Posted on: 2014-04-23
Grosvenor Square, London
My dearest brother,
I am so terribly sorry for the amount of time this letter has taken to reach you. I have started and stopped more times than I care to count. Were it not for the efficiency of my chamber maid, the mound of crumpled paper would have grown large indeed. I thank you very much for your kindness and patience in continually writing me even when I would not respond. I have been a very selfish being these past few months and I did not deserve your compassion. You are truly the best of brothers and I hope to make it up to you.
Thank you for informing me of the plight of Mrs. Reynold's niece, Susan. I am devastated to hear of the loss of her parents and older brother in a fire. I can only be glad that her life and that of her younger brother were spared. Though she is but a year older than I, I cannot imagine how Susan is coping. And yet, you must be able to. Knowing you as I do, I realize that whether you could empathize with her or not, you would still have promoted her to upper maid so that she could better look after young Tom. In addition to being the best of brothers, you are also the best of masters.
Though I certainly cannot be happy at the loss of any life, I must be grateful that it has at last opened my eyes. It has taught me a lesson hard learned. Susan has had a great deal of responsibility put on her shoulders, you doubly so. I have never expressed to you just how much I appreciate the care you've shown me since we have lost our parents. Even with the management of a great estate, and all that that entails, you have never held back from giving me your love and being all things to me. A father, a mother, and a brother. In saying that, I wish you would not blame yourself for the Ramsgate incident. I know you do. Indeed, you are the only reason I have been saved. While the fault lies with Mr. Wickham's perfidy, it would be foolish of me not to recognize the part I have played as well. I have always prided myself in how grown up I act, thinking I could pretend to be an adult without all the responsibilities that lie therein. When he came to me with claims of love, I thought surely only a grown up could inspire such affections and therefore I must have been one. How I laugh at my pretensions now! 'Twas nothing but a girlish fantasy that he preyed on.
These past few weeks, Mrs. Annesley has been giving me encouragement, but has also been firm when needed. With her tremendous help and guidance, I have been attempting to amend my behaviour and attitudes. I would like to believe I am succeeding. After much reflection, I am determined that Mr. Wickham shall never hold any power over me again. Were I to pass him on the street, it would be with impunity. Perhaps I have grown up just a little bit.
William, you have been handling everything by yourself for so long. It has been many months since I have turned sixteen. Will you let me start to help? Our housekeeper at Darcy house has agreed, with your permission, to teach me the runnings of the household. It is my wish to lessen that burden on you at least. Please do say yes.
Now I beg one final indulgence. I have missed you terribly. Please forgive me for asking to be alone this last month. While I may have needed the time to think, I now need my brother more. Would you please allow me to join you in the country for a few weeks? Miss Bingley wrote me and left an open invitation so I have no compunctions on that score, and I would not have you remove to London after Mr. Bingley so graciously asked for your presence. My only option then is to join you. Unless of course you would prefer our separation last a little longer, which I would completely understand. Please write soon and tell me of your decision.
Your loving (and repentant) sister,
The night of the assembly
The noise was loud, the heat oppressive and the crush of people nearly unbearable, if one was to listen to Miss Bingley. Darcy noticed none of it, even Miss Bingley's complaining. He was too preoccupied with the remembrance of the letter he had received that morning. He could cite Georgiana's letter by heart at that point, considering how many times he had read it over. He had been so worried over his sister, concerned that she would never get over the heartbreak and betrayal. Yet here he had received proof the contrary!
His little sister was growing up before his eyes and though he could not but regret the events that caused it, he was relieved that the outcome was nowhere near as bad as his worst fears had led him to imagine. In fact, before Ramsgate, Darcy had been considering starting lessons for Georgiana to run a household. After Ramsgate, those plans had been tossed out the window. Now here she was bringing up the idea herself. This, more than anything else, proved to Darcy that she would be okay. Where once there was a time she was too shy to tell her maid that her hairstyle gave her a headache, now she was feeling the confidence to command an entire house. He knew he could only attribute these changes to Mrs. Annesley. What a godsend that woman was! He could not wait to see Georgiana. He would go to London tomorrow at first light and arrange her trip back with him to Netherfield. What a wonderful time they were going to have!
While he paced around the perimeter of the ballroom, the inhabitants of Meryton could not help but notice that the handsome gentleman from Derbyshire had quite the thoughtful look on his face. No one was more curious than Miss Elizabeth Bennet as to what he was thinking. The man had only been introduced to Sir William and his family and then took to the outskirts of the room. In turns she observed her younger sisters' joy of the dance, Mary's isolation in the corner with a book, her Mother's outcries of rich young men finally coming to the neighbourhood, and how one of those young men could not keep his eyes off her sister, Jane (for who could not notice that Jane was the prettiest woman there). But her eyes kept going back to the mysterious Mr. Darcy. Charlotte had done her best to inform Elizabeth of the backgrounds of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, but her information, coming from Sir William, could only go so far. What could he be thinking of that made him so unaware of his own surroundings?
Darcy took a look at his watch piece, and with a start, realized that an hour and a half had passed by since they had entered the assembly. How could he have let himself get so distracted? Looking around, he took note of where the rest of his party were located. Bingley was dancing with a very pretty girl as usual, so he started to walk toward Mr. Hurst, standing by the punch table. This had the benefit of being on the other side of the room from Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. As he made his way, he could not help but feel that someone was watching him. Glancing around to covertly look for this person, his eyes finally landed on a young woman sitting some feet away. He was struck first by the questioning look in her eyes. A perusal of one second more revealed that they were a glittering shade of dark green. In his already befuddled state, he thought to himself that he had never seen eyes more beautiful. The rest of her face was no less pleasing. The woman quickly glanced away and blushed before Darcy realized he was staring. The blush was very becoming on her.
She started clapping to signal the end of the song, so Darcy wrested his eyes away to see Bingley coming towards him.
"Come, Darcy," said he, "I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance."
Bingley was right. He had been standing around in a stupid manner. The assembly was almost two hours in and he had only been introduced to a handful of people at the beginning, all of whom he had forgotten already. Bowing his head slightly, he thought of how rude he must look to everyone. Georgiana was changing but perhaps it was time for him to change too. Thinking of the woman with the fine eyes, he turned to gaze at Bingley's expectant face.
"Indeed you are correct and I apologize for my absent mindedness. I had better dance. Bingley, you must introduce me to that beautiful woman!"