Two years after the marriage of Mr. Darcy to Miss. Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy received a very interesting letter concerning a piece of property he had purchased in the colony of Georgia.
I am writing to inform you that the acreage you entrusted to my care is flourishing wonderfully. Out of all the plantations in the surrounding area, yours is the most productive. In fact, this year, I believe we will turn a larger profit then ever before. But this is not my reason for writing. Recently, an offer was made to purchase your plantation, which I refused on your behalf. The gentleman who made the offer, a Mr. O'Hara, has been very relentless in his pursuit of the plantation. I would very much appreciate your input on this matter.
Manager, Fitzwilliam Plantation
"Elizabeth, come here please." Darcy called to his wife
"What is it dear?"
"I have just received a letter that requires my prompt consideration, it is from the manager of my plantation in Georgia. It seems that a gentleman would like to purchase my property."
"Are you going to sell it to him?" Elizabeth questioned.
"I am not sure. I have never seen the plantation, I bought it on a whim when the land was first being divided. I believe I must go to Georgia and tour the plantation to see if it is worth keeping."
"Oh, I have always wanted to go to the colonies! I will pack my things immediately, we can leave on the first ship to America!"
"I do not think that is a good idea. The journey is known to be very rough and many ships are not fit for a lady to travel on. A proper vessel may not be leaving for months and I can not afford to wait that long."
"Fitz dear, I would not mind what the accommodations were as long as I was with you. Please, let me go." Elizabeth begged and pleaded with Darcy, but it was no use. He was very firm on this issue. It was decided that Elizabeth would stay home with Georgiana and Darcy would leave for America in a fortnight.
On the morning of the day Darcy was to leave, Georgiana returned to Pemberley from London to stay with Elizabeth. She was warmly welcomed and then the coach was packed with Darcy's trunks while the three said good-bye.
"Are you sure I can not go with you darling?" Elizabeth asked one more time.
"Positive, with Georgiana here, I am sure that the six months we will be apart will fly by. You are lucky. While you are here in our home where you know everyone, I will be in a strange New World where I know no one."
"All the more reason that I should come with you, then neither of us will be lonely."
"I will come too!" Georgiana piped in.
"No, neither of you will come. Now, send me off with a kiss you two, it will be a long time until I see you again."
The two women gave him a kiss and he climbed into his stately carriage and was gone.
The first month passed by slowly, Elizabeth was worried every day for Darcy while he was on the ship. She and Georgiana passed each day happily enough since the two truly enjoyed each other's company. Although she was content, Elizabeth felt very ill. One day, the usually strong Lizzy could not even bring herself to leave her bed. The doctor was called and after an examination, he determined that Elizabeth was with child. The pregnancy had already advanced to the third month. Dr. Brooks told her to stay in bed for a few days and to send for her mother and sisters. He also volunteered to write to Mr. Darcy and inform him of Mrs. Darcy's health.
Dr. Brooks knew the nature of the letter to Mr. Darcy must be discrete and not alarming. Mrs. Darcy's condition was not something that he felt could be discussed in certain terms. After much consideration, Dr. Brooks composed the following letter.
I am writing to inform you of the present state your wife is in. She was quite ill, could not even leave her bed, when I came to access her condition. I discovered she was in fact ill, with a Family condition and immediately had her mother and sisters summoned. I also volunteered to write to you, sir, and ask for your immediate return as the condition has already progressed and there are serious risks involved. A woman should not be without her husband in this condition. Mrs. Darcy asks for you to hurry your return.
While Elizabeth was confined to bed in England, Darcy had just arrived in the bustling city of Charleston. Waiting for him at the docks was the overseer of his plantation, Joseph Anderson.
"Yes, I am Darcy, you must be Mr. Anderson"
"Yes, but please call me Joseph. We better get a move on, if we are lucky, we can make it to the plantation by tomorrow. We will be spending the night with Mr. O'Hara at his cabin about ten miles out of town."
Joseph's accent only increased Darcy's feeling of homesickness. There was so much here that he did not know of. The people moved so quickly, no one seemed too friendly. He was very glad to have a friend in Joseph. This was going to be a long trip.
Winter came to Pemberley and with it, the arrival of Jane Bingley and her husband who had recently bought an estate, Ingleside, which was near Pemberley. Elizabeth was glad to see her sister who had just gone through her own first pregnancy. She also felt that the arrival of the Bingleys would divert some of her mother's attentions away from herself.
