Two Days Away
This story picks up after "The Season" leaves off.
The Darcys had remained in London for almost a month. Elizabeth did enjoy a little of London's society, having attended the annual Spring Ball with her husband a fortnight before. The Bingleys extended their stay in the Darcy's townhouse, much to Charles Bingley's great delight. He had missed some of the society he had known before his marriage to Jane Bennet, and his relocation to Hertfordshire. Jane was comforted to have the companionship of her sister once again, even though they seemed to be going in separate directions during most of their stay.
Evenings were spent in good company or occasionally at the opera, or at a play. Darcy refused to attend the ballet, having reportedly said he had no taste for it. Elizabeth and Jane attended the ballet once while in town, with the Gardiners, to see what it was like. Elizabeth had to admit she found it a bit obscure for her taste as well and decided that attending such affairs was much more pleasant when accompanied by her husband. Her separation from her husband on that evening had only served to fuel the fire with the gossips in town, that the Darcy marriage was already in trouble. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, for Elizabeth and Darcy were as happy as ever. They relished in the solace that the London townhouse provided. They were known to not readily accept social invitations, stating their excuses as being otherwise engaged. Jane and Charles Bingley accepted invitations from his social acquaintances and those of Bingley's sisters, who were also in town. To Jane, it was her wifely duty to attend these functions with her husband, even though she held little regard for them. She would tell her sister of them the next morning at breakfast and Elizabeth would smile and sigh with contentment, that her husband was not one for such engagements.
As for the Darcys, they spent their mornings walking arm in arm in the neighborhood park, cordially bowing to their neighbors as they passed. Darcy would take Elizabeth on sight-seeing excursions to London's most historical places, which they both enjoyed immensely. They dined out on occasion and Elizabeth was introduced to foods she had never even known the names of. Her favorite however, was still a simple plate of strawberries and cream. He indulged her by escorting her on shopping excursions now and then. She was always timid about expressing her delight with the things she saw, for if she did, Darcy would insist that she purchase. Elizabeth had never been so lavished upon, but she did love all the attentions that her new husband paid her.
They had been walking down Bond Street one day, looking in the fashionable shop windows, when Elizabeth found herself looking into the window of a perfumery. She lingered at the shop window, looking at all the finely shaped bottles, wondering at the delightful fragrances they contained. Darcy noticed her fascination with the shop and asked her if she would like to go in.
"You would not mind if I went in? I would like to smell the fragrances." She looked dreamily in the window. "Everything we always managed to obtain came from the Meryton apothecary. I always wondered what it would be like..." her voice trailed off. There were times when she felt completely na‘ve and backward, especially now that they were in such modish society.
Darcy opened the door for her. "I shall just go to the book shop next door. Will a half hour be sufficient time?"
"You will not come with me?" She looked up at him.
"My love...gentlemen do not often frequent a perfumery." He said, trying to cover up a grin.
"Oh." Elizabeth hoped she had not embarrassed him. "I do not have to go in, dear."
"Nonsense. Go inside and choose something you like." He grinned wide this time. "Something exotic and fascinating."
Elizabeth laughed at him. "Exotic and fascinating?" She was still giggling to herself when he opened the door for her.
"Remember, my love. Do not leave here, until I come for you. London is not a safe enough place for you to be walking about alone." He smiled at the proprietress as she came forward to assist Elizabeth and shut the door behind him.
She greeted Elizabeth kindly. "May I help you...Mrs.?"
"Darcy...Mrs. Darcy." Elizabeth blushed.
"Mrs. Darcy." the proprietress looked at her, eager to please. "May I show you a particular fragrance?"
"I am not sure? I must admit I have never been in a shop of this kind."
"Oh Mrs. Darcy! Allow me to ask you some questions." The woman helped Elizabeth to a chair and she began to bring out small vials. "Do you prefer a floral fragrance, or spicy fragrance? Rich or discreet?"
Elizabeth tried to stifle a wicked grin. "Something exotic...and fascinating." She uttered. "But not too indiscreet."
