannah when I returned to the inn that Mr. Darcy was waiting inside. I was honored for him to return my visit so quickly and felt nervous and flushed as I hurried upstairs to greet him.
I was not only surprised and very pleased to see him but was doubly surprised that his sister Georgiana was with him. At last I met Jane's rival. My good opinion of this young lady was easily arrived at for she seems innocent and exceedingly shy. Of course I should never have believed Wickham's description of her. Darcy is apparently a very kind brother but I believe Miss Darcy is eager for female companionship.
D. brought Mr. Bingley with him as well. I searched eagerly for any sign that there was an affection between him and Miss Darcy, but could see nothing more than brotherly fondness. B. was most eager to hear news of my family and I was most unkind for I teased him with the news that one of my sisters has gone away. I finally told him it was Lydia and he seemed most relieved to know that the rest of my sisters are still at Longbourn. He is as cordial and friendly as always and all my past exasperation with him fell away.
Miss Darcy has invited us to dinner at Pemberley tomorrow evening. I do not know whether the invitation was prompted by her brother but she seemed to genuinely desire our company and I was very glad to accept. They stayed not much longer. Mr. Darcy was the last to leave the room and he looked back at me with such a boyish smile. I believe I even caught a glimpse of his teeth! I am amazed that after all that has happened, he seems uncommonly eager to be pleasant.
My aunt and uncle arrived soon after and were surprised to hear of my visitors. I think Aunt guesses I know Mr. Darcy better than I have let on. She reports that her friends acknowledge that Darcy is an honest, liberal landlord and is generous to the poor.
I feel so gratified that he has given me the opportunity to know him better. I want to know everything, especially if he could still be in love with me.
Part 12, 7/31-8/1
Thursday, July 31
I lay awake two whole hours last night, thinking of Mr. Darcy. I arranged his features in my mind and am most pleased by his eyes, although when I think of his smile perhaps that becomes my favorite. Of course I always admired his dark hair and his chin is very appealing. I was so eager to see him again this evening that I could barely pay attention to a small ruined church we visited today. I am glad I brought my favorite muslin gown and paid particular attention to my dress this evening. Poor Hannah was fussing at my hair for half an hour. My uncle had to call me twice for fear we would be late.
Mr. Darcy greeted us very warmly and when he honored me by leading me into the dining room, I felt all eyes upon us. He looked most handsome tonight. I think my eyes come just to his chin which I think is a very good height for a woman to be next to a man. He was wearing black again and it becomes him very well.
After dinner, we retired to the music room where Miss Darcy reminded me of a promise I had made yesterday to play. I started with great nervousness for I knew I had an uncharitable audience in Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. It went as well as I could hope under such circumstances and when I had finished, persuaded Miss Darcy to play as well. She is a timid girl without much confidence in her abilities. I think it would be good for her to be more in public and where else can she gain assurance than before a group who are determined they will be pleased.
My evening was one of the most pleasant I can remember having in at least a year. It is gratifying, of course, to know one reason it was so pleasant is that I was being admired by a gentleman sitting across the room. I am not so blind that I could not see him watching me. It was not the same kind of look he used to give me when he was studying my defects. This was a look which made me feel . . . I can't describe it. We seemed to be the only two people in the room and I knew I could do no wrong tonight.
Poor Miss Bingley tried recklessly to embarrass me and I see how desperate she has become for she sees me as her greatest rival for Mr. Darcy. Instead of embarrassing me by mentioning the regret I must feel due to the departure of Mr. Wickham from Meryton, she succeeded in flustering poor Miss Darcy and irritating Mr. Darcy. The poor woman had no idea of what she had done.
Can I be falling in love? When I looked at Mr. Darcy we held each other's gaze for a full minute, I am sure. I meant to show him I understand him and forgive him and in his eyes I saw that he forgives me too. I've had warm feelings for him before and then he said or did something which infuriated me but I feel that can not happen anymore.
I dare not ask myself if he will renew his addresses to me. Would I accept? I'd be a fool if I did not. He will love me, admire me, cherish me--everything I want my husband to do and I think I can return those feelings for him. What a cruel joke on me if I see something that is not there and he does not love me anymore and will not ask for my hand again.
I wish I could speak of my feelings to my aunt. I think she perceives there is an affection developing between us for each other but if I am wrong or if he can not overcome his pride in being refused by me once and then nothing comes of this, I will be most humiliated. Better to keep silent and see what tomorrow brings.
Friday, August 1
We are traveling again so we may return to Longbourn as quickly as possible. Lydia has run away with Mr. Wickham to London and, though once believed they were headed to Gretna Green, it now appears that will not happen. He is determined to ruin us--all the Bennets, not only Lydia. There is no reason for him to marry my stupid, stupid sister. We now no longer, any of us, have a chance of marrying anyone with prospects and he has found a way to completely sever my relationship with Mr. Darcy--this without even knowing that it was beginning.
