Section I, Next Section
Chapter 1 The Proposal
Posted on Friday, 17 December 2004
Elizabeth Darcy sat quietly on a bench in the centre of the maze at Pemberley. She breathed in deeply, basking in the early morning sun and listening to the sound of birds singing all around her. "It is so peaceful here. It is a pity we ever have to leave it for the noise of London," she sighed. The following day, she, her husband, and their sons were to leave for the season. Although neither Elizabeth nor Darcy enjoyed the City, it gave them a chance to spend time with Georgiana. She and her husband David, the Viscount Wallingford, had been living in the Earl of Matlock's home in London since their marriage the previous year.
As she turned her head so that the sun could shine its rays on her face, she giggled to herself. Surely Caroline Bingley would not approve of the Mistress of Pemberley out in the sun because it will make me "dark and course", she thought. Elizabeth sighed again as she thought about Caroline. Since her marriage three years prior to Darcy, Caroline tamed her hostility towards Elizabeth, but she knew Caroline too well to think that Caroline had forgiven her for "stealing" him away. After Elizabeth and Darcy married, Caroline tried to endear herself more to Georgiana. However after Georgiana's marriage, David quickly put an end to Caroline imposing herself on his bride. As a result of her disappointments, Caroline had grown into a harder and bitterer woman.
It often amazed Elizabeth that Caroline and Charles Bingley came from the same parents. Unlike his sister, Bingley always possessed a happy disposition, which became even more cheery since marrying Jane three months before Elizabeth and Darcy's wedding.
As Elizabeth began meditating on the happy disposition of her brother and her most beloved sister, the sound of her husband shouting interrupted her thoughts. "Elizabeth, where are you?" Darcy called.
"I am here my love," she answered.
She heard his footsteps storming into the maze. Clearly he was not pleased. Oh dear, I hope our dearest Bennet did not break another priceless family heirloom, she groaned to herself while remembering the vase their son broke the previous morning.
The Darcys had been blessed with twin boys less than two years earlier. Their first son, Bennet Fitzwilliam Darcy, was very energetic and curious. If his nurse took her eyes off of the boy for one minute, he was off in a flash, exploring Pemberley, hiding in the many rooms, closets, and chests, and occasionally involving himself in an accident with the furniture. Their second son, Joshua Humphrey Darcy, born just ten minutes later, was identical in appearance to his older brother, but very different in temperament. He was much calmer and serene. If he ever became upset or agitated, listening to a few bars of music quickly settled him. Unlike Bennet, Joshua could listen happily to Elizabeth or Georgiana play the piano forte or sing for hours without interrupting them. Bennet, on the other hand, always took advantage of any lapse of attention to explore or hide.
Darcy arrived at the centre of the maze looking very agitated and shaking a piece of paper in his hand. "I knew this would happen! I knew I should have never allowed the marriage!" he growled.
"Dear, what are you talking about?" Elizabeth asked confused.
"Against my better judgment, I allowed that scoundrel to marry my sister and now look what has happened!"
"William, I have not the pleasure of understanding you. What are you speaking of?"
"Read this letter," demanded Darcy, thrusting the paper into Elizabeth's hands.
My dearest brother,
Please come to visit me as soon as you arrive in London. I need your assistance. Your comforting words, sage advice, and intervention are all that I require.
Your loving sister,
After quickly skimming it, she looked up at him, still confused. "Georgiana only requests that we come to visit her once we are in London, hardly an unusual letter, my love."
Exasperated, Darcy spat, "No Elizabeth, it states that we must see her 'as soon as you arrive in London.' She 'needs our assistance.' No doubt she needs help with that husband. I will never forgive myself for allowing her to marry him. I, who knew him best, should have trusted my instincts."
Elizabeth struggled to not roll her eyes at the comment. She had hoped that his prejudice against his cousin would wane over the years, but it still held the same force. "May I remind you that David is your cousin by blood and now your brother?"
"He will never be called 'brother' by me," Darcy growled. "Nonetheless, you cannot disagree that this letter requests our immediate assistance."
"Yes, it does," answered Elizabeth patiently. "But I doubt the matter is as horrible as you imagine. When we leave for London three days from now…"
"No, we shall leave for London within the hour," Darcy snapped.
"William, the boys are not prepared for such a long journey. We are not packed…"
"What do we need that we do not already have in our London home? Whatever else we may desire, we can always buy there. We must leave immediately, for Georgiana's sake," he demanded.
Elizabeth looked deep into her husband's eyes before assenting. His eyes blazed and his jaw was set. They were leaving immediately. She knew him well enough in their three years of marriage to know that Fitzwilliam Darcy was not going to change his mind.
Within a half an hour, the family settled in their barouche and left Pemberley. Elizabeth looked across the carriage at Darcy who sat leaning up against the window, staring at the passing scenery, as Bennet impatiently squirmed next to him. At a glance, she could immediately tell that Darcy was indeed very worried about his sister and his fears would not subside until he spoke with her. "I'm sure everything will be fine," she said quietly, trying to comfort him.
He shook his head. "No, I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that past prejudices will be proven right on this trip," he mumbled while still looking outside. "Somehow I know that when we next return to Pemberley, nothing will ever be the same."
Chapter 2 A Plea for Help
Posted on Sunday, 19 December 2004
As Elizabeth cradled her son Joshua in her arms, she thought back to Georgiana's note and Darcy's reaction. Granted, Georgiana's letter was unusual. There was a tone of desperation that she would have noticed even if Darcy had not brought it to her attention. Yet, her sincere desire to calm her husband's fears and not exacerbate the friction between Darcy and David would not allow her voice her concern.
"David is an overbearing ogre," Darcy said, finally taking his eyes off of the scenery and looking at Elizabeth.
"William, I wish you would not say such things around the boys," Elizabeth chastised. "He is their uncle and we do not want them to grow up with a negative opinion of him."
"On the contrary, I want my sons to realize what my sister did not. Now remember boys, your Uncle David is a monster with big, pointy teeth and fiery breath," he said while looking at his sons.
"A dragon!" exclaimed Bennet.
Darcy proudly patted his son on the head and smiled. "That's right. Your Uncle David is a dragon."
"William," scolded Elizabeth. "For once you must remember that Georgiana is Georgiana Fitzwilliam now and David's wife. She is his responsibility."
Darcy's smile quickly faded as he looked up at her. "I knew I was right. I knew he would make her miserable."
Elizabeth shook her head and sighed. She knew better than to continue arguing David's merits to her husband. As she thought over the past few years and David and Georgiana's courtship and marriage, she could not help but believe that Darcy's conclusions about David were wrong. Though in everything else he was an exceptionally fair and generous man, Darcy’s prejudice against his cousin was so strong, he could not see beyond it.
Surely David would never do anything to make Georgiana unhappy, thought Elizabeth. His love and devotion to her are too strong to ever allow him to make him as unworthy of her love as William thinks he is. Their difficult courtship surely demonstrated his true feelings, didn't it?
Two years earlier, while leaving the church after witnessing the marriage of Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam to Brenda McBride, David asked to speak with Darcy privately. As David and Darcy walked away from the others, Elizabeth took the opportunity to speak with Georgiana alone. It had been obvious to her that Georgiana had been very agitated and unsettled after arriving in Scotland and going on a morning walk with David. After they returned from their stroll, Elizabeth noticed that Georgiana's face was very flush and she could not look her brother in the eye. David's reaction, on the other hand, remained inscrutable. The Viscount was his usual confident self. During the wedding ceremony, Georgiana hardly looked up at the bridal couple and could not keep still. She kept wringing her hands or shifting uneasily in her seat. Now that David and Darcy were speaking together, she looked even more upset.