The woman smiled prudently. "Something to please your husband?" She dipped small papers into the vials and let them dry. Elizabeth would sample their scent, but she could not decide, they were all so lovely. They smelled so delicate and refined compared to the apothecary fragrances she was used to.
"This one is lovely." she finally said. "It is perfection."
The woman applied a small amount to Elizabeth's wrist. She inhaled the fragrance, once it was on Elizabeth's skin and pronounced it to be divine. Elizabeth brought her wrist up and sniffed. She smiled and her eye's sparkled in delight. "I shall take it." She pronounced and the woman pulled down a lovely amber bottle from the shelf, wrapped it in paper and tied it with a satin ribbon.
"Do not think me rude, but I would like to wash off the fragrance from my wrist?" Elizabeth asked of the woman. "I should like to surprise my husband."
Darcy came for her soon afterward and they left the shop and headed back down the street towards their carriage. After some moments in his own quiet speculation, Darcy inquired, "Well? Did you find something you liked, my love? I cannot seem to make it out?"
"Yes, I found something I believe you shall like as well...something...how did you put it? Exotic and fascinating, was it?" she teased him.
Darcy kept walking, his eyes ahead of them, however she knew he was more than just casually curious about her purchase, by the upturned corners of his mouth.
When they returned to the town house, Bingley and Jane were awaiting them. They were all to attend a dinner party that night, at an acquaintance of Darcy's and Bingley's. Elizabeth went upstairs with Jane to begin dressing, all the while telling her sister of the perfumery.
After Darcy had dressed he walked out into their room. It was a large room, with a wonderful view of the park from the large window on the west side. It had a beautiful burl maple, four poster bed, with finials that reached almost to the ceiling, which were draped with crisp linens. It also had an ornately carved mantle over its hearth. It was tasteful for its time, and not ostentatious. The room was light and cheery, and Elizabeth thought it her favorite room in the whole house. She thought the rest of the house to be rather dark, and some of it's rooms she thought were absolutely not to her taste at all. It was very stately and appeared to have more of a man's touch to it, than a woman's. Perhaps, it was because she was so fond of Pemberley, that she did not care for it as well.
Darcy looked about the room, and did not see his wife. He looked at the book he had purchased at the book shop and placed it next to his side of the bed on the night stand. He would have preferred to stay home that night and read it, but the engagement had been made some time ago with the Coles. Ethan Cole was a business associate of Darcy's. The two men had made a few investments together, over the years. They were lucrative investments, however Darcy had come to the conclusion that he wished to liquidate his portion of the venture, and invest the money somewhere closer to home. This would be a good opportunity to discuss the matter with Mr. Cole.
Elizabeth stepped out into their room, in a lovely green dress. Darcy turned around and saw her, she was beautiful indeed. However after a few moments he was drawn to her by something he could not explain. It was not the dress, for he had seen it on her before. Her hair was done in the usual way and she looked as enchanting as she always did to him, but something was different. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He bent down and nuzzled her neck and she returned his embrace.
"You are lovely this night, my dear." He kissed her neck as he spoke. "There is something different and I cannot seem to describe it? Pray, tell me what it is?"
She smiled, wriggling out of his grasp and moving away, closer to the window. He followed her not wanting to be that far from her. She turned around and he reached down for another kiss, and was completely lost in her scent.
"Pray, Elizabeth. Tell me what you have done...what is it?" he breathed in as he moved his way to her cheek, and her lips.
She reached up and stopped him. "Fitzwilliam, I believe we must be going. We have no time for these matters now." She smiled and moved away again.
Darcy was vexed by his inability to discover what it was that was so bewitching about his wife at that moment. "You will not tell me?" he sulked.
Elizabeth shook her head in determination. "No." she said.
"I will know what it is before this night is through." He demanded. "If it kills me or not."