I am sorry, very, very sorry for poor Lydia and I am sorrier still for my poor family. I long to be home and learn everything and be with Jane. She wrote me two letters, both of which I received today, informing us of what has happened and begging for our uncle's help.
Mr. Darcy happened upon me just as I was leaving the inn to search for Uncle. How happy I would have been if there had been no disgraceful news to relay to him but I let him know it all. He was very kind. He held my arm and sat me down and listened to all my words with great concern.
He provided me with as much comfort as he could but eventually the full import of what has taken place took hold in his mind. If he ever meant to, I don't know, but now he can never ask me to be his wife. I think he could overlook my family's follies but no one can overlook this. We will be talked about in many counties. Even his power and money can not protect a wife and her family from this disgrace. And for Wickham to be the cause of our downfall must be most bitter. His sister can not know us now. I can not blame him. There is no one who can disregard this. When he left me, I knew he would never see me again. I may receive small comfort from his parting glance at me--full of sorrow and regret.
I must not indulge myself at this time in feeling sorry for myself. My worries are for my sister and my family. We will be at Longbourn by tomorrow.
Part 13, 8/2-8/11
Saturday, August 2
Jane has just gone to her room and left me alone with my thoughts again. I am sick at heart about Lydia and Wickham and I vow to put my own sorrow behind me. Our family's very reputation is in question and I must do my best to diminish the damage. With Father still in London, poor Jane has been the only person strong enough to keep the household from sinking helplessly and I must now help her.
She blames herself. She, who was not the principal character in any of this, feels remorse for not letting Father know of Wickham's bad character. I firmly believe no one is to blame for this but W. himself. His base nature cries out for revenge at every perceived slight and that is why I think he has done this--as revenge against me. Even he can not know how thoroughly his revenge has chased away my happiness.
I told Jane tonight about Darcy's knowing of this shameful deed. Despite his kindness to me, I know this misfortune can not be ignored by him or any man. No one will want to share in our disgrace. The best any of Lydia's sisters can hope for is time to dim the memory of this in our neighbor's minds but that will take many years and by then any youthful beauty we have will be gone. I fear we shall all end up spinsters.
Jane wondered if I wished Darcy had renewed his attentions. What could I say? My few days with him seem trivial compared to the trials which have arisen since. If I let myself long for him, I will sink into great despair and I must remain strong. I can not even let Jane know how much I will miss what never will be.
Mother is impossible. She can not see how Lydia's careless upbringing has brought this on. It is Father's fault for not taking us to Brighton, it is the Forster's fault for not looking after her properly. My younger sisters are not much better. Kitty feels sorry only for herself. Mary consoles herself with moral platitudes.
Uncle will leave for London tomorrow to help Father and Aunt will stay a few days longer to help us with Mama. She keeps to her room luckily so only Hill is in daily contact with her. I am sure all the servants and all our neighbors are aware of every dreadful detail by now. I know of a few of our neighbors who are probably quite gleeful.
I read Lydia's letter written to Mrs. Forster before she ran away. It is the most foolish, appalling communication I have ever read. The poor girl is convinced she will be Mrs. Wickham. I can only hope we find him before he deserts her.
Thursday, August 7
Our dear Christian cousin, Mr. Collins came today to condole with us. It is with his godly wisdom that he advises us to exile our sister from our home forever and let her suffer in her own disgrace. If she were to have died, it would have been a blessing.
I am most disturbed with Charlotte for informing her husband that Lydia's behavior was formed by our indulgence. I suppose that has been a commonly held thought through all our neighborhood but she needn't have told him. Lady Catherine has also given her opinion that no one will want to be connected with us now so of course now the gossip is spreading into Kent.
This pious simpleton has the insolence to come into our home to pity us. Pity us! He came to gloat over our misfortune and congratulate himself on escaping from a marriage to one of the infamous Bennet sisters. I could scarce restrain myself and, despite Jane's calming hand on my arm, could only jump up and remind him how precarious his situation is with Lady Catherine now that he has such notorious relations and it would be best for him to disassociate himself from us as soon as possible. It did not take him long to agree and I believe was quite glad to be gone.
Aunt Phillips comes every day to visit Mama. She brings a new bit of gossip on Wickham's wild behavior while he was in Meryton. From what she says, I am surprised that there are any tradesmen's daughters left in town who are not in confinement by now. Of course, Mama tells us she never trusted him. Aunt Gardiner left for London on Tuesday. I wish she were here to help still for I find Mama almost unbearable.
Saturday, August 9
The dreary weather today only enhances our gloom. Father returned today and is very dispirited. I have never seen him so disconsolate. I have been annoyed with him for his laziness regarding Lydia's upbringing but seeing him suffering so is painful and I wish I could comfort him.
Our uncle will continue searching for Lydia on his own. He is very capable but more than one week later, I can barely hold out hope that she has not been abandoned. They are surely not married. I wonder if we need discuss now what to do with Lydia in the event she is found alone and ruined and W. gone. We can not impose on the Gardiners to take her and Father's only relative is Mr. Collins. The good reverend will not sully his hands. I suppose we'll have to bring her back to Longbourn and endure our neighbor's disapproval.