"Sitting in the chapel gave me a stiff back and I wish to go for a walk, however your brother will not let me walk unaccompanied in my condition. Will you walk with me?" Elizabeth asked Georgiana.
Georgiana smiled. "It would be my pleasure. I would do anything to ease your discomfort. You know how eagerly I await the arrival of the newest Darcy."
Elizabeth walked beside her sister and slipped her arm in Georgiana's. After they had walked far enough away from the other wedding guests to speak in private, Elizabeth asked as innocently as she could, "Is there something you should tell me?"
Georgiana paused and desperately searched Elizabeth's eyes before continuing. "Oh, I am sorry to be such a bother."
"You are never a bother dearest," Elizabeth soothed, "but what is the matter?"
Georgiana took a deep breath before replying in a very small voice, "David has gone to ask William for my hand in marriage."
Elizabeth gasped. "Is this true? I had no idea! Do you love him?"
"Yes, yes I do love him with all of my heart!" Georgiana burst forth. "However, I fear that William will not consent. You know how much William hates David. I fear that he will not be able to look beyond his dislike."
"Nonsense," Elizabeth replied as she smiled reassuringly. "You know that your brother loves you very dearly and always wants your happiness. Once he is assured of David's regard for you, he will happily consent."
The corners of Georgiana's mouth began a hopeful smile. "Do you really believe so?"
"Yes, I do. William possesses many admirable qualities; among them are fairness, justice, and love. I am sure that he will see beyond their childhood quibbles and will consent to the union."
Georgiana smiled and gave Elizabeth a hug. "If you believe it to be so, then it must be. No one knows him better than you do…"
Just then, Darcy quickly stormed up to them, his anger evident on his face. "We are leaving now," he ordered.
Startled, Elizabeth gasped, "William, why?"
"I will never consent to the marriage," Darcy fumed. "Georgiana can never marry David. It would be a grave mistake."
Georgiana's eyes grew wide in disbelief. "But William, I love David!" she cried.
Darcy shook his head. "You are too young to understand love. Believe me, this is for the best."
"No, it isn't for the best!" bellowed David while marching up to the party. "I love George and she loves me. You will give your consent Darcy, and we will marry," he commanded.
Darcy spun on his heels to stare at David eye to eye. "I will never change my mind. You will never win," he seethed.
David matched Darcy's angry glare with a very determined look of his own. "This isn’t a contest. I love George and she loves me. Nothing you can do will ever change that," he replied evenly.
"We'll see about that," Darcy replied before grabbing Georgiana by the arm and dragging her off to their carriage.
Elizabeth stood awkwardly in front of the Viscount. Rage and torment blazed forth from David's eyes as he watched Darcy pull Georgiana away from him. "He will change his mind," she said quietly. "William can be stubborn sometimes, but he does want what is best for her."
David looked down at Elizabeth gravely. "He is a good brother, I grant him that. But he is not always right nor does he always know what is best for George."
"He is a good man. He can be reasoned with. Please my Lord, give him some time."
"His dislike of me has been built over a lifetime. I cannot believe that it will be broken down overnight. No, he will do everything he can to prevent the marriage and I will do everything I can to stop him," David replied while shaking his head. "He will see, I will conquer the day."
Elizabeth looked uneasily at him. An uncomfortable suspicion darted through her head. Is this battle over Georgiana or over their egos and territories?
“I apologize Elizabeth,” he said after looking at his companion. “I have not asked you if you are in health. Are you?”
Confused, Elizabeth answered, “Why, yes, I am well.”
“Good, good. I knew Darcy would look after you.” Suddenly, with a look of great concern, David took her hand, pressed it, and softly said, “If there is anything I can do, anything that you need, anything for your comfort, please do not hesitate to ask. I would be happy to be of service to you.”
"Thank you. No… I-I-I… No. I am afraid that I must go and find my husband and sister. If you will excuse me," she said with a curtsey.
"Yes of course," David replied with a bow. "I wish we were parting over better circumstances, but I will see you again very soon."
Elizabeth took a deep breath while walking over to their carriage. The words, I will see you again very soon, rang in her ears. Was it a promise or a threat? she wondered. As she approached the barouche to see Georgiana curled up inside of the carriage weeping bitterly and Darcy pacing angrily outside it, she knew the battle of wills over Georgiana's future had just begun.
Chapter 3: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Posted on Wednesday, 22 December 2004
As Elizabeth entered the carriage, she looked anxiously at Georgiana. Georgiana was sitting with her arms crossed, leaning up against the window, with her head turned away from her. Darcy entered directly after Elizabeth and sat down opposite his sister. After ordering the barouche to leave, he tried to speak with Georgiana about his concerns with David, but she would not listen.
Distance will cure this infatuation, Darcy thought.
As the carriage was leaving, Georgiana saw a lone figure in the distance, watching them leave. David was standing alone, his hands clasped behind him. His pose was stiff and commanding, as if he refused to allow himself to be defeated. From her distance, she could not see the expression on his face, but she could tell from his stance that he was angry and hurt. As the barouche turned a corner, she lost sight of him and began to cry silently. Elizabeth moved next to her to place her arm around her and comfort her, but Georgiana did not acknowledge her presence. Instead, she was lost in her misery, weeping.
After an hour of traveling in silence, Darcy leaned forward and touched Georgiana's arm. "He would only make you unhappy," he said softly. "I am only trying to look out for your best interests."
Georgiana finally turned to glare at her brother, her bloodshot eyes blazing. "You do not know him as I do. He is not who you think he is. He is a good man and will make me a wonderful husband."
Darcy shook his head, "He would only bring you misery; do not you see? Father charged me with looking after you before he died. I must protect you from all of the evils the world has to offer."
"As I remember it, Father asked for you, Richard, and DAVID to look after me on his death bed," she snapped.
"And only I and Fitzwilliam were given guardianship over you."
"Only because YOU protested to Father about David and Father relented. Had you said nothing, David would have had charge over me as well."
Darcy's eyes opened wide. He never knew that his sister knew how he and Fitzwilliam became her guardians.
"I was listening to your conversation from the hall when Father called you into his bedchamber to discuss the will," Georgiana explained. "He told you that he was going to make provisions in the will giving the three of you joint guardianship over me, but you would not hear of it. You told Father that David was implacable and impossible for you to agree with. Father told you that David was a man of good sense whom you would do well to listen to, but you would not relent. You would not heed his advice and held your resentment. After Father died, I was not surprised to find that only you and Richard were my guardians. Since his death, you have never welcomed him to Pemberley and on the rare occasion when he does visit, you act deplorably, urging him to leave."
"I act deplorably?" Darcy shot back. "What of his faults? He is always overbearing and orders us around. He is ill mannered and rude!"
Georgiana ignored her brother's outburst. "He has never spoken of the slight in Father's will, but no doubt he was injured. Father had often consulted with him and I believe David thought he would play more of a role in our lives. But despite Father's faith and confidence in him, you have never sought his counsel nor welcomed his advice."
Darcy winced at her accusations. He struggled to keep his voice steady as he answered her gravely, "If he had advice worth listening to, I would. But instead the all mighty Viscount issues edicts for his underlings to bow to and obey. I will not yield my responsibilities to his whims!"
Georgiana angrily turned her back to her brother and looked out the window again. She sat silently, crying, and looking out the window until the carriage arrived at the Macallan Inn for tea. As soon as the barouche stopped, she quickly exited and walked away, following a footpath through a grove of trees nearby. Darcy remained sitting in the carriage, but his worried eyes followed his sister as she stormed away.