The dinner party at the Coles was enjoyable enough, but Darcy had trouble keeping his mind on the present company. He stood in the corner a long while and spoke with Mr. Cole concerning their business matters. Each time Elizabeth would walk by him, his mind would wander and he found he could not concentrate on the conversation. It was very disturbing to him. After a time, they were seated for supper. Darcy found himself racing through his meal, barely holding a conversation with anyone. Elizabeth was having a fine time, however she noticed her husband's preoccupation with his meal and thought him rather detached from the rest of the company and any conversation. The conversation turned to the latest topic in the fashionable areas of London. That being the rash of robberies which had been happening at the town houses in the West End. Mr. Cole explained how the assailant would break into the house through a window or door and seem to slip past the watchful eyes of servants, as the household slept. Helping himself to the silver and any other marketable item, within easy reach.
Elizabeth and Jane looked at each other, their eyes wide. Nothing of that nature ever happened in Hertfordshire. Darcy dismissed the tales as pish posh, stating that no one would be able to intrude into their town house, without him knowing it. Besides, he was more disturbed by Elizabeth's sudden allure on him, than the reports of any burglaries. The evening came to an end and Darcy happily entered the carriage for home. On the way Elizabeth began to inquire again as to their safety.
"Are you positive that no one can get into the house at night, Fitzwilliam?" Elizabeth questioned him, still unsettled by all the talk.
"Yes dear, quite positive. Surely you are not afraid?" he chuckled.
"Surely not!" she surprised herself with a sudden rush of courage, for his benefit. "It is just that the town house is so very dark."
He dismissed her fears again with a shrug, becoming ever more obsessed with what was attracting him to her so much more than usual, especially in the presence of others.
That night after they had all retired to their rooms, Elizabeth waited safely in bed for her husband as he took his turn about the house. It was his habit to do so every night, before he came to bed. She looked over at the large windows on the west side of the room. She tiptoed out of bed and made sure the drapes were securely closed. When she finished, she ran back to bed, jumped in, and crawled down under the covers, her heart pounding. She heard someone come into the room and walk over to the bed. She felt a poke and she let out a small yelp.
"Elizabeth? Are you under there?" Darcy said, barely able to contain himself.
She removed the covers from her head, feeling like a silly young girl. He sat on the bed and smiled at her.
"You must think me a silly creature?" She pouted. "Did you check all the doors...and the windows?"
"Yes, my love. I made sure to leave a window open so the robber will not have to make noise and disturb us as he enters."
She pushed him off the bed as he laughed at her. "You think me ridiculous! Go on...tease me if you will! I am not affected by it. You may think what you wish!" she censured him and turned her back.
"You are quite wrong, my lovely wife. I do not think you ridiculous at all." He moved towards her and pulled her close. "On the contrary. All this evening I have thought you to be..." he paused searching for the words. "quite bothersome to me."
"Bothersome?" she huffed.
"No, no...not bothersome in a bad way. You know..." he stopped to brush her hair from her face and kiss her ear. "...fascinating. I have been quite preoccupied with you all evening. I wish I knew what it was?" He whispered and resumed his obsession with her.
"Really?" she smiled to herself and said nothing more.
The next morning at breakfast, Darcy announced his plans to be away. "I must make a quick trip to Wiltshire. Mr. Cole has found a buyer for my portion of our investment there. I will conduct my business and return, within two days, I think."
Bingley perked up when he heard of Darcy's plans. "I say Darcy, would you mind if I went along?"
"Not at all Bingley, but what about...?" and he looked at their wives seated at he table with them.
"We shall be just fine!" Elizabeth bucked up her courage and announced. She was not going to have her husband thinking she was a silly thing again. "Jane and I will do very well together. After all, the servants are here...Mr. Greeley is here. He will see to our needs. We shall have some time to ourselves...sisterly time." Jane nodded her agreement. "We will not have much time to miss you..." Elizabeth looked at Darcy with determination on her face, "in two days."
"Is that so?" he took another bite of toast and eyed her suspiciously. "Well then, it is settled. We leave tomorrow morning." Darcy did feel uneasy about leaving his wife and sister alone. Not that there would be any trouble with robbers, but that the ladies could probably do themselves harm thinking of the possibility.
The next morning Darcy and Bingley prepared to leave, very early. The sun was just rising and Elizabeth donned a wrap and went outside to bid her husband good-bye.
