Previous Section, Section II
The next few weeks flew by. Jane and Elizabeth stayed with their father and mother at William's townhouse. Their mother had come to London as predicted to help with Elizabeth's trousseau, only to find that she had another daughter engaged as well. She was ecstatic to find that Jane and Mr. Bingley were finally engaged.
While in London their father had some unpleasant news from the school which Kitty, Mary and Lydia had been sent to. Lydia had been found writing to one of the officers, a Captain Denny, which her father put an immediate stop to. Mr. Bennet wrote to Captain Denny stating that if he wished to court his daughter Lydia, he would have to wait at least 18 months until her 18th Birthday. Then and only then, if she had obeyed the rules set down by the school, would he be allowed to court her. There was to be no personnel or written contact with her until that time. Mr. Bennet also told Captain Denny that once Lydia had finished her schooling, he would be happy for his daughter to be courted by him, and if he wished to keep in contact with Lydia, he could do this through her father only. Mr. Denny wrote to say that he agreed to Mr. Bennet's terms and that any further contact with Lydia would be done through her father. Mr. Bennet was very pleased to see that this young man was willing to wait to court his youngest daughter.
The two couples agreed to have double wedding at the end of June. Mr. Bingley invited all his sisters to the wedding, along with an old aunt who lived in Bath. He stated in his letter to Caroline and Louisa that they would only be allowed to attend if they followed the instructions set down in his letter. He stated that they must both write a sincere written apology to Elizabeth and especially Jane. There was to be no malicious gossip about either Jane or Elizabeth, if they heard any it was to be put a stop to immediately, Mr. Bingley then stated that he did not want to see either of them until his the wedding day.
The engagement ball was a great success; Mrs. Bennet in awe of the amount of titled persons who attended the ball, but surprisingly got along very well with Lady Catherine. This made both Elizabeth and Jane extremely delighted to see mother was happy and relaxed. Mr. Bennet watched his wife proudly; happy to see the woman he had married 25 years ago.
Not long after being in town, Mr. Bennet, quietly overjoyed at his daughters' forthcoming marriages, soon received even more good news. His sister Sophia had presented her husband with twin boys named John Andrew Stephenson and Thomas Bennet Stephenson; Thomas Bennet would now inherit Longbourn House and not Mr. Collins. Elizabeth felt sorry for her friend for the loss of Longbourn, but Charlotte wrote to say that they were very content with their life at the parsonage, so much that they would not want to leave it. A few weeks later, Charlotte wrote to say that she was, as Mr. Collins called it, expecting an olive branch in January.
June soon came, Elizabeth and Jane, along with their parents, were invited to stay with the Earl and Countess of Matlock for a couple of weeks, until the wedding.
The day of the wedding was a beautiful sunny day, the grounds of Matlock House looked exquisite, as the gardeners had worked hard on the flowerbeds. The meal was to be held in the large solarium, which had doors that led outside into the formal gardens. Once outside, a garden party with swings and other entertainments for both adults and children had been arranged in various parts of the grounds.
Elizabeth slowly opened her eyes and looked around her room. Her ladies maid Hannah, whom William had hired for her, came into her dressing room to help her get ready for the day.
"Miss Bennet, her Ladyship has sent you this tray of your favourite breakfast foods and she advises you to eat as much as possible, because later you might not have the appetite to do so."
"Thank you, Hannah," Elizabeth said, looking at the breakfast tray and started to nibble. She was surprised to see how much she managed to eat once she had started. Hannah returned and smiled, saying her bath was now ready for her and asked if she would like her special rinse water to contain rose water or lavender.
"Rose water today Hannah, as I will be carrying the most beautiful Fitzwilliam roses in my bouquet, with small white roses in my hair. Tell me Hannah, what do you think of the new idea of a lace veil for the bride? It looks very pretty; do you think that you will be able to attach it to my hair with the flowers? I do not want to spoil them, or would it be better just to have it sit on top of my hair, held with a few hairpins, so it will be easier to remove after the ceremony? What is your advice?" Elizabeth babbled nervously
"Well Miss, when my last mistress was married, like you, she used a veil. We arranged it so that it sat on the top of her hair held there by very few hairpins so that when the ceremony was over and they went back for the reception, it was easier to remove. The flowers in her hair were not damaged and neither was the veil. This was because hairpins were safely placed away from the flowers. Shall I do your hair now like I did the other day? I will then put the flowers in your hair, and then place the veil gently over top of the flowers, will this be acceptable, ma'am?"