"My love, I have always tried to support your decisions, especially when it comes to Georgiana, but do you not think that you could be making a mistake," asked Elizabeth gingerly. "Perhaps you should allow her to marry him."
Darcy's eyes grew wide as he turned to his wife. His face instantly reflected the hurt and confusion he felt in his heart. "My dearest Elizabeth, I cannot believe that you wish for me to send Georgiana away to marry that demon! I know that I do spend a great deal of time watching over and looking after my sister, but I promise that will never interfere with my duties as a father. You and our children will always be my highest priority.”
Elizabeth quickly kissed Darcy and spoke gently to him. "William, I love Georgiana as do you and would never wish for her to go away from us. But I also want her to be happy and she seems to believe that she is in love with David."
"She also believed that she was in love with Wickham. She was wrong then and she is wrong now."
"You are being unfair. Her feelings for David are nothing like her feelings for George Wickham. She was young when she wanted to elope and did not understand the world. She is much more mature now."
"You believe she understands the world?" Darcy asked with a raised eyebrow.
"My love, I believe your sister is much older and wiser than you give her credit for. She knows her heart better than you think."
"Had she told you of her regard for David before today?"
"No. But I often detected a far away look in her eye and a touch of sadness whenever we heard news of him. I believe she has been in love with him for some time and only now is she sure of his regard. Now that she is, she will not be easily dissuaded from marriage."
Darcy shook his head. "I will not have it. She gave up Wickham, she will give him up as well."
Elizabeth studied his face a moment before trying a different tact. "When you sent Mr. Wickham away, did she disagree with your decision?"
"No, of course not. She is a good girl and heeded my advice."
"So she did not complain nor argue his merits?"
"No, she said nothing against my actions."
"Isn't her disagreement with you today proof of her maturity and strength of feeling for David? If she were still the shy, young girl you seem to think she is, she would not have stood up against you. Likewise, had her feelings been less strong, she would not have risked your disapprobation and defended him. Georgiana is a woman now, and you cannot control her as you once did."
Irritation with his wife began to show on Darcy's face. "Elizabeth, Georgiana's outburst only proves his negative influence over her. She would have never been so difficult had he not interfered with our lives."
Darcy frowned and quickly climbed out of the carriage. After carefully helping Elizabeth out as well, he took her arm in his and began to silently walk down the footpath, following Georgiana's route. As they walked arm in arm, Elizabeth studied his face. His jaw was clinched shut and his body, rigid. He was growing frustrated and angry with her and her next question must be chosen carefully, lest she tempt the famous Darcy temper.
After several moments of silence, Elizabeth asked softly, "Why do you dislike him so? I have never known you to hold a strong prejudice against anyone who did not deserve it, yet I have never understood why you dislike your cousin."
"He is overbearing and rude," Darcy replied crisply.
"No, that is not the reason. I have seen you deal with persons who are much more ill mannered than your cousin with much more patience. Besides, his manners are not as bad as you and Richard like to paint them. David seems to only be overbearing towards you two. His behaviour towards Anne certainly shows a sense of generosity and affection for his family. He is civil and polite to those outside of your family as well. In fact, he was much more courteous to my mother than another gentleman I know," she said with a grin.
Darcy glanced at his wife. Her knowing grin melted his icy exterior a little. "Elizabeth, do not tease me. I am quite serious."
Elizabeth shook her head. "I just have a feeling that there is something more. A deeper pain that you will not reveal."
Darcy let out a sigh and shook his head. "You know me better than myself. Yes, my love, I do have other reasons for my dislike. David did something for which I can never forgive him."
Chapter 4 Pride and Prejudice
Posted on Friday, 24 December 2004
Darcy stopped walking, turned towards Elizabeth, and took his wife's hands within his. "David has always been a selfish, thoughtless being," he began hesitantly. "He inherited the worst of the Fitzwilliam family arrogance. When we were boys, he used to torment both Fitzwilliam and I. I was just five and Fitzwilliam seven, when David used to throw us in the lake and watch us struggle to swim with all of our clothes weighing us down or he would steal our toys when we were not looking."
Elizabeth looked at him quizzically. "Surely childhood misdeeds are not sufficient to hold a grudge against him for life. Besides, I thought it was the duty of older male cousins to torture the younger ones…"
"His childhood exploits were only the beginning. It began a pattern of selfish, spiteful behaviour that I cannot overlook. Believe me, it is not pleasant to think ill of one who is my cousin and son to my dearest uncle and aunt. As I have told you, Lady Matlock, usually accompanied by her sons, often visited Pemberley when my mother was ill. Fitzwilliam was a great source of comfort, but David always grated on me. Needless to say, we always had a layer of hostility beneath our civil behaviour towards one another. Father used to comment that I did not like him because we were too similar and I did not like the challenge to my authority. Once Georgiana was born, David attached himself to her and spent many hours with her. Ever since she was young, she has held him in particular affection. After my mother died, he frequently traveled to Pemberley by himself to visit and interfere in our lives. It was during this time that he became very close to my father. They used to lock themselves up in his study for hours discussing, who knows what. When my father became ill, David moved into Pemberley. He began to run Pemberley and order us about."
"I am sure that he meant well," Elizabeth soothed.
Darcy shook his head sadly. "When my father was dying, he spent many hours with him, became his confidant, and discharged his duties. Elizabeth, he took the role I should have had. I was robbed of many precious hours with my father because the mighty Viscount had to wield his power."
"Did you ever tell David of your feelings on the matter?"
"Yes, but he would not listen. He said that it was for the best. Instead of bringing aid and comfort to my father, I was relegated to bedside visitor."
"I'm sure you were a great comfort to your father, William. You are his son, of whom he was well pleased. I am sure that he had every confidence in you."
"Yes, so much so that he relied on my cousin for help," Darcy grumbled.
"Perhaps your father thought the situation would be too difficult for you and he wanted to ease the burden?"
"Elizabeth, my father will never know if I was capable of administering the estates because of my cousin's actions. I have been robbed of the opportunity of allowing my father to be proud and confident of my abilities. It is an opportunity I will never have again." Darcy looked wounded at his admission.
She pondered his statement for a moment before carefully responding. "I can understand why you dislike him. But I cannot understand how his past actions would negatively impact Georgiana. As you said earlier, he has always looked after her and she has always held him in particular affection."
"Do you not see? He does not consider other people's feelings other than his own. He has no regard for other people's welfare. He is a very selfish being."
"The same could have been said of you once," she reminded him.
Darcy nodded gravely. "Yes, I know my faults and I am far from perfect. But David is worse by tenfold. I cannot consign my sister to marry someone so self entered. He will never place her welfare above his own."
"Perhaps he will change."
"That is a risk I will not take. No, it would be best for Georgiana if she finds another."
Elizabeth sighed. She knew it would be a long trip back to Pemberley. I doubt Fitzwilliam realizes that Georgiana is a Darcy and can be just as stubborn as he.
"Elizabeth, when have I ever judged anyone's character incorrectly?"
"Then trust me now. I have known him all my life and do not believe he will make Georgiana a good husband."
Darcy took his wife's arm again and they resumed walking down the footpath. After several more minutes, they came across Georgiana sitting silently on a bench beside the path staring at the ground.
"Georgiana, will you not accompany us back to the inn for tea?" Darcy asked gently.
"No. I do not care for eating. What does it matter if I waste away to nothing?" she responded without looking up at him.
Darcy let out a sigh. "I know you are angry with me right now, but it is for the best. Someday, you will understand."
