Part One - My Darling Girl, Elizabeth.
Posted on Saturday, 31 May 2008
Longbourn - 1791
My daughter Elizabeth came into the world this morning, Sunday, June 19th. She is such a beautiful babe, with the most strikingly, deep blue eyes I have ever seen. A lovely chocolate brown mass of curls flows around her face. My mother, who announced the birth with tears in her eyes, told me how much the child reminded her of my late sister Elizabeth who passed on in the scarlet fever epidemic of 1770. Therefore, we named her in honour of my sister as well as for my mother and Fanny's late mother: Elizabeth Alice Rosemary Bennet.
Longbourn - 1795
How Elizabeth loves to sit at my feet and listen to fables and other children's stories. Jane quietly attends while I read, but she seems happier playing with her doll. My little Lizzy focuses on the tales with rapt attention, always asking questions and wanting to know more. I expect that someday we will read similar books and then discuss our opinions on them; such enlightening conversations they will be.
Longbourn - 1796
I realized today how Elizabeth loves joining my mother and, on occasion, me on our walks about the countryside. Like her grandmamma, she takes pleasure in discovering the miracles Mother Nature has provided us. Occasionally, Jane and Mary will accompany us, but even Jane cannot keep up with Lizzy in spite of being nearly two years older. My two younger girls stay with their mother, mainly because they are not old enough to join us. I hope that as they grow older, my mother may also instil in them the love of Nature.
Unfortunately, after losing Lydia's twin and our only son, Steven, at birth, Fanny, in her grief, has become an overprotective mother and insists on keeping, Kitty and Lydia at her side at all times.
Longbourn - 1799
I can remember how Lizzy, at eight years of age, would play pirates with the Lucas boys and her dear friend Charlotte. Today, I received the shock of my life when Charlotte came running into the house screaming that Lizzy had managed to get stuck up in a tree while trying to rescue Mary's cat. (The cat needed no help.) She asked if I could come and assist my girl down. By the time we reached the tree, I saw my mischievous daughter sitting on the bottom branch, laughing at Charlotte, saying that there was nothing to worry about now that her darling Papa had come to rescue her. With that, she launched herself into my waiting arms, giving me a wonderful hug and beaming smile. Because of this, I did not have the heart to chastise her, as I should have done.
Longbourn - 1801
I have had to put a stop to some of Elizabeth's wilder activities of late. She has been in some scrapes while playing with the boys of the village; oh, how it affects Fanny's nerves! Well, not just Fanny is effected, for we were all upset when Elizabeth came home today with a broken arm. Mr. Davidson, the surgeon, after assuring us that the break was not exceptionally bad, set her arm in a splint and recommended rest and quiet for a few days. While it pains me to see her suffer so, perhaps that will keep her out of mischief for a while.
Since Mother moved in with us, Elizabeth has spent much of her time with her beloved Grandmamma. Mother tells her stories of when she was young, and she is teaching Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary about all sorts of female fripperies she feels that they will need to know as they mature from girls into blooming young ladies.
Longbourn - 1802
The two youngest girls spend more and more time with their clucking mother, whom I barely recognise as the wife of my youth. Mrs. Bennet has become a shrew, always moaning about her nerves and very self-centered. Unfortunately, during this time, Fanny has spoilt Lydia by doting on her and coddling her every whim. I am afraid that the ill effects from such overindulgence might be forever fixed in my youngest daughter's character. Hopefully, this will not happen with Kitty or my elder three daughters, since their grandmamma has had some influence over them. Kitty, does not have much self-confidence and, therefore is easily led into mischief by her younger sister. I am happy to see that my mother encourages Kitty in her drawing, as this is something at which I think she will excel as she gets older. Sadly, Lydia, at age six years, is not interested in anything her grandmamma requests she do; all she desires is chase the Lucas boys while playing pirates.
Longbourn - 1804
It is hard to recognise my Lizzy. She has had quite a bout of melancholy since my mother passed away. Of course, everyone has been in mourning, but Elizabeth seems to have lost some of her resiliency and vivacity. My beloved younger brother Lewis, who is a naval captain on one of His Majesty's ships, visited us during this sad time. While this vastly improved my state of mind, and even though he is a great favourite of Lizzy's and attempts to lift her spirits with rousing stories of his sea adventures, the light in her eyes remains diminished.
I feel adrift in a sea of gloom, and, at 38 years of age, I miss my mother. She has always been there to lean on when I have needed advice. When I was twelve, my father lost his life to a outbreak of scarlet fever which hit the village of Meryton quite badly. Both Lewis and I were very lucky to be visiting my mother's brother and his family at the time. Alas, my younger sister, who remained at home, also succumbed to the illness. Thus, my grieving mother took over the running of Longbourn, until I came of age. Even when I took over management of the estate, I could always seek her sage counsel about our home, the farm, or the tenants. I miss her laugh and her gentle guidance, which permeated the whole of Longbourn. To hide my feelings,* I have taken to burying myself more in the estate business and in good books. Elizabeth comes in to read with me, and we discuss the things she is learning from the volumes she completes.
*Mr. B. hides his feelings because back in Regency Britain, and even in the England of today, men are expected to remain stoic and keep a known as the stiff upper lip. For a man to show his feelings, to crying over his mother or in other ways, was thought to be unmanly. Daft isn't it, but it still exists today, especially among the wealthy from old-moneyed families and the elderly who, when younger, went to war.
Posted on Saturday, 7 June 2008
Longbourn - 1808
Jane and Elizabeth made their debut at the Meryton Assembly this week. For Lizzy, Fanny purchased a beautiful ivory gown, which was embroidered with Lizzy's favourite pink rosebuds and vines. For Jane, she procured a lovely pale blue gown embellished with little forget-me-nots. To go with their ensembles, I presented each of them with a garnet and diamond cross. They looked absolutely stunning as they danced shyly with young gentlemen for the first time.
My brother Gardiner has now taken Jane and Elizabeth to London, where they shall attend several balls which his friends have invited them to attend before the end of the season. I chuckled when I read the society pages, enjoying the account of how two unknown young ladies from the countryside have taken the ton by storm. I must say that I was glad that Edward did this. I hate going to Town; therefore, I only travel to London on those rare occasions of absolute necessity.
My Elizabeth's face and eyes lit up with excitement as she told Fanny and me of the balls and soirees that she and her sister attended while staying in Town with her Uncle and Aunt Gardiner. Jane listened to the rendition of their activities with a tranquil smile and simply nodded her agreement with everything Lizzy said. Madeline later informed me, in confidence, that a gentleman had made some improper advances towards Jane which Edward immediately stopped. She also told me that, the scoundrel had sent Jane some poetry (That is if it can be called poetry; according to Edward it was disgusting.) Edward destroyed it immediately as its receipt caused Jane extreme distress. It was due to this incident that they decided to return early to Longbourn. I am glad the season is over and that my daughters are back, safely. I could easily discern that both Jane and Elizabeth were delighted to be home, even though they knew that they would miss the liveliness and entertainment of London, as well as the good company of their aunt and uncle.
Longbourn - 1809
We have just received some dreadful news; my brother Lewis was killed in a battle at sea. With no son, I must now wonder what will become of my wife and girls upon my passing. I have never thought twice on this; I always felt confident that Lewis would see to their welfare when he inherited Longbourn. Goodness knows what my cousin, Mr. Joseph Collins, will do. He has never liked our family and has always said that if he inherited, he would make sure any Bennets left would end up on the streets. I know his son has gone to a theological college, so let us hope that he is not like his father and that he is the one who will inherit Longbourn.
This ill feeling between our families started when my grandfather Bennet, and Joseph's grandfather Collins, both fell in love with the same woman, my grandmother, Lady Laura Simmons. After she and my grandfather married, Mr. Collins, senior married her younger sister, Esther; he and my grandfather, however, never returned to the friendship they had shared before the fight. I fear that Mr. Collins, senior, still holding resentment from all those years ago, poisoned the mind of his son and grandson against my family.
Longbourn - September - 1811
A Mr. Bingley has taken up residence in the old Brooks' manor, Netherfield. The neighbourhood has quite high expectations of him. As I have heard it said, 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' Fanny thinks on nothing but his marrying one of our daughters.