"Jane, my own dear sweet daughter, how glad I am to see you!" Mrs. Bennet exclaimed.
"Mama, Lizzy, it is so good to see both of you. Mr. Bingley would have come to call too, but there was so much to be taken care of at Ingleside."
"Oh Jane, I knew when you married a man with five thousand a year good things would come to you! Just look, now you are the mistress of an estate fit to rival Pemberley. Although Mr. Darcy does have ten thousand a year..."
"Mama, could you go and fetch my shawl, it is so cold in here." Lizzy interrupted.
"Of course my dear, I will be right back."
Mrs. Bennet left and the two sisters had a chance to be alone.
"Oh Jane, I am so glad that you have come. Mama has been driving me crazy and I miss my Fitz so much..." Elizabeth exclaimed.
"I am sorry I took so long in coming to you, but the doctor did not feel it was wise to move the baby so soon. Surely, Georgiana has been a great help to you."
"She was, until mama and Kitty came. Every since, mama has shooed her away and Kitty and her have spent the time flirting with the young gentleman. If her brother were here, it would not be like this. Kitty is such a bad influence on her, I do not know what to do!"
"Do not worry so Lizzy, it is not good for you in your condition..."
"My condition, that is all I hear! No Mrs. Darcy, you can not leave your chambers, no my Lizzy, you must lie down! A woman in your condition needs her rest. I feel fine, I just want my husband! Why has he not returned? We haven't heard from him either!"
"I am sure the postal service is just slow. Stay calm. Everyone is just trying to help you." Jane spent the rest of the afternoon comforting her sister while Mrs. Bennet was kept busy with unnecessary tasks.
It was very late at night by the time Darcy, Mr. O'Hara and Joseph had reached Fitzwilliam plantation. The three men retired for the night and agreed to discuss business first thing in the morning.
The sun rose bright the next morning, warming Darcy in his bed.
"I have got a lot to get used to, back in England, it is freezing now." Darcy thought to himself.
He got himself dressed and went downstairs to meet the gentlemen for breakfast and an early tour of the grounds. Joseph led the tour and Darcy was amazed at the beauty of the plantation. The gardens were not close to the splendor of Pemberley's, but they were tranquil and inviting. The fields were freshly plowed, the crop having been recently removed. The red soil spread out in front of the men for what seemed like forever. The house itself was nothing special, a simple white structure with columns supporting the roof. The effect was mesmerizing to Darcy.
"It is wonderful, I had no idea that I owned something like this. My wife, Elizabeth, would love it."
"Then you should bring her here sir, send for her on the next ship." Joseph suggested.
"I just might do that, she did want to come here very badly. Yes, I just might."
The next day, Darcy sat down to write to his wife, informing her of his safe arrival and inviting her and Georgiana to come to Georgia to see the plantation.
Hardly a day goes by that I do not miss you. As I sit here in this strange New World, I can only think how much you would love it here. I was wrong in not allowing you to come with me. So, it would make me the happiest man if you could forgive me and board the next ship, along with Georgiana, to the colonies to see me. Please write to me and let me know of your plans.
He got up from the writing desk and called for his horse. He planned to ride to the post office himself to insure the proper mailing of the letter. Joseph gave him directions and he was off. The path he took showed him more of the splendors of the rural community. There were quite a few plantations he passed on his way to town. Black men were working the fields. Darcy had asked Joseph about these people; he had never seen anyone like them before. Joseph informed him that they were slaves from the continent Africa, they were nothing for Mr. Darcy to worry about.
The day was half over when Darcy arrived at the post office.
"Hello, I am Mr. Darcy, owner of Fitzwilliam Plantation. I would like to mail a letter to my wife in England."
"England sir, that is a long way from these parts!" The post office clerk exclaimed.
"I know, could you tell me how long it would take to get there?"
"At least a month or two, the mail is so slow."
"I suppose that means there is no letter here for me from my wife."
"No sir, nothing has come. The mail from England usually arrives once a week, on Thursday. You should check back later."
"Thank you, I will. Good day to you."
The months passed by slowly now for Elizabeth. Her mother forced her into confinement as she was now showing and it would be improper for her to be seen in public. Elizabeth did not like this at all. She wanted to see her sister's new home, walk in her gardens, and eat in the dinning room. Breakfast in bed was getting very tiresome. The only bright spots to her days were the occasional visits Jane would pay with her first born; a daughter christened Emma Elizabeth Bingley.