"Someday you will understand that the attachment between David and I is one that you cannot break. I love him."
Darcy scowled. Elizabeth saw that his temper was quickly growing very short. "Perhaps it is best if we leave you here while we dine. I will have the inn prepare a snack for you to eat while we ride in the carriage this afternoon. Would that be more to your liking?" she suggested.
"That will be fine," Georgiana sighed.
After Elizabeth and Darcy ate their meal in the inn, a servant retrieved Georgiana and the party continued on to Pemberley. For the remainder of the five day trip, Georgiana silently sat staring out of the window with her back turned to her brother. For his part, Darcy tried to ease the tension; however, all of his overtures were ignored.
Upon arriving at Pemberley, Georgiana walked directly to her bedchamber and locked the door. She refused everyone, including her maid, entrance. For the next two days, Elizabeth had Georgiana's meals sent to her room, but they returned barely touched.
The third day after their arrival at Pemberley began in much the same fashion. Georgiana refused to come downstairs to breakfast and instead, spent the morning sitting by her window staring outside. Elizabeth sent breakfast to her, but to no avail. Georgiana would not open the door to receive the tray, so it was left just outside of her bedchamber door. Downstairs in the breakfast room, Elizabeth and Darcy fretted over Georgiana's behaviour and state of health.
"Perhaps we have been too lenient with her," began Darcy after silently contemplating his sister's actions for most of the morning. "Perhaps I should unlock the door with my key and bring her downstairs."
"I do not think that is the answer. She is furious with you now. No doubt any action to force her into behaving as you wish would only be resented more. She needs to act on her own volition. Believe me when I tell you that if you were ever to force me to behave in a manner which I did not think right, I would resent it thoroughly."
"But you are my wife. She is my sister."
"Does that make her less of a human? No, I think we would be wise to allow Georgiana to act of her own power, though her current actions might pain us both," Elizabeth replied decidedly. "Besides, she has an amiable temper. She will not stay locked up forever."
Just then, they heard a rattle and a commotion upstairs. Darcy quickly went to the doorway to find out what the noise was about. He looked up the stairs to see Georgiana dashing down them.
"He is here! He is here!" she joyously shouted.
Confused, Darcy asked, "Who is here?"
"David is here! He has come for me!" she happily replied as she raced down the hall and out of the house.
"Ellis!" Darcy shouted to his butler. "Bring me my gun!"
Chapter 5 A Challenge
Posted on Monday, 27 December 2004
"Fitzwilliam Darcy!" Elizabeth scolded while rising from her seat. "What are you doing? Do not do anything in a fit of rage that you might regret later!"
"Do not fret, my love,” he replied icily. “I have no intention of killing my cousin. I only mean to scare him away and I cannot think of another way. Unlike Wickham, he cannot be bought nor intimidated easily. Perhaps force will convince him to give Georgiana up."
Elizabeth ran in front of him. "Listen to reason Fitzwilliam! You aren't thinking logically. You have always felt threatened by your cousin. First, by his superiority in age and rank, next by your father's attention to him, and now by your sister's affection. But you are wrong! Georgiana loves you and will continue to love you unless you continue to act in this foolhardy manner!"
"I will protect Georgiana from him," Darcy sternly replied.
"If you go outside brandishing a weapon, she may never forgive you," warned Elizabeth.
Darcy sighed, “Very well. But I will not consent to this marriage!” With that, he kissed his wife’s hand and quickly strode to the door to interrupt Georgiana’s reunion with her suitor.
He stormed outside to see Georgiana and David clasped in a warm embrace. "I thought I would never see you again!" she wept while burying her face in his chest.
"Never see me?" David laughed while wrapping his arms around her, stroking her blonde hair. "Come now George. Certainly you do not think I would treat my fiancée so ill?"
"What are you doing here?" Darcy growled, glaring at his cousin.
"It is Friday," David replied calmly, all the while matching Darcy's glare with a fierce look of his own.
"Every other Friday I will come to ask you for Georgiana's hand until you consent. Will you allow me to marry her?"
"Very well, I will see you the Friday after next." David resolutely said.
"You will not come here again!" Darcy ordered.
"Ha! Yes I will and you cannot stop me."
"Then I will have men posted at the gate to prevent your arrival and throw you out of the county if you dare show your face here!"
"You must be joking! Pemberley's perimeter is miles around and is not protected by a moat nor a fence. I know these hills nearly as well as you and can easily penetrate the grounds. Do not waste your energy trying to prevent my return."
"Then I will leave, taking Georgiana with me."
David gave a slight nod of his head. "Fine, it has been awhile since I have been to London. I shall be happy to call on you there."
Darcy scowled. "I will send Georgiana away to the Continent."
"Good. I am sorely in need of a holiday and would dearly love to show George the sights. While considering locations, please send her to Italy. We would love Venice," David mockingly answered.
"I will send her somewhere where you will not find her."
"Impossible. I will always come for her. Granted, you might be able to keep us apart for a little while, but you cannot keep us separated forever.” David shook his head. “Don't underestimate me, dear cousin. I can be quite resourceful."
Darcy glowered. It was obvious that his intimidation techniques would not work.
"Darcy, you cannot win," said David evenly. "You have three factors working against you that you cannot overcome."
Darcy raised an eyebrow. "Really? Enlighten me."
"First, I will not be easily dissuaded from the object of my affections. Time, distance, nor threats will succeed. I will seek her out where ever she may be. Second, your wife is with child. As much as you would like to sail to the ends of the earth to keep George away from me, you cannot. Elizabeth cannot travel and you cannot leave her. Lastly, George and I are meant for one another and you cannot stop true love."
Darcy took a deep breath. It was clear that the Viscount would not forfeit easily and he was correct in stating that the Darcys could not travel. They were homebound until the birth of their child, and David knew it. "Say goodbye David, you've seen quite enough of each other for today."
"Very well," David frowned. He looked down at Georgiana and smiled. "I must go for now, but I will see you in two weeks."
"I will think of you every moment," she tearfully replied.
"Will you promise me one thing?" he asked softly while stroking her cheek with the back of his hand.
"Promise me that you will take better care of yourself. You look quite thin and pale and I want my bride to be happy, healthy, and beautiful."
"Alright, that's enough. Georgiana, go inside," Darcy demanded.
Georgiana never took her eyes from David's face. Instead of yielding to her brother's order, she awaited David's words. Her hazel eyes looked up at his searchingly. He nodded at her, smiled, and quietly responded, "Do as your brother says... for now."
Georgiana managed a weak smile and broke from his embrace. She walked into the house without so much as acknowledging her brother's presence.
Both Darcy and David watched Georgiana return to the house before speaking. Upon Georgiana's entering the house, David glared at Darcy once more. "I will see you again and you will consent to our marriage."
"You are wasting your time. I will never consent."
"Darcy! Do not be foolish!" David growled, allowing his anger to seep into his voice. "We both know that you can’t bully me. Do not let our childhood differences ruin George's happiness!"
"Our disagreements only served to show your selfish, arrogant nature!"
David let out an exasperated sigh. "Very well. If you will continue to be obstinate and not listen to reason, I will leave. Until the Sixteenth," he declared with a slight bow. He quickly walked to the stables and retrieved his horse.
Darcy stood still, watching David very carefully to insure he left.
After a smile and wave to Georgiana's bedchamber window where she sat watching him, David galloped off, but not before issuing a warning to Darcy, "I'll be back."
As Darcy stood watching David disappear in the distance, he murmured, "I'll be waiting."