Longbourn - November - 1811
Unfortunately, within a mere three months after his arrival, Mr. Bingley has retired back to London with no indication of his return, leaving a very dejected Jane. Jane's reaction to his departing the country has greatly surprised me. What is even more puzzling to me is why Elizabeth is so angry; she blames Mr. Bingley's snooty sisters and his proud, disagreeable friend for keeping him in London. I fail to understand why Bingley's sister might think that their fortune makes them above everyone here in Hertfordshire. After all, they are a family of Cits whose money came from honest trade, no different from that of my brother Gardiner. I cannot say that either of those two petulant Bingley women are easy on the eyes. Due to their dispositions, and not to their looks alone, the paper bag rule number two comes to mind - someone should place a paper bag over each of their heads and a sock in each of their mouths. I believe that rule applies especially to Miss Caroline Bingley, Mr Bingley's youngest sister; perhaps by doing this, it would make her more amenable to everyone around her.
Longbourn - December - 1811
My wife and daughters invited a few friends as well as several officers from the regiment camped outside Meryton for afternoon tea. The Colonel and his men cut fine figures in their regimentals, and my younger girls were besides themselves, rejoicing over their good fortune to have so many handsome young men attend them. One officer in particular, a Lieutenant Wickham, paid them particular attention. I am not certain, however, that I care for him. He loves to talk about his misfortunes, which he claims resulted from censure by Mr. Darcy and his family. I could not believe them all to be untruths, but I think that there surely must be much more to the story than what he has told us. I am certain that he is spinning a windy*. Why start to bandy this story about after Mr. Darcy has gone and cannot refute the man's claim. When in Wickham's presence, I feel wary of him, but, then again, I do not quite understand why; maybe it is because of the guilty look I caught in his eyes when he was here for tea and thought no one was looking at him. He seems to be one whose intellect is revealed primarily by using his garden tools**. Sadly, I understand that this is true of many soldiers of the militia. I suspect many join in order to gain some prestige with the fairer sex, rather than the honour of joining the noble cause of fighting for king and country.
* Spinning a Windy - Making up a story, or a long yarn, containing half-truths.
**Garden Tools - His brains are in his trousers, and that is mostly what he is interested in. Like many soldiers, W., joined the militia and wore the uniform just to get as many unsuspecting girls, (girls who like Lydia, chased the regiment) into their beds as they could. (This information came from the Bankfield Museum, a militia museum in Halifax.) This does not mean that he is low in intellect because W. was very smart.
Longbourn - January - 1812
Charlotte Lucas has married that idiotic cousin of mine; he has more nostril hair than sense. Poor girl! At seven and twenty, I suppose her family thought it her last chance and imposed upon her to accept him. Elizabeth is none too happy about the whole affair. Even so, Lizzy has agreed to visit with Charlotte at her new home in Hunsford come spring.
Thank goodness Elizabeth had the sense to refuse him. I know that Fanny insisted that I force her to agree to marry him, but I would not. Elizabeth deserves better. He is such a cabbage-brained oaf; my Lizzy would have ended up in Bedlam inside a week if married to such a toad. What a good joke it was when Fanny said she would not speak or see Elizabeth again if she did not accept him, and then I turned things around and told Elizabeth that I would have nothing to do with her if she did. Poor Fanny, her face went red, then white; she stood there for a few moments with her mouth hanging open in shock, then stormed out of my book room stating that she would not speak to either of us again. My reply was good! Should she follow through with her threat, her silence will provide me with plenty of peace and quiet. All through this argument, my Lizzy stood at my side looking to the floor, with a huge smile on her face. As she left my book room, she kissed me on the cheek, thanking me for my understanding and support.
Longbourn - March - 1812
Now that Elizabeth has come back home from visiting Mrs. Collins, I see a change in her behaviour. Today, she more or less put Mr. Wickham in his place when he once again tried to ingratiate himself into her confidence with his smooth talk. As I passed by them, whilst doing my duty as host, I heard the tail end of their conversation in which she stated, "In essentials, I believe, Mr. Darcy is very much the same as he ever was." I believe she was discreetly trying to tell Wickham that she now knew the whole truth about his past dealings with the Darcys. The poor sod went very pale at this, looking like he had swallowed something indigestible; he bowed and very quickly walked away to the other side of the room.
Posted on Friday, 13 June 2008
Longbourn -- April - 1812
Well, the militia have left Meryton; thank goodness! Lydia has received an invitation to join Colonel Forster and his new wife in Brighton for the summer. Lizzy seems to think that due to Lydia's wild ways, my allowing her to accompany the colonel and his wife would put her reputation, and that of all the girls, in grave danger. I do not understand what she means by it. I personally think it will do Lydia some good to get away from her mother for a while, and, perhaps, it will help her mature. I know that her leaving for a while will benefit me greatly.
Longbourn -- August - 1812
I cannot believe the news I have just received! Lydia has eloped with Wickham! Did Colonel Forster not keep an eye on her? The nerve of the man, to take on a responsibility and not see it through. No, I cannot blame him or anyone else -- I must blame myself. I should have listened to Lizzy's warning words concerning her sister's wild ways, before I allowed Lydia to go to Brighton. I suspect Lizzy knew something more, which, for some reason, she could not reveal. As I returned home from London, unsuccessful in my endeavours to find my wayward youngest child, I noticed how distraught both my eldest daughters were. I must admit that I have never seen either of them look so pale and wan.
They are married! Thank the Lord! I do not know how my brother Gardiner did it. I know it must have been very expensive for him. Bad news travels very quickly, and I already know that the debts of that scoundrel Wickham mount up to more than I earn in a year. I daresay that I owe my brother Gardiner an excessive amount of money as Wickham would be a fool if he married Lydia for less than £10,000. I have no idea where I will get the money to repay my brother, but I will find it from somewhere.
Both of my eldest daughters just joined me in my library, begging me to recognise Lydia's marriage and allow the newlywed couple to visit Longbourn. I know that I should, but I am still furious with both Lydia and her new husband. I suppose that if I do acknowledge their union, that will stop the malicious gossip that is already spreading around Meryton. I confess, now, that if they come to Longbourn, it may bring some peace back into our home.
Well, they have arrived, four days after their nuptials, both swaggering about the place. Lydia I could strangle with my bare hands. I feel so disgusted with her attitude; she does not seem to feel any shame for what she has done. She has turned into a long-tongued gossip, a hag of hell, and she acts like a harpy. I must say, that I am already anticipating their departure and wish I had not agreed to this.
That mangy dunghill husband of hers Wickham, has been wise enough to keep his distance from me. I suppose he fears I might put a gun to his head. At least he has some sense; Fanny, on the other hand, is all over him, welcoming him to the family. I noticed my eldest three girls keep their distance from the Wickhams as much as possible.
Kitty, I see, is shocked at the attitude and actions of her sister. Poor Kitty! She looks so forlorn sitting alone in the corner; I wonder if she had held the hope that Wickham would marry her. As the visit progresses, I have noticed that Kitty associates more and more with her elder sisters. Lydia, however, pouts and squeals that all her sisters are jealous of her and her darling Wicky. Kitty replied to this by saying, "No, Lydia, I am not jealous and neither are the rest of us; we are just disgusted with you both." Thank G-D. Kitty has at last gained some sense' she states that she wants nothing to do with either Lydia or Wickham ever again and insists that she cannot wait for their departure.
I think that while they are here, I shall absent myself from their company as much as possible and spend my time in the library to prevent myself from saying something I should not. It seems that Jane, Elizabeth, Kitty and Mary hold the same idea, as they also wish to avoid the newly wed couple and have come on several occasions to ask if they may join me. So, evenings in my bookroom have become very lively, indeed; we take turns playing backgammon or chess, games which I taught all the girls to play. Thank goodness that neither Wickham nor Lydia tried to join us. When things get back to normal, I shall miss the time I have had with my girls, but, then again, I shall be happy just to have my bookroom back to myself again, a place where I may sit and read in peace and quiet.