Monday, August 11
It is done! Our uncle has done it all just when I had lost hope. He has found Lydia and Wickham and has arranged for their marriage. The settlement is very curious. My good uncle, knowing how little we can offer to entice W. to marry L., must be offering a good sum of money himself for what Father has to pay is very little--just her share of the small estate left to each of us when Father dies and 100 pounds a year. He does have debts but we are to believe that a small sum will settle them.
I have begged Father to write back quickly agreeing to these arrangements for everything must be settled as quickly as possible. I still fear Wickham will run. Father thinks that that Uncle must be paying perhaps 10,000 pounds to W. and it disturbs him greatly. He will not be beholden to him and yet can scarce afford to pay half that sum. I had no idea my uncle could afford such a sum.
Jane believes W. must love Lydia and that is why he will marry her. If that were so, he would have married her the night they ran away and this torment would not have happened.
Mama is as senseless as always. She can not understand why Lydia must not be married at Longbourn. She acts as if Lydia has entered into a formal engagement with a decent man and has not spent two weeks living alone with him. By now, thank heavens, Lydia is safe at my aunt's home. I hope Aunt makes her sensible of all the degradation she has brought her family for surely her mother will not.
Two horrible thoughts torment me. One, Wickham is to be my brother. And two, now that this is soon over, I will have more time to dwell on my loss. I speak of Mr. Darcy's affections. He knows the whole situation--that can never be taken back. Now he can think nothing but ill of me.
Part 14, 8/13-9/9
Wednesday, August 13
By now Mama has told all the town of Lydia's impending marriage. I'm sure all the spiteful old biddies are as glad to see her married as they would be to see her not, for she will surely have a miserable life anyway married to a man like Wickham. I will avoid town as much as possible until a new scandal arises to make Lydia's less repugnant.
Mama amazes me with her obtuseness. She sees no reason why Wickham must leave his old regiment. She does not see how lucky it is that an ensigncy has been bought for him and the further they are from us the better. She wants only her married daughter to be settled near her. I suppose she thinks it perfectly reasonable to expect W. to find a respectable living in town or perhaps she thinks the settlement is great enough that he will not need to make a living of his own at all. She sees no reason why her brother should not put out the money needed for Lydia's settlement as if he has no family of his own to support.
My father has been married to this woman for over twenty years. I see why he gives in to almost her every whim, for arguing with her is fruitless and conversing sensibly impossible. The exertion is too great to demand compliance. Now, my mother prevails again for he has given in and will allow W. and L. to visit Longbourn after their marriage. I dread it.
Thursday, August 28
Lydia and her bridegroom arrived today. They are to stay less than a fortnight and if today is any indication, I'd be best served by staying out of their way. I blush at Lydia's complete senselessness of her situation. She thinks it the most natural thing in the world that her marriage took place. She shows off her husband like a prize she won. She can not wait to show him off to the town as if our neighbors are insensible of the circumstances. She even corrected her elder sister and told her she will take her place now because she is a married woman. I could not stay long in the same room with her. Father refuses to spend any time with his son-in-law so he is always with us. I escaped to my room and here I shall stay.
Thursday, September 4
If Lydia is to be believed, and I see no reason why she would create a falsehood, Mr. Darcy was at her wedding! I was overwhelmed when Lydia told me. I knew my aunt and uncle were there but knew of no one else. Could Darcy have stood up for Wickham? Why would he do such a thing? I can only conjecture but all my reasons are too flattering to me to believe.
Lydia, too late, remembered she had promised to tell no one he was there, and I had to hide my intense curiosity, so I could make her tell me no more. I have posted a letter to Aunt Gardiner. I pray she has also not been pledged to secrecy for I must know all. If she will not tell me, I will have to find out from Lydia but I must do it as secretly as possible. I am too disconcerted for my family to know how interested I am in Mr. Darcy, even Jane. Oh please Aunt, write back quickly!
Monday, September 8
Mr. Darcy is our angel. He has brought everything together. I received Aunt's letter today with all the facts. He must have left for London soon after we had gone and he sought and found the man he most despises. He persuaded him to marry my sister, possibly bribed him. He has no reason to do good by Lydia but he knows she is my sister and he knows her follies have darkened our family name. He could only have done it to help me, because of me, because he loves me. But that is too much to comprehend. Why would he go to such great lengths to be re-connected to Mr. Wickham?
He told Uncle he blames himself for Wickham's treachery. If he had not been so proud and reserved, he would have made known W.'s true character. This may be his only reason for his remediation. Yet Aunt feels there is another reason. She writes that she likes Darcy very much although he is obstinate. She says he mentioned me very little (he mentioned me at all!) but felt he was being very sly and I believe she accuses me of being sly as well.