"My love. We shall return on Wednesday afternoon. Remember, do not leave the house alone. Send a note for Uncle Gardiner, and he will escort you if you must go out. Promise you will do what I ask?"
She nodded, with a tiny pout on her lips.
"However much you claim you will not miss me, I however will miss you." He smiled and kissed her tenderly. "Good-bye, love."
She watched as the carriage pulled away. "I will miss you, my love." She pouted again and quickly entered the house.
Elizabeth and Jane had a very fine day. They laughed and giggled and told each other secrets they had been keeping for some time. They spoke of their happiness at having such fine and loving husbands.
"Did you ever think you would have all this Lizzy?" Jane asked her.
"No, Jane. I did not," she looked down contemplatively. "But it would mean nothing if he did not love me as he does and I did not love him." She sighed, "What are we to do for two more days?"
"We will find something to do. What did we ever do, before we were married?" Jane said.
"Sometimes I have a hard time remembering. This is the first time Fitzwilliam and I have ever been separated." She frowned.
"Come Lizzy. Shall we dispatch a note to Aunt Gardiner? Perhaps tomorrow we shall visit and play with the children."
Darcy and Bingley sat in the Inn in Wiltshire, having supper and some conversation.
"Well Darcy. We are free as birds this evening. What shall we do?" Bingley sat back in his chair, his arms behind his head.
"I do not know Bingley. What is there to do in Wiltshire?"
"Well, what did we used to do before we were married men?"
"I recall we used to sit around, in boredom, most of the time. Bingley, I have brought a good book and intend to occupy myself with it for most of the evening. You may do what you wish." Darcy informed him.
"Perhaps I can engage one of the other boring married men in the Inn, for a game or two of chess?" Bingley got up from the table in a huff, and strode off into another room.
Darcy went to his room, in search of his good book. He started pulling things out of the small trunk and noticed a faint scent. He pulled out the book and found a note in it. He held it up to his nose, looked at it curiously and opened it.
My dear Husband,
I hope you will not be as lonely for me as I think you may. I have sent you this note with my assurances that I will be waiting impatiently for your return. Til then, I shall ever be,
Your "exotic and fascinating" Wife.
"The perfume!" He stood there in amazement that it had not occurred to him before. He wondered what she was doing at that moment and realized that this was the first time since their marriage that they had been separated. He truly did miss her, and the scent of the perfume did not help matters.
Elizabeth was readying herself for bed. She looked around the large room, and it felt empty. "Oh how I wish he would hurry home to me!" she thought. "Fitzwilliam, how am I to sleep alone in this room all night?"
"You will be fine, my love. I shall be back in two days," she heard him say in her mind. "Do as I ask, Elizabeth and all will be well."
"Yes, my love. I shall do as you ask." She smiled, but shivered at the loneliness in the room. "I believe I shall go and see if Jane is all right, first."
She was headed out the door when she saw her sister coming down the dark hallway towards her.
"Oh Lizzy! I just wanted to see if you were all right!" Jane smiled nervously.
"Jane! It is not possible to sleep in this room all by myself. Will you stay in here with me tonight?" Elizabeth pleaded with her sister.
Jane looked relieved. "I thought you would never ask, Lizzy!"
The sisters sat in the large bed and giggled until the wee hours of the night. It reminded them of when they were young and it had been the night after an assembly in Meryton. Elizabeth told Jane of Darcy's fascination with the perfume she had bought and insisted that Jane try it as soon as her husband was back from Wiltshire. Soon Elizabeth noticed Jane's sleepy eyes and realized her own fatigue. They crawled under the covers and said their good nights. Elizabeth sat straight up after a few minutes, slipped out of bed and checked the lock on the door. Satisfied that it was secure, she ran back to the bed, jumped in and pulled the covers up around her.
The Gardiners came to rescue Elizabeth and Jane the next morning. Mrs. Gardiner wished to partake of some shopping and luncheon out. They all had a marvelous day and settled in at a lovely pastry shop for tea. Everywhere they went, the talk seemed to be that of the robberies.
Elizabeth was beginning to worry about spending another night alone in the town house, but she kept her fears to herself.
