Posted on Thursday, 25 July 2002, at 10:54 a.m.
The inspiration for this story came when my mother found me a pen which you dip in ink. Mine's glass, go it cannot be mended, but I thought of Miss Bingley, who so kindly offered to mend Mr Darcy's pen.
Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion. The perpetual commendations of the lady on his handwriting, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, and the perfect unconcern with which they were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each.
'Pray, tell your sister that I long to see her.'
'I have already told her so once, by your desire.'
'I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.'
'Thank you - but I always mend my own.'
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice Chapter 10
Pemberly, the summer when Elizabeth visits Derbyshire with her Aunt and Uncle.
Elizabeth sat with Georgiana Darcy in the drawing room at Pemberly. She had spent a but a few moments with her new friend, and was very impressed. The girl was definitely shy, there was no question about that, but she had a sweet nature, and every few moments, when she spoke of something which was of particular interest to her, her eyes would light up and show a certain fire, betraying her family trait.
'Miss Bennet, would you do please play for me? I have a piece of music which you might recognise, and I wish for some advice on it.'
A little surprised, Elizabeth agreed, and she went off to the music room with Georgiana. Before long, the ladies were very involved in their music, and their laughter. So involved, in fact, that they did not notice Mr Darcy standing at the door, watching the two women he loved more than anything else in the world. When at last they did notice, Elizabeth felt a blush come over her cheeks, for no apparent reason.
'How long have you ladies been locked up in here?' he enquired.
'I don't know, William,' replied Georgiana, 'but it must have been at least an hour.'
'I don't suppose you have looked out the window in that time.'
To this he received a fit of giggles as an answer. To see his sister laughing with Elizabeth warmed Darcy's heart.
'No, we have been engaged in more interesting pass-times,' said Elizabeth, because Georgiana was laughing too hard.
'Well, in the interim, it has started to rain.' Indeed it had.
They returned to the drawing room, where Mr Darcy took out a piece of paper and began writing an unnecessary letter to his assistant in London, only so he would not be caught staring at Elizabeth too often.
'Does your pen suit you, Mr Darcy?' asked Miss Bingley, noticing how he kept twiddling the end.
'Yes, thank you, it does.'
Miss Bingley, sensing that she would not get anywhere with that tactic, began a conversation with her sister. Elizabeth left her place next to her aunt to go talk to Georgiana, sitting close to her brother.
After a few minutes of quiet conversation, they were distracted by a slight huff, emanating from the chair behind them. There was Mr Darcy pulling irritably at his pen.
'May I fix that for you?' asked Elizabeth.
'You can certainly try,' replied the gentleman.
Elizabeth took the pen and without too much fuss, fixed the pen. Just as she was handing it back to its owner, Miss Bingley turned around to see Mr Darcy write a sentence with it, and say,
'You do mend pens remarkably well.'
He was surprised to see Elizabeth break into a wide smile, and turn to whisper conspiratorially with Georgiana.
That night, Elizabeth lay in bed contemplating her wonderful day with the Darcys, most especially the touch of her hand against Mr Darcy's as she returned his pen. She eventually drifted off to sleep, wondering what it could all mean.
Longbourne, after Lydia and Wickham have departed form their visit.
Elizabeth sat down at the desk with her pens and stationery, with the intention of reporting to her aunt the finer points of the Wickhams visit. The only problem was that she kept thinking of Mr Darcy and what he had done for her family. What humiliation must he have suffered in his attempt to find them! And then to still have paid for everything! Something inside her whispered that her had done it for her, but the much louder voice of her reason shouted that he could never be connected to Wickham.
Eventually, she pulled herself together enough to begin her letter. She had only written a few lines, however, when her pen became a bit of a nuicense, and she stopped to fix it. As soon as her mind was not actively engaged in something else, it drifted off to thoughts of Darcy and her time at Pemberly. She remembered his pen, and then his touch, and she broke down and cried.
Pemberly, the following summer.
Elizabeth gingerly lowered herself into the chair. She had to write to Jane, who would be arriving in the neighbourhood in less than a fortnight. It was a very exciting thought that her sister would be merely two hours away, close enough for weekly visits at least.
She took her piece of paper and began fanning herself. This weather was almost unbearable. The heat was something else. Or maybe it was just because her drawing room got full morning sun.
She had barely written two paragraphs when her pen again began to irritate her. She picked it up and began trying to mend it.
Her husband poked an anxious face in through the door. She looked up to see the worried expression on his face, and burst out laughing.
'I just came to check on you.'
'There is no need to worry dearest. Really. Women have been getting pregnant and having babies since the beginning of time.'
'That may be so, but none of them was my most beloved wife. Is there anything I can get you?'
'No, but you can try and mend my pen.'
Without too much effort, Darcy did so. As he returned the pen, Elizabeth, grinning, said 'You do mend pens remarkably well.'
'Madam, I would like to ask you, last summer, when you fixed my pen and I thanked you with those words, why did you erupt into laughter with Georgie?'
At this her smile did turn into a full laugh, and she related the whole story of the pens. As she finished, a grimace passed over her face.
'What?' said Darcy, with a start.
'I think you should call the doctor, I think it's time.'
At this, her husband went into a flat spin, running around and calling maids and footmen.
Early in the hours of the next morning, Sarah Jane Darcy was born.
Pemberly, fifteen years later.
Elizabeth sat with her husband and her four children in the drawing room at Pemberly. Their oldest son, James, had just returned from school for the summer, and they were enjoying a family evening together. Their oldest, Sarah, was writing a letter to her cousin Catherine Bingley, born a few weeks after her. James was engaged in a game of chess with their youngest, Richard, and their other daughter, Anne, was doing her needlework. Elizabeth and Darcy sat in twin armchairs, Elizabeth pretending to also do her needlework, but really watching Anne do hers. Darcy was intent on his sons' chess game.
After a few moments of peace, Sarah exclaimed in annoyance that her pen was giving her problems. Her brother James, glad to be home and more than willing to do anything for any member of his family, offered to fix it for her. This done, he handed her the pen. She began writing again, and said 'You mend pens remarkably well.'
When their parents burst out laughing, they didn't even bother to ask, for it was surely another of their parents' 'moments'. They exchanged long-suffering looks, to which their parents laughed even harder. It has been said that laughter is contagious, and not resisting the urge, Sarah and James began to laugh too. Before long Richard and Anne were also in hysterics, which was how Mrs Reynolds found them ten minutes later.