Oh, my aunt's letter gives me much hope. But unless I hear again from the man, I can not expect anything.
The Wickhams leave tomorrow. It can not be too soon for wherever I go, one of them is underfoot. I am oh-so-charming to my brother. I consented to walk with him today as if it were like old times. This time I let it be known to him that I know it all--how he has been compensated considerably by Mr. Darcy, how everything he told me has been far from the truth, how everything he has done has only been to further his own interests. He is not a stupid man and must know my feelings for him now and, as I abruptly turned my back on him when I was finished speaking, even a stupid man would understand my meaning.
Wednesday, September 9
Now that the Wickhams have left, everything has returned to its normal condition. Lydia was quite as pleased to be off as she was to have come. As long as she is with her dear Wickham, she thinks nothing else matters. Well, I should be glad she is so happy. W. clearly can not return that feeling as equally. He charmed Mama easily with his polite regrets at leaving and certainly showed more affection than her daughter. I could scarcely look at him during his fawning, pretty pronouncements but Mary was not afraid to send daggers though his back.
Mama is now quite distraught. Jane reminded her that if it is her wish to see all her daughters married, she must be resigned to having them move away. Mama sees no reason why her daughters can not settle in the neighborhood. What a horrid thought. Well, since none of the rest of her daughters will marry, she can feel comfort in having us forever near.
Part 15, 9/13-9/27
Saturday, September 13
After almost one full year it appears that Mr. Bingley will be returning to Netherfield. The town is abuzz for there is activity at the big house and the housekeeper has bought six ducks from the butcher ready to be killed.
Jane is not affected, so she says. Of course she is very distracted but will not show it. I understand her completely, for I could not let anyone know how desperately I'd care, if Mr. Darcy should come to town.
I wonder, as Jane must, if Bingley truly comes to Netherfield just to shoot. I can not think that he does not think of Jane. He was most eager to hear news about her just six weeks ago. I wonder too who he brings with him. Will Mr. Darcy be in the neighborhood? I think I shall take a long walk on Wednesday.
Wednesday, September 17
No sign of Mr. Bingley or anyone, but Aunt Phillips says he has arrived. He comes just with gentlemen, but that is all I know. I walked within two miles of Netherfield today but would not dare go closer, although I wanted to.
Saturday, September 20
He does not love me. I've been a foolish girl. He could barely look at me and seemed disgusted to be here. Yes, Mr. Darcy came today. I should say Mr. Bingley came and he brought Darcy with him.
He looked at me for just a few brief moments and it was just as it used to be--disdainful and unhappy. He looked more at Jane than he did me. He stood silently by B. and then turned away from us all to stare out the window. Why did he come if it were just to be silent?
Mama was her usual exuberant self to B. and as usual, cold and barely civil to D. I felt such discomfort. I had thought if I should ever see him again, I could tell him I know what he has done for my family and then I could find out why he did it. It was not at all, however, as I might have dreamed.
Some consolation comes from this visit at least. Mr. Bingley was there only to see Jane, it was very clear. He is as captivated with her as he ever was. Poor Jane, she thinks she is completely over him and can look at him completely indifferently. I will be cautious in making predictions because I have been so wrong before. But there is nothing I believe more strongly than that Jane and B. will be together. My wretchedness over Darcy's visit is nothing compared to the happiness Jane deserves and, I pray, will receive.
My mother has prevailed on B. to come for dinner on Tuesday and has coolly invited D. as well. He will come, he says, but said not another word. I am curious to see if he speaks to me then. If he does not, then all is lost.
Tuesday, September 23
I hold a small smidgen of hope. We scarcely spoke, Mr. Darcy and I. Indeed, I believe he spoke more to my mother for he was forced to endure her twice--once, seated next to her at dinner and then again, he was prevailed upon to play cards. This is why I hope. I know Mr. Darcy does not like cards yet he agreed to play and with a woman he surely does not hold in high esteem. Perhaps he endures this for me?
But if that were so, why was he so silent? I could have trod on Henrietta Long's toe when she decided to stay at my side all evening. She is the shy seventeen year old niece of Mrs. Long and is not out in company much. Just as D. returned to the room with the other gentlemen, she wanted to conspire against them and keep them separate from the ladies. The last thing I want to do is gossip among the ladies, when D. is in the same room.
He stood in the corner as he used to do, but was not as remote, for I saw him speak to several people--even Mrs. Long. I envied every one of them. I was compelled to pour coffee and wanted everyone to drink tea so they could be out of my way and I could approach D. but tonight coffee was everyone's drink. My impatience grew by the second but then D. approached me with his empty cup. Why did Sarah not take his away when she was collecting the dirty ones? I thought I may have had an opening with him but my nerve failed me and I could only speak of his sister. He answered civilly enough and, I thought, might say more, but then that busybody Miss Henrietta sidled up to me and began to whisper about the intrusiveness of young men and off he went again.