"My dears, you are welcome to stay with us this night, if you like?" Dear Aunt Gardiner offered them.
Elizabeth smiled and looked at Jane. "Thank you Aunt, but we will be just fine. We are not so silly as to be frightened of robbers. If Fitzwilliam believes we will be fine, then we will be fine." she sighed.
Her Aunt looked at her as if not willing to readily believe her courage. Elizabeth had always been known for her stubborn streak.
"I do wish the town house were not so dark though. I should like to speak to Fitzwilliam about having it painted a brighter color, with some cheerful paper, perhaps." Elizabeth thought out loud.
Jane and Elizabeth stayed to supper at the Gardiners, then were escorted back home by their Uncle. Mr. Greeley was at the door awaiting their return.
"Madam." He said as they entered the house.
"Mr. Greeley. Is everything secure? Have you checked through the house?" Elizabeth inquired nervously.
"Then we will just go up to our rooms now. Good night, Mr. Greeley."
"Good night, Madam." The old butler said and went his way down the hall.
Elizabeth and Jane watched him go then went up to the Master suite. It had already been settled between them that they would remain in each other's company until their husbands came home. They determined that there was safety in numbers. The sisters readied themselves for bed and dismissed their maids. The town house was again quiet and dark as all the servants had either left for the night or gone to bed. Elizabeth and Jane turned in early, as they were tired from the days activities and last night's marathon of giggling. As Elizabeth was dozing off she heard an abrupt noise and sat up.
"Jane! Did you hear that?" she half whispered.
There was another sharp ping and then a bang. Another few pings and two more bangs. Then something rattled. It sounded to Elizabeth like it was coming from below, and that the noise was traveling up through a vent near the hearth.
"I have never heard that before." Elizabeth looked at her sister in fright.
The noises came from down below again and Elizabeth quickly got out of bed and put on her robe. Jane did the same. Elizabeth looked for a weapon. Anything to take with her to use against the robber.
"Fitzwilliam keeps a pistol in the bureau drawer." Elizabeth told her sister. "Jane, I do not know how to use it, do you?"
Jane shook her head, her eyes wide as the noises came floating up from the ground level again.
"That is surely someone trying to break in. Oh, where is Mr. Greeley?" she nervously stepped in place waving her arms. "Where is my husband?"
She eyed the fireplace poker, raced over and picked it up like a rapier.
"Should I get the pistol Lizzy?" Jane asked.
"No Jane, one of us will surely shoot our foot off with it. Take this." And she handed Jane her bone hairbrush and the candlestick.
"What am I to do with this?" Jane panicked.
"I do not know...anything you like. Hit him on the head with it, if you have to!"
Elizabeth unbolted the door and they cautiously stepped out into the hallway and made their way down the staircase to the lower level. They were getting closer to the pinging and banging. Then all of a sudden it stopped. Elizabeth looked at Jane. Her heart was beating faster than she had thought possible and the little hairs on her neck stood on end. They looked down the hallway, but the noise was gone.
"Madam?" Came a deep voice from behind them and Elizabeth turned around and raised the poker as Jane screamed.
"Mr. Greeley!" Elizabeth screamed and put her hand to her mouth.
"Madam? May I assist you both?" Greeley inquired.
"Mr. Greeley. We heard a noise and came to see what it was."
"A noise madam? I heard no noise madam." He replied.
"You did not hear that banging? We thought for sure someone was trying to enter the house." She was on the verge of nervous tears.
"No madam, but I shall go and check the house directly." He said.
"Thank you Mr. Greeley."
He turned on his heel and walked down the hallway and out of sight. Elizabeth and Jane ran back upstairs, as fast as they could and jumped back into the bed.
arcy and Bingley were on their way home from Wiltshire. Darcy had been able to obtain his deal and he was pleased that it had not taken longer. He stretched his arms out and looked at his friend with satisfaction. "I am very glad to be going home Bingley. There is nothing finer than my comfortable bed and my lovely wife in it." He smiled fiendishly. "I wonder if they actually did have time to miss us after all?"
