Desire Gives Way To Duty
It's April in Kent, warm and beautiful. Darcy's leaving Rosings for London. There's not a man on earth that can feel as wretched as himself. He had in fact professed his love, and in the same half an hour told Miss Bennet how shameful it would be to marry her. How could he have been such a fool. Angry with himself and with her, for having refused him, he had hurriedly written a letter of explanation for accusations laid at his door. Now having cooled down, from his encounter in the woods, his body ached for her. His dreams would be full of her and yet he spent much of his time in torment over the words he had used in his proposal: "Who's condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own." To escape this torment he found himself spending many nights at the pub drinking more and more to ease the pain. Weeks passed by slowly. Estate business was on hold responsibilities to society were on hold. Mrs. Reynolds is beside herself with worry. What has happened to her beloved Master? She and Mr. Darcy's steward are sure the master they once knew will return and they are determined to keep all well in London as well as Pemberley till he gets through this.
In sober moments he feels a sense of obligation to his family and name, so he seeks out a wife. To this end he must now go out into society still over-indulging and often being quite offensive. But this goes unnoticed when the matter of his fortune and estate are revealed. The very rich can afford to give offense where ever they go. He finds a young lady of small fortune and some minor connections . The ceremony is small and private - not wishing to bring any attention to this loveless connection. His sense of obligation to his estate in the matter of an heir overrides the ugly feeling in the pit of his stomach that tells him this isn't right. Marital bliss is not to be had at Pemberley. Everyday brings something new to argue about. The whole house stays in a state of confusion as Darcy has only granted very limited access of the estate to Mrs. Darcy keeping her almost confined and with no authority in any matters. He's not really sure why he feels so strongly about this. The only thing he does know, though, is that had Elizabeth been Mistress of Pemberley, there would have been no restriction of any kind for her. Not at Pemberley, or the world, for that matter, if Darcy could have brought it about. His port is still his best friend, helping to lull him to sleep at night where without fail he cries aloud for Elizabeth. Understandably, this is but one more cause for contention between Master and Mistress of Pemberley. Again and again she wants to know who Elizabeth is. But Darcy is a master at putting distance between his feelings and the feelings of others. So the woman of his dreams stays with him and with him only... So he thinks.
n.gif" alt="N">ow while Darcy was in London he had had the opportunity to write to Bingley and make all the necessary apologies he could on his interference with regard to Bingley's relationship with Miss Jane Bennet. Bingley was hot with anger, and even though Darcy had been his best friend for many years now, this interference involved what could, or could not mean Bingley's happiness for a lifetime so... He broke off communications with Darcy. Bingley did, however, renew his addresses to Jane and gained her hand in marriage - to everyone's delight.
Meanwhile, Lizzy had been going through changes of her own. After Darcy had given her his letter of explanation, which by now she had committed to memory, her opinion of him softened. In addition, the righting of the wrong done with regard to her sister Jane and Bingley had changed her heart. She now felt an admiration for his ability to yield when wrong. This admiration was and had been for some time growing into a love, a strong desirous love. Remembering how earnestly he had pleaded for her hand in marriage and the passionate kiss in the woods at Rosings, made this desire overwhelming. Yet when she recalled how she had responded to his entreaties, she would just collapse in tears. What had she done? She had ruined her only hope of true happiness forever. She became so depressed, despondent. She couldn't bear to see Jane often. Jane and Bingley's happiness only added to her own misery. She would reflect on the times she had been in the company of Mr. Darcy - teasing and sparring with him. Not knowing then how much she was drawn by his presence. She now kept from society, believing herself to be ill at times. Her insides ached and hungered. She became somewhat rebellious, not at all like Lydia, but different. If she wasn't to be in society, she thought, 'Why must I tie up my hair?' Her hair had grown long now, nearly to her waist, and she liked having it down covering her almost like her shawl. Those long, dark curls were a source of contention with Lizzy and her mother - oftentimes leading to very loud discussions on the subject that ended with Lizzy quitting the house and going for one of her long, long walks. At other times, she would read day and night in an effort to better herself. She was determined that if she were to remain single, she would not be a stupid woman. She would sometimes play the pianoforte for her father, but always with feelings of suppressed anxiety. What would happen to her as years passed?
Lizzy's father is worried about his favorite daughter. Oh, how he longed to have her playful, pert, opinionated disposition back. She had always taken delight in anything ridiculous and yet now she seemed to take delight in nothing. She was making everyone in the house very uneasy. She moaned in her sleep every night causing much worry. She would awake with feelings of the deepest despair. Her father was now set on doing something that might help improve his little Lizzy, and so made plans for her to go to Gracechurch Street. Change of scene and society might be just what she needed.
It's been many months since Jane and Bingley married. Bingley is so happy with Jane that his heart is softened with regard to Darcy. He so wishes to rekindle his friendship. He knows Darcy has married, but Darcy does not have the same marital happiness that he and Jane enjoy. Bingley, though, is determined to be civil and welcome whomever Darcy has chosen for his wife. He knows too that Darcy is now known for drinking too much and that his temper has become very quick and unchecked. Something Bingley never has seen in Darcy before, but Bingley wants so much to have his friend back that he is willing to put up with almost anything. He really is quite unaware of what he is about to get into.
The invitation is thus sent to Pemberley for Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy to come for an extended stay at Netherfield in hopes of renewed friendships. The invitation was readily accepted by Darcy, who had for sometime now wanted so much to repair the damage done to their longtime comradeship. Darcy promised himself that he would be on his best behavior. He was painfully aware that he behaved badly most of the time...but it could not be helped. He didn't love this woman he married. Marriage, for him, had only been to produce an heir, something he was desperate for, yet had not come about. He had many times thought about the reason for the marriage. An heir for the Darcy estate. But he couldn't do it. He just could not imagine having relations with this woman that he did not love. He would then retire to his own bedchamber. How different all that might have been if he indeed had married his beloved Elizabeth. Love making would have been something soft, sensual, long and complete, never wanting to leave her kisses and loving embraces. But that was only in his dreams. To that end, Darcy had not had one day of good humor since he left Kent, what now seemed lifetimes ago. Darcy was now hoping his visit with loving friends would help change all that.
Bingley had also invited Col. Fitzwilliam to join the party at Netherfield, knowing he was a great favorite of Darcy's.
Now Bingley was aware, through the long line of gossip that circulated through the servants that were related throughout England, that Darcy pined every night in his dreams for Elizabeth. Bingley was confident that with Elizabeth in London for an extended stay with Aunt and Uncle Gardener, that Darcy's stay at Netherfield would not be stressful if he indeed knew her to be away.
Life at Longbourn in recent weeks seemed a little more normal with Lizzy being away. Mr. Bennet felt sure in his heart that her visit would bring back her free and easy disposition he loved so much. The rest of the family was also happy for the relief of her absence. Her ill humor, rebellious inclinations, and depressed state had nearly been too much to be borne.
Now when Lizzy first arrived in London she had - by her crying at night, and moaning in her sleep - caused great alarm to her Aunt Gardiner. Aunt Gardiner was beside herself. 'What could be distressing her Lizzy so?' Lizzy had over the years become Aunt Gardiner's favorite niece and her Aunt was determined to find the cause of her unhappiness and distress. Knowing Lizzy to be one to keep to herself, Aunt Gardiner had a plan. One evening, when Mr. Gardiner was out, she took the opportunity and the liberty to have Lizzy drink a little too much wine to loosen her tongue and to tell her all her troubles. It worked. Lizzy revealed all that was in her heart. How she had refused Mr. Darcy's proposal, then fell deeply in love with him. When she heard that he had married, she nearly lost her mind. How could she have spoilt her happiness for the rest of her life? Aunt Gardiner was very kind and gentle as she explained to Lizzy the profound sense of loyalty Mr. Darcy must have felt to the Darcy name and to his father and mother in the fact that with the entail on the estate, he felt he must have a Darcy heir to continue at Pemberley. Lizzy finally came to terms with her feelings and realized what such a man of the utmost integrity must go through. She no longer felt angry or hurt, but felt proud to know such a man. As all this finally sank deep into her heart, her sleep became quiet and restful.