"Yes, that would be wonderful Hannah," Elizabeth replied dreamily.
A few hours later Elizabeth looked at herself in the mirror thinking, "I do not recognise myself any more. This dress is wonderful." It was cream silk with an overdress of French lace with pearls on the bodice, and long fine lacy sleeves. Around her neck were her Grandma's pearls and in her ears her Grandma's pearl earbobs. After the maid left, someone knocked at her door, "Enter" Elizabeth called. There stood Lady Rebecca and Lady Catherine.
"You look absolutely stunning my dear." said Lady Catherine "Now, has your mother informed you of what is to happen tonight?" Elizabeth blushed with embarrassment, "Do not be afraid, I know you are a wise girl my dear. Both Rebecca and myself would like to give you a bit of advice, if we may."
Elizabeth looked at both women, "My mother told me about the wedding night. The trouble was that she was so embarrassed; she confused both Jane and myself. I would be grateful of any advice you can give me Aunt Catherine, Aunt Rebecca."
Therefore, both Lady Catherine and Lady Rebecca explained gently what was expected from her on her wedding night. They also told her not to be afraid as her husband loved her, he would be gentle with her, and to remember that her husband would be nervous as well. They told her that it would be painful but bearable the first time. After that, however it was extremely enjoyable.
"The best advice my mother gave me was to always put my husband's wishes before my own and you will be repaid thrice as much. I did this and my married life has been wonderful, I have two fine sons and three grandchildren. All I have to do to make my life complete now is to find a woman like yourself for my Richard," Lady Rebecca said gently.
"Yes, that is good advice Rebecca. My mother told me as much when I married Sir Lewis and we had a wonderful marriage. It was just so sad that we were not blessed with a child who had good health." Lady Catherine said sadly then in a happier voice she then said, "With all this excitement, I have forgotten to tell Richard that he is now the heir to the Rosings estates. My solicitor wants Richard and myself in London to discuss all the details at the beginning of next month."
"You are so generous Catherine; this means that Richard can now leave the army and settle down to learn how to run an estate like Andrew and William have done. Now my dear, from what you have told us, I think we had better be on our way to see your sister. Her maid told me she was extremely nervous. Your Father and Mother will want to see you soon I should imagine, so we will see you at the cathedral, and keep smiling." Both Lady Catherine and Lady Rebecca kissed her on the cheek and went on their way to Jane's room.
Down in the library a similar conversation was going on between Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Bennet, Viscount Andrew Fitzwilliam, and Lord Edward.
"Well now, as you two young men get married, in approximately two hours time, is there anything you would wish to know about the wedding night?" The Earl said whilst looking towards both grooms with a smile, "Or, did you take your late fathers' advice whilst on your grand tour after you both finished Cambridge? Then again, did your father take you to Harcourt House when you came of age like ours did? Come now, is their any advice you would like us to give you, ask away."
Both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley went as red as cherries, which made the Earl and Mr. Bennet laugh.
"Well?" Mr. Bennet said looking at them.
"Sir, I have some experience, but what I would like to know is, what is the best way to approach my wife without frightening her in any way," asked William. Charles agreed that this was something he had been worrying about as well.
"Good question, the best way for you to approach her would be to be informally dressed, not in your night attire. Take her a drink to calm her nerves and your own as well. Then let things develop slowly from then on, but remember that she is not like any of the women you will have met at Harcourt House or on your grand tour. She will need a lot of tenderness and understanding. If you show her consideration and gentleness, she will feel at ease in your company and you will have an excellent marriage. Frighten her and she will not want to know you and your marriage will be difficult. Your grandfather told me these things when I first married Rebecca and my marriage has been brilliantly happy. I also told Andrew here and I hope he is having the same felicity I have in his marriage."
"Yes, Father my marriage has been exquisite, Laura is a wonderful wife," said Andrew Fitzwilliam,
Both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley seemed to breath easily, and the Earl handed them a glass of his best brandy.
"A toast to your wedding and to your beautiful brides Elizabeth and Jane."
The coaches arrived to take the grooms and their groomsmen to the Cathedral. When they arrived, the Cathedral was already full of the invited guests, and many tenants and servants of Mr. Darcy were waiting outside so that they could wish him well. Mr. Darcy had invited his Pemberley housekeeper and butler Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, and from his Mayfair townhouse, the housekeeper and butler, Mr. and Mrs. Harris to the wedding. These servants had known him since he was four years of age and had been like replacement parents when he lost first his mother and later father. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley went into the Vestry to await the arrival of their brides; they were both so nervous that Richard and Andrew Fitzwilliam, the groomsmen, tried their best to talk of other things to take their mind off their pre-wedding jitters. Thankfully, their wait was not too long for they were only marginally successful.