I truly do not know what to think of his behavior. If he did not want to see me or any of my family, he need not have come. He has come and I think he will continue to come. I will force myself to speak to him the next time I see him.
Jane and Bingley were by each other's side all evening. Mama designed it to be so but she needn't have bothered for he would have found Jane anywhere. Oh, why can't his friend be more like that? Foolish me, if he were more like Bingley, I could not love him. It is precisely because Darcy is such a man that I care for him so much.
Saturday, September 27
Left to themselves, Bingley and Jane have worked everything out most satisfactorily. Well, left to themselves with a little help from Mama. Sometimes she does know what she is about, though she is quite conspicuous about it.
My dear sister is engaged to the man she has loved for almost a year, Mr. Charles Bingley. He came so early this morning we had not even had breakfast and Jane was still in her nightclothes. After we had finally assembled ourselves in the drawing room, Mama took only a few moments to have polite conversation and then whisked Kitty and Mary with her out of the room. I was determined not to leave Jane alone, for I promised her I would stay, but Mama sent Hill to fetch me, leaving Jane quite alone with Bingley.
When I finally was able to return to them, it was just as Mama had planned. They had already formed their engagement!
I am so happy for her. I feel an excitement I have never known. She deserves all her happiness, and they are a most delightful couple. I was alone with B. for a few moments while Jane was still with Mama and was quite amused to hear his raptures about Jane. I wondered if he had received approval from his friend to take this big step. I thought of Darcy more than once this day. He has gone to town, though B. says it is just for ten days. I am elated for Jane but the feeling is bittersweet for I doubt I can ever have the man I love.
Part 16, 10/2-10/14
Thursday, October 2
I walked to town today with Kitty. Bingley is every day with Jane from morning til night, so I am forced to search for other company. I don't know what I will do when Jane is married. The neighbors and townspeople all send their congratulations. Where once we were the most unfortunate family in the neighborhood, now we are the luckiest.
I received a letter from Charlotte today with surprising news. She is to have a child in the spring. I am very happy for her.
Jane has written to the Bingley sisters. She says she can never again be close friends but she will always hold them in high regard. I rejoice that she will not allow them to dupe her once they are sisters. Bingley tells me Darcy has written to say he will be in London longer than expected. He sends his good wishes to my sister. I suppose he has no word for me.
Monday, October 13
Lady Catherine de Bourgh has come today to demand that I give up her nephew! I didn't realize that he was mine to give up! How could such a miscommunication occur? Has Mr. Darcy himself heard this story? Could he think I am the parent of such a rumour? It must come from the Lucases. It may seem logical to them that after Jane and Bingley, I would follow with his friend. Communicated to the Collinses, the message would become even more tangled. It is the only explanation I have.
My feelings on Lady Catherine's visit still have me feeling angry, indignant and disdainful. Her overbearing manner only served to show how very rude she really is. She slighted my mother with what she must have thought were civilities and them commanded me to accompany her for a walk outside. As I led her to the front door, she opened all the other doors to peer into the rooms and pronounced them satisfactory. What would Father have said if she had opened his library door?
I thought at first she had only stopped by to give me another letter from Charlotte. But as we walked into the garden, she revealed her purpose--she expected I knew why she was here. I truly knew not how to answer her, but as the reason for her visit became clear, I resolved not to give her any satisfaction. Her manner only meant to demean me and was too much to bear, so I did my best not to give her an answer. She feels such an engagement to her nephew would be scandalous and injurious to his position and his very name. That my family's connections are so low that any attachment would be disgraceful.
I believe that Lady Catherine is frightened, dreadfully frightened that Darcy does not hold serious his mother and his aunt's plan for an engagement to Anne de Bourgh. She realizes she has no power over her nephew and sees me as an even greater threat to any dependence she wants him to have on her. This woman insulted me, my family, and our entire class. I was so wrong to think her nephew had anything in common with her. She is as ill bred as any washerwoman and had the nerve to say she was ashamed of me!
I finally had no choice when she asked me if I was engaged to Mr. Darcy. I had to admit I was not. Her relief was so evident, I became even angrier. How dare she think it would demean Darcy to marry me? I would not, could not promise to never become engaged to him. It would be a promise I would be forced to break at the first opportunity. No one, except Mr. Darcy himself, will keep me from wanting him for my husband. There, I've said it. I want to marry him. I want him back. I love him.
After giving Lady Catherine the only answer I could give her--that I was not engaged to D.--I had to walk away from her. She would have continued to heap abuse on me and it was ready to fly off my tongue that, not only was I not engaged to him, but had already refused him once.
My fear is that Lady Catherine will now go to Darcy and be able to turn him against me if he is wavering. But if he can be influenced by that woman, I will not regret him. I will not.
Tuesday, October 14
I am mortified. Father received a letter from Mr. Collins today. From his eagerness at calling me into the library to read to me, I thought at first the letter was from Lady Catherine but was somewhat surprised to find it was Mr. Collins instead. Upon reflection I see it makes perfect sense for of course the idea that I want to marry Mr. Darcy would have been carried to Lady Catherine by my cousin and he would be quick to write to warn me against such an unfavorable union.