Once satisfied that David had left, Darcy marched towards the house. Though he was happy that David was gone and had not attempted to carry Georgiana away to elope, the confrontation unnerved him. His voice declaring Every other Friday I will come to ask you for Georgiana's hand until you consent echoed in his mind. There was something about his commanding arrogance that enraged and yet intimidated him. He knew that David would not run away easily and he began to doubt his ability to keep them apart.
Mr. Ellis was waiting just inside the door. "Sir, Mrs. Darcy is waiting for you in the sitting room."
"Is she very upset?" asked Darcy warily.
"I'm afraid she is, sir."
"Do you think I can avoid her until she calms down a bit?"
"Not likely, sir. Mrs. Darcy can be a very resolute woman and she is determined to talk to you immediately."
"I have a feeling I know what it is to walk to the gallows," Darcy mumbled to himself.
"Well sir, those who are about to lose their head have the advantage that their suffering will be over quickly."
He walked to the door of the sitting room and took a deep breath before entering. "How are you my love?" he said cheerfully, before walking over to where she was sitting and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Do not try to humour me William. I am very angry with you," Elizabeth seethed. “Never in my life have I seen any grown man act as childishly as you!" she declared rising from her seat and pacing around the room. "Had anyone ever told me that this would be your reaction to someone asking for Georgiana's hand in marriage, I would have never believed it!"
"Do not 'Please Elizabeth' me! If you think I will be your dutiful wife and stand by and quietly watch you make your sister miserable, you are mistaken sir!"
"What is done is done. Elizabeth, I cannot think that all of this anger is good for the child."
"Then stop acting like a fool William," she huffed before leaving the room.
Darcy sighed and walked over to a window. He stared at the grounds outside, but he noticed none of the scene in front of him. Instead, he was deep in thought.
The sound of music roused Darcy from his thoughts. He tentatively walked to the music room door and surreptitiously stole a glance inside. Georgiana was playing a piece on her piano forte. Her playing was slow and sad, which pained him to hear. As he listened for a few minutes, his mind drifted back to the first time he held her in his arms and the promises he made her.
"Be careful with your sister, Fitzwilliam. Be sure you support her head," warned his father as he was handing Georgiana to him for the first time.
Darcy nodded as he gingerly took the baby from his father. As he looked down at his sister's smiling face, he felt overwhelming joy and fear wash over him at the same time. His sister's birth had taken its toll on their mother and her recovery was far from certain. Yet, at the same time, looking into this innocent baby's face, he began to understand why she would risk her life to bring another child into the world. Georgiana was beautiful and, as far as he was concerned, perfect. She had a peaceful smile, bright hazel eyes, and a little tuft of blonde hair.
"I want to see your mother for a moment. Will you be able to continue holding her or should you give her to Mrs. Jones?" George Darcy asked his son.
"I will be fine Father," Darcy said quietly while looking down, smiling at his sister.
George Darcy looked hesitantly up at the nurse, Mrs. Jones. "It will be alright Master Darcy. I will stay here with the lad. Go to your wife, she'll be expecting you," she said with a reassuring smile.
George Darcy nodded and flashed a grateful smile before leaving the nursery and dashing to his wife's bedchamber.
"How are you Georgiana?" Darcy whispered while looking at the baby in his arms. "Do you like your new home Pemberley? I know it can be a big and scary place for someone as little as you, but do not fret. I promise that no matter what happens in the future, I will always be here to protect you and keep you safe."
Georgiana gurgled a response and Darcy smiled. "I promise that you will always do everything to make you happy Georgiana."
Darcy's eyes grew a little misty as he recalled promises of the past. Yet he knew that at this moment it was impossible to keep her both safe and happy. As he further considered the current situation, he wondered where David was and what troubles his cousin had in store for him.
After leaving Pemberley, David rode directly to Lincolnshire. His confrontation with Darcy was disconcerting. It was obvious that Darcy would not easily give up. In fact, he found his adversary's determination stronger than he thought it would have been and his resentment deeper. He replayed his conversation with Darcy over and over again, until he had analyzed every nuance.
It was the night after the angry encounter before David reached his Lincolnshire home. He was weary from the previous day's events. He just wanted to crawl into his bed and sleep for a long, long time.
He slowly dragged himself up the steps of the house and up the stairs to his bedchamber. As soon as he entered his room, he saw her sitting on his bed waiting for him. Her dark hair and eyes accompanied by her perfect smile always cheered his spirits. "How are you sweetheart? Had a pleasant day I hope?" he asked warmly.
Chapter 6 Under Siege
Posted on Friday, 31 December 2004
The next five months were trying ones for Darcy. Georgiana was sullen, quiet, or openly hostile around him. Elizabeth did not support his decision and often argued the merits of the match.
"You once told me you never allowed yourself to be blinded by prejudice," Elizabeth reminded him.
"I certainly believe not," came the answer.
"Mr. Darcy, you could not be more blind if I gouged out your eyes!"
Not only did David fulfill his promise of returning every other Friday to demand Georgiana's hand, but he enlisted the help of relatives as well. Darcy was under attack.
First, Darcy received a letter from Lord and Lady Matlock, vouching for their son's affections and praising the merits of the match. Though he loved his uncle and aunt dearly, he read the letter with a jaded eye. Of course they will support their son. Any parent would, he thought.
Next, his cousin Anne called on him from Rosings. Because of her weak constitution, her surprise visit astonished Darcy. Though her health was not strong, she insisted on traveling to Pemberley to personally plead David's case.
"He really loves Georgiana, I am sure of it," Anne asserted once she was settled in Darcy’s study.
"Please. You know how awful he can be. He is a cold heartless being," he responded. “You always hated him. We all do…”
"That isn't true. While I agree he can have a gruff exterior, he has a heart of gold."
Darcy settled back in his desk chair as he considered his cousin's statement a moment. Heart of gold? I think not. A pocketbook of gold is more accurate. Anne cannot help but defend our cousin. After Lady Catherine left him everything in her will, he is the rightful owner of Rosings and could cut her off without a pound if she does not do as he says.
"I know what you are thinking," Anne blurted, interrupting his thoughts.
"David did not send me here. I only came because I was concerned for Georgiana's welfare."
"Forgive me if I remain less than convinced," he replied skeptically.
"I have great experience with having someone else control my life and trying to arrange my marriage. It will not work. She will defy you or be unhappy for the rest of her life. Learn from my mother's mistakes and trust Georgiana's heart to lead her in the direction that will best make her happy," she urged.
Darcy scowled at hearing her words. He knew all too well that if it had not been for Anne’s defiance of Lady Catherine's wishes, they would have been wed.
"How happy would you have been if I had been Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy?" asked Anne. "You would have lost Elizabeth forever and would not be expecting your first child with her now. Consider that before you force Georgiana to give him up."
"Anne, that was not the same situation..."
"How is it different? You are showing the same officious interference my mother always exhibited." With a flash of hurt and anger, she asked, "Will you refuse to love Georgiana or your children if they do not yield to your every whim?"
"No, of course not."
"You could have fooled me. Perhaps you should have been my mother's child. You certainly do not possess the kind disposition of your parents..."
Exasperated, he interrupted her lecture. "That is enough. You have made your point. Let us not say anything that we will later regret."
"Do not do anything you will later regret. You may not have a second chance to repair the damage."
Darcy looked at her suspiciously. “And why do you suddenly believe that the almighty Viscount a the paragon of virtue? He always treated you abominably.”