Having now felt near fully recovered she returned a fortnight early, much to everyone's surprise, for they had not received a letter informing them of her early return. Mr. Bennet was quite delighted. He noted from the happy expression on her face that she had quite recovered. "Oh Father," she exclaimed, "it is so good to be home. I've missed you so. Let's have some tea then I should be out for a walk. I want to take in the country air." She also wanted to try out two ornamental pins she had purchased for her hair. If she could master them, with a twist of her hair up and back inserting the pins, her hair could be tied up just that fast. She had decided to go visit Jane while walking, acquainting Jane with all she had done in London - with how much better she felt and to show her the new hair pins. The day promised to be beautiful.
The sun was high, there was no sign of rain....nothing could go wrong..........
Darcy was up dressed and downstairs sipping tea. He didn't want to be in the bedchamber when Mrs. Darcy woke. Darcy had felt it necessary to keep up appearances, so shared the same bedchamber with Mrs. Darcy, much to her surprise, but with no intimacies. Jane and Bingley were also down to breakfast early. Now, just as they all finished, Mrs. Darcy having come down a little later, the bell rang, indicating a visitor. Just then, the servant entered and announced, 'Miss Elizabeth Bennet.' Jane was overcome with a mixture of emotions. Happiness and surprise with her sister's early return from London. Elizabeth, by now, was in the room and just about to greet Jane with a warm embrace when she caught sight of Mr. Darcy standing by the window with teacup in hand. "Mr. Darcy!" she exclaimed, as he looked at her with the same degree of surprise. A rush of emotion so overcame Elizabeth that her knees became weak. She trembled, then fainted and collapsed on the floor. Mr. Darcy too was overcome with a wild mix of emotions. His heart leaped with joy at the sight of her. Then almost in the same instant he was frightened at the sight of Lizzy lying still on the floor. "Elizabeth!" he screamed, as he ran to her and scooped her into his arms and very carefully laid her on the divan. Jane exclaimed that Lizzy had been ill for some months and maybe she has not quite fully recovered. Darcy ordered Jane and Bingley to go for Mr. Jones. Without a moments hesitation they did as he asked. Mrs. Darcy has just come to the realization that this Elizabeth is the woman in Mr. Darcy's dreams. In a desperate attempt to save face and attempting to keep her growing anger within the bounds of decorum, very resolutely declares: "So this little country waif of a girl is who you've been pining for, is it? I would have thought better of you." Darcy shoots her a look that let's her know that she has triggered an uncontrollable anger toward her as he tells her in an unusually loud voice to quit the room before he does something that only she will regret. Mrs. Darcy has endured Mr. Darcy's anger before, but she has never seen him like this, so decides it would be wisest to do as he says.
Jane and Bingley could hear the loud exchange from the other room. They are shocked beyond all reason. This is definitely a side of Mr. Darcy they do not know. They knew the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Darcy was strained, but this is more than they ever imagined. They also cannot figure out how Elizabeth plays in this puzzle, as Mr. Darcy has been married for many months now.
In the meantime, Darcy is getting very anxious about Elizabeth lying so still. Is she all right? Has she indeed been ill? But why? She was always so vibrant. His mind is racing. He leaves her for a moment to get her a glass of wine. The drawing room has a small alcove where the table with the wine and the goblets is nicely arranged. Darcy steps out of view. He is still trying to sort through his thoughts, so lingers a little longer than usual. He had put aside all hope of ever being in her company again. He had in fact resigned himself to being miserable for the rest of his life. But she was here only a few feet away. He had just had her in his arms, so soft, so fragile. Her long brown hair hanging down in cascades of soft curls. She is more beautiful than his dreams remembered. "Good God what have I done to my life? "
Elizabeth has opened her eyes. The room is quiet. Instantly she recalls what only minutes ago happened. She is wild to be out of that house and away from Mr. Darcy. She had only, in the past few weeks, resigned herself to his marriage and to her life without him,... now this. She does not want a reoccurrence of the scene just left behind. Mr. Darcy is married, out of reach, no matter how much she loves him-desires him-needs him. He belongs to someone else. It would not do. She very softly and quietly got up and slipped behind the bookcase next to the chimney piece and down a secret passage way Jane had discovered and had shown her when she and Bingley first came to Netherfield. Jane had not even told Charles. This was a girlish secret they kept for themselves. The passage led away from the house and out to the edge of the woods. Elizabeth runs as hard and as fast as she can. She must get away.
Darcy suddenly remembers the wine glass in his hand and moves with urgency to where he left his beloved. "Elizabeth" he screams, "where are you?"
Elizabeth, Elizabeth" he continues to scream. Jane and Bingley hearing Darcy's screams rush into the room. What is the matter? "Elizabeth. She's...she's gone! Where could she have gone? I never left the room. I only moved over to get..." pointing to the alcove, "to get her a glass of wine. When I turned around, she was gone." Bingley immediately sets out to look for her with the help of his servants and maids. Jane stays to comfort Mr. Darcy, who is pacing about the room, scratching his head, murmuring over and over: "Where could she have gone? Where could she have gone?" Jane is calm. She knows where Lizzy went, but she will not betray her secret.
As Darcy paced, he reflected on how proper behavior and decorum had cost him a lifetime of happiness with Elizabeth. "Why had I not gone after her and persuaded her to let me show her how much I love her. I'm sure my letter of explanation changed her opinion of me some. The kiss I so arrogantly took from her. I felt her passion, her response, why did I just let her go? I will not let her go again, I must have her..... this time I will not give way." Mr. Darcy is now standing by the window. He is so full of emotion ...regrets. "What am I going to do? I'm Married. I must find a way. His eyes begin to fill with tears. He wipes them, for fear Jane will see him in this emotional state. As his eyes clear he makes out what looks like a fairy running at edge of the woods. Hair flowing in the wind. Cape billowing out behind. "It's Elizabeth," he whispers to himself. He turns toward Jane, recollecting that Charles is out looking for Elizabeth and has the whole house in a state of confusion. "Jane I must go help find Elizabeth." If I find her I want to talk to her, so do not be anxious about my long absence. Tell Charles not to be alarmed, Elizabeth has most likely headed for home. I will endeavor to catch up with her before she reaches Longbourn. Darcy wastes no time leaving the house. Every emotion in his body is in turmoil. His heart is racing faster than he's ever felt before. His long legs take him quickly over the meadow to the edge of the woods where he last saw Elizabeth running from Netherfield.
Mrs. Darcy watches from an upstairs window as he races across the meadow in search of her. Her anger rises.
As he approaches he finds that he has lost sight of her. "Now where could she have gotten off to?" He ponders.
Elizabeth having run quite a distance had found an outcropping of stones in which to hide behind while resting, but the stones would not hide the painful sounds of her tears and crying. She never felt so out of control in her whole life. She did love him. She did want him so much so she felt herself to become violently ill with emotional turmoil. But before she could make her escape on her continued path toward Darcy, Mr. Darcy having heard her cries, very softly approaches.