Lydia enjoyed her time with her mother, as I fear that it will be some time before the girl sees her again. Fanny, however, is ecstatic: one daughter married; but what sort of life will she have with such a man? Tomorrow, they leave for his new position in Newcastle; let us hope this new beginning will help them both make a good start. I pray for my youngest sake that this will be so.
Longbourn -- September - 1812
Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy have returned to Netherfield; I am so glad to see Jane regain her spirits. I just hope this young man will now prove how much he cares for her. They will make an excellent couple, so alike in nearly every detail.
My, my, what is this? Am I such an ogre that I reduce such an amenable young man into a blubbering idiot? Obviously so! Mr. Bingley came to ask for my Jane's hand in marriage. I thought he was going to have an apoplexy what with his stuttering and gibbering. I could not help but give him my blessing and consent; my Elizabeth would never forgive me if I did not.
Last night I had a surprise caller into my book room: Mr. Darcy. This encounter was even more entertaining than I would have guessed. Mr. Darcy, with his hands behind his back, began pacing before my desk, looking as if I might deny him a well-earned treat. At first, I thought that I might have a bit of sport with him. "Sir, are you in pain?" I questioned. "Do you need a doctor, or is there something that I can do for you? Perhaps a glass of whisky, brandy, or port will help," I joked.
Mr. Darcy stopped his pacing, looked up at me, and smiled. At first, I felt shocked, nay, stunned to see a smile on this usually sober young man's face. He should smile more often as it makes him seem more approachable. "No, sir, I thank you," he replied. "I was just trying pluck up my courage to ask you an extremely important question." I raised my eyebrows and studied him questioningly; he continued, "I am here to ask your permission to marry Miss Elizabeth. I have already been fortunate enough to gain her love and consent; all we now require is your blessing."
You could have knocked me down with a feather. My shock must have shown on my face as Mr. Darcy continued, "I realise that you know nothing of our relationship, but I assure you that it has developed gradually over the last few months. I have fought a hard fight to win Elizabeth's love, and I have had to overcome many of her apprehensions. I know that Mr. Wickham (He spat out that name as if it were something distasteful.) spread many lies about me, and I assure you that I did not go against my father's will."
Here I jumped in, stating, "I knew something had changed in Elizabeth when she returned from visiting our cousin Collins. Her attitude and demeanour to Wickham at the farewell party we held before the militia left for Brighton was different. Later, Elizabeth told us that she had been deceived in his character, just as we all had been sadly deceived."
He looked up at me and carried on, "Yes, he is a master of disguise; I wish that I had exposed his character earlier to society, but not everything was mine to tell. However, I have explained all to Miss Elizabeth, and we have come to an understanding. Now, as I said, we await only your consent and blessing to our marriage."
It felt as if my heart had fallen down into my boots, but I pulled myself together and told him, "I will give you my consent, sir, but first, I must speak with my daughter before it is announced to everyone. I must make sure in my mind that she will be happy. Please, will you send her to me?"
After speaking with both Elizabeth and her beau, I am all astonishment; I cannot believe it. Mr. Darcy found Lydia and Wickham, paid off that man's massive debts, and made him marry the silly girl. All this he did for my family because he adores my Elizabeth. I feel so sad that I must now pass her over to someone else, but I must. I know that she will be happy with Darcy because he, like I, worship the ground she walks upon.
Longbourn -- September 26th - 1812
I am soon to give my Elizabeth in marriage to Mr. Darcy. I am to lose her to the best man she knows: yet, I am being replaced by a man I barely know. I must now make an effort to get better acquainted with him as Lizzy has asked me. I still have moments when I feel tremendously stunned.
Tonight, I asked both young couples if they had considered a date for their nuptials and was surprised when they all mentioned a double wedding. They have thought to hold their wedding in early autumn, before November, when bad weather will return. The date they have settled on is October 19th. As the wedding will fall near to St. Crispin's Day (He, is the patron saint of shoemakers.), Lizzy joked that perhaps St. Crispin might take revenge on her for having ruined too many pairs of walking boots while on her rambles and make her shoes pinch on her wedding day. If this happens, she would know that she had offended him. That made us all laugh.
Later, while having a spot of port after our meal, both young men told me that they planned to purchase special licences. After we rejoined the ladies, Lizzy and Jane came and informed me that they could get what they needed for their trousseaus in Meryton, rather than having to travel to London. I must say that I feel sad that I shall lose my oldest, most sensible daughters so soon, as I will miss them both greatly (especially my Lizzy). I had hoped that Lizzy would wait at least six months before she wed, but, as with Jane, I shall lose her in three weeks time. I will miss our long conversations and games of chess; she is a formidable opponent on the chessboard.
Longbourn -- October - 1812
Today, I went shooting with Darcy and Bingley. I soon found out how a good a shot Bingley is; I think he bagged most of the game birds.
As we returned to the house, Darcy confidently approached me and said, "Sir, I know that you will miss Elizabeth when she is so far away in Derbyshire. I want to offer you an open invitation to visit us as often as you please, whenever you please. In addition, I wish to request that you and your family join us for the Christmas and New Year period. I will arrange transport for all of you and set up lodging for your family at my favourite inns along the way. Would that be agreeable to you, sir?"
I was stunned to have received such a kind and generous offer, but as I get to know this complicated young man, I see that he is a very good-hearted, caring gentleman who attempts to hides his liberalness behind a well-placed mask.
I spluttered, "Thank you, sir! That will be very agreeable. But," I added, "if you do not mind, I will not mention this to my wife, yet, as I wish it to be a surprise." At this, I noticed a twinkle in his eye as he chuckled, "I understand, sir. I will arrange everything and send you word of the arrangements by post."
I waved to my most beloved daughter and her husband as the carriage whisked them away; I think of the plan I made with Darcy for me and my family to visit Pemberley. My present sorrow of missing her lessens as I look forward to sharing the holiday with them and getting lost in his vast library. What did Fanny just say as we watched them leave? Oh, yes! G-d has been so very good to us -- three daughters married. Oh, my, I shall be at my leisure to await the beaus of my other two daughters soon enough. I wonder who will be the first to provide me with a grandchild. By the look of such ardent passion in Mr. Darcy's eyes, I think that my Lizzy will be the one. Then again, Lydia has had a head start.
Part Two -- Change and Surprise.
Posted on Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Longbourn -- November 27th - 1812
A month has now passed since I waved goodbye to Elizabeth and her husband and what a month it has been. First, I received a surprise even bigger than finding Mr. Darcy in my study. Kitty came into my bookroom and asked me to help her improve herself. She told me that Elizabeth and Jane had talked to her and explained that the things she had done with Lydia in the past had not left a good impression on people. Therefore, if she were to mix properly with the higher circle of society in which her older sisters would now associate, she would need to improve her mind and manners. Kitty admitted that she wished to join in events with her sisters and their new husbands and added that Elizabeth had suggested that she come and speak with me. It seems that Elizabeth advised Kitty to take note of Miss Darcy's manner and speech. Consequently, over the last four weeks, I have seen a very desirable change in my younger daughter. Thus, every night we read together in my library, and discuss the ideas presented therein; given her new willingness to learn, I have helped her to understand some of the many areas in which she can improve herself. The first and most important thing I have shared with her is to listen to what people ask first and then think very carefully before answering. Another essential area I pointed out to her is that she should wait until she is addressed by others instead of pushing herself forward as she and her sister Lydia used to do. If only Mary would also take the trouble of altering her manner.
Longbourn -- November 28th - 1812
Darcy sent a letter last week to recommend that we start our journey to Pemberley within a fortnight while the weather continues mild and the roads remain passable. Therefore, we set off for Derbyshire within the next two days. Since the post companies organized the competition to find ways to improve the roads, I am anticipating an easier journey.
Today, I received the anticipated express from Darcy saying that, as promised, he has booked us rooms at the Blue Boar Inn in Coventry and the Three Feathers in Nottingham. He informs me that they provide superior accommodations and food when compared to other inns in those areas, and he believes they will allow us a restful pause on our journey.
My eldest daughter, Jane, and her husband, Charles, are also to join us at Pemberley for the Christmas period. They are to travel a few days before us, as they are to collect his sisters and Mr. Hurst from that man's familial estate.
