Posted on 2011-09-29
"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest." ~ Jane Austen, Mansfield Park ch 48
"The anxiety, which in this state of their attachment must be the portion of
Henry and Catherine Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth, and of all who loved either, as to its final event, can hardly extend, I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity." ~ Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey ch 31 (with a modification)
"The story of Pride and Prejudice has been retold thousands of times, in as many ways. Need I subject you to another? Need you wait and wonder? The epilogue is the most satisfying part, so let us immediately go to it."~ JanetR, Epilogue, 2011
Once Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet had been discovered in compromising positions at Vauxhall, and in Hyde Park, and in the British Museum, and in the library at Netherfield, and in a mail coach en route from Surrey to Norfolk, there was little recourse but to force them to marry to retain their reputations. This was done, in spite of their protestations of innocence and mutual indifference. No one believed them.
Six months later Elizabeth gave birth to the Darcy triplets, weighing in at a combined eighteen pounds, after an easy labor of only three hours, during most of which she spent in planning a month of menus with Mrs. Reynolds and in arbitrating four disputes between household servants while her devoted husband bathed her brow with soothing lavender water.
Mr. Bingley and Jane remained at Netherfield only a twelvemonth after their marriage. He bought an estate in a neighbouring county to Derbyshire; and Jane and Elizabeth were within thirty miles of each other. Whether one considers it a misfortune or not, his purchase was made at top price during the height of early nineteenth-century land values. Depressed prices subsequent to the Napoleonic Wars, when factored with his additional capital outlay in attempting to improve the estate, had depleted his worth and income. That Charles and Jane were so easy, that almost every servant had cheated them; and so generous, that they always exceeded their income, had further eroded family resources over time.
Still, the Bingleys maintained a comfortable life and were besotted with their six beautiful daughters. They were sweet girls who smiled a little too much, but who could never think ill of any body. On these allurements they must almost entirely depend; for with no son to inherit, it was decided the Bingley estate would one day be equally apportioned among the daughters. Their father could offer but five thousand pounds each from its estimated value, and then only upon his death and their mother's. In the end the Bingley girls, pretty and pleasant, made happy and respectable matches - to tradesmen in comfortable situations. The Bingley experiment in rising from trade lasted but one generation. Aunt Caroline was not amused.
Mary Bennet and Catherine Bennet were the two daughters who remained at home after their sisters had wedded. Imagine their surprise to discover they were clever, sensible, witty, charming, and lively. It was as if they were very like Elizabeth, but had not known it!! Kitty, so used to being irritable, ignorant, and insipid, could find no way to account for it. Mary found herself sharing pert opinions, founded in good sense, with a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront any body. Each thought, "Till this moment I never knew myself."
Armed with Elizabeth-like charms and abilities, it is no wonder their lives took the amazing turn that even Mrs. Bennet's vivid matchmaking imagination would have found impossible to conjure.
While staying with her relatives in London, Kitty was taken by Aunt Gardiner to see the place in Hyde Park where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth had … well … anyway, she had never seen it and expressed curiosity. Before they could make their way to the site, the young Earl of Skye, who in recent years had been broodingly staring out of fashionable windows all over London in escape from the ton's leading matchmaking mamas, spotted Catherine Bennet in all her Elizabethness and fell into instant love and bewitchment. A month later Catherine Bennet was Her Ladyship The Countess of Skye, beneficiary of an annual income of 35,000 pounds, two large country estates, and two houses in London.
After Kitty's wedding the Gardiners invited Mary to stay with them in town for a time, thinking she would welcome more amusement and congenial company than Longbourn offered. Not many days after they were settled Mrs. Gardiner suggested they savor the fine weather by going to Hyde Park. Would Mary care to see the place where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth had … well … anyway, it was rumored that a commemorative plaque had been installed at the location … would Mary like to read the inscription if the rumor proved true? Eager to indulge her recently realized passion for walking, Mary agreed.
Mrs. Gardiner and her niece arrived in Hyde Park but before they could make their way to the particular site, the young Duke of Marm, upon espying Mary Bennet in all her Elizabethness, succumbed to the utmost force of passion and immediately plummeted into ardent admiration and love. With not a whit of regret, he acknowledged to himself that his days of staring broodingly out of fashionable windows and standing about stupidly in ballrooms were over. Almost before Mrs. Bennet could gasp "Pin Money", Mary Bennet became Her Grace The Duchess of Marm, wife of 110,000 pounds per annum, mistress of four large country estates and three houses in London, and holder of the Empire's largest private collection of diamond jewelry.