Col. Fitzwilliam finally arrives at Netherfield. Jane and Bingley are most anxious for his assistance in sorting out the miserable chain of events which has just taken place this morning. The Col. is able to tell them of Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth in Kent, and her rejection of him. Then the out-of-character behavior of Mr. Darcy and the selecting of a wife whom he does not love. It was as if he married to spite Elizabeth, yet he only caused himself much more unhappiness and misery than he ever imagined. From what Col. Fitzwilliam could tell over these many months, was that Darcy was still in fact very much in love with Elizabeth.
Now Jane and Bingley were able to piece together most of what had happened. It explained Lizzy's very, very strange behavior. And Jane was sure Lizzy must have very strong feelings for Mr. Darcy. Although she wasn't truly sure which way these feelings went. Lizzy was always pretty private about such matters.
The Col. now turns his attention to Mrs. Darcy as he inquires as to where she is. Jane relates that she and Mr. Darcy had a heated exchange just after Elizabeth collapsed and she went to her room with Darcy's insistence. "I think I should go and see if she is all right," Col. Fitzwilliam decides. As he approaches her door, he ponders on how her life has been since she married Mr. Darcy. Very sad indeed. He knows his cousin well enough to believe him to be very reserved in his affections, intimidating in his demeanor, and quite resolute in his behavior if he believed it to be right. Marriage was to be for love, but not in this case and never with the pretense of it.
The Col. felt sorry for her. He had known Mrs. Darcy for many years having grown up in the same county. They had attended many of the same social functions. The Col. had been there for her coming out and had always thought her very pretty, having light brown hair and blue eyes. This had made him wonder about Darcy's choice of her, having seen him show such a preference for very dark haired women in the past. Nevertheless, he had been happy for her having made such a fortunate alliance for he had not had the means to aspire any connections with her beyond that of friendship. He wished now that he had not been so reserved in his thinking. She had had some small fortune and with what he had, their life could have been good. He would have loved her, cared for her, and treated her with the respect a beloved wife deserves. She had to know by now that her husband loved someone else.
He knocked softly and waited for a reply. She came to the door and slowly opened it. By now her face was sorely tear-stained as she had finally figured out why her life was so miserable, plus the prospects of it not being any better in the future. "Oh, Col. Fitzwilliam, you did not come all this way to chastise me also, did you?"
"No, indeed, Madam. I did hope to be able to talk with you. Console you if I may. This horrid business with Darcy must be very hard on you. I can only say that I'm not surprised at his behavior and knew that someday it would come to this." As he gently puts his arm around her shoulders, gently strokes her hair he continues: "Please try to pull yourself together a bit. All is not lost. Let me go down stairs and see how things are going. I will be back to check on you. I will send a servant with some tea."
With that he departed. As he stood in the hallway he again reflected on how very beautiful he thought she was and how he wished he could take away all her pain and sufferings. But she was Darcy's wife and she would have to learn to put up with his awful moods and emotional outbursts.
Part 9--Duty Will Now Give Way To Desire
Darcy can now see Elizabeth with her face in her hands, still sobbing so pitifully like a little girl. It breaks his heart to see her like this. He continues softly, not wishing to frighten her. He is sure the sound of his heart beating will give him away. He is nearly ready to give way to tears as he watches Elizabeth releasing all the emotion he too is feeling. She doesn't hear him as he kneels down, taking her in his arms, in an attempt to comfort her. She in turn is startled by his presence and embrace and begins to pound his chest with her fists, screaming:
"I hate you, I hate you!" crying all the more so.
Darcy is well aware that she has every right to feel this way. His deep voice is trembling for fear she means it, but he must try.
"Elizabeth, shh, shh, please my love. Hold me. Let me... Please Elizabeth, I've loved you all my life. You're in my every thought. Please, I can't sleep at night. You fill all my dreams, my wants, my desires. I can think of nothing else. I beg you, please, hear me out."
Darcy holds her very close until she quits shaking, stroking her ever so gently. He buries his face in her hair, lost in her scent. For a moment he forgets she is not his. As his mind returns to the present, he continues pleading to her:
"Would to heaven I could turn back the hands of time. I've made mistake after mistake to the misery of all. Please Elizabeth, let me spend the rest of my life proving to you how much I love you and am devoted to you. Elizabeth, can you hear me? Hold me, Elizabeth. Kiss me. Let me love you. I beg you. Elizabeth....I've hungered for touch....your embrace....your kiss.... Please. I'm desperate for you."
As if all of a sudden, Elizabeth's heart comprehends all that Mr. Darcy has been earnestly saying to her. She can feel his heart beating so fast, so hard, as to frighten her. She slowly stops crying. Her countenance changes as she reaches up and cups his face with her small, delicate hands, and ever so tenderly, kisses his trembling lips. His heart nearly leaped out of his chest. Their kisses deepened while in their hearts they made love, a love that neither was willing to do without. Darcy had made love to her in his dreams a thousand times, but now he could feel her warmth, so real, so fragrant. Her skin was softness personified. He took some of her long beautiful hair in his hands and raised it to his face and took her all in. God, how he loved this woman.
"I could hold you in my arms forever if you would let me, my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth."
He continues to ever so gently place kisses in her hair as he holds her close to his chest. She nestles in his arms, taking in his manly scent.
'This feels so right,' she is thinking, 'why am I so restless?' Still she placed kisses on him one after another. His hand, his palm, his neck, and again to his lips. She needed his touch more than she could express.
They remained there at the edge of the woods for some time. Darcy began by explaining to Elizabeth what possessed him to seek out a wife. It was, in fact, almost exactly how Aunt Gardiner had explained it to her. Elizabeth, in return, expressed all the changes she had gone through - trying to cope with, then set aside the love she had for him - after refusing to marry him. All of her efforts had come to nothing when she came to Netherfield. She knew it was of no use, she still loved him. Darcy, too had been living in a resigned state of mind, that also was all too quickly changed the moment he saw her. Darcy had once thought that if he had a child he could somehow transfer the love he had for Elizabeth to the child. But his feelings would not permit the procuring of a child. They held each other close with long loving kisses and embraces. It was as if they were trying to make up for lost time. Darcy again spoke of how much he loved her and wanted to care for her.
"Elizabeth, will you please now allow me a little more time to try and figure out how we can spend the rest of our lives together?"
Elizabeth whispers "My love and admiration for you cannot be replaced by anyone, but..... "
Darcy puts his fingers to her lips feeling compelled to tell Elizabeth how captivating she was at the Netherfield ball. How he has carried a picture of the way she looked in his heart.
"I have never in my life seen anyone as beautiful as you were that night as you are to me now. Oh, Elizabeth, we must make this work."
Brought back to the present reality of things by a soft breeze, Darcy insists on escorting Elizabeth back to Longbourn.
As they are walking Elizabeth notices that Darcy is much thinner than he was a year ago.
With that bewitching smile he loves so well she begins to tease him. " It looks like the food at Pemberley is not to your liking."
"What do you mean Miss Bennet?" He is very amused at her playfulness.
"You have grown much thinner since our last meeting." she replies.
"I have not had a taste for much of anything other than business ventures and I did not want to mar what was left of your kiss on my lips from April." he tells her with the warmest smile.
A sudden rush of emotion floods her heart. A warm feeling of being completely loved.
Safely home, Darcy kisses her passionately and assures her of his love and attention.
"I will speak with you tomorrow," he whispers softly.
Elizabeth's expression shows some alarm.
"Mr. Darcy " she pleads "I don't know if I have strength enough to go through what lies ahead for us."