Fanny has been beside herself and has purchased new gowns for both Mary and Kitty for the occasion, as well as for herself. I have stipulated that Mary must wear something brighter than usual; her normal drab attire only makes her look plain, like an old maid. Thank goodness that she has not demurred over this. Last night, I happily noticed that she wore one of Jane's old gowns, a pretty pink one. She has also had her hair arranged quite nicely of late; it flatters her face, improving her looks. I told her how surprisingly attractive she appeared and advised her to continue wearing similar colours. I urged her to keep her hair in that style. A wonderful rosy blush appeared on her cheeks, which delighted me.
It seems that Elizabeth and Jane spoke with Mary, too. I was happy to see her when she arrived in my study with Kitty tonight, to join in our discussions, stating that after my compliments of earlier this afternoon, she now felt confident enough to put the advice her sisters had given her into practice. Mary also mentioned that I was not the only one who had praised her on her hairstyle. It seems that James Cyril, her Uncle Philips' clerk, had commended her on her appearance as well.
Longbourn -- November 29th - 1812
Well, it seems that success breeds success. In that hope, I have decided to have a few words with Fanny in order to make sure that she does not embarrass us with her thoughtless tongue.
After dinner, I asked Fanny to step into my bookroom, informing her that I wished to have a few private discussion with her. "Mrs. Bennet--" I stopped and rethought, then decided that I might have a better chance of gaining her attention by using her given name. "Fanny--" It seemed to work, she turned her eyes to me. "My dear, I want your behaviour at Pemberley to be such that it does not bring humiliation to any of our daughters or to me."
"Thomas," she replied, outraged, "I am sure I do not understand you."
"You must keep that tactless tongue of yours under control," I commanded. "There is to be no bragging about how well our daughters have married or how much your new sons are worth. Mr. Darcy's relatives shall be present and will, no doubt, find this disgusting. On hearing such things, they will deem you uncouth and not worthy of their notice. I want you to set an example for our two unmarried daughters and show them that their mother can behave properly. This you shall do by thinking before speaking to these people and waiting for them to address you before you reply. Remember, if you want our other daughters to meet eligible men from the same circles as Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, then you must prove yourself worthy of them."
"Have you finished, Mr. Bennet? I am quite sure that I will not embarrass our daughters." Infuriated she stalked out of the room.
Well, it appears that I am in deep trouble with Fanny. She has refused to speak to me since I presented her with the homily on watching her manners and, especially, her thoughtless tongue. I believe it a good wake up call for her. I know once her temper has cooled and she has really thought about what I have said, she will forgive me. I just hope that she meditates long and hard about what I have said.
When retiring tonight, as I walked to my room, hearing my wife's voice as I passed by her chamber, I stepped closer to the door, which was slightly ajar, and peeked in. I was stunned at what saw. Do my eyes deceive me? My goodness, what is Fanny doing now? Good Heavens, she is standing before a mirror and practicing what she will to say to Darcy's relatives, Lord and Lady Matlock and Lady Catherine, and how she will say it. It looks like this little holiday may not be so bad after all. Tomorrow we start our travels to Pemberley.
Posted on 2008-06-29
Pemberley -- December - 1812
We arrived late this afternoon, at last! What a shock I received when we entered the park surrounding Pemberley. You could have picked my jaw up off the ground; and, by the look on Fanny and that on all my daughters' faces, I am not the only one who is in a state of bewilderment. At first, I thought the driver must have taken a wrong turn, but he assured me that he followed the directions correctly. When we saw the beautiful manor house, I felt so proud to be the father of the mistress of such an exquisite estate. As the carriage pulled up to the entrance, I noticed that Elizabeth, Darcy, and even Miss Darcy waited on the steps to greet us.
Once the servants took our coats and hats, they directed us to our rooms to wash and change out of our dusty carriage wear. Later, Elizabeth and Darcy showed us into the Chinese Drawing Room, named after the beautiful Chinese tapestries on the wall. Once in the room, I noted that my eldest daughter, Jane; her husband, Charles; and his family were present, as were some other people we had not previously had the pleasure to know. Elizabeth introduced us to those other occupants: Lord and Lady Matlock and their sons, Viscount Andrew Fitzwilliam and Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, who cordially greeted us all.
Once all the introductions were complete, tea was served. When we had all partaken of much-needed refreshment, I realised that I had not heard one word from Fanny; our current lush setting must have overwhelmed her. Glancing over to where she sat, I watched as Lady Matlock spoke to her. She replied with what seemed to me a very carefully thought out answer, reminding me of the shy young woman I married all those years ago.
Elizabeth and Jane both looked well and exceedingly happy. Darcy asked me if we had found our accommodations on the road comfortable; I thanked him and explained that they had been most satisfactory. Indeed, they had been. It helps having such well-connected relatives.
Our rooms amaze me; Lizzy and Darcy must have given us their best guest suite, for we find it very spacious and comfortable. The doors of my chamber connect to a sitting room which, in turn, connects to Fanny's chamber. I was happy to find that Darcy took the trouble to arrange a valet for me. For Fanny and the girls, he provided lady's maids; and those servants surprised us all by having refreshing baths prepared for us. What I found most astonishing was all the modern conveniences in our rooms, including a water closet; I had heard of them but had never seen one. I am also told that cold water is piped into the kitchens and does not need to be carried in, this I would love to see.
We spent our first evening together listening to Georgiana and Elizabeth perform pleasantly on the pianoforte. I found it surprising that Mary did not wish to exhibit as she normally does; perhaps she was tired. After dinner, the men and I adjourned to the study to partake in a bit of port and brandy; I have never been one to smoke cigars, but some of the other gentlemen enjoyed that indulgence. With pleasure, I discovered that Lord Hugh and I share similar tastes in books, as well as on many other topics, several of which we discussed affably. I think what astonished me the most was that he remembered me from when I was at Cambridge. He mentioned that what he recalled primarily about me was my position as debate team leader. He explained how he admired my argument strategies. It turns out that he was in a class a year lower than I. He said that he always enjoyed watching me in action, that he took notes, and that he would later practice my schemes so that he would be prepared to join the debate team in his year.
Tonight, that sly, devilish sister of Mr. Bingley's tried to cause problems for my wife by asking, "Will your youngest daughter, Mrs. Wickham," she paused for effect, "be joining our little Christmas party, Mrs. Bennet?" She said this with a cunning smile and a wink to her sister. My Fanny's face blanched as everyone else in the room held their breath while glaring daggers at Caroline.
I jumped in and replied for my wife, stating, "Unfortuantely, Miss Bingley, my youngest stays in Newcastle with her husband, where his regiment is stationed at the moment. As you know, she is newly married, like your brother, and, since Mr. Wickham's duties will keep him up north for the foreseeable future, she does not wish to leave him to join us." To twist the knife, I added, "However, if you would like to contact her, I would happily give you her address, so that you may write to her. I am sure Mrs. Wickham would appreciate your communication; perhaps she could give you some pointers on finding a husband." The sour look on Miss Bingley's face, and on the face of her sister, told me that I had silenced them on that subject. Thank goodness.
Later, I saw Charles giving her the dressing down she deserved. He ordered her to her room. Poor sod, having to put up with sisters who think that money can buy them a place in society. Perhaps it is so, for someone like Charles, who, due to his hard work and amiable nature, is welcomed by certain of the higher circles in Town, but his sisters will only be accepted because of their brother's connections. If, owing to their ill-bred behaviour, Charles and Darcy were to cast them off and have no more to do with them, then their position in society would be nil. They would have only themselves to blame should that happen.
Pemberley - Christmas Eve - 1812
The Gardiners and their four children finally arrived today. They apologised for their lateness. Mr. Gardiner explained that he had been awaiting the arrival of one of his ships carrying a shipment of tea from Ceylon and fine silk. He thought it delayed at sea, perhaps by pirates or the war. When he finally had a chance to speak to his captain, the man detailed how he, had, indeed needed to avoid a French frigate but managed to get to England by navigating a convoluted, time-consuming route.