The sun had been up for two hours, but Elizabeth and Jane were sound asleep. They had stayed awake practically the whole night through, from fright. Before they had gone to bed, they had made a pact not to tell their husbands anything of the last two nights, for fear they would think them ridiculous. When they did awaken, Elizabeth hurriedly dressed and anxiously watched out the window for the carriage to arrive. She saw it approach and raced down the stairs and out the door. But when she got outside, she stopped and composed herself, before Darcy saw her. He got out of the carriage and hugged her, delighted to see her. He looked at her face and saw that she looked tired and not at all as happy to see him as he had thought. Perhaps she did not miss him, as she had said?
"Is everything all right, dear? You look very tired?"
"Yes, yes. Everything went just fine. No trouble at all." She smiled nervously.
Darcy thought there was more to this than she was letting on. He took her into the house and Bingley took Jane upstairs to their rooms for a little solitude. Darcy looked again at his wife, he was bewildered that she hadn't seemed to miss him at all. Where were the hugs and the kisses he had expected upon his return? Where was the "Fitzwilliam, I missed you so much I barely survived it" replies? Where was the blasted perfume? He was becoming quite vexed, and his ego was taking a temporary beating, so he decided to try and elicit the required response again.
"I have missed you, my lovely Elizabeth," he whispered as he embraced her. She put her arms around him and wanted to tell him exactly how much she missed him, but her pride was at stake. He would just think her to have acted foolishly, and she did not want him to think he had a witless wife. She kissed him, let go, sat on the sofa and picked up her needlework, feeling embarrassed and foolish for her behavior last night. What would he think of her if he knew she had been running through the house in her nightdress and screaming at phantom noises?
Mr. Greeley knocked and entered the parlor where Darcy and Elizabeth were.
"Yes?" Darcy's voice snapped.
"Sir. Your paper." Mr. Greeley held out the newspaper. "I thought you would want to look at it, since it is already yesterday's news."
"Just take the blasted thing and put it in the study, Mr. Greeley!"
Elizabeth looked up at Darcy, wondering if Mr. Greeley had let on about the screaming, but how could he have? No, it would be best not to say anything at all.
Neither woman was very good company that evening at supper. Elizabeth looked as if she would fall asleep in her chair, and Jane stifled a yawn now and then. Darcy and Bingley did not know what to make of the whole scene, for Jane and Elizabeth would say nothing of the last two days, other than how much they had enjoyed each other's company. Darcy sat back in his chair and heaved a sigh, his frustration written all over his face. He thought it best to retire early that evening, for he would be dreadful company, indeed. He made their excuses and he took Elizabeth upstairs.
arcy crawled into his side of the bed and laid back on the pillow with a thud. After a few minutes, Elizabeth scurried over and placed herself as close to him as she could. "Oh Fitzwilliam, I missed you dreadfully." She finally uttered. He relaxed and held onto her, stroking the side of her face. She sighed deeply and whispered. "You do not know what a relief it is to have you home, my love."
He looked down at her and said. "Relief?"
She took his hand and held it. "Fitzwilliam, I know you will not approve of my behavior, but I do not care at this point."
Darcy did not know what to think. Her behavior? His insecurity was getting the better of him. "What should I not approve of?" He gulped.
"Jane and I did not sleep at all, the entire time you were gone." She rolled over to face him with a pout on her face. "I did not want to tell you because you will think me a silly creature, but..."
All of a sudden she heard a bang and sat bolt upright. "There! Did you hear that noise, Fitzwilliam?"
Darcy sat up and listened a moment. Then it happened again. He did hear it, and he had never heard it before. A light pounding coming from the lower level and traveling up though the vent near the hearth. He got out of bed and pulled on some trousers and a shirt.
"Last night! We heard it last night and went down to the lower level. When we got there it stopped and there was no one there except for Mr. Greeley in the hallway." She started to panic again. "It is the burglars trying to break in, I know it is!"
Darcy went to the bureau, took the pistol and loaded it quickly, then he opened the door and stepped into the hallway followed closely by Elizabeth. He saw Bingley and Jane come out into the hallway also.
"Darcy? Do you hear that noise?" Bingley asked him.