Bishop Peel came in to tell them it was time and to shake their hands, wishing them well. Both grooms entered the front of the church and Darcy looked around nervously seeing all his relatives smiling at him. Mrs. Bennet was literally beaming, as she sat with Mary, Kitty, Lydia at her side. The music started and he knew that his Elizabeth was now on her way to him.
Soon, he thought, we will be married and this part will be over, then they would be able to begin their new life together as husband and wife.
Mr. Bennet made his way down the aisle with both Jane and Elizabeth on his arms. Both women looked stunning. When Elizabeth looked up to see Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Bingley she almost burst out laughing; there they stood looking dazed at the sight of there brides . Elizabeth looked up at her father and then at the grooms, Mr. Bennet nodded and he smiled, once at the altar, Mr. Bennet handed Jane to Charles, and Elizabeth to William then stood back.
Georgiana was bridesmaid for Elizabeth and Maria was bridesmaid for Jane; both looked beautiful in their pink gowns carrying the Fitzwilliam roses. Georgie and Maria had both been extremely nervous, and found courage by holding each other's hands whilst walking down the aisle. The church smelled of lavender and orange blossoms, along with the smell of roses from the flowers each bride carried. The marriage service went extremely quickly for both couples and soon it was time to go to Matlock house for the wedding reception and garden party.
The Darcys and the Bingleys were staying the wedding night at Pemberley, and then the following day, an early start was made on their wedding journey to Mr. Darcy's estate in Ayrshire, Scotland, for six weeks. The journey to Scotland would normally take them a week to get there, so Fitzwilliam and Charles had arranged surprises for their wives along the way. Therefore, this extended their journey to two weeks travel, as they made sure they stayed in some of the nicest places in England and Scotland on the way. Both couples had hoped to be able to go abroad to Italy or Venice for their wedding journey; but the passage between England and France was still not safe due to the war.
Both couples had a wonderful time in Scotland, the weather was beautiful and they enjoyed visiting much of the surrounding countryside. On their return Mr. Bingley expressed that he would like to purchase an estate near to Pemberley as he knew his Jane would not be happy unless she was near her sister. Mr. Darcy promised to keep his eyes and ears open for the news of any coming up for sale near Pemberley. Elizabeth and Jane were glad to hear of this as they hoped that any children they may have would grew up together.
As time went by, it became known to everyone that the Darcy's of Pemberley had an unusually happy loving marriage, everyone could see the love and respect that they both had for each other, which deepened as they grew older. Elizabeth became one of the most sort after hostesses in London, and in Derbyshire, the tenants of Pemberley and the villagers in Lambton and Kympton, loved her for the caring way she treated them.
Two Years Later
Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth were again at Matlock House accompanied by their twin sons, Edward and Thomas, this time for the marriage of Richard Fitzwilliam, to Miss Maria Lucas. Not long after his Aunt Catherine had informed him of his inheritance, Richard had resigned his commission and proposed to the young Miss Lucas. Like his brother and Mr. Darcy, Richard had learned the best way to run an estate through his father. Being very close from their youth onwards, Richard relied on Mr. Darcy's advice and help in matters on his estate.
At the wedding reception Aunt Catherine smiled and said to Elizabeth,
"Well now, I have helped my nephews all find a wife, now I have my niece to help find a husband, and perhaps your younger sisters, if they will let me."
"Lydia has finally finished at the school, my father sent her to. She has become a beautiful young lady, not silly and selfish like she was at one time. I think she has learned a hard lesson, that life is not a bed of roses to be trampled on. She was so sad when it was announced that Major Steven Denny was killed at Waterloo, not long after his well-earned promotion. They had both waited so patiently so that he could court her properly. I hope she will find someone else who will love her like Fitzwilliam loves me," Elizabeth replied.
"And what about your other sisters'," asked her Ladyship.
"Kitty is doing well, she is now taking her artwork very seriously. Because of this, I have hired one of the London masters for her. Kitty and Georgiana have become fast friends and write to one another regularly. When they come to Pemberley, I always know where to find Kitty and Georgie; both will be in the rose garden painting a single rose. They usually pick one bush that has a nice bud and go back every day; drawing each change, they see in it until it becomes a beautiful flower. Mary, well, we hardly ever see her since she went into the nunnery in Somerset, and she writes to us regularly and is allowed to visit our father for 3 times each year. She was always reading her Bible and quoting from it when she was younger. I am glad she is so very happy now."