Pemberley - Christmas Day - 1812
What a wonderful day, a day full of wonders! Elizabeth and Darcy astonished us by giving presents to us all. They presented Fanny with a beautiful dressing table set adorned with crystal bottles, each bottle filled with the latest French perfume; it left her speechless. Mary, Kitty, and Georgiana each received a beautiful necklace consisting of a teardrop-shaped pearl surrounded by small diamonds, dangling on a gold chain. For me, well, tears came into my eyes as I unwrapped the Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Laurence Sterne books, the very ones for which I had been searching. They favoured Mr. Gardiner with a new fishing rod and reel, which they generously informed him he was welcome to use anytime he wished in Pemberley's well-stocked streams and lake. Mrs. Gardiner happily received a beautiful brooch of emeralds and pearls which matched the necklace her husband bought her.
The eldest Gardiner children, girls at seven and eight, were given porcelain headed-dolls, which had human hair and came dressed in the miniature versions of the latest in fashionable clothing, complete with two or three additional outfits into which the girls could change them. The younger boys, at three and five, received hobbyhorses. Later, Lizzy and Darcy offered a further surprise for all of them -- two ponies for them to ride when they returned to Pemberley in the summer. Darcy explained that they would have to wait to ride the ponies, as the ground was currently far too wet due to the snow which had fallen over night. He told them that they could visit the ponies anytime they liked, Billy, the groomsman who held the responsibility for the estate's horses, would gladly escort them to the stables and teach them how to care for their new hoofed animals.
Darcy continued and explained to his captive audience, "It is always a good thing to know how to tend your own steeds, for one never knows when they may need to do so." Not long after Darcy had recited all this to both the children and the adults, Billy, arrived and escorted all four very excited children to the stables. Each child made certain to take treats for the ponies. As they were following the groom out of the room, Darcy called after them and asked them to think of names for the ponies, which, to his dismay, the children quickly determined to call, Wellington and Beauty.
Lord Matlock received a beautifully carved pipe and a supply of the finest tobacco; Viscount Andrew, an elegant writing set, which included crystal ink bottles, sander, blotter and writing slope encased in a rosewood box; The colonel, a riding crop intricately wrapped in the finest leather, as he had lost his old one while on manoeuvres. Her Ladyship was pleased, like myself, with a few books of poetry and two elegant porcelain figurines.
Charles bestowed upon Jane a full reel of beautiful imported lace, a few pieces of jewellery, a box of Belgium chocolates, and a bottle of her favourite perfume. It was then Darcy's turn, and he presented Elizabeth with a beautiful tiara and matching necklace set. He explained that this had been his mother's. She had left it, upon her death, with express instructions that he give it to his wife on their first Christmas or anniversary. Darcy explained further that the set would be ideal for her to wear in London when they went to Town for the Season.
His other gifts for her were a saddle and riding outfit. He took the opportunity to explain to her that she now had no reason to refuse to learn to ride the new horse that he had given her two weeks earlier. I laughed at this and said, "Better you than me, son."
"Remember that in summer," Darcy pointed out to his wife, with a look of love and satisfaction on his face "Pemberley can be seen best on horseback, and there are some beautiful views which you will miss if you do not learn, my love."
"I have promised you that I will learn to ride on Pandora, and, now that I have become good friends with her, I look forward to becoming an adequate, if not proficient rider," Elizabeth replied, her eyes sparkling. I was so shocked at her reply that I choked on my tea.
Darcy then asked Elizabeth to step into a room that he had had fitted up for her to use as a sitting room. Once inside, he amazed her with a beautiful writing desk and a matching book cabinet which contained new copies of her favourite books. I admit to having wondered why he asked me for a list of the books she enjoyed most; now, however, it made perfect sense. In that same room, I noticed a lovely painting by Mr. Constable depicting what I can only guess to be Pemberley in the summer. Elizabeth, was overwhelmed at all this, and gave her embarrassed husband a big kiss in front of us all. This made us laugh at her impetuousness, making both Elizabeth and Darcy turn as red as a berry.
Mr. Bingley spoke up and told Jane that in addition to the gifts she had received today, he had arranged another bestowal for her. This part was an appointment with an artist called Mr. Turner who would paint her portrait, come June, while she sat among the flowers at Netherfield. She became overwhelmed when he told her that furthermore he had yet another present awaiting her back at Netherfield; one he truly hoped she would like. Poor Jane, since childhood, she had never liked surprises. So, for the rest of her stay, she gently hinted to her beloved that she would like a clue as to what it might be. Shaking his head, he laughed and told her that it was a secret and would remain so until they returned home. I feel sorry for the lad because I know from experience that she will plague him with questions, until she finds out.
Jane and Elizabeth shyly presented their first Christmas gifts to their husbands. Elizabeth gave Mr. Darcy an elegant Gentleman's Travelling Set* for his use when away from home, and a Tantalus** for his study. Jane, with just a hint of embarrassment explained to those assembled that she had required help in acquiring Charles's presents. Through discussion with her new sister Louise, she was able to order a hunting jacket in his favourite colour, brown, which she ordered from his favourite tailor, and a new rifle. Apparently, she had asked the colonel to use his expertise and order the weapon for her, as Jane knew very little about them, but knew that Charles loved the hunting season at Netherfield.
Later, after our evening meal, the Gardiners handed out the gifts they had brought with them. I must say that they gave all of us men a wonderful and unexpected delight -- French brandy and Champagne. I have not had either of these for quite sometime now, as it, like most things French, is so very hard to come by due to the war with the little tyrant. Mr Gardiner explained that he had been able to get these from India where many French ships had sold their cargo to merchants there for help in getting a safe passage back to France. For the women, they brought beautiful silk, embroidered shawls from India. Each of the ladies present received theirs with pleasurable squeals of delight.
Altogether, we celebrated a very satisfying Christmas Day. After opening our gifts, most of the men went off to play either billiards or chess while the women sat around chatting and admiring their gifts. Once the men rejoined the ladies and we finished drinking our share of coffee or tea, Lizzy put me to service reading the Christmas story as I have done every Christmas for more years than I care to remember. I laughed when she placed the Bible in my lap and sat at my feet along with Jane, Georgiana, Kitty, Mary, and the Gardiner children. They all gathered round in rapt attention as I read the story from St. Luke's Gospel. (Sadly, we missed Lydia from our happy family gathering, but I pray that after some healing time passes, we may again welcome her to our celebrations.)
*A Gentleman's Travelling Set: This consisted of either an ornate mahogany box, or a leather case, which contained crystal flasks for aftershave lotion such as the popular sandlewood. The set also contained hairbrushes, combs, things for washing such as soap, razors, and various other bits and pieces, which a gentleman would need when travelling.
I saw one made of leather and, just recently another one made in mahogany on the programme, "Antiques Road Show."
**A Tantalus: A decanter set enclosed in a box which came with a lock. Usually, this type of set had between three to six crystal decanters, which the gentleman would fill with various spirits. The purpose of the lock was to insure that there would be no stealing of the master's fine brandy or port. (It was commonly known that some servants did this.) The master could also take the Tantalus with him when he travelled from home to home. Frequently, these kits would have a leather carrying case complete with a travelling handle to make travelling with it easier.
I have also seen these on the programme "Antique Road Show," too.
The latest programme that I watched showed a matching Tantalus and Gentleman's Travelling set. They were beautiful, and I could well imagine Lizzy purchasing these for Darcy.
Posted on 2008-07-05
Pemberley - Boxing Day - 1812
Today, we all went to the large hall at the back of the manor, where the Darcys threw a party for the tenants and servants of Pemberley. Darcy and Lizzy handed out boxes* to each family, along with small toys for each of the children. Lord Matlock noticed my surprise at this and informed me that it had been a long-practiced tradition in both the Matlock and the Darcy families. He explained that it was a way to show their appreciation to their staff and to thank the tenant farmers for all of their hard work and loyalty. I think this might be a good idea to encourage my own tenants. At Longbourn, we usually have a party at harvest time, but I have never done anything at Christmas, other than to give our servants a small present of a few shillings to brighten their holiday.
*Boxing Day: December 26th -- The day on which the masters of estates would present boxes of food & clothing to their tenants and servants. Traditionally, the servants also received a holiday bonus. The contents of the church poor box were distributed to the needy on this day.