Mr. Darcy very emotionally tells her: "Proper decorum pulled us apart, but it will not happen again. I have money and connections enough to see my way through this."
Darcy reminds himself that now his money can be of good use to him. Darcy also notes as he gazes at her that she has indeed grown very frail and embracing her once again murmurs from the depths of his heart "I will make you well and happy again if it's the last thing I ever do."
With that he heads for Netherfield.
The journey to Netherfield was not as fast as one would expect. Mr. Darcy found himself playing out different scenarios about how to change his situation in life. Every thing that came to mind also came to a dead end. How very vexing. He could see the prize set before him and yet it was unattainable. This would not do. He must have her. He had felt what it was like to hold her, love her, feel her response to him. Something he had given up hope on, now so real to him. Her fragrance was still with him. He allowed his thoughts to wander. He was overcome with the joy of knowing she loved him as much as he loved her. His body and heart ached for her.
Netherfield was in sight even though it was quite a ways before he would get there. His mind came to back to problem at hand. For many months now he had pursued business matters. He had also made many contacts with influential people. He had amassed a mighty fortune and now felt he may call in some favors owed to him. He would write to his attorney in London directly. With his help he was sure something could be done. He now needed to collect himself so laid down in the grass to rest and regain his presence.
He drifted off to sleep. He wasn't asleep very long, but his sleep was full of dreams. When he awoke, he all too vividly remembered his dreams. It was a dream he'd had when he was a mere boy of fourteen. He recalled how awkward he felt that summer. His body growing into a man's. His voice had changed and his inner feelings seemed in a constant state of uproar. That afternoon in summer he had gone to the pond for a swim and afterwards he laid naked in the grass at Pemberley warming himself in the sun - he had fallen asleep. His dreams were sensual. Having overheard the boys at school talk of girls and their bodies he had indeed wondered what it would be like to touch them. In his dream, he had, with every part of him. The girl in his dreams had long, luxuriant curls, beautiful dark eyes and laughter he thought came from heaven. Her body was soft and smooth. All of a sudden he sat up and realized the girl in his dreams looked like Elizabeth. Now for the first time he realized why he was so drawn to her. He had often wondered why his desire for her was something he could not explain or remove. He had, indeed, been in love with her all his life, and now she was before him in flesh and bone. She truly was the woman of his dreams.
The feeling of contentment that overtook him made him feel in his heart that he would have his Elizabeth. He just didn't know how just yet. With that, he continued on to Netherfield.
When he entered the front hall, he was met by a distressed Col. Fitzwilliam.
As Elizabeth enters the house, she is met with: "Where have you been?" in a most agitated tone of voice from Mrs. Bennet. Elizabeth explains that she had walked to Netherfield to talk with Jane. Something she had not planned to do until she was already out walking. "Mother, I don't know why you worry so. You know I like to take a good long walk."
"Your father, you know, has been in an most unsettled state of mind with your long absence."
"I will go and speak with him now. Truly, Mother, I'm very sorry to have caused such distress."
Lizzy made haste to go into her father's library and speak with him. When Lizzy enters, Mr. Bennet can clearly see that Lizzy is in a mix of emotions and has a lot on her mind. He entreats her to come sit down and tell him of today's events. Lizzy doesn't know where to begin or, indeed, what to reveal or to keep secret. Since last year when she became sick over the turn of events with Mr. Darcy, she noticed her father had become more tenderly compassionate. Believing that maybe he was going to lose his beloved Elizabeth. Lizzy decides to talk things out with her father. She does need someone to help her put her feelings into order. She begins by explaining what happened a year ago in Kent. Mr. Bennet listens very patiently. But Lizzy can tell by the expressions on his face that he is having a hard time digesting all this information. She ends by begging his indulgence while Mr. Darcy finds a way for them to be together.
"Father, please, I need someone to be able to talk to. I love him so dearly. I cannot think of anyone else on earth that I could ever marry."
"Lizzy, my dear." Mr. Bennet is looking at her with sincere sympathy. "The road ahead of you may be very heart breaking. What if, after some time, Mr. Darcy is unable to free himself? What will become of you then? You may be jeopardizing any other chance of happiness."
"Father, I've tried to explain to you that the only chance of happiness that exists for me anywhere, with anyone, is with Mr. Darcy, and that is really all there is."
"Very well, my dear. Please try and guard yourself. You know that all of this is highly improper and there is bound to be much talk."
"Father, it can be no worse than Lydia's disgrace. And we survived that - now that she is married."
With that Mr. Bennet kissed his daughter and she left him in his room to ponder all that had past.
Elizabeth went to her room, exhausted. The day had taken it's toll on Lizzy, and she was asleep almost as soon as she laid down. (Elizabeth had never found out, after all this time, that it was Mr. Darcy that had put all matters right with regards her sister Lydia, and Mr. Wickham.)
Col. Fitzwilliam has been eagerly waiting for Darcy's return. He had asked Jane and Bingley to allow him some private time with Darcy on his return. They were most gracious and told the Col. he could use the Library, assuring him they would not be disturbed. The Col. had already bid Mrs. Darcy good night with the promise that he would have a talk with Mr. Darcy and try to get things worked out for the good of all. His heart had been tormented all day long, grieving for the deplorable condition of the marriage he thought would be so advantageous for Camille, that is, Mrs. Darcy.
"Darcy, I have been waiting hours for your return. What delayed you? Did you find Miss. Bennet?" The Col.'s face showed deep concern.
"Fitzwilliam, I have much to relate to you. Is there somewhere we can talk and not be overheard or interrupted?" Darcy inquires.
"We will be safe in the Library. I took the liberty to ask Bingley if we could talk privately on your return."
"Thank you, Fitzwilliam, as always, you are there when I need you."
"Darcy, my concern is for Camille. You have treated her in a most infamous manner."
Darcy looks at him in shocked disbelief. "What do you mean? And you certainly are on familiar terms with my wife."
"Somebody needs to be. And it seems you will not." Col. Fitzwilliam is becoming very agitated with his cousin.
"Fitzwilliam," Darcy pleads. The tone of his voice has softened realizing his cousin does, indeed, have foundation for his assertions. "We need to talk. Let us talk and not quarrel. Pour us some wine and let me ring for something to eat."
The two of them sat quietly while Darcy ate. When Darcy was finished, the Col. began. "Darcy, What is this all about?"
"Fitzwilliam, I am going to sell Pemberley and go to America."
"What?" in shocked disbelief, the Col. could not contain himself. "No... No... You don't mean it. Why would you ever think of such a thing? You cannot sell Pemberley. It's been in your family for generations. No... No... I won't hear of it."
"I must. It is the only way I can think of to start a new life with Elizabeth. I saw her today. I realized that I cannot, and will not, live without her. I have been meditating for hours on how I can undo what I have done with Camille, and this is the only way I can free myself. If you call what I am about to do as free."
"What about her? What about Camille? Will you just leave her here by herself?"
"Oh, Fitzwilliam. I'm not so cold-blooded as you think. She may have the house in London and I will provide for her well. She may tell her friends I met with a terrible accident and call herself free to do as she pleases."
"Darcy, I cannot believe what I am hearing. Have you gone mad?"
"No, I assure you. I am quite sane, and for once in my life I know exactly what it is I want. I want Elizabeth for my life and lifelong companion, and I am willing to do anything to have her. I am desperate for her."
"Darcy you must reconsider. I can appreciate your feelings for Elizabeth, but you must think this through. How will Elizabeth feel being with a married man even though you are in another country. I cannot help but think she will live to resent you, and the position she will be in. She is I believe a woman of sense and propriety. Please.... Darcy you must listen to reason."