Anne smiled, “Yes… Until the day I could no longer be the Viscountess Wallingford…”
Anne Blackwood née de Bourgh sat in her shabby abode despairing over her family’s finances. Her elopement eight months earlier to a former stable hand from Rosings had reduced her state of living to a point where her former phaeton ponies lived in more luxury than she. Upon her marriage, Lady Catherine disowned her, took her money and jewelry, and threw her out of Rosings. Since then, she and her husband Peter struggled to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. Not only did Peter lose his position at Rosings, but also Lady Catherine spoke so badly of his services that no one would employ him. Finally, a kindly old smithy in Northumberland agreed to hire him to muck out stalls. The wage he was paid was appallingly small, but the smithy also provided an old abandoned wooden cottage for them to live in, some vegetables from his garden, a rickety cart, and a horse, who was in danger of dying of old age at any minute. Anne tried to fix up the one bedroom cottage as best she could, but the walls were so thin and the windows so poorly fitted that they provided little protection from the elements. The floor was made of stone tile laid on top of dirt, which radiated heat during the summer and cold during the winter. The furnishings were few, and nothing of any worth. The cottage contained two wooden chairs, one crooked wooden table, an old bed, and a trunk, which the Blackwoods used as a dresser. An iron stove provided the only heat or cooking capability for the home, but they didn’t have the means to keep a fire blazing at all times. The roof leaked and winter was upon them.
The day prior, her husband brought home a newspaper article announcing the death of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The notice that discussed the great Lady’s death also revealed that her nephew, David Fitzwilliam, the Viscount Wallingford, inherited her great wealth and extensive property. It deeply wounded Anne when she noted that the article did not even mention her existence and only prattled on about her obnoxious cousin. “I suppose that Mother arranged it all. I wasn’t even allowed the honour of being her child after she died,” she sighed to her husband before crying herself to sleep.
It was about midday when she heard a knock at the door. It startled her because no one visited her in her hovel, but she didn’t worry about answering the door for she had nothing to steal. Therefore, it was a great shock when she opened it to see her mother’s heir standing in front of her.
“Go away!” she cried.
“Well, good afternoon to you too Anne,” David smirked. “It has taken me many weeks and a great deal of inconvenience to locate you. Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
“Triumph over me at a distance and be satisfied. Good bye!”
“Now Anne, I could huff and puff and blow your house down. Now let me in! I won’t ask a third time.”
Anne stood aside and let him enter. Ever since she was young, he lorded over her and she obeyed. Now, in her moment of greatest misery, she didn’t have the strength to defy him. David strode into the cottage, with his usual arrogant swagger, dusted off and sat in one of the chairs in the room, and motioned for her to sit in the other. She sighed and did as she was bid. She was embarrassed when she thought of her own humble appearance compared to his. She was simply dressed in a plain grey wool dress with a dingy white shawl on her shoulders. David was dressed as he always was, looking every inch the fine English gentleman. Seeing him sitting in the squalor that was her home, again reminded her of how far she had sunk.
“How are you Anne?” he asked gently. “I have been making inquiries for some weeks in hopes of finding you…”
“Mrs. Blackwood,” she responded.
“Only my closest friends and family call me Anne. As you are the nephew of the Lady Catherine de Bourgh and I wasn’t even mentioned in the obituary, we cannot be family,” she said as she struggled to keep tears from forming in her eyes. “You may call me Mrs. Blackwood.”
David grimaced. “I was hoping you didn’t see the notice...”
“Why, so you could come here in person and gloat?! Such wonderful news for you, your Lordship. You will have one of the greatest fortunes in England. The mighty Viscount is now mighty indeed… Have you come to bring me my inheritance?”
“Well, in a way…”
“Allow me to guess, my generous mother left me one pound.”
“And a letter outlining all of the holdings within the de Bourgh estate,” he meekly replied.
“Well Lord Wallingford, give me the one pound note and the letter, return to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s solicitor, and tell him that you completed your task. You need never lower yourself to call on me again,” she said indignantly.
“I have two documents for you Anne and I insist that you read one of them now. It is a matter of great urgency that requires your immediate attention.”
“Lord Wallingford, I have nothing more to say to you. Give me my inheritance and get out!”
Exasperated, he said, “Good God when did you become so difficult?” He grabbed a document from his inside coat pocket and shoved it into her hands. “Anne, I demand that you read that right now!”
She considered tearing it up, but given his annoyed look, she opened it up and began to skim over it.
…Lessor, David Fitzwilliam, the 5th Viscount Wallingford…
…Lessee, Anne Blackwood, formerly Anne de Bourgh…
…Rights to the real and personal property contained within Rosings Park including all surrounding properties that were owned by the Lady Catherine de Bourgh…
…All income from the estate and properties to be received by the lessee…
…Contract to be valid and binding upon the lessor until the lessee requests to be released from the agreement in writing or until the lessee’s demise…
…Consideration for the property is one pound per annum, due to the lessor by the first of each new year…
Anne furrowed her brow, “What is this?”
“Heavens, didn’t your tutors at least teach you how to read the King’s English? It is a lease.”
“I don’t understand.”
David shook his head and smiled. “What do you not understand? This is an agreement to let Rosings to you for the price of one pound a year. Your mother’s will strictly and in no uncertain terms forbid me to sell or give you any of the property or assets that constituted her estate. However, the will was silent about a lease… Now do not try to negotiate the price, I am quite resolved. I want one pound per annum.”
Anne eyed her cousin suspiciously. “How do I know that you won’t lure us to Rosings just to evict us?”
“Anne, this is a legally binding contract. If you notice, there are only three ways that I can remove you from Rosings. First, if you die… Because I’m afraid, my dear, that if you lived in the house after you died, you would begin to decay and that wouldn’t be very pleasant for the servants. Be practical Anne, at that point the family crypt would be a much better place for you... Two, if you choose to leave Rosings and do not want the burden of the rent, I will have to manage without the income... And third, if you don’t pay your rent. Of course, I won’t allow you to escape that easily. I will go to Rosings and demand payment from you personally each year, so you will not be able to avoid me.”
“I still don’t understand. Why are you doing this? It is your property to do as you choose…”
David shook his head again, “Rosings is my house but your home. It will always be your home, if you so choose. Of course, if you would rather live in the splendours of your current estate, I will not argue. I just ask that you consider my offer… However, being a good landlord, I must note that Rosings has its faults…”
“Mr. Collins still lives in the parsonage.” David leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, “Between you and me, if I did not like our cousin’s wife as well as I do, I would consider having highwaymen steal Mr. Bennet away just so Mr. Collins could inherit Longbourn and quit the parsonage.”
Anne began to giggle.
“You think I’m joking? That odious Mr. Collins came to Rosings last week to tell me about the shelves in his closet. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Tedious man!”
She now began to laugh.
“Oh, now I see. Leave your poor cousin in misery. You do prefer Northumberland to Kent and Mr. Collins. But I implore you Anne, have pity on me. Come lease the house.” With sudden earnestness, he urged, “It is yours.”
She stopped laughing and looked at him warily for a moment. “But you always hated me so. You told mother that I was a sniveling, mousy child…”
“I didn’t dislike you Anne…”
“I just wanted the honour of choosing my wife for myself and not have your mother choose for me,” he replied with a knowing smile.
Just then, a man in his twenties dressed in shabby clothes and covered in mud bounded into the cottage. “Peter, my love, I have amazing news to tell you,” Anne gasped. “But first, David, may I present my husband, Peter Blackwood. Peter, this is my cousin, Lord Wallingford.”
“Lord Wallingford,” Peter muttered while bowing awkwardly.
“No, no… This will not do,” protested David rising to his feet.