Not long after the festivities at Pemberley, I became aware that Bingley's sisters were preparing to leave. Thank goodness, for their sour faces and ill-bred jibes were annoying Bingley and making him tense. At least Mrs. Hurst showed some small amount of manners, for she approached Darcy to apologise for their behaviour and to thank him for his hospitality. Miss Bingley just swanned out of the manor like a ship in full sail. I cannot, for the life of me, believe they came from the same parents as Charles.
Pemberley -- 6th January - 1813
Tonight, for the first time in over ten years, since the death of Darcy's mother, he held a Twelfth Night ball. I thought Pemberley beautiful when I first arrived, but Pemberley dressed for a ball presented a most remarkable sight to behold. The music and food were splendid and abundant; Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, and Mrs. Hobbs, the cook, outdid themselves tonight.
Fanny has continued to impress me with her improved attitude and kindness. I hope that this will carry on when we return to Longbourn, for then I shall have back the wonderful woman I married so many years ago. When in the privacy of our rooms, I told her how proud I was of her and how it was nice it was to see my bride again. My, how she blushed! After a few moments of silence, she replied, "I am happy you have noticed, Thomas. I feel so different here, so relaxed and happy." Hearing that, I smiled warmly at her. I trust life will hold many blessings for us in the future.
Pemberley -- 10th January - 1813
This is the last day of our visit; how I will miss this happy time. I am allowing Kitty to remain with Lizzy in order for her to spend more time in the company of Georgiana. That girl will have such a wonderful influence on Kitty, and, perhaps, Kitty will help Miss Darcy overcome her shyness.
Well, Christmas and New Year have been wonderful for everyone. Fanny, my darling Fanny, has continued to surprise me. She informed me the other day that Lady Matlock, or Lady Rebecca as she now calls her, has invited our family to Matlock Manor in June. Lord Hugh has confirmed this invitation, and I now look forward to going fishing (I will have to purchase a new reel for my rod before summer.), as well as playing many a game of chess and backgammon. I also look forward to spending time with more male company than I have been used to. Since my darling daughters have married such splendid people, I no longer mind travelling. The only place I still abhor like the dickens is London.
As we waved goodbye to Lizzy and her husband, I felt sad that our time at Pemberley had come to an end. Darcy has promised to visit Longbourn for few days en route to London for the Season. April shall find Miss Georgiana, Kitty, Mary, Jane, and Lizzy presented to her majesty at St. James'. Kitty will travel and lodge with the Darcys while Mary accompanies Jane and Charles to London and will stay with them until the presentation.
Before the carriage pulled away, I thanked Lord Hugh for sponsoring my four girls along with his niece. He asked me if we would join them at their home in Kensington Gardens near the time of the presentation. Fanny was speechless at this but, again, deferred the decision to me. I accepted the invitation, and we thanked them for their kindness. It looks as though I will have to brave London society to see how my daughters and Miss Darcy are received. I must say that I feel the proud father.
Well, here we are at Fitzwilliam House in Kensington Square. Tonight*, all my daughters, except Lydia, will be presented to the queen at St. James' Palace. They all look quite elegant in their new gowns. I wonder if they shall make a lasting impression on the queen? I am the proudest of fathers today.
Fanny persists in astonishing me since we returned home. Gone are the nervous fits which she was prone to have when things did not go her way. She now thinks about what she says before saying it; if she is unsure of what to do, rather than going to her sister or her friends, she defers to me. She is again my delightful bride.
She confessed to me that Lady Rebecca has written to her of the preparation sessions in which our daughters participate and of how amusing she has found watching their struggles. Lord Hugh apparently plays his majesty while each of the girls, with a long tablecloth tied around their waist, curtsies low and then walks backwards out of the room. Their falls, and the laughter resulting from them, must have been a sight to behold.
*From what I have researched, most presentations proceeded throughout the day and well into the evening (unfortunately, a time was not mentioned, as to when these would finish but my guess would be around 7pm as the ball started at 8pm in the evening). In advance of his or her appearance before the queen, each person is allotted a time and informed of this appointment for his or her presentation. The queen would receive the curtsies of women in her chambers, and the King accepted the introduction of men in the presentation room. When King George III became ill, his son took over all of his duties, including presentations. It is known that the regent hated the out dated mode of the presentation gowns and male costume, so he ordered a change to modern day fashions a couple of years before he became King George IV. It was the queen who insisted on the large-hooped dresses for the court. Later, due to the frailness of the queen, the regent began to receive all presentations, with men and women dressed in more appropriate clothing for the time, but the women's dresses still retained the long train. Most of the above information came from my trip to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Some information I gathered from the site below and other information I collected from books in my local library. After seeing some of the court dresses at the assembly rooms in Bath, I can well understand the regent's dislike of them.
How beautiful each girl looked; although, I must admit to being biased when I say that my Lizzy appeared especially gorgeous, as she had a wonderful glow about her. In the ballroom, Darcy seemed positively smug as he presented Elizabeth, Kitty, and Georgiana to the rest of St. James'. He, Bingley, and the colonel stood with our debutantes at the side of the room while the ladies' filled their dance cards, voicing their approval of each of their dance partners. Once the ladies' cards were full, Darcy and Bingley escorted Elizabeth and Jane, while Viscount Andrew and the colonel escorted Kitty and Georgiana to the floor for the first set. It surprised me to see that Mary, was also escorted onto the dance floor by a Sir Thomas Appleby, a long time friend of Darcy's. I stood with Fanny, proud to see all of my girls (Georgiana, too) so well received. I could see the happiness in Fanny's eyes as she whispered to me of how proud she, too, was of her four daughters.
This evening, I found myself greatly surprised when I learned that the elder Fitzwilliam boy, a viscount, of all men, had danced three dances with my Kitty. I stifled more than a few chuckles as I watched him frown, resembling a much-abused, jealous suitor, and then observed him slink off to the punch bowl, glowering, as Kitty danced with other young men. It looks as if I may have another gentleman visiting me soon, petitioning me for Kitty's hand in marriage.
Fanny's face was aglow with pleasure and satisfaction at our daughters' accomplishments over the last few months. She informed me that life has been full of blessings, and, if what she whispered to me last night is correct--. Perhaps my luck has finally turned for good; this may, at long last, be the son I have hoped for, an heir to take over Longbourn.
Longbourn -- June - 1813
Well, Fanny tells me that the child is due at the end of September. I look forward to becoming a father again. Mr. Jones has stated that Fanny can travel to Matlock Manor for the fortnight we had planned, but that we should make our journey more slowly and allow additional stops. Darcy has again booked us into the two inns at which we stayed in early December when we first travelled to Pemberley for the Christmas season. He insists upon sending us his most luxurious coach in order that Fanny may travel more comfortably. We shall stop at Pemberley, where we shall collect Kitty and Mary who are already in residence. We are to have a few days of rest so that Fanny can regain her strength, and then we are all to travel on to Matlock.
We have just received some splendid news from Pemberley. It looks like I am not the only one who shall be a new father this year. Darcy has written of his pleasure that Elizabeth shall provide me with a grandchild near the time Fanny presents me, G-d willing, with a son. Darcy invited us to stay at Pemberley until the births, to insure an easy confinement for Fanny. As Pemberley is only half a day's journey from Matlock, I have agreed to this, as I would not like anything to happen to my wife and our child
Posted on 2008-07-12
Pemberley -- June - 1813
Arriving at Pemberley, finally, our jaws drop once more as we now absorb its summer beauty; nature could not have planned it any better. Fanny, poor dear, is absolutely worn; I am glad I made the right decision, for her sake, and that we will stay on at Pemberley until the birth.
My, my Elizabeth is huge; I wonder if she might be expecting twins. They do run on my side of the family. Even so, our family has not seen a set born since Lydia's birth. I think it has been over 100 years since the last set of twins, where both survived, entered the Bennet family: those being my grandfather Bennet and his brother Horace. I wonder if the Darcy family is prone to multiple births as well?