Darcy rings for another decanter of wine.
"Fitzwilliam I know that Elizabeth loves me as much as I do her. She will come with me, I know she will, She must. "
"But how will she feel after a time? Do you not think that she may feel cheap somehow?"
"I must start somewhere. If I sell Pemberley I will have means enough to carry out a plan. I will have a plan."
"I am tired Darcy. Why don't we try to get some sleep. Maybe tomorrow we will find some answers to this wretched mess you have created." With that Col. Fitzwilliam retires.
Darcy meanwhile pour himself another glass of wine before drifting off to sleep slumped in the chair.
Very early AM next day -- Longbourn
Lizzy stirs. She can hear the birds outside her window begin to chirp. The sun is not yet up. "Was yesterday real?" She begins to go over everything that happened just the day before. Did she really have all those tender moments with Mr. Darcy?
"I need to think... but not here. The household will be up soon, I've got to get out. I'll go for a walk. The sunrise should be beautiful. I just need to sort out yesterday's events."
She dressed quickly, brushed out her hair and tied it back loosely with a ribbon. Very quietly she crept downstairs. She paused for a moment then decided to leave a short note to her father, so he has an answer to inquires, if her return is delayed for any reason. She then quits the house and decides to walk, not on her usual route, but one she does not often take. So having walked some distance away from Meryton and Netherfield, there before her is a gentle rise that will allow for a perfect view of the sun coming up on this new day. Amid the few scant trees and bushes is an outcropping of rock where she sits down, pulls her knees under her chin and rests her head.
Lizzy's thoughts were a tangle of emotions. "Maybe I should just let him go. Let him go back to his wife. What am I thinking anyway ? Wanting a married man, to be labeled a tramp. How is he ever to be free of her?" Tears begin to flow freely down her cheeks. "Why does love have to be so complicated?"
Very Early A.M.--Netherfield
Darcy gets up from his chair feeling overwhelmed by the events and the decisions he had made the day before. He is a man of action, so he did not want to waste time with idle chatter at breakfast, so determined to go for an early morning ride to make plans for his future. He wanted quiet time so he could put things in perspective. He had slept in his clothes and even his boots, so ran his fingers through his hair, picked up his coat and hat and made for the stables.
He saddled his horse and was off. The coolness of the early morning invigorated him. Inhaling the crisp air deeply he felt in command of his life once again.
"I haven't felt this wonderful in a long time," he muses. "In fact I haven't felt like this since my parents were alive and life seemed so endless."
Since his parents death Darcy had been dealing with a never ending sense of emptiness. Oh he had been busy enough, but always with a nagging feeling of incompleteness. Now his whole countenance seemed to change. It felt good to smile, to revel in all the beauties of nature. Just the mere gladness of being alive, and he did now feel very much alive.
He could see the light of day beginning to appear. At the top of the rise, there in the distance was the silhouette of Elizabeth waiting for the sun to come up. He was taken aback for a moment......was he seeing things? Oh what a beautiful sight. He stopped for some time, just letting his senses take in the view. She was very much like him, deep in her heart. What felicity they would one day enjoy.
Darcy approached a startled Elizabeth. She did not want him to see the tears she had been shedding over the situation they now faced. She quickly tried to recover herself, Darcy pretended not to notice her distress and make her uneasy, but instead, took her in his arms, holding her close to his heart in hopes of comforting her. Having felt his strength and recovered sufficiently, she adjusted her position to lay her head in his lap. He untied the ribbon in her hair and ever so gently caressed her curls. In companionable silence they watched the sun come up. Darcy could feel in his heart that this was not the time to reveal his plans to take them to America.
There would be time enough for that later. He wanted this vision emblazoned in his mind forever.
Later A.M.--same day---Netherfield
Col. Fitzwilliam stirs, his arm still clutched tightly around Camille's slim waist. As he opens his eyes, he remembers all of the events of the day before and how it made him succumb to her entreaties for long overdue love and passion.
"Good God, what have I done? How will I ever explain this to Darcy?"
As he lay there he reflected on the wonderful night of lovemaking they had shared. She had come to him shortly after he had retired. She needed someone to love her and to show a passionate desire for her, the same passionate desire her husband had shown for Elizabeth. Her body ached for the feeling of being held, caressed and loved the way a wife was supposed to be. The Colonel held a secret desire to show her the love that she deserved, so her presence in his room was not unwelcome.
Mr. Darcy had not once in the year that they had been married come to her to relieve her sufferings and cravings. Now there would be real sufferings as she and the Col. would now have to face Mr. Darcy and explain their night of love and unbridled passion. She and the Col. had acted on their hearts, very much the same way Darcy had acted on his. What a mess things were! She wondered what would happen to her now....
The Colonel stroked Camille's face as she lay gazing at him.
"How are we ever going to tell Mr. Darcy, my love? You do love me, do you not?"
"Oh Camille, I do love you very much. I fear that it may be all in vain. Even though Darcy loves Elizabeth, it still does not change the fact that you are his wife. I'm sure that he will never want to be in my company again, which vexes me greatly. As cousins we have been great friends for as long as I can remember. I just do not know what I am going to say him. I feel just awful."
Camille lay silent, not really knowing what to say. She felt a sense of obligation as Darcy's wife, yet any affection that she might have felt early in the marriage drained away when she was for so many months deprived of any of his affections and then further buried when she realized her husband was very much in love with someone else. Oh to live in this misery for the rest of her life, not to know the true passion of the man who really loves her.
"Camille, I would like for you to please stay above stairs this morning. Take your breakfast in your room, if you please, so that I may speak with Mr. Darcy alone. I am hoping to direct his anger at me instead of you."
"Oh no I cannot have you taking the blame for me coming to you last night. Please, I have endured his anger before, I am sure I can live with it again."
"I will not hear of it. It is all settled. I am quite determined. I will call for you when the time is good."
"Thank you Colonel Fitzwilliam," was all she could say and with that she left his room so he could dress.
The Colonel knew not how or what he might say to Darcy. He tried various approaches while putting on his clothes. Nothing seemed to sound right. "How do you tell your dearest friend that you are in love and have made love to his wife," he thought? "But I must!!"
He arrived in the dining room to find Bingley and Jane already half way through their breakfast.
"Good morning Col. Fitzwilliam," Bingley said with a cheerful tone. "Did you sleep well?"
"I slept all right, have you seen Mr. Darcy this morning? I have a pressing matter of business to discuss with him."
"One of the servants said that his horse and saddle are not in the stable this morning, I suspect he is gone out for a morning ride."
"Thank you Mr. Bingley, I will wait for his return in the library."
He had no sooner gotten the words out of his mouth when Darcy came into the dining room. With a clarity in his step he moved over to the sideboard to fill a plate for breakfast.
"Bingley, Jane, good morning."
"Darcy you look almost wild. Are you to grow a beard?" Bingley inquired. Jane had a smile of amusement.
"Oh Bingley, I know I need a shave and a bath, but I must eat first I am simply ravenous this morning."
"How was your ride this morning?"
"Simply delightful," was all Darcy would reply.
Jane had a funny feeling that he had seen Lizzy and this was responsible for his good humour as well as his appetite.
The Colonel stood quietly waiting for an opening in the tÍte-ý-tÍte.
"You are very quiet this morning Fitzwilliam, are you unwell?" Darcy questions.
"I am quite well I assure you, but I have a pressing matter of business I wish to discuss with you in the library if you please, as soon as may be."