As for Wickham and Lydia, their characters suffered no revolution from the marriages of her sisters. The astounding revolution in their rise in circumstances and consequence owed nothing to the marriages either, excepting the fortuitous banishment to Newcastle. Wickham's commander there was a Colonel Forbes, friend of the Darcys' cousin Colonel The Hon. Adam Fitzwilliam. He had been warned to keep a close eye on Mr. Wickham and, in doing so, was soon caught by Wickham's uncanny ability to seem what he was not, and his ease in forming convincing speech that masked the truth. Never one to underestimate the value of lies and deceit in the campaign against the Terror of Europe, Colonel Forbes recognized the advantage Wickham's gifts could bring to His Majesty's armed forces, especially the secret service.
It was not long before the Wickham Way became an integral part of the military credo. His Code Handbook: All Royal Military was required reading at every level, though always after being sworn to keep the contents of CHARM undisclosed to enemies. The now Captain Wickham was transferred to the capital, which pleased his wife, for she had used to want to go to London. She was happy, then, and her residence there was of some duration. From the large luxurious mansion they were allocated near Whitehall, Wickham went once or twice a week to provide training in his methods.
It was never necessary for Mr. Darcy to assist him farther in his profession, for the Wickhams enjoyed the patronage and condescension of the Prince Regent, and later as George IV. They achieved wealth and prestige and soon, after the bestowal of a knighthood and a promotion, they were General Sir George and Lady Wickham. When a household was formed for Princess Charlotte of Wales, Lydia was appointed her Lady in Waiting and remained a favorite until the Princess's untimely death. Nor did their fortunes wane in later reigns, for the general's flattery and Lady Wickham's never-lost untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless manner amused Silly Billy and appealed mightily to young Queen Victoria's passionate nature.
The Wickhams remained childless and though Lady Wickham turned her attentions on her Gardiner cousins and, later, her nieces, with the promise of balls and young men, their fathers would never consent to their going.
Happy for all her maternal feelings were the days after Mrs. Bennet got rid of her five daughters. With what delighted pride she afterwards talked of Her Ladyship The Countess of Skye and Her Grace The Duchess of Marm, may be guessed. Whatever effusions she spared from them were devoted to her dear General Sir George and Lady Wickham. Rarely did she have the time or inclination to mention a mere landed gentleman of ten thousand a year; or one who had but five or four thousand a year and very likely less.
But there were other maternal feelings to consider and, though happiness was a part, surprise, at least at first, consumed the greater portion. Astonishing indeed it was to the world when Mrs. Bennet gave birth to twin boys nine months after Mary's wedding day. It had taken Mr. and Mrs. Bennet a significant amount of time to accept and believe she was truly with child. They could hardly explain it until Mrs. Bennet recalled the very excellent wine provided by the Duke at the wedding breakfast; and how she had thought partaking of a great deal of it had caused such tremblings, such flutterings, all over her - such spasms in her side, and such beatings at heart, which she had a confused memory of from that night. Might the source of all those memories be … something else? After deep reflection, her husband was inclined to concede that … something … had taken place; for he too had imbibed copiously and had vague recollections of caprice and an odd mixture of quick parts.
While Mr. Bennet was prodigiously grateful to have two fine healthy sons, and though he missed his daughters exceedingly, particularly his second, he found less and less could draw him from his home. He could not countenance being made sport of by his neighbours on account of his advanced fatherhood. Enduring two or three displays of "Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink" had been enough to make him feel he was thought the silliest man in the country and vowed to himself never to go in public again. For the most part, he held to it; he rarely visited any of his daughters, especially when he was least expected.
Miss Bingley was very deeply mortified by Darcy's marriage. This was exceeded only by the mortification she had experienced when, while in pursuit of him and stalking him like prey, she had witnessed, from her hiding place at Vauxhall, him and Eliza Bennet in a compromising position. Her chagrin, when sequestering behind a tree in Hyde Park, at seeing them compromising again was painful. There were days when she could not bear the memory of what she had seen from behind the bust of Shakespeare at the British Museum. And the humiliation she had felt when she viewed them from behind a bookcase in the Netherfield library could scarcely be expressed. She was almost thankful that she had not boarded that mail coach in Surrey, though she had missed it by only four minutes.
Miss Bingley was unable to drop her resentment. She let it be known she would rather live near Cheapside than visit Pemberley, gave up the masquerade of fondness for Georgiana, sneered at the name Mr. Darcy, and was excessively uncivil about Eliza Bennet whenever an opportunity presented itself. Attempts to attract the attention and favor of the Duke of Marm and the Earl of Skye had failed miserably, exacerbating her disgust with the ton's continued blindness to her charms. Her ungracious behavior, petulance, and vitriolic tongue worked in her disfavor from that time forward. When it became clear to her that even her twenty thousand pounds would not buy her a match into the higher circles, she refused to settle for a lesser one and steered her life in another direction.