“None of this ‘Lordship’ nonsense and I won’t tolerate ‘Wallingford’ either. I do not have the stomach for all of that arrogant formality. I command that all family members call me by my Christian name, David, and as you are my new cousin…” he said smilingly while extending a hand.
Peter nervously took his hand and shook it.
“There! Now that the pleasantries are over, we must make plans for supper. I am staying at the Whistler’s Inn, a charming little place, which is but a mile away. I also understand that they serve an edible meal. I insist that you both join me there this evening. I hate to eat alone,” David declared.
Peter nervously looked down at all of the dirt on his clothes and person, “I thank you, your Lordship… I mean David, but I cannot possibly…”
“I insist,” David said firmly. “I don’t know if Anne has mentioned it to you but I do not brook refusals, especially not from within the family… By the bye, the inn was so quaint that I rented two rooms, but as I am here alone, I only need one. I assure you, the other room is quite comfortable… A large fireplace, warm bed, access to a hot bath, plenty of servants, no Mr. Collins across the lane… If you know of anyone who wouldn’t mind humouring me by taking the other room off my hands, I would be most obliged. It is room number four. Well, I will leave you now. I will see you this evening for dinner at eight.” David bowed, then turned and strode towards the door.
“David,” Anne hesitantly said as he was reaching for the door. “About the pound note. We don’t have it. We don’t have two shillings to our names…”
David whirled back around. “I am such a ninny. I forgot the real reason why I am here – To deliver to you your inheritance.” He reached into his coat pocket again, walked to her, and presented her with an envelope. “Here it is Anne, the one pound note that your mother left you and a long, dry letter explaining in excruciating detail the property owned by the de Bourgh estate,” he said softly.
Tears welled in Anne’s eyes as she took the envelope from his hands. “Thank you.”
He replied with a gleam in his blue eyes, “No need to thank me. You should be thanking your late mother. I have no doubt that the contents of that envelope will be of use… And we both know how your mother liked to be useful…”
Anne Blackwood left Pemberley seriously vexed with her cousin. As he handed her into her barouche, her parting words to Darcy were, "If you are not careful, pride will be your only companion."
Ten days after Anne's visit, a letter came from Colonel Fitzwilliam.
I hope this letter finds you well, though I doubt it finds you happy. I returned from my honeymoon to find David awaiting me. He had been staying in a nearby inn for two days waiting for my return. He told me of the situation between you and he and appealed to me as Georgiana's guardian and your closest friend to intercede on his behalf.
I must confess that I was not shocked by David's declaration. I had noticed a particular regard he had for Georgiana during the events in Hertfordshire a year and a half ago. I am only surprised that you did not detect it. Though I have had my share of differences with my brother, I have no doubt of his regard for Georgiana. He will place her concerns above his and will make her a fine husband. I hope you search your heart and realize that I am right.
Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam
Darcy blinked several times after reading the letter once. Quickly, he read it a second and third time. Fitzwilliam defending his brother? What can the world be coming to?
However, despite the pressures, Darcy remained firm in his resolve and refused to grant his permission.
The only bright spot in his life was the birth of his twin sons. Luckily, Elizabeth had a relatively easy delivery and both boys appeared healthy. Bennet and Joshua's arrival seemed to temporarily mend the fences between brother and sister and husband and wife. Georgiana, Elizabeth, and Darcy put aside their differences to rejoice in the arrival of the newest Darcys.
Upon the birth of his sons, Darcy immediately sent an express to Fern Hill, the Bingleys new estate, informing them of the arrival. The very next day, he received an express scrawled out hastily in Bingley's hand.
Dear Darcy and Elizabeth,
Two healthy boys? We could not happier! Jane beside herself with joy.
We travel to Pemberley tomorrow to visit with you and meet nephews.
Until then, take care of family.
Charles and Jane
Darcy read the note and laughed. He quickly brought it to his wife's bedchamber for her to read. He entered quietly, not wanting to disturb the twins who were sleeping in bassinets placed near their mother.
After reading the note, Elizabeth smiled. "Jane and Charles are coming! I long to see them!"
"Yes my dear," he whispered after giving her a kiss on the cheek. "And they long to see you and the boys. I am afraid I will be forgotten in the shuffle," he said with mock jealousy.
"Mr. Darcy," she replied cheekily, "I am sure when my mother visits, she will not neglect you and your ten thousand pounds a year."
Darcy rolled his eyes and smirked. "I am afraid my dear, that I have yet to write your parents. I had hoped the Bingleys would react just as they have and wish to rush here. Now that they are coming, I will write the rest of your family directly."
"Afraid to face them alone, are you?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
He looked down at the floor guiltily. "I own that it is easier to face your mother when Bingley is here. One more to distract her."
Elizabeth laughed. "Then you should do your duty sir before my mother believes that you have committed a grave offence for which she will never stop reminding you of."
"I will complete the task immediately," he promised before quitting the room and going to his study. While writing the note at his desk, he heard a knock at his door.
Georgiana entered the room quietly. "Elizabeth has just informed me that the Bingleys will be arriving tomorrow."
Georgiana looked down at the ground thoughtfully a moment. "David will be happy to hear of the twins safe arrival the day after next. He has been most anxious about Elizabeth's health and has inquired about her during every visit."
"Has Friday almost come again?" groaned Darcy.
"Can you not make him stop calling on us?"
"He will stop calling on you when you consent."
"Then expect a visitor on Friday!" she declared before stomping out of the room.
The Bingleys arrived as expected early on Thursday morning. The joy they truly felt was evident on their faces. Jane spent much of Thursday with her sister and the children in Elizabeth's bedchamber while Bingley spent much of his time talking with Darcy and sneaking a peek at the children as often as possible. Darcy was truly happy to have his brother and sister there sharing in their joy, yet Georgiana's words of warning expect a visitor on Friday haunted him. He had one day to enjoy before another confrontation took place.
On Friday at ten o'clock, David arrived at Pemberley. Georgiana had been eagerly sitting by her window, watching for his arrival as she had every other week. As soon as she first spotted her betrothed riding in the horizon, she ran downstairs and waited outside for him. She eagerly awaited his biweekly visits and was always waiting outside for him upon his arrival, unwilling to waste a precious second of his short stay.
"I have some wonderful news," she beamed after he jumped off of his horse and kissed her.
David looked a little surprised, "Really? Has Darcy changed his mind?"
"Nothing that miraculous. Elizabeth bore twins on Tuesday. They have named the boys Bennet and Joshua."
"And how is Elizabeth?" he asked while furrowing his brow.
"She and the boys are doing very well."
David gave a relieved smile. "Good, good. Perhaps Darcy will be in a cheerier mood today and consent?"
"Not likely," frowned Georgiana.
He sighed, "Show me to him anyway. I might as well get my chore over with."
Georgiana nodded and led David inside and directly to Darcy's study, where Darcy was waiting for his cousin. She stood outside, waiting for the end of the interview. After three minutes, David burst out. One look at his blazing eyes and set jaw told the answer to his question.
"Your brother can be so stubborn," he growled while storming down the hall. "You would think that he would reconsider his position, but that would be too much of an attack on his pride."
"Perhaps we should elope," mumbled Georgiana.
David stopped in his tracks and turned to face her. "What did you say?"
Georgiana considered her statement for a moment, then said in a firm and resolved voice. "William will never consent. We should elope. Let us leave for Gretna Greene this instant."
Chapter 7 Broken Promises
Posted on Monday, 3 January 2005
"We cannot elope," David answered firmly.
"Why ever not? You have your horse here; we could ride to Lambton and rent a carriage for the trip to Scotland. Certainly we would never want for money, even if my brother tries to withhold my dowry!" cried Georgiana.