I had to pretend to be amused at how ridiculous such a notion of marriage was. My father was certainly amused. I had to laugh when I wanted to cry. Father thinks the rumour is preposterous because Darcy is completely indifferent to me. Could I be seeing more than what is there?
Part 17, 10/15
Wednesday, October 15
Elizabeth Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
It is not real! I am engaged! Fitzwilliam still loves me and I have told him I love him too and we will be married! I can not believe it. No one else will believe it either. Even Jane could not believe it. I have kept my feelings to myself for so long, no one, not even Jane, has known what I have been feeling, how I've been suffering. And my Darcy surely has told no one either of his misery. Oh, how happy we will be after suffering through our stupid, unnecessary misery. It is only now that I feel so happy that I realize how melancholy I have been. And my sweet boy has been the same way.
He came today--so suddenly--I was shocked to see him walk in with Bingley this morning. I could scarce look at him but he stared right at me and would not release me from his gaze until we left the house. Bingley and Jane walked ahead and Kitty soon left us to run off to the Lucases leaving D. and I alone. I had vowed, given the opportunity, to thank him for his kindness to our family. It took me several minutes to work up the courage but it finally poured out in a jumble of words.
Then he told me what I believe he has been trying to say to me for some time--that his feelings have never changed for me but if my feelings have not changed, to tell him now and he will never press me again. My heart was in my throat as he spoke and I felt a great weight lift off me. To be sure, I still feel weightless. It meant everything in the world to me to be able to tell him that my feelings are exactly opposite of what I felt last April.
His face--I still remember his expression. He looked surprised, unsure, relieved--and he looked happy. He spoke on and on, more than I ever heard him speak before and I hung onto every word. I was so pleased to see him so agitated.
It is Lady Catherine who has finally brought us together. She will be so pleased to learn this. She thought she could turn him against me but it did the opposite. He left for Netherfield the same day she told him she saw me--just yesterday.
It breaks my heart to hear him chastise himself for his behavior to me last spring. I sought to ease his mind by reminding him how my behavior was not irreproachable either. But he will be critical of himself and says he might never have changed if not for me. He called me by my Christian name and continued to call me Elizabeth as we walked along and we lost all sense of direction and time. Bingley and Jane were nowhere to be seen by the time we thought of looking for them but still we walked on.
He asked if his letter to me helped me understand him better. I told him it did but he still wants me to burn it because he fears he was bitter when he wrote it. I assured him both the writer and the reader are different people now.
I wanted to know why he barely looked at me the last two times he came here and he explained he was trying to learn if Jane and Bingley could still be matched and decided it could be so. I am amused at how easily he could lead Bingley to not only discourage him from my sister but then to encourage him toward her. My Darcy is still so earnest though. I do not think he can see the joke yet, but I will soon make him learn to laugh at himself.
I knew I was not misunderstanding his feelings toward me at Pemberley. He told me all his love was renewed barely one half hour after seeing me there. I must write and thank my aunt and uncle. But first, Father must be told. We decided to wait until tomorrow for him to ask Father for my hand. I know he will give it but I am still worried, for no one in my family likes him, except dear Jane, and they will all be exceedingly shocked.
So I shall go to bed now and try to sleep. Is he thinking of me right now? It is so wonderful to know he very well may be. Tomorrow I will see him again so I shall hurry to sleep so it may soon be morning.
Part 18, 10/16
Thursday, October 16
Mama has just left me. She is all in raptures about her newest future son-in-law. He is so charming, so handsome, so tall. She hopes he will overlook her past dislike of him. I am glad I chose to wait to tell Mama of our engagement until after Darcy has gone but I fear he will not be able to escape her tomorrow.
I think back to just two days ago when I wondered if I would ever see him again. Now I can be assured that I will see him every day for the rest of my life, for I will never let him go away again. It is now all settled. Father gave his consent this evening. I know he did not approve at first. Darcy went to him in his library after supper. I felt so anxious and sad, for I know Father hates for me to leave him. When Darcy returned later, I felt better at his smile. He came to me and whispered in my ear to go to Father. Kitty looked rather startled at his familiarity. If only she knew he had kissed me this afternoon, but wait, I will tell of that later.
My father was disturbed at my engagement though he had readily consented. His greatest fear was that I am marrying a man for money, not love. If only I had been more moderate in my expressions of my opinions. It pained me to hear my father's own opinion of him for it was so wrong. Even when I told Jane of my engagement I did not feel as passionate as I did when I told Father of my love for Fitzwilliam. It is so important for everyone to know of his kindness and generosity. I had to fight to control myself so I would not break into tears. It was enough, finally, to be able to convince Father I am marrying the only man I could ever love. When I told him of what Darcy has done for us, he was much amused and even relieved to understand how the whole sorry affair was resolved. When I left Father, he was ready to consent to a marriage for any other young man who might come in next asking for Kitty or Mary's hand. I had to go upstairs to compose myself before rejoining my family. My tears finally came but they were of relief and happiness.