"Georgiana is blooming into a beautiful, confident, young lady under your guidance, Elizabeth. I am so happy to see her so, both Rebecca and myself used to feel that she needed someone her own age. Now tell me, how are your beautiful young boys doing? I know that they are only six months old, but they look much older. William tells me you have fed them both yourself as they were quite small when they were born. I can see that it has made them healthier children, and that they are growing into two very handsome young boys."
"Yes, I did feed the Edward and Thomas myself. I did not like the idea of sending them out to someone else to look after them. I felt that because they were so small, they needed their mother's care and attention," Elizabeth replied seriously.
"How is your father? Has he gotten over your mother's death? It was such a dreadful accident, I am glad that none of your sisters had gone to Meryton with her. Did they find out what caused it?"
"Yes Aunt Catherine, my father informed that one of the axel pins had broken and that caused the wheel to come off. The carriage then rolled, throwing her out of the carriage and into a tree, which broke her neck killing her instantly."
"Oh dear, your poor mother. I am glad that your mother did not suffer in any way. How your poor Father must have suffered to hear of what happened," Lady Catherine exclaimed.
"My father was at Pemberley at the time as I was pregnant with the twins at the time." Elizabeth told her ladyship sadly, "My mother had not come to Pemberley due to her just getting over a very bad bout of influenza, preferring to stay at home rather than passing it on to us at Pemberley. That day she had decided that a bit of fresh air would do her good, so she decided to go to see her sister, my Aunt Phillips."
"How is your Aunt Phillips, I hear that she has been very distraught over her sisters' death. It must also have been a dreadful shock to your father as well."
"Yes, it was a shock to all the family but most of all to Papa. At first Papa blamed himself, for not getting a new carriage, like my mother had wanted him to do. It has taken my father a long of time to get over the shock, but I think he is finally coming to terms with it. Every time he travels he checks everything himself as he does not want another accident, or he will come by horse, or post which does not do him any good at his age."
"I can understand how he feels, I suppose checking everything personally, before he travels helps him to feel a lot easier, after what happened."
"Fitzwilliam and I have told him that we will send one of our coaches for him when he wants to travel, we have asked him to come and stay with us permanently, at Pemberley. He could rent Longbourn out for a time and live a comfortable life with us in Derbyshire. I just wish he would consider it."
"Give him time my dear and you will most likely find that he will agree to it sooner than you think."
Richard Fitzwilliam and Maria Lucas Fitzwilliam went for their wedding journey to Italy then home to Rosings, where Lady Catherine had moved into the Dower house. They lived a happy life at Rosings Park with their two children; Charlotte and Mr. Collins had two boys and lived a long happy life at Hunsford. Mr. Collins stayed on at Hunsford preaching and pontificating not only to his wife but also to a new generation of Fitzwilliams'. The shock of losing Longbourn did not upset him at all, in fact he was quite relieved. Jane and Mr. Bingley after a year in Hertfordshire moved near to the Darcy's, at an estate called Pennyacres, 30 miles away in Yorkshire, they had a family of two boys and a girl. Mr. Bennet eventually took up the offer from Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and moved into Pemberley living out the rest of his days happy and contented. Georgiana eventually married the young handsome Duke of Essex, moving not far from her home to Peveril Castle and over the years gave her husband three boys and a girl. Kitty married a good friend of Mr. Darcy's a young man called Mr. Manley whose small estate was near to Pemberley where they lived a quite life with their only child. Lydia eventually married a young Colonel who swept her off her feet; Colonel Davidson owned a large plantation in India where they lived out a long and happy life with their several children. As for Mary she lived her whole life in pure happiness doing what she had always dreamed of, her life in the nunnery soon expanded to missionary work travelling to many different places in the world. As for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, lived long and prosperous lives, lovingly content in everything thing they did together, over the years, Elizabeth gave her husband four sons and three daughters. Both lived to a ripe old age of 80 and 88 passing away within a week of each other.
As for Lady Catherine, she lived out the rest of her happy life amongst her family and friends. All were very sad the day she passed away many years later. On her headstone, they inscribed "Beloved of many, a Great Woman and Friend, Catherine Alexandra Fitzwilliam de Bourgh, Very Sadly Missed."