"Jane, she is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. It makes me want my own child to come sooner."
"Your baby looks as if it could come any day now Lizzy. I was not that big until a few weeks before Emma was born."
"The doctor is surprised too. But he keeps telling me it will be another three months. I hope my Fitz comes home to me soon, I feel as if I could pop any day now!"
"Oh Lizzy, he will be here soon. I am sure the mail is slow in getting to Georgia and when he does leave, it will take him quite some time to make the journey."
"I know, I just wish he would hurry, I need him so."
The weeks passed by for Darcy without a letter from Elizabeth. Every week he made the trip to the post office, every week the clerk told him there was no letter. This may have dampened his spirits, but the peacefulness he felt at the plantation help to bring them up. Darcy loved his plantation and had no intentions to sell it to Mr. O'Hara, but the man would not leave him alone. Every day he asks and every day Darcy refused. Finally, it seemed Mr. O'Hara had given up, but he still wouldn't leave. He had made Fitzwilliam Plantation his home.
"Well Darcy," Mr. O'Hara said in his Irish brogue "I have found something for us to do tonight. It seems several of the planters around here are having a high stakes poker game. Do you play poker Mr. Darcy?"
"I have never heard of the game, what does it involve?"
"Oh, it is only a simple card game..."
"A card game, like whist? I would love to join the party. Back in England we played silly card games all the time."
"Wonderful Mr. Darcy, I am sure you will enjoy yourself then."
The sun went down and Darcy and Mr. O'Hara left for a neighbor's plantation, Twelve Oaks, for the poker game. Darcy was very confident that he would win, after all, was he not one of the best whist players among his acquaintances? The men reached the plantation in high spirits, Darcy believing he would be triumphant, Mr. O'Hara knowing that by the morning he would be the owner of Fitzwilliam Plantation.
"Mr. O'Hara, welcome! This must be my neighbor, Mr. Darcy! Hello and welcome to Twelve Oaks! I am Mr. Wilkes, I hope you will enjoy your evening. I believe the other gentlemen are in the saloon, shall we join them?"
"Of course Mr. Wilkes, we did come here to play cards." Mr. O'Hara remarked.
"Yes, back in England, I am an excellent whist player, I hope to enjoy this game of poker just as much!"
"Well then, lets go."
Mr. O'Hara and Mr. Wilkes shared a glance behind Darcy's back. They knew what was going to happen tonight, Darcy was going to discover that poker is nothing like whist!
That same night at Pemberley, Elizabeth received a letter from her husband inviting her and Georgiana to America.
"Mama, come here, what does this mean?"
"What my dear Lizzy?"
"I have just received a letter from Mr. Darcy inviting me to Georgia. Could this mean he still has not received the doctor's letter?"
"I am sure he will receive the doctor's letter soon and come home to you shortly. Now lay down and rest, a woman in your condition needs to be very careful!"
"Mama, please stop telling me what to do!!!"
"Lizzy! Lay Down And Rest!!!"
The first hand was dealt and Darcy was given his first chance at this American poker game. They had explained the rules to him and the game got underway. The first reward was not very large, and Darcy won. O'Hara and Wilkes smiled at each other, this was going to be too easy. The night wore on and the gentlemen got drunker and drunker as more gin kept being brought to the table. The wagers got higher and higher and Darcy had won several hands. Little did he know, but all the planters were in on O'Hara's scam.
Mr. O'Hara wanted Darcy's plantation very bad. He had tried to be nice and civil, that just had not worked. Now he was resorting to trickery. With the help of three other planters, who were all promised an equal share in the winnings, O'Hara was going to trick Darcy into betting his plantation and then O'Hara would win. It was easy, it was foolproof. Mr. O'Hara felt bad about doing it, but he needed a home if he was ever going to get a bride. Fitzwilliam plantation was it.
Finally, the final hand came. All the men were on their last dollars, some had resorted to betting horses and slaves. Darcy, on the other hand, still had a lot of money, since he had won everyone else's. O'Hara had also won a lot of money, Darcy and he were about equal. Everyone else had pulled out and only Darcy and O'Hara were left. O'Hara put in the rest of his pot, knowing Darcy had less than him and would have to bet something bigger. It was Darcy's turn, he looked at his cards and knew he would win, in a moment of drunken stupidity, Darcy bet Fitzwilliam Plantation. O'Hara knew it, the plantation would be his!