"Let me finish my breakfast and I will come directly."
The Colonel left the dining room feeling uncomfortable about the impending conversation.
Jane and Bingley were sharing conversation between themselves leaving Darcy to reflect.
'I want to spend every morning of the rest of my life looking into those lovely brown eyes of hers,' Darcy was lost in thought. With the clank of a cup and saucer he came back to here and now. "What could Colonel Fitzwilliam be so concerned about? The man seemed downright serious."
Darcy finishes his breakfast, bids Bingley and Jane to take his leave and heads directly to the library.
"Oh Darcy, I trust that your breakfast was to your satisfaction."
"It was, now pray tell me this pressing matter of business."
The Colonel pulled himself up to his fullest height knowing his courage would falter if he did not hasten his reply.
"Darcy, there is no delicate way of saying this," he paused... but only momentarily, "I had relations with Camille last night. I'm sorry if this hurts you but I can truthfully say that I am not sorry that it happened. She has long been a favorite of mine, and you have neglected her so...well, I have no other explanation. I know that you are a proud and important man and well deserved. You are also not used to someone taking something that belongs to you. If you want to punch me in the nose, I will understand. If you wish me out of your sight, I will understand that as well. I only want to add that none of the fault may be found with Camille, it was my bad conduct that has caused you this distress. If there were any way possible to make her mine, I would."
Darcy's jaw drops open, his mind registers what he has just heard. His eyes narrow on Colonel Fitzwilliam, he lunges forward......
The Colonel is quite taken by surprise as Darcy grabs the Colonel's hand shaking it very vigorously.
"Fitzwilliam, you have made me the happiest of men," saying this he embraces the Colonel and pats his back many times.
The Colonel stands there with his hands to his side in total confusion. How could he have possibly made Darcy happy?
"Darcy I am afraid that you did not correctly hear what I said to you."
"Oh I heard every word, and believe me you have done all you could have to make me happy" The Colonel still looked very confused.
"Let me try to explain" Darcy began. "Do you love Camille?"
The Colonel hesitated then said, "I do"
Darcy continued, "will you marry her if she is free?"
The Colonel is still feeling very strange at this line of questioning but answers Darcy , "I will."
"Then it is all settled. I will contact my attorney directly. Camille may have an annulment, claiming I did not fulfill my marital vows. I shall send her to you with 20,000 pounds and a house in town. Will that be sufficient for yours and her happiness?
"Darcy you are too generous....but why.......Oh I see now. You will be free to marry Elizabeth and will not have to go to America, or sell Pemberley, am I right?"
"You are correct in every way man. I owe all my future happiness to you ...for now. I do hope there will come a time in the future when we will be able to meet socially without being very uncomfortable, but I will leave that up to Elizabeth. Oh Elizabeth, I must send word to her. Her heart has been so very heavy over the impending events to secure our happiness. Now I dare say that it was done with extraordinarily little inconvenience to any of us. I thank you again Fitzwilliam."
With that he took paper and pen from the desk and set about writing to Elizabeth.
My Dearest Elizabeth,
I hope this letter finds you well. I have wonderful news. In a matter of weeks Colonel Fitzwilliam will marry Camille. You and I will then be able to get married also, with your father's approval of course. I hope you find this news as joyous as I did, and the arrangements are agreeable to you as well. I must be off to London with first light on the morrow and would very much like to speak with you before I leave. I should be at Longbourn at two o'clock this afternoon.
The letter was sent without delay.
Elizabeth received it and was overwhelmed by its content. She showed the letter to her father.
"What do you make of it Father," she asked?
"Well Lizzy, it seems that Mr. Darcy has more power and money than you or I ever imagined."
"Father you do not think that he has done something bad do you?"
"No Lizzy I do not, but men with money and power have a way of making things work out for themselves."
Elizabeth was excited. Very much so, but it was tempered with an uneasiness.
Darcy had asked Camille to meet with himself and Col. Fitzwilliam. Needless to say she was frightened nearly to the point of being ill, after all she was the one who broke her marriage vows to a very powerful and influential man. "What could he mean by having everyone meet at the same time?"
As she entered the library the men bowed. Darcy's face did not have that stern, unmovable glare that is usual when he is displeased with something. She wondered what he was feeling, he almost looked pleasant.
Now Mr. Darcy realized that in order to bring this relationship to an end without difficulty he would need everyone's cooperation. Therefor he did not want to have everyone's emotions in high gear. So with a calm resolute tone he asked Mrs. Darcy to please be seated while he began.
"Col. Fitzwilliam, Mrs. Darcy, I understand that without any preplanning, there has developed a relationship between the two of you, am I correct?"
The Colonel answered in the affirmative. Mrs. Darcy could not meet his gaze and with her head lowered, very quietly answered yes.
Mr. Darcy began again, "It has been decided that it would be best for all if you, Camille, were to secure an annulment of our marriage because of my not fulfilling my marriage vows to you. Is that agreeable?"
"If you wish," was all that she could reply.
"The Colonel has informed me that he wishes to make you an offer of marriage as soon as you are free. Is that agreeable with you?"
"If you wish."
She was still very much afraid of what he could do to her as far as her means of living, her reputation as a lady and her situation in life.
"Now we come down to the means by which all of this can take place. Mrs. Darcy, I will set you free with 20,000 pounds and a house in town the very day that you and Col. Fitzwilliam become married. The marriage is to be a small, private affair, bringing no attention to the situation. Is that agreed?"
Both the Colonel and Mrs. Darcy nodded in the affirmative.
"Then it is all settled. One more thing if you please. Mrs. Darcy I would like for you to go to Pemberley in the morning and pack your things to move to your new house in town. I will write to Mrs. Reynolds to assist you in whatever you need. I will be going to town first light tomorrow to make all the necessary arrangements with my attorney. Col. Fitzwilliam will accompany me to see that everything is done to the satisfaction of all. If you will excuse me I have another pressing matter of business to attend to." Darcy quickly left the room.
As soon as the door had closed the Colonel walked over to Camille, took her hand and raised it to her lips and very tenderly kissed it. Camille rising to her feet blushed, the Colonel, then took her in his arms and kissed her sweet face. When he broke away he whispered to her, "My love, did you ever think that things would work out so well?" He kissed her again.
By now Darcy had his horse saddled and was on his way to Longbourn. Elizabeth has been waiting for him to arrive. She walked the gardens going over and over the message she had received from him earlier. How could things have changed so dramatically overnight? As she speculated on those events, Mr. Darcy approached.
Elizabeth turned as she heard the approaching footsteps.
"Mr. Darcy," she curtsied.
Elizabeth smiled but had an apprehensive look in her eyes.
Mr. Darcy, sensed her uneasiness as he raised her hand to his lips, he held her gaze with his own.
"My dearest Elizabeth, you look lovely today. I hope you slept well."
"I did indeed, but I daresay I have a number of questions for you."
"You received my letter then."
"I did sir."
"Elizabeth, maybe if you let me tell you all that happened last night, then maybe all the questions I see in your eyes will be answered."
Taking her arm in the crook of his arm and covering her hand with his free hand, "Let us take a turn about the garden while I explain."
Elizabeth listened intently as Mr. Darcy went over everything including the meeting with Col. Fitzwilliam and the meeting of the three, the Colonel, Mrs. Darcy and himself. Elizabeth could be heard periodically throughout his disclosure gasping at the events as they unfolded.
"Oh Mr. Darcy you must have been terribly upset!"