"Dearest, it has nothing to do with any of that. Don't you understand that eloping will place a taint on our marriage? I do not want our children to grow up under a cloud of scandal. They will be respected members of society," he replied gently. "Besides, being the future Earl and Countess, we must set the standard for future generations. No, we will not wed until Darcy consents."
"But then we will never marry! William will not allow it!"
"He will," David soothed.
"No, William will never change his mind and we will never marry," cried Georgiana as tears began to roll down her cheeks.
David quickly reached into his pocket, took out his handkerchief, and tenderly wiped her tears. "My love, your brother will change his mind. We just need to be patient. I promise you, he will agree to our marriage." He leaned down and kissed her softly on her lips. He managed a weak smile as he asked, "Trust me. Besides, have I ever broken a promise to you?"
Georgiana thought for a moment then replied stoically, "Yes."
"Yes David Fitzwilliam, you have broken a promise to me," she replied in a firmer tone.
His eyes clouded over with confusion as he searched his memory. "When have I ever..."
"I was seven and you promised me that you would do anything to make me stop crying. You promised. You know you really should get out of the habit of promising me things when I cry," she answered with a hint of a smile.
"I still don't recall…"
"I wanted to go riding with William but he forbid me to go with him, so instead I went to my room and cried. You heard me, entered my room, and promised me anything to stop me from crying. I accepted your offer and said I wanted a ride on a pony."
"A pony? You didn't want a ride on just any pony, you wanted to ride Pegasus, a flying horse. Your request was absolutely impossible George. I had no choice but to break my word."
"And I wept even harder. Not only would my brother not allow me to go riding with him and Miss Shortridge, but my cousin broke his word and would not bring me a flying horse to ride."
"I've learned my lesson since then. I do not promise impossible things," he replied with a grin.
"No, you haven't," she replied quietly, her smile fading. "You still promise anything to make me happy, but some things are impossible."
"George, you can't equate Pegasus and your brother consenting to our marriage. They aren't the same. One is a figment of fantasy and the other…"
"Is a figment of your fantasy. David, you can no more make William consent than you can bring me a mythical horse," she answered softly.
"You will see George. I promise you. This time I will not fail. I will bring you your flying horse and we will fly off together," he quietly replied while taking her in his arms and holding her tight.
"Perhaps." Georgiana began hesitantly. "Perhaps it would be best if we break our engagement."
Horrified, David took a step back and lifted Georgiana's chin to look up into his eyes. "You can't mean that! You cannot be serious."
"I am very serious," she replied, her eyes welling with tears. "William will never consent and if you refuse to marry without his consent. Perhaps it would be for the best."
"Georgiana," he began hesitantly, "if you are trying to tell me that you do not care for me as I do you..."
"No, of course not! I love you with all of my heart. But this situation is impossible!"
David breathed a sigh of relief and took Georgiana into his arms once more. "George, we will find a way to wed. We must."
Chapter 8 A Reminder of Past Wrongs
Posted on Thursday, 6 January 2005
Unbeknownst to David and Georgiana, Bingley had been standing on the other side of the door to the hall listening. Since he and Jane arrived at Pemberley, he had observed Georgiana's pale complexion and weak smiles. Though it was clear that she rejoiced in the arrival of the twins as much as everyone else, her separation from her true love weighed heavily on her heart. Bingley knew the pain of being apart from the one he loved too well. He suffered greatly during the year before he married Jane. He had thought that Darcy would have learned his lesson as well after attending Elizabeth's wedding ceremony to Colonel Fitzwilliam twice, but present circumstances would seem otherwise. "Darcy, when will you ever learn?" he muttered while backing away from the door.
After hearing of Georgiana and David's troubles, Bingley walked directly to the sitting room to feel the comforting presence of his wife. As soon as he entered, Jane looked up from her needlework and smiled at him. Though they had been married for nearly two years, her smile still made him melt.
Her smile faded as she observed his movements. "Charles, why are you frowning?" she asked.
"I am not frowning, dear. I could not be happier. Your sister is in good health and we have two new nephews. What do I have to be sad about?"
Jane put down her work on the table beside the sofa. "You are not happy. It would be best to speak of your distress."
Bingley nodded. During the course of their acquaintance, they had grown from two people who didn’t know each other's feelings to a couple who could tell each other's thoughts at a glance. It was fruitless to try and mask his concerns from his wife, she would see through his deception in an instant. "It is Miss Darcy, I fear," he said with a sigh.
"Then you have noticed her doleful looks as well?" Jane asked.
"It would be impossible not to notice."
"I wonder what is troubling her. Perhaps I should speak to Lizzy about it."
"That is not necessary. I believe I have discovered the nature of her complaint."
"Really? I hope it is not of a serious nature," said Jane with a look of concern.
Bingley frowned. "I am afraid it is not inconsequential."
"You look unhappy. What is bothering you about Miss Darcy's dilemma?"
"I believe I can be of some assistance to the young woman, but it calls upon me to do something I have never done. I'm afraid Miss Darcy is having some difficulties with her brother and I believe Darcy to be in the wrong. You know how he never reveals his family struggles to me. Do you think he will be very angry if I interfere and give my opinion to him without it being solicited?"
Jane considered her husband's words a moment. "But your relationship is of a different nature than it once was. You are now more than friends; you are brothers. Surely, he cannot resent your advice."
Bingley smiled at his wife. "You are correct, as always. I will speak to him after dinner when we are alone."
That evening, Bingley fidgeted his way through the meal. He found it daunting to be placed in the role of advisor and not recipient. However, he knew he must. Darcy was a good friend, yet imposing. Six years his senior, Bingley had looked upon him as an older brother figure. Yet, he knew they were growing older and it was the nature of such relationships to change.
After the meal was concluded, Darcy and Bingley's routine was to drink some Port together in the library before rejoining the ladies. Their usual habit was to discuss politics, running their respective estates, or complaining about their in laws. But this evening was different. Both sensed the change as soon as they entered the room. Darcy went over to the side table and poured both of them a drink, while considering his friend's behaviour.
"You seemed distracted during dinner, is anything the matter?" Darcy asked while handing Bingley a glass of Port.
"Thank you," mumbled Bingley while taking the glass, unable to look up and meet Darcy's questioning eyes.
"Is there something you wish to discuss?" inquired Darcy after sitting in a nearby chair. "Surely you and Jane will have your own children soon."
"No, that is not what is distressing me this evening. How is Georgiana?"
The question startled Darcy. "Well, of course. But you have seen that for yourself… What, may I ask, is this question regarding?"
"I happened to overhear a conversation between Lord Wallingford and your sister this morning..."
"Do not start on me as well," groaned Darcy while rising and walking to a nearby window. "I have heard all of the arguments and I remain unconvinced. Do not waste your breath," he said while staring outside.
"Darcy, I do not understand your refusal to give your consent. Georgiana marrying a future Earl is a very good match for her. I would think you would be pleased... Caroline would give her eye tooth to land the Viscount."
"I have my reasons," mumbled Darcy before taking a sip of Port. “Perhaps we should encourage an attachment between my cousin and your sister.”
Bingley shook his head. "Surely you cannot suspect him of a less than admirable intention. He is not a fortune hunter and has money of his own. And if he were only concerned with money, he would have kept your aunt's estate for himself, instead of turning it over to your cousin. Instead, I understand that he rents it to her for a few shillings and pays some of Rosings’ expenses. Compared to the value of the de Bourgh estate, Georgiana's dowry is nothing."