"Yes, Charles. I do...coming from below." He turned around and said to Elizabeth, "You and your sister go back into the room, I am going downstairs."
Elizabeth went pale as she watched him go down the stairs with Bingley behind him. She turned around and hugged Jane and they stood and waited nervously, still listening to the dreadful noise.
Darcy walked quietly down the dark hallway, with Bingley behind him holding a single candlestick. Darcy cocked the hammer back on the pistol and followed the noise. They reached the servants quarters, where the noise could be heard the loudest. They came to a closed door and could hear that the noise was coming from inside of it. Darcy carefully lifted the latch and opened the door.
"Mr. Greeley!" he exclaimed with a start, and lowered the pistol, resetting the hammer. "Good god, what on earth are you doing?"
"Sir?" Mr. Greeley spoke nonchalantly. "I am constructing a birdhouse, sir."
"Yes, I can see that." Darcy looked at Bingley. "In the middle of the night?"
"I could not sleep sir. With all this talk of robberies, I thought it best to be on the alert. I thought I would do something constructive with the time, however." Mr. Greeley raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, well that is very admirable of you, and it is a very fine birdhouse." Darcy shook his head and chuckled. "But I believe you have had the ladies frightened out of their wits these last two nights."
"I did not realize sir." The old butler replied. "That must be why the ladies were down in the hallway last night. And why they both screamed when they saw me."
Bingley and Darcy laughed at the thought of their wives screaming in the house. "So that was what Elizabeth was trying to tell me," Darcy thought in great relief.
"Do you think you might finish that during the day and do something quieter at night then?" Darcy asked Mr. Greeley with a smile.
"As you wish sir." And he put away his tools.
The men turned to go back up to their rooms, but Darcy stopped and again addressed the aging butler. "Mr. Greeley. Please, do not say a word of this to Mrs. Darcy."
"Sir?" the old butler questioned him.
"Well, you would not deny a husband the chance to be a hero to his young wife? Would you Mr. Greeley?"
"Certainly not...sir." A slight smiled rolled onto his face and he went about his business.
Darcy and Bingley walked back upstairs. Bingley tried to keep pace with Darcy, walking along side of him and wondering what he was about.
"Bingley, just play along. Will you?" Darcy grinned and Bingley nodded.
Elizabeth saw her husband and ran to him. "Fitzwilliam! What was it? Was someone trying to enter the town house?" She was almost hysterical and she threw her arms around his neck.
"Everything is all right now, my dear. When we got below, whoever it was must have fled. I told you no one would break in to this house...while I was here. I am positive they will not come back." Darcy made a face at the little white lie when she wasn't looking.
Elizabeth's eyes widened and she held him tighter, sobbing out, "I knew it! Oh lord how I missed you!" she stopped to shower him with kisses. "You must never leave me again!"
Darcy took a quick look at Bingley who was getting the same treatment from his own wife. Darcy grinned in triumph and Bingley shook his head in amusement and they took their wives safely back to bed. Before she fell asleep, Elizabeth said a prayer for her loving and wise husband, and she was extremely grateful that he would always be there to protect her, especially from robbers.
The next morning she asked Darcy if they could arrange to have the town house spruced up a bit. He heartily agreed and an appointment was made with a contractor that afternoon. As they were headed out the front door to the carriage, Mr. Greeley again handed the newspaper to Darcy.
"Perhaps you would like to read it in the carriage, sir?" he suggested.
"I supposed I should read it. After all it is two days old." He opened it up, took a look at it and swallowed a chuckle.
"What does the paper say, my love?" Elizabeth inquired of him.
"Oh...nothing my dear. We had better go, or we will be late." Darcy helped her into the carriage then turned to Mr. Greeley, handing him the newspaper. "Mr. Greeley. Would you put this back in the drawer of my desk in the study?" he whispered his words.
"Yes, sir?" Mr. Greeley responded with curiosity and took the paper from him.
As Mr. Greeley slowly walked down the hallway to the study, he opened the newspaper and looked at the headline, which read, "London safe from intruder threat...assailant captured."
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