"I might have been, but almost as soon as I heard what Col. Fitzwilliam was saying I realized that this was in fact an answer to all my dreams, wishes and prayers. Don't you see, we will be able to get married...Oh Elizabeth you are happy are you not?"
"I am, Mr. Darcy. I just do not believe that I have ever experienced such a wide range of emotions in so short a time in my entire life"
"When we are married you may have as long as you need to recover, though I dare say that I wish for you to be as happy as you ever could imagine for a very long time."
"I think, Mr. Darcy, that in truth I may never be unhappy for the rest of my life with you. There is one part of this that I still do not fully understand. You told me that Mrs. Darcy was to get an annulment for unfulfilled vows, how is that to be after over a year of marriage?"
"It is quite simple and yet in truth very unfair of me. I have been so in love with you all of this time that I could not bring myself to have relations with her even though we were man and wife and I so desperately wanted an heir to the Darcy name. I know in a way that it was very wrong of me but it could not be helped. I love you Elizabeth and no one else. We, yes we will have an heir, of that I am sure."
Elizabeth smiled at him, her heart about to burst.
"May I go to your father now," he asked?
"I expect he has been waiting for you. I showed him your letter this morning. He was truly amazed at the turn of events.
Elizabeth waited in the garden while Mr. Darcy went to speak with Mr. Bennet.
As Darcy entered the hallway at Longbourn he asked to see Mr. Bennet. Mr. Bennet had indeed been waiting for Mr. Darcy. He was in no mood to give his consent before he had given Mr. Darcy a good sitting down for all the distress he had caused over the past year. He at one time thought he would lose his dear Lizzy to illness last year when she had heard of Mr. Darcy's marriage. Not knowing then that Lizzy was suffering so desperately of a broken heart. So as Mr. Darcy approached, Mr. Bennet's mood was gloomy at best. Darcy listened with much forbearance, he knew in his heart that he deserved every word, as Mr. Bennet went on. "I must say Mr. Darcy that this situation that exist between you and Lizzy vexes me greatly. I will not stand by idly while you have Lizzy wait for you wasting away to nothing ....I tell you sir I will not have it ."
Mr. Bennet was nearly shouting at Mr. Darcy. Mr. Bennet now grew quiet trying to regain control of his temper, he knew Lizzy loved Darcy and did not want to make him angry and withdraw his proposal.
Darcy took a deep breath, " Mr. Bennet, I will fill Elizabeth with love, happiness, contentment, everything needed to make a full recovery. One year from now you will not recognize her. She or any children she may bear will not want for anything. On my honor, I give you my word as a gentleman and as a Darcy."
"And just how are you going to insure that Mr. Darcy ?" Mr. Bennet's interest was now piqued.
"I will reveal all to you, Mr. Bennet, when I have completed my plan. Please trust me for now. I will not disappoint you or Elizabeth." As much as Mr. Darcy differed with Lady Catherine he was determined to change estate affairs much the same way Sir Lewis deBourgh had done. Lady Catherine inherited Rosings then it would go to his cousin Anne. Darcy would not see Elizabeth taken from Pemberley for any reason, so he would make arrangements to see that Pemberley would be hers until she died, then the heir to Pemberley could resume the responsibility. All of this of course if something were to happen to himself.
"Well Mr. Darcy, I will wait for your return from London."
"Thank you Mr. Bennet." Darcy extended his hand to seal his agreement.
Darcy made his way back to the garden where he had left Elizabeth. He wanted to spend as much time as he could with her knowing his stay in London to complete all the necessary business would detain him for at least a month maybe more.
Elizabeth had spent her time trying to imagine what her new life would be like as Mistress of Pemberley. She heard his approach and turned to flash him one her dazzling smiles. Her heart was so full of love for him. She knew he had just endured her father's wrath so to speak and wanted to comfort him.
Darcy could barely keep his composure. "Elizabeth," he took her hand, "I must say your father is not very pleased with me."
Now it was her turn to tease him a little. " Oh, he did not refuse you did he?" He could see the glint in her eyes.
"Oh Elizabeth don't tease me. I did for a moment think he might refuse, but I do believe this is my last and only chance I have to prove myself worthy of your hand in marriage. I will not disappoint either of you."
"I'm sure you will not. I'm going to miss you so very dreadfully while you are in London."
"My dearest Elizabeth, I too will miss you. I will do everything in my power to hasten my return."
As they walked about the garden Darcy and Elizabeth found themselves momentarily out of sight of the house. Darcy pulled Elizabeth to him and kissed her with a deep abiding passion. As Elizabeth caught her breath she repeated, "I am going to miss you very much indeed." her eyes warm and tender. Darcy could scarcely recover. He knew he must leave or risk impropriety right there in the garden now in full view of the house
"Elizabeth, I must go. The sooner I go the sooner I will return for you."
Elizabeth's eyes threatened to spill over in tears, but she knew he was right, so bravely she smiled and bid him good-bye, adding softly, "I love you Fitzwilliam Darcy." He heard her but dared not turn back. She watched him ride away.
The days became long for Lizzy but she took delight in receiving love letters from Darcy every day, avowing his love for her and keeping her posted on the progress of the annulment. She was making preparations in her mind for a small discrete wedding, something she and her father thought to be in the best taste. Mrs. Bennet was not yet aware of what was to soon take place. Mr. Bennet realized he would have to be very, very adamant about the plans for the wedding, but was resolved not to have a lot of attention brought to this event. Mrs. Bennet would later be able to rejoice all she wanted.
Camille had long since moved from Pemberley to London. Mrs. Reynolds had been made aware of the situation and was so ordered to make preparations for the new Mistress of Pemberley. Nothing was to be overlooked. The master bedroom suite was to be opened, cleaned and redone in soft greens and yellows. Mrs. Reynolds was indeed filled with pleasure at the commission. The master suite had been locked for years, since Darcy's mothers death in fact. Mrs. Reynolds could also tell from her master's correspondence that he had changed, come back if you will, to being the beloved master of Pemberley, that she was so fond of. What rejoicing there would be.
As week five was near its end Lizzy began to grow anxious. 'Why were things taking so long?' She now began to fret pacing the garden everyday until the post came....
The post came a little early today much to Elizabeth's relief. It carried with it all the news Elizabeth had been waiting for...
London, Tuesday, 9:00 AM
My dearest Elizabeth;
My nights have been so very lonely. My days are filled with thoughts of you at every moment, but I feel so empty without you beside me. Just when I think I can truly take no more, good news arrives.
It is done my dear. All the papers have been signed. All the arrangements have been made. The Colonel and Camille wed today. I did not think it proper for me to attend, would you not agree? I do wish them all the happiness in the world.
I will be in Hertfordshire on Wednesday. This time I will not be leaving until you are indeed my wife. I was hoping very much to be married on Friday and be at Pemberley on Sunday. I do hope these wishes are agreeable with you my love.
I must close for now for I need to make last minute arrangements with my housekeeper for I fear it will be some months before we return to London.
Forever yours in love,
"Oh yes," Elizabeth cried to herself, "Oh my, today is Wednesday, Mr. Darcy will be here anytime!"
She had no sooner realized that fact when indeed, Mr. Darcy approached her in the garden.
"Mr. Darcy," Elizabeth was nervous, anxious and happy all at the same moment.
"Elizabeth," Mr. Darcy cooed, "Oh how I have missed your lovely face and the beautiful expressions of your eyes."
They stood for many moments just gazing at one another.
"Mr. Darcy," Elizabeth began, "my father does not know of our good news. Would you be so kind as to wait for me here while I inform him? I will not be long."
"If you wish," was his reply as she turned and headed for the house.