She used her fortune to found and operate an exclusive seminary for ladies. It was a success beyond all expectation. Though she maintained the pretense that she was an investor only, in order to eschew the taint of being in trade, in practice she was the headmistress and principal instructress. Within a very few years, the aptly named Accomplished Ladies Seminary had eclipsed all others in London in popularity and reputation. The young ladies were given a demanding and thorough education in music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages. The tone of their voices was not neglected; nor were their address and expressions and other intangibles, such as a certain something in their air. Miss Bingley could hug herself. She launched into society many an accomplished young lady who fully deserved the word. It ended, alas, when she launched herself one day when she was not paying heed and accidentally stepped off the third storey balcony while demonstrating the proper manner of walking.
Mr. and Mrs. Hurst recovered from their carriage accident and lived a long life that might or might not have involved bracelets.
Anne de Bourgh's displeasure with the Darcy marriage rivaled Miss Bingley's. All her life she had been told Darcy would be her husband. She was to have had the glory and reputation for being the co-instrument in joining the great estates of Rosings and Pemberley. The prestige of a rich handsome husband was meant to be hers. She was supposed to be the envy of every young woman in the kingdom. All these, without effort on her part, were to have been hers. Embarrassed and bewildered by the turn of events, she felt keenly the injustice to herself. She had never thought about marriage except to Darcy and could not imagine being united to anyone else. How could she meet or choose a husband? She secretly admitted she had no beauty, no skills, no elegance, no talents, no conversation, no opinions, nothing of what she had read that would attract a husband. She grew crosser and crosser, paler and thinner. It would be awkward and humiliating to be married to anyone but Darcy. She could not picture it, and decided she would be better off never marrying.
She had raged and worried through these ideas day after day while she drove out, until she had become tolerably acquainted with her thoughts. It had become a habit to stop by the parsonage each time to call out Mrs. Collins to speak with her. Somehow the sight of Charlotte Collins standing beside her phaeton, buffeted by the wind, never failed to appeal.
More and more often Anne accepted Charlotte's invitation to come inside for rest and refreshments. Anne de Bourgh would never forget the wonderful epiphany she had that one day in the parsonage sitting room when Charlotte, with a sidelong glance, had said, "I have never thought highly of men … or matrimony." Anne's look back at her was both a question and an answer. Charlotte continued, "For women like us, it really does not matter whom one marries. Since a man must be involved, it matters little which man it is. Sometimes, when one has the means, it is better not to marry at all."
Anne understood. From that day forward, the friendship between Miss de Bourgh and Mrs. Collins took a different road. Visits between Rosings and Hunsford parsonage were more frequent and of greater length. Anne taught Charlotte to drive the phaeton and they had many happy outings together.
Lady Catherine was extremely indignant on the marriage of her nephew; and as she gave way to all the genuine frankness of her character, in her reply to the letter which announced its arrangement, she sent him language so very abusive, especially of Elizabeth, that for some time all intercourse was at an end. Between Rosings and Pemberley that is. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy's continued unabated.
Lady Catherine's ire was so intense and personal that she noticed nothing of her daughter's turmoil and agitation of spirits. The growing friendship between Anne and Charlotte was undetected by the matriarch. Instead, she assuaged her feelings of impotence by focusing her considerable powers of attention on her neighbors and dependents to a degree surpassing any she had maintained to date. Because she was excessively attentive to all those things, upon receiving information that there were cottagers disposed to be more quarrelsome, more discontented, and poorer than had ever been seen before, taking her foul mood with her she sallied forth into the village to settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony and plenty.
She never returned. She never was seen again. Every villager, to a man woman and child, remained unshakably mute about the matter, and the mystery of Lady Catherine de Bourgh's disappearance remains a mystery to this day.
The Reverend William Collins, Rector of Hunsford, was a beleaguered man. Battered by the double misfortune of the loss of his esteemed patroness and the birth of two male distant cousins, his life seemed in tatters. Most pressing was the distressed state of his financial position. With a future income of two thousand pounds in mind, rather that the three hundred attached to his living, he had indulged in expanding his library with the intention of improving his mind by extensive reading. In this cause, he was now heavily in debt to a bookbinder and bookseller in London who specialized in etchings, prints, illustrations, and literature directed specifically to gentlemen. There were several shelves in his bookroom holding the elegantly bound volumes, cunningly labeled "Sermons", many of which remained on the payment due roll at his creditor's. He could no longer borrow against a future improved income and he felt his quandary acutely.