It was late when I returned downstairs and my Darcy left soon after with Bingley. B. knows of the engagement and has made jokes all evening about double weddings and who shall be Jane's bridesmaids. He encouraged me to take Darcy on another long walk today. Mother was quick to advocate it for she thought Darcy would only be in Bingley's way and wanted to be rid of him. She apologized to me for making me entertain him but knew not how convenient it truly was.
I took Darcy to Oakham Mount. We walked slowly, stopping often to look at an unusual leaf or a peculiar bush. We spoke of Jane and Bingley and his sisters' reaction to their wedding. They profess to be eager for the marriage but I suspect they are just resigned. They will be coming to Netherfield soon. I wonder how eager Miss Bingley will be for my wedding. He will write to Georgiana tomorrow and assures me she will be very happy. I look forward to seeing her again.
When we got to the top of the hill, I showed him where I had first seen him--that day over a year ago when I saw him and Bingley racing their horses across the field toward Netherfield. I told him how much I had looked forward to having new neighbors and we laughed when we observed how those simple wishes have turned out. We talked of Lady Catherine's disapproval. He is not concerned at all if she will not speak to him and says if she never does, it will save him those tedious visits to Rosings.
He had removed his hat walking back to the house for it was warm. I reached up to push his unruly lock of hair off of his forehead without even thinking what I was doing and just as suddenly he pulled my face towards him and kissed me. He released me almost immediately and apologized for taking such liberties before my father sanctioned our engagement. I had to put my finger to his lips to keep him from continuing to abuse himself. "You did not do more than I wanted you to do", I told him. He looked off in the distance but he was smiling and soon we continued walking. We were almost at the gate when he pulled me aside behind a tree and asked for another kiss so he could gain strength to face my father. I had to laugh to think he would be afraid of my father, but of course I obliged him and in we went into the house.
I wonder if Jane has been kissed by Bingley. I am sure she has and I must ask her how she likes it. I know I like it very much.
Part 19, 10/18-12/29
Saturday, October 18
Darcy has finally confessed to me he came to Longbourn last month to see me--to see me and judge whether I might ever love him. I abused him--why was he so grave and silent then? I know he has a shyness and it makes me love him more. He was embarrassed. I told him he might have talked to me more. "A man who had felt less might", he said to me. How can I answer such a beautiful sentiment? He told me something else so beautiful I felt like crying. He told me he was in the middle of loving me before he had even known he had begun. Oh, I joke with him and flirt with him but most of the time I sit and look at him in wonder that he is finally mine.
He wrote to his aunt today to tell her of our betrothal. I look forward to her response. I wrote to my aunt to tell her of my happiness. I look forward to her surprise.
Thursday, October 30
We have just come from supper at Lucas Lodge. My darling remains very composed and polite surrounded by my neighbors and family. Even the Collinses have arrived, for Lady Catherine's wrath has caused even her most obedient servant to remove himself from the storm. It is wonderful to see Charlotte again, all abloom and happy. I believe I am almost as rosy cheeked as she is and I am not with child, only in love.
Luckily, Mama is still too much in awe of Darcy to speak much to him. It is a welcome change from the vehement epithets she used to throw at him. I try to shield my sweet boy from some of my family members but he seems quite resigned to listen to them. Still, I look forward to our being alone together in marriage.
Sunday, November 9
We leave tomorrow for London to buy wedding clothes. My Darcy will come with us and stay at his townhouse while Jane, Mama, and I stay with the Gardiners. Bingley will also stay in town so Jane is very happy.
I will have the opportunity to visit my new home in town and to meet Mrs. Hamilton, the housekeeper. I am quite nervous of the impression I will make, but Georgiana is in town and I do look forward very much to seeing her, especially after reading her very sweet letter and wishes of happiness to her new sister.
Saturday, November 15
The opera was heavenly. I have never heard such beautiful voices and magnificent music. There were so many elegant, truly beautiful women attending that I felt quite stunned and awkward in my country gown.
The gravity of my new situation has been constantly brought to my attention while in London. I know Mrs. Hamilton is not pleased with her new mistress. Mama did not help with her remarks on the cost of the furnishings but Mrs. Hamilton seemed most taken aback when I told her I did not have a ladies maid. She was shocked and told me she would hire one for me, but I told her I would rather hire one myself. We are not on firm footing, my housekeeper and I. Thank goodness I believe Mrs. Reynolds likes me.
We met many of Darcy's acquaintances at the opera. One very fine lady, who looked so light and ethereal, as if she were a fairy just alit in a meadow, remarked to Darcy how amusing it was that he had found a bride in the country. My darling's supercilious smile returned, I had not seen it for quite some time, and he told her he thanked God every day he found his bride in the country for he could never have found one in town. He then walked away with Mama on one arm and I on the other. Even Mama was speechless.