Mr. Darcy did not have to wait long for Elizabeth's return.
"Mr. Darcy," she began, "If you would be so kind as to excuse us, my father now wishes to tell my mother of our marriage in two days time and we fear that there will be quite an uproar when she realizes she will be cheated out of making many wedding plans and of telling all the neighbors of another daughter being married."
"Of course, I will be most happy to do anything I can to smooth this along. You do agree that a small private wedding is of the utmost importance in cases such as this?"
"I do indeed sir. My father and I would have it no other way."
"I do thank you Elizabeth. I believe that our position in society will recover much more quickly if things are done this way."
"I do believe that you are correct Mr. Darcy but I must add that as long as I am with you I care little of what others think. It is only for the sake of Georgiana and any children that we may have that I should give it any concern at all."
"You are quite right Elizabeth if it were only you and me I would not care one jot what others think, but you my dear always show such great insight and wisdom."
"Please Mr. Darcy do not flatter me so. You will only succeed in giving me an inflated opinion of myself, which as we all know will only get me into difficulties."
She smiled teasingly at Mr. Darcy and his heart beat profusely longing for the time when she might tease him, at least a little, every day of his life. With that he raised Elizabeth's hand to his lips and kissed her hand tenderly and bid her good-bye.
"Till tomorrow then," as he turned and walked toward the stable to get his horse. He had in fact already been to Netherfield and had left his carriage there to be cleaned and prepared for the long trip to Pemberley.
The day of the wedding came soon enough. Mr. Bennet had been quite firm with Mrs. Bennet as to the particulars of the wedding, primarily, keeping discretion in mind. She finally resolved the matter with the assurances of being able to relate all the news she cared to on Monday, following the wedding.
All went smoothly with a small ceremony in the garden at Longbourn with Jane and Bingley standing up for each of them. Mrs. Bennet was then allowed to have a small dinner in celebration. Afterward Darcy and Elizabeth set off for Pemberley.
Darcy had determined that he and Lizzy would not consummate their marriage until they were home. He would not have Elizabeth feeling awkward at an inn, a few more hours wait was well worth having his Lizzy comfortable and at ease. As it was he arranged to make the journey day and night, changes horses frequently and having a picnic in the carriage along the way.
Elizabeth seemed agreeable to the plan but soon began to tire. Darcy motioned for Elizabeth to come sit with him, on his lap if you will and cradled her in his arms as she fell asleep. He nestled his head close to hers and would occasionally drift off to sleep. Elizabeth on the other hand, having been very happy and content on the outside, was still struggling in her mind for she would cry and call out for Mr. Darcy in her sleep. With soothing murmurs he would gently stroke Elizabeth's head till she was in a restful sleep again.
It was early afternoon when Pemberley came into view.
"How do you like your new home Mrs. Darcy," Darcy asked anxiously?
Elizabeth caught her breath, "Oh Mr. Darcy I have never seen a house more happily situated. I like it very much indeed."
"Then you approve of it?"
"I do not know who would not approve of it."
"But your good opinion is rarely bestowed and therefore more worth the earning. Oh Elizabeth, I do hope you come to love Pemberley as much as I do."
"How could I not. I do believe that Pemberley makes up a very great part of you my dear sir and I love you so very dearly."
Darcy felt a warm sensation overtake him as they reached the front of the house. Much to his surprise and approval Mrs. Reynolds, having had the stable boys and the like keep on watch for Mr. Darcy since yesterday, had prepared a ready welcome for her beloved master and the woman who had somehow rewarmed his heart that had seemed so cold for over a year.
As they emerged from the carriage a resounding round of applause could be heard with many hearty greetings of "Welcome home Master and Mrs. Darcy". Darcy was indeed pleased and astonished as he presented Mrs. Darcy to them. With a slight nod of approval and a quiet "thank you", he tipped his hat to his staff.
Mrs. Reynolds knew they would be spent from their long journey and informed Master and Mrs. Darcy that she had prepared a moderate meal that was awaiting them in their rooms. Mr. Darcy acknowledged her foresight and left instructions that their wing of the house was to remain undisturbed until she was summoned. Mrs. Reynolds assured him that all would be attended to and smiled ever so lovingly at him as she turned to leave them.
"Mrs. Reynolds," he called after her, "I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done to see to our comfort."
"It was my greatest pleasure Master Darcy, I can assure you."
With that she disappeared.
Darcy showed Elizabeth to their rooms. Rooms that had not been opened since Mrs. Darcy's death. Darcy's father had removed from them then not able to sleep there without his beloved wife.
When Darcy unlocked the door he found that Mrs. Reynolds had done all that he had asked and much more in the way of delicate touches, fresh flowers and such.
Elizabeth was elated, "Mr. Darcy, I have never dreamed of a room so beautiful, and you say that these are ours?"
Darcy loved all of her innocence and appreciation.
"Yes my darling and you may choose to change anything that is not to your liking."
"Not to my liking!! Oh my dear, what is there not to like? Everything is exactly as any Princess would want. Let alone a country girl from Hertfordshire."
"Elizabeth", was all he could say as he turned her toward him and kissed her warmly.
He checked himself, wanting the passion to come a little later.
"Let us sit by the fire and warm ourselves and have a little something to eat before retiring. We also have a hot bath waiting for us so that we may get out of these traveling clothes."
It did not take them long to begin to have the passion between them overtake any notion of their fatigue. They each hurried their bath. Elizabeth entered the bedchamber first, feeling a little anxious she slid between the covers and waited for Mr. Darcy. He wasn't long behind her even though he had been pacing around in his dressing room for many minutes. As he entered the room he could see her waiting for him. He blew out the candle leaving only the fire in the hearth to illuminate the room. He quickly removed his robe and also slid between the covers.
They had loved long and sweet through the night. Each one in turn satisfying the desires of the other. Darcy was awake, Elizabeth still nestled closely next to him, occasionally murmuring softly, contentedly.
His reflections drifted back to when his mother was alive. She and her son had been very close. It was one reason why Darcy had been so very withdrawn on first knowing Elizabeth. His confidant, the one person he had had many a heartfelt talks with had been gone for many years now. He had never exposed the feelings nearest and dearest to his heart to anyone. It was on one of the occasions they strolled the garden in the Spring that his mother begged him for a moment of his time, she entreated him to weigh carefully the words she was about to say. Darcy listened with all earnestness to what she said.
"Fitzwilliam," she began, "you are a grown man now and will soon have many responsibilities. Along with those, you must afford yourself a sense of right and wrong especially as concerns your heart. Many men feel the necessity to express their masculinity, so to speak, by engaging in intimacies before they are married."
They were sitting on the edge of the fountain now, Mrs. Darcy having taken his hand in hers.
Speaking slowly, "Fitzwilliam my dear, when a man and a woman marry they become one flesh. For the woman, it is expected of her to be fresh and new for her husband. As for the gentleman though, it seems that pureness does not matter. Let me now give you a little advice, if you truly want to be one flesh with your wife, if you believe that you will marry for love, if you believe you will marry forever then you will do yourself the greatest favor by also being just as chaste as your wife when you go to your marriage bed. I assure you my son you will not regret it. Do you understand me?
"Mother I perfectly comprehend your meaning and will take it under advisement."
Darcy rose, gently kissed her and begged her to forgive him but felt he should be alone to reflect on her words.
Darcy had heeded his mother's advice and to his total satisfaction realized last night the full meaning of her words. He and Elizabeth had indeed become one flesh. He knew they would become one mind on all but a few subjects. He cuddled Elizabeth a little closer to him and drifted off to sleep.
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