After a well-deserved period of time dedicated to apprehension that his folly would be discovered by his wife or the world at large, Mr. Collins found relief from the very quarter, the very family, to whom he owed so much. Again he blessed his good fortune in having been distinguished by the patronage, bounty and beneficence of the illustrious name of de Bourgh. The new mistress of Rosings, far from withdrawing her favor, had continued, if not amplified, the gracious attentions to the family Collins, particularly to his dear wife Charlotte. So generous was Anne de Bourgh with her gifts and largesse that comfort and ease were restored to the rectory and the rector. He found that his wife's close friendship with Miss de Bourgh had such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to the situation, that he could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.
Mr. Mudge, Lt. Left, Pirate Pete, Miss Place, and Archdeacon Thibideau who, at various times, both in league together and independently, had attempted to kidnap, assassinate, despoil, ruin, blackmail, humiliate, and/or poison Elizabeth and/or Darcy, were each convicted of something and/or other and shipped separately to Australia where they eventually met up and invented an early version of Vegemite.
Colonel The Honourable Adam Fitzwilliam, whose elder brother continued disappointingly un-sickly, found that his price was closer to fifteen thousand pounds than fifty when he met and married the seventh daughter of a moderately well-off baronet. This modest windfall was enough to merit resigning his commission and returning to civilian life, once again merely The Honourable Adam Fitzwilliam, sans regimentals.
After enumerating his possible income-producing skills and attributes, he used his wife's fortune to found and operate The School for Gentlemanly Deportment. An unqualified success, his academy featured an intensive eight-week course designed to prepare young gentlemen for The Season. He taught them to adopt his manners, which were very much admired wherever he went; to be in person and address most truly the gentleman; and how to enter into conversation directly with the readiness and ease of a well-bred man, and to talk very pleasantly.
The Darcy, Marm, and Skye boys all attended. As a result, each and every one of them wore out many pairs of dancing slippers per Season; and not one of them was able to give a decent description of what a window looked like from inside a room.
The Hon. Adam's signature achievement came when several continental cousins to the King graduated from his course and ultimately charmed and captivated the entire fashionable London world with their amiable and polished manners. For this he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Mudstuffin.
Lord and Lady Mudstuffin had one son, whom he named Richard just because he liked the sound of it.
Pemberley was now Georgiana's home; it remained so for years. The attachment of the sisters was not exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. Georgiana had a low opinion of Elizabeth, dating from the beginning when she first listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive manner of talking to her brother. She never managed to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself. Georgiana remained stiff and awkward and silent with Elizabeth, though they both were well mannered enough to maintain the highest degree of politeness and civility.
Things changed, finally; to the great relief of Mr. Darcy, who had thought he would never have Pemberley to himself, his wife, and his children, or escape the din of hour after hour of incessant piano forte practice.
After years of suggesting, Darcy had at last convinced Georgiana to take a holiday for herself, to experience new places and new vistas. Therefore she went with a friend as her companion to Scarborough. There she became acquainted with the heir to an impoverished viscount. She so far recommended herself to him, whose affectionate heart felt a strong impression of her kindness to him, that he was persuaded to believe himself in love, and to consent to an elopement. He was fifteen years her junior, which must be his excuse.
Upon receiving the news of Georgiana's marriage, Mr. Darcy immediately released her fortune of thirty thousand pounds and shipped her piano forte to her new residence in Ireland, happy to be restored at last to all the comfort and elegance of their family party at Pemberley.
Five years later when the viscount died and his heir assumed the title, Georgiana fittingly became Lady Cougar.
With the Gardiners their nieces were always on the most intimate terms. They really loved them; and they were ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing one into Derbyshire and two into Hyde Park, had been the means of throwing them in the way of rich men.
Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy had nine children and thirty-eight grandchildren. Their names were Victoria, Albert, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold, Beatrice, William, Charlotte, Henry, Sigismund, Victoria, Waldemar, Sophie, Margaret, Albert, George, Louise, Victoria, Maud, Victoria, Elizabeth, Irene, Ernest, Frederick, Alexandra, Marie, Alfred, Marie, Victoria, Alexandra, Beatrice, Christian, Albert, Helena, Marie, Margaret, Arthur, Patricia, Alice, Charles, Alexander, Victoria, Leopold, and Maurice. Many of them were lively and, without exception, each was handsome and clever. The only fault one might be justified in mentioning is a frequent lack of originality in assigning names to their offspring, for the duplications carried into subsequent generations. They all married happily and well, though none to a cousin or close relation of any sort.
After close to fifty-four years of wedded bliss, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth died naked in each other's arms in a pond at Pemberley in August 1866 due to simultaneous post-coital heartbursts.The End