We travel the twenty miles to Matlock Manor tomorrow, if Fanny feels strong enough. I am looking forward to seeing Lord Hugh again, spending time with him, and getting in a bit of fishing. I have brought my favourite rod and my new fishing reel, which my darling wife bought as a surprise gift for me. In addition, I look forward to enjoying some relaxation by the trout pond while here at Pemberley. Who knows, perhaps we shall participate in a spot of shooting.
Lady Rebecca sent us word that she has organised a few activities for the ladies to enjoy; I can only hope that if Fanny rests, she will feel up to joining in on those activities. This pregnancy, so far, has been more difficult than her others were, but, then again, at her age, it is not surprising that she is tired and more irritable than usual, even for Fanny at her worst. The poor dear has suffered worse morning sickness than she ever did with our other children. She is hoping against hope that these things signal that, this time, it will be a boy; I must admit that I, too, cherish that hope.
Pemberley - August - 1813
Darcy and I have enjoyed our time together. Over the last few weeks, he has taken great pains to show me around his estate and has given me a few ideas for improving crop production, which I may suggest to my steward. Mr. Blackmore, will no doubt, readily apply the methods used at Pemberley may help my fields reap a better harvest. Kitty has proven a great surprise to Fanny and me. She has become an excellent artist; last night, she astonished us with the gift of a painting which showed Lizzy and Georgiana sitting in the midst of Pemberley's resplendent Rose Garden. A truly beautiful composition, it shows both women looking gorgeous amongst the flowers. We plan to hang it in the front parlour, where it will add nicely to the décor, or so I have been told.
A letter arrived from young Lydia today announcing that she is also soon to be a mother. I fear for her, as she is no more than a child herself and has no one to look out for her. Let us hope that a child will help both her and Wickham grow up, Wickham, especially.
Pemberley -- September 24th - 1813
Elizabeth is now the size of a house, poor dear. Of late, she very rarely ventures downstairs, unless her husband helps her. Fanny, too, is large; I must say she is bigger than she ever was with any of the girls, and she often complains of being very weary. I continue to hope, secretly, that this time it will be a boy. To have a son to take over Longbourn? How wonderful! Fanny does nothing but talk of a boy and has even chosen its name: David Lewis (for her father and my brother). I keep teasing her that it will definitely be a girl as we have the propensity to bring only daughters into this world. I have chosen Amelia Sophia (for Fanny's sister Phillips and my grandmamma Roberts, my mother's mother) should another female grace us, for Fanny refuses to even consider a feminine name.
The Gardiners arrived today; I am glad of this. Madelyn will help keep everything calm when the time arrives for Elizabeth and Fanny to birth their respective children. Fanny has taken to her bed; such is her exhaustion as she comes very near her time.
Well, we have two exceptional grandsons, the first born they named Thomas Edward (Thomas after myself and Edward after my brother Mr. Gardiner and Lord Matlock) and the younger boy, Andrew Richard (named for his godfathers, the viscount and the colonel). They were born just twenty minutes apart. Elizabeth appears fine and does seem to take after her mother, as her childbirth labouring took only half a day, not four and twenty hours as expected.
Well, we have two grandsons, the first born named Thomas Edward (Thomas after myself and Edward after my brother Mr Gardiner and Lord Matlock) and the younger boy, Andrew Richard (named for his godfathers, the colonel and the viscount). They were born just twenty minutes apart. Elizabeth appears fine and does seem to take after her mother, as her childbirth labouring took only half a day, not four and twenty hours as expected.
It looks like one birth causes another as, not long after Elizabeth completed her delivery, Fanny entered into labour. Darcy has made sure that Mr. Davidson, the physician, and Mrs. Clark, the midwife, are there to help her. Birthing her children, as I have mentioned her before, has always come easily to Fanny; I hope that this one will follow that course. Mr. Davidson had warned me last week that due to her age, it might be much more difficult for her this time around. Here I sit with my brother Gardiner and Charles, the only one of us men who has not yet experienced the birth of a child. I know it cannot be long before he, too, becomes a father; based on the look I see in his eyes when he glances at my Jane, I think that they are keeping a secret between them. I hope that Fanny and that the babe, when delivered, will be well. I pray for Fanny's peace of mind, that, this child, after all these years, will be the boy for which we have hoped.
Pemberley -- September 25th -- 1813
I cannot believe it; I feel ecstatic, over the moon. At long last, I am the father of a son, a SON, David Lewis Thomas Bennet. I cannot wait to write to that idiot cousin of mine, and to the Times, to announce the birth of a Bennet boy. I can now break the entail! I shall make certain that my son's family will never have the problems which mine have had.
I must also thank the lord that this birth was not as difficult as Mr. Davidson had predicted. Even so, it was much more tiring and lasted longer than any of the girl's births. My darling Fanny is exceedingly happy, but fatigued. She will not let us remove the boy from her side, for she insists on making sure that he is content. When she thinks that no one is watching, she constantly checks to make sure that she has not dreamt that this babe is a boy. While I sympathise with her, I do find her actions amusing.
Poor Mr. Collins; we have received an exceedingly long, loquacious letter from him, as well as a lovely congratulatory letter from Charlotte. You can almost feel his disappointment, but I would like to believe that he is also relieved. He states in his letter that he enjoys his life as a cleric greatly and, most likely, would, never have made a good landlord. I must agree.
This morning, Mr. Davidson mentioned to me that Fanny would fare better if she rested for at least six, but, preferably, eight weeks before travelling back to Longbourn. My feelings are mixed about this. Of course, I am happy to hear that all is well with Fanny and my boy, David; I understand that they are not well enough to travel back home to Longbourn. I am sad that I shall have to return without them in order to tend to estate business. However, their welfare is my foremost concern. Even if we must wait until next spring before they are able to return home, I am determined that they shall be strong enough to do so.
Darcy urged me to delay their trip back to Longbourn, until they are both strong enough to make the journey without difficulty. He has assured me that we are all welcome to stay at Pemberley as long as need be. I fear that I disappointed him when I explained the necessity of my return. I told him that the harvest and the tenants' party, which we hold yearly, required my attention. Therefore, tomorrow, I leave with my brother Gardiner and Madelyn, Charles and Jane, for Longbourn. I shall return to Derbyshire at the end of October to escort my wife and son back home. By then, I hope, they will be robust enough to travel. If the weather turns bad, or if they have not yet recovered sufficiently, I have agreed with Elizabeth and Darcy that they shall stay until April, at which time conditions should have improved. Fanny and David, during that time, should have had sufficient time to improve; I do not want anything to happen to my much longed for son or my darling wife. (Looking back over the last few entries, I would never have thought that, after twenty-three years of marriage, I would be so happy, but, thankfully, I am.)
Longbourn - October - 1813
I am happy that my wife and son remain at Pemberley, where they are safe. The weather has turned dangerous; already, snow covers the ground six inches deep, with more to come by the look of the sky. Travel will be impossible due to the state of the roads, which are either very muddy or frozen, depending on the time of day, and no carriage could travel safely over them. Even the mail is unable to get through. In those places where the ground is frozen, the horses are put at risk. It looks like I shall remain snowed-in here at Longbourn for sometime.
Fanny had been writing regularly before the snows came. She has kept me appraised, in flowing detail, of how our son and grandsons are growing; she also tells me that Darcy has determined that he must have a portrait of his family. In the same post, I received a letter from Elizabeth saying that Darcy has written to Sir Thomas Laurence in order to hire him for this undertaking. She informs me that the artist shall travel to Pemberley in March of the coming year, when the roads should once again become passable. My Lizzy wonders if, during the gentleman's stay at Pemberley, I would like to have such a painting of the Longbourn family done. While I do not think I could easily afford Sir Thomas Laurence; perhaps this once, I might do so, since the last portrait of our family was painted when the girls were very little. So, yes, I think it is a good idea to commission a portrait of the family remaining at Longbourn: Fanny, David, Kitty, Mary, and myself.
Life at Longbourn, without my family in residence, is dreadfully lonely. My goodness, I would never have thought how much I would miss my wife, or how all the events that have happened over this short period of time have changed my life for the better. How blessed I am. Last year, I dreaded the thought of going to Pemberley for the Christmas period for fear that Fanny might say or do something to embarrass our family. But how pleasantly surprised I was at the way she acted, and how wonderful it felt to have my bride returned to me.
