Pleasure and Remembrance
"Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure" - J. Austen
Elizabeth searched and searched, yet she could not find her husband this day.No one in the household had been able to tell her of his whereabouts either.It was a beautiful summer's day, the sun was exceptionally bright and the sky as blue as she had ever seen it.What a splendid day it was, and she wanted to share it with Darcy, if only she could find him.He had awoken early.She remembered his kiss and the tender way in which he whispered good bye.She had thought him only going out early for an appointment, which he did quite often.He would always come in for breakfast with her and Georgiana, yet this morning saw his chair at the breakfast table empty.
"Georgiana?"Elizabeth questioned. "Do you know where your brother is this morning?"
"I am not sure, Elizabeth."Georgiana replied, looking down at the napkin in her lap."I mean...yes, I believe I do know where he has gone today."
"Pray, tell me?"Elizabeth was beginning to feel some concern based on the reserved look on her sister's sweet face.
"Elizabeth" she hesitated, then began again."It is June the 6th.The day Papa went to our Lord.Fitzwilliam always goes to pay his respects."
Georgiana could say no more, nor did Elizabeth as she shut her eyes slowly and sighed. She had never had any idea of what it would be like to lose a parent, let alone at such a young age.Darcy had not spoken to Elizabeth of his parents much.She had tried to broach the subject, but could never draw him out.He had made passing references to them, but never any details.What she knew of them had been supplied by Georgiana, whose memories where those of a young girl.
"Excuse me, Georgiana."She got up from her place at the table and went to her sister.She gave her a hug and kiss and her most affectionate smile."Thank you for telling me."
Darcy sat is silence in front of the great stone monument.A monument to the Darcy Family, Palladian and grand in architecture.He sat, leaning forward, his hands folded, lost in his own thoughts.He tried to remember his mother's calm, soothing voice.How he missed his father's wisdom and strength.He wished his parents could see the graceful woman Georgiana was becoming.How he wished they had shared his joy on his wedding day, and known his beautiful Elizabeth.
"Fitzwilliam." a voice whispered behind him.
He turned around to see Elizabeth standing there.She laid her hand upon his shoulder, and he turned back to wipe the tear from his cheek.
"Elizabeth?What are you doing here?"
She just smiled and bent down to kiss his cheek.She walked over to the monument and ran her hand over the names of his parents engraved upon it.She bent down and placed a handful of flowers at the foot of it.Darcy stood up and watched her in silence.
"I want to be by your side as your wife.To pay my respects to your dear family."
He smiled at her in loving appreciation."Thank you." Was all he said.
"May I sit with you a while?" she motioned to the bench.
They sat down next to each other and she held his hand."Won't you tell me of them?I should dearly like to know what they were like and how you remember them?"
"I suppose you know why I come on this day?" he whispered.
"I think I come here, not so much to think upon them, as much as I think upon myself.My father died when I was but three and twenty.A young man left to raise a small girl.He tried to teach me everything I needed to know to be the Master of Pemberley.He did not tell me that Pemberley would master me."
"What do you mean, my love?" she inquired softly.
"All this land and all the people who depend upon it.Everything depends upon what I do and how I live my life." He said shaking his head. "Sometimes I find myself wishing things were different.Wishing I was not the one with all the responsibility."
Elizabeth began to think about all her husband's worries.His duty to Pemberley was not just a living, but his entire life.Darcy was not one to discuss his worries and fears with others, although intimately he had done so with her.He had tried to explain his business affairs and the running of a great estate to her.She had admitted that it all made her head spin in confusion and she had selfishly made light of it at the time.She silently regretted her actions and affirmed to herself that she had a lot to learn about being a wife.
"I was on my way to the peak.The one which overlooks Pemberley.Will you walk there with me, today?" her eyes sparkled and teased him."It is a fine day for no responsibilities."
She tugged at his hand and he stood up from the bench with a look of mental debate.Finally Elizabeth's charms and the beauty of the day overtook his sensibilities and he agreed to her request.She handed him the basket she had brought with her.
"What is this?" He questioned.
"Something I thought we would need." She said with a shy smile.
They walked over the fields and along ancient paths to the peak.She chattered of flowers and clouds, green hills and streams.And he followed her.At the top of the peak, she chose a spot in a patch of blooming clover and sat down.He stood over her and looked down in question.
"Yes, here.This is a perfect spot I should think." She patted the ground next to her, a clue for him to take a seat."The air smells of clover and chamomile, does it not?"
Darcy took a breath, and conceded. Although he had never been in the habit of sniffing the flowers, he thought the scent had a calming effect.He smiled at his wife and sat down next to her in the clover patch.
"May I have the basket, please!" she still teased him with her smiles.
"The basket?...Oh, yes...the basket." He handed it to her.
Elizabeth unpacked a lunch, pulling out of the basket all the things she knew him to be fond of and spread them out.
"There!" she exclaimed looking rather pleased."Fitzwilliam, you do not look at all comfortable.Have you never sat in a patch of clover and eaten a picnic lunch before?"
"I cannot recall it?" he replied with a look of amused confusion.
"Why don't you remove your dress coat?" she inquired as she took off her bonnet and spencer.
They sat in the clover and ate their lunch, and Elizabeth chattered on about her favorite foods, wild strawberries and birds, rabbits and squirrels.When she turned again to look at her husband, he was laying flat in the clover, looking up at the sky, with a small smile on his face.
"Have you ever made a "Queen of the May" wreath?" she asked him.
"A what?" he laughed.
"Here, I will show you."She picked a handful of clover flowers leaving the stems as long as she could."See, you take three and begin to braid the stems, then you gradually add more flowers until you have a long braid of them." She explained as she worked."Hum, could you hand me a few more flowers please."
Darcy began wading through the clover, looking for the best flowers with the longest stems.Elizabeth laughed silently to herself at the sight and kept weaving.As soon as the braid was long enough she tied the two ends together making a circle.She smiled at him mischievously and took the pins from her hair and let it fall to her shoulders.Then she placed the clover wreath upon her head. Darcy looked at her and laughed with delight.She got up and let the breeze blow through her long hair, the wreath still upon her head.She devilishly looked at him, turned and started running.He got up from the ground and watched her.
"Come on!" she called after her."To the top of the peak!"
Darcy stood dumbfounded, then took off at a run, chasing Elizabeth.She was stopped at the very top as he finally caught up with her, somewhat out of breath.
"Look! From here you can see everything clearly!" she exclaimed loudly.
He looked out at the view, then looked back at her."Yes...yes, you can see everything clearly.My dearest, loveliest Queen of the May!You look like an angel...with a clover halo.An angel sent just for me!"
He had never smiled so broadly, laughter in his eyes and dimples in his cheeks.Perhaps he did not possess this land, but that it possessed him, giving him all the simple pleasures it could afford.Elizabeth had just given him a tour.
"Well.I supposed it was time we started back home." She sighed.
"Yes, responsibilities await us." He said, but with a smile.
They packed up the basket and headed back down the ancient paths towards Pemberley House.On the way Darcy talked of his parents and his fondest memories of them.He chattered of lakes and jumping fish, tall trees, stars at midnight and the smell of new mown hay...
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