O'Hara called the hand and laid down his cards, a straight flush, king high. Darcy stared at the cards, not believing what he saw. Laying down his own cards, four aces, Darcy got up and started to leave the room.
Mr. O'Hara called after him, "I am sorry my friend, you are welcome to stay as long as you would like."
Darcy acknowledged the comment with a shake of his head and left the room.
The next day, Darcy woke up and prepared to make his weekly trip to the post office. The trip there was not as pleasant as usual, Darcy felt as if he no longer belonged there. But once he arrived at the post office, the clerk told him something that brightened his day.
"Mr. Darcy! A letter has come for you! From England!"
Darcy ran to the clerk and grabbed the letter, tore it open and read the contents.
"Good God! I must leave immediately! My wife is ill!"
"A ship leaves for Europe Saturday from Charleston, sir. I am sure you could make it."
Darcy ran out of the post office and hurried back to the plantation. He found Joseph and told him that he wanted to leave for England immediately. Mr. O'Hara walked in and told Darcy he did not have to leave so soon.
"I must go, my wife is ill!"
"Then by all means, we will get you to Charleston as fast as we can!"
Pemberley was snowed in the morning Elizabeth awoke to a terrible pain in her side. Mrs. Bennet was called immediately and she yelled for the doctor.
"I am sorry ma'am, the snow is too deep, we can not get the doctor," the maid replied
"GET THE DOCTOR!!!"
Darcy made the ship, and set sail for England, he was told they would arrive in three weeks, it would take a few days after that to reach Pemberley. He hoped he would make it in time.
Though, he did not know how he would explain himself to his family. The loss of the plantation, his drunken poker game, his humiliation. If only Elizabeth is still alive to hear it all, I could forgive myself.
"Mrs. Darcy, you need to stay in bed, I will not have anything happening to this baby!" Dr. Brooks cautioned.
"Yes doctor, I will be more careful..."
"Do not worry doctor, I will make sure my Lizzy does not stir from this spot!"
"Hush now Miss. Lizzy! Thank you for coming doctor, we will be fine now."
Dr. Brooks left, and Lizzy fell asleep dreaming of Darcy and her baby.
The ship finally docked and Darcy got on the first coach headed to Pemberley. The horses couldn't go fast enough, he just wanted to get home. Home to Lizzy.
Two days were spent in travel and finally, on the third day, Darcy was almost home. Only thirty miles now separated him from Lizzy. He got on the coach and yelled to the driver, "Pemberley, quickly." The driver responded with a nod and they were off.
Lizzy was in great pain, the labor had started and the doctor had already come. She cried for Darcy, but he wasn't coming. No one had heard from him in months, there was no way to tell when he would arrive. Her mother was in the room and she kept yelling commands to the servants, Lizzy had never seen her mother so calm.
"Do not worry my Lizzy, he will come home to you and your beautiful baby. Just do what the doctor says."
"Yes mama, please, bring him to me."
The coach pulled to a stop outside of the great doors at Pemberley. Darcy ran in through them and yelled at the first servant he saw.
"Where is Mrs. Darcy, is she well!"
"Yes sir, it is all over now."
"All over! NO! Not my Lizzy!"
"No sir, she is fine, she has brought you a child..."
"A child? She was with child?"
"I must go to her."
Lizzy lay content in her bed, a new baby in each arm, both cooing softly.
"Elizabeth, where are you?"
"Fitz, is that you?"
Darcy ran into the room and stopped at the sight that met his eyes. Tears fell down his cheeks as he realized those he loved were ok.
"Come in Mr. DArcy and meet your son and daughter."
"Twins? Elizabeth, you amaze me, I thought you were dying!"
"Dying? What ever gave you that idea?"
"The letter that Dr. Brooks wrote me made it sound as if you were dying, and now I come home to twins!"
"I am sorry we worried you so Fitz."
"I would have been just as worried if I had known the truth. Now, I have not yet been properly introduced to these two new Darcys."
"Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, I would like you to meet Miss Anastasia Jane Darcy and Mr. George Fitzwilliam Darcy."
"They are beautiful."
The two new parents spent the rest of the day with their children and marveled at their wonders. Once again, Mrs. Bennet was kept busy with unimportant tasks so as to keep her away from them. After awhile, Lizzy asked about America and the plantation.
"It's a long story." Darcy laughingly said, "But none of it matters now."
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