Not everything will be easy but as long as my Darcy stays with me, I will have all the strength I need to be Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Wednesday, December 10
Darcy writes to say he will not be back from Pemberley on Monday as planned but expects to return by the eighteenth. I must go one more week without him and I am miserable. Jane has her Bingley by her side every day and I have been alone for ten days. I will never let him go alone to Pemberley when we are married.
Tuesday, December 23
He has come tonight, finally. I had given up hope and thought the snow up north delayed him another day, but he told me he left Pemberley yesterday afternoon and rode all day today. He knew he could not disappoint me again.
It was near ten o'clock and Bingley was making utterances about leaving when I heard hooves in the courtyard. At first I thought it was a messenger from Darcy with more bad news, but I saw from the window immediately it was him.
I rushed out without even pausing to put on a shawl and flew into his arms. I believe I was quite indecent for I clung to him as tightly as I could and kissed every inch of his face. He whispered that Mama was watching from the window, but I just laid my head on his shoulder and breathed him into me. He was not shaven and he smelled of horses but it was intoxicating.
I begged him to come into the house and he protested for he was dirty and in disarray but I needed him too much for him to leave and so he came in. He apologized to everyone but truly, no one minded his appearance. Father and Bingley were laughing quite openly and Mama was very pleased at his honoring us.
Father gave him brandy and he soon did leave with Bingley. I don't mind for now I can dream happily about him and knowing I will see him again tomorrow.
Monday, December 29
I write early this evening. No more writing before I go to bed for I will not have the time now. In fact, I believe I will put my journal away for good. Perhaps I will start a new one some day but I feel a part of my life has been completed and a new part is just beginning.
We are in London. I could not spend my wedding night at Netherfield or even Longbourn. Instead we are in our home alone. He is still downstairs, I believe, but will be coming up soon so I must be quick. I am not too nervous. Aunt Gardiner told me that reciprocation of love brings the greatest pleasure and I know we love each other truly.
He was so solemn this morning during the service--so stiff and anxious. Afterwards, he was all at ease and lively. He kissed me passionately over and over again in the carriage to Netherfield. I'm sure I was quite flushed during our wedding breakfast. Everyone I love was there--my mother and father, Jane and Bingley, my sisters, Georgiana, my aunts and uncles, and of course, my husband. Some of the guests I did not love but they are not related to me so it was of little matter. I changed quickly into traveling clothes and we left for London by two o'clock. We had a quiet afternoon in his library and a light supper. Now I am alone waiting for my husband. This is indeed the happiest day of my life.
Postscript--One Year Later
Thursday, December 31
It has been a full year since I put away my journal. So much has happened, of course. Everything is as I hoped it would be. I do not like being in London much but now we are at Pemberley and everything is always well here.
We spent eight weeks in Italy and Switzerland. I never would have dreamed I would ever travel so far. My love tells me he will take me wherever I want to go but I always tell him I want to be at Pemberley.
Finally in May we returned home. I cried as the house came into view with its reflection shining in the lake. All the servants were lined up in the courtyard to greet us. How much more I love Mrs. Reynolds than Mrs. Hamilton. The good lady could only repeat how happy she was to have us home.
We were alone for but a few weeks. Georgiana returned first and was very welcome. We are close friends and I instruct her quite well not to take too seriously the severity of the upper classes. My family arrived soon after and stayed one full month. Mama has not yet been able to get over the grandeur of Pemberley but that does not keep her from scolding the mistress. She insists I wear a cap since I am a married woman. I will not do so for it makes me feel matronly and I feel like a girl. She thinks I tease my husband too much and he will soon grow irritated with me. She does not see how he has learned to tease me, especially about not wearing a cap.
The Gardiners have come twice. I kept my promise to my aunt and took her all around the grounds in a pony cart. We were almost lost for I have been here seven months now and still do not know every corner of the house, much less the estate. Father has come two more times without Mama. He never liked to travel but seems to enjoy visiting the Darcys and spends much of his time with his son-in-law in the library.
Jane and Bingley will be moving into a new home in the next county in two weeks. My life will be complete to have Jane so near. Kitty is spending Christmas with us. She and Georgiana are somewhat awkward friends. Kitty is still silly and Georgiana not silly enough but they both enjoy balls very much and have been to two this season.
I can not go to balls anymore. I expect our child next month. I am ridiculously large and can certainly not hide it but my husband says he loves me anyway. I hope I have a son but he says he will be just as happy with a daughter. He calls me Lizzy now but only when we are alone. I am so happy. I laugh all the time.
I look back at my journal and am amazed at the changes taking place in my life during the last fifteen months I kept it. My arrogance was as great as Darcy's and if not for a few chance encounters, we may never have found each other's true selves. Tempting the gods is too dangerous so I do not dwell too much on how perfect my life is now. There will be many changes coming soon so though I will close now, perhaps I will write again in the spring.
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