Today, I managed to visit Charles and Jane and discovered that I had been correct in my thoughts back in September. It looks as if Jane is expecting her first child soon, and, surprisingly, Mrs. Hurst looks like she is also in the same happy condition. The Hursts are visiting Charles and Jane for a fortnight, but, due to the terrible weather, may stay slightly longer. Charles informed me that Caroline is safely ensconced in Peterborough with another sister, Eleanor, where she will remain ‘until she learns some proper manners and tempers her spitefulness.'
Posted on 2008-07-18
Pemberley -- December - 1813
Well, the weather did cooperate, and I have returned to Pemberley at last; memories of last year's happy holidays flood into my mind. My family, in all eagerness, have awaited my arrival in the Chinese Room. I must say that I was disappointed to find that the baby boys are still soundly asleep, despite the clamour surrounding my appearance. Once I had freshened up and had some refreshments, Lizzy and Fanny led me to the nursery to see the children while they slept in their cradles.
The infants have awakened at last, and I now discover that David has altered, as babies do over three months time; I can see that the colour of his eyes has changed to brown with a hint of gold, like my mother's. When sat on my knee, he enjoyed looking straight at me, gurgling his approval, and squeezing my fingers. I am surprised to see that he has my mother's curly auburn hair. My brother, Lewis, had similarly hued hair, but his was more of a chestnut than auburn. David's dark locks display just a hint of red, which shows more clearly in the daylight.
In their letters, Elizabeth and Fanny had described both of my grandsons as the image of their father. When I looked upon them again this afternoon, I noted that the two Darcy boys seemed very quiet, like their father, and each possessed a mass of chocolate brown curls, like Lizzy's when she was born and, I suspect, much like their father's when he was young. Both have the Darcy dimples, too, but their eyes are the same shade as Lizzy's, a dazzling blue. All three, in turn, like being held on your knee or propped up on a daybed surrounded with pillows, so they can see everything around them.
Christmas should be interesting this year; the Darcys intend to dress the house in the new, fashionable way, with an evergreen tree, which shall be adorned with different coloured papers. Good luck messages shall be written on them, each message then rolled into a little scroll and hung on the tree. There is one scroll for each person in the house and each chooses one at the end of the Christmas meal. Small tapers are placed on the top of a few of the branches, these are lit in the evening on Christmas Eve. Old traditions, such as the kissing bough and the Yule log, shall continue to have a place in our celebrations. The Christmas Candle, also, will be lit on Christmas Eve, and allowed to burn until it naturally extinguishes on the Holy day, in order to bring the house good luck for the coming year. As new parents of two young children, Lizzy and Darcy will need all the help they can get..
The weather has turned very mild, and, thankfully, the snow has not returned. The children are all awake and enjoying the brightly coloured Christmas decorations in the room around them. Lord and Lady Matlock and their sons are to visit later this afternoon. His Lordship's sister, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, is to accompany them. Darcy is none too happy about this; but if she desires to make amends, then he will not stand in her way. Should she cause any trouble, he promises to see her immediately sent back from whence she came. Poor Lady Catherine! Let us hope that she puts all of her resentment behind her and enjoys the visit.
Surprise, surprise, Lady Catherine arrives with not just her daughter in tow, but with our cousin Collins and his wife, Charlotte, as well. The silly old woman tried to make out that David was not our son and that Collins, therefore, should inherit Longbourn. After making this ridiculous statement, our Cousin Collins sat there and preened, thinking that we would turn around and say, "Of course, Your Ladyship is correct, Collins shall inherit Longbourn. Stupid sod! Collins and Her Ladyship must both have mush for brains. The man is nothing more than her lapdog; pity.
Lady Rebecca burst out laughing at Her Ladyship's statement and informed her that she could verify that Fanny gave birth to David, as she tended Fanny at Pemberley when Fanny went into labour. In addition, Lord Matlock stated that given the Bennet's long standing marriage, as well as David's likeness to the other Bennet children, there could be little doubt that Mr. Bennet was most definitely the father of David. This statement seemed to take the wind out of Collins' sails; his shoulders slumped even further when Her Ladyship declared that it must be correct if the countess, her brother's wife, could verify it.
I must say that I very much pity Lady Catherine's daughter, such a plain little mouse of a girl; if anyone heard her speak two words together during the entire time they were at Pemberley, I would be greatly surprised. Every time the poor young woman would attempt to say something , her mother would cut her off and jump in to speak for her. This would result in the girl would shrinking back into the furniture, until no one took any notice of her.
It was not long until the Darcy boys and my David entered in the arms of their nurses for all to meet. Lady Catherine soon amused us all by billing and cooing at the young gentlemen, as did the rest of the crowd.
As for Collins, he stood near his wife's chair looking lost, out of place, or should I say, bereft. I do not know what he expected Lady Catherine to do; but, now, he seems to have resigned himself to his fate. I can almost feel sorry for him, but he is such a stupid, insipid toad, that I feel he deserves what has happened.
Longbourn -- February -- 1814
My family and I are safe and sound at home. What a year this has been! I have spoken with Mr. Phillips, and he is now arranging to break the entail for me. David is the delight of all of our neighbours and, especially, Jane and Charles; they all do their best to spoil the boy.
Today, I received an express from Wickham announcing the birth of his daughter Amanda Jane. He stated that they chose these names in remembrance of his mother and because Lydia wanted to name her child Jane, after her beloved sister; thus they arrived at that combination. I can only hope that being a father will make him change his wayward manner and realise that now he has a duty and responsibility to his family. However, I doubt it will happen. He states that Lydia and the child are doing well, but asks us for money to pay the midwife and doctor. He has the cheek of the devil; I will send something to help out this time, even though I know it most likely will not be spent wisely, but I have no intention of sending anything an a regular basis. I also know that Lydia writes to her elder sisters on occasion asking for money to pay bills. Lizzy and Jane are not daft! They ask that the bills be sent to them and then convey the money directly to each establishment owed, wisely assuring that the money is spent exactly as meant, and not foolishly by either Lydia or Wickham.
Talking of being responsible, I wish I had been a more responsible father to my girls. Perhaps if I had been so, Lydia would still be with us and not married to a rogue, but all that is conjecture. This time around, Fanny and I will try harder to teach our son right from wrong, instructing him in the proper way to behave, and educating him to become responsible and dedicated to both his family and the estate. I am happy to see that Kitty and Mary are developing into beautiful and accomplished young women. I have no doubt that soon they will marry, leaving only Fanny, David, and me at Longbourn.
Life has been very good to us: a son -- my heir; two grandsons; a granddaughter; and another grandchild on the way. We are truly blessed.
Longbourn -- March -- 1814
I would not say that I am surprised by what just happened here, but, none-the-less, I am. It is truly astonishing to see how long it took him to come and speak to me. This evening, an unexpected visitor arrived, unexpected by everyone except for Kitty. Viscount Andrew Fitzwilliam joined me in my bookroom to ask for Kitty's hand in marriage. When I pointed out to him that his parents might not approve of her, he burst out laughing informing me that Lord Matlock had given him an ultimatum. It seems that his father told him that it was about time he stopped playing with Kitty's affections and asked her to marry him. His Lordship also made it clear that the viscount had full approval from all of his family, and that he need only get her parents' permission to make everyone happy.
I must say that the Fitzwilliams have an astonishing similarity about them, as Andrew reminded me of his cousin Darcy when that man came to ask me for Lizzy's hand last year. The young man paced the floor in front of my desk with his hands behind his back. At least he does not look as intimidating as Darcy does when he wears his mask of disdain.
Once he had made is request, he smiled, and, of course, I could not refuse a viscount. After granting my permission, I turned to him and said, "Sir, if my daughter has agreed to marry you, then you have my congratulations and blessings. I wish for you a blissful future." Here, I sat down behind my desk, paused, and happily thought of what lay ahead. Happy in the realization that my second youngest would be well settled, I cleared my throat and requested of the viscount, "Would you kindly send Kitty to me so I may inform her of my approval?"
Once Kitty came into my room, I spent some time making sure that viscount Andrew and the life he was offering her is what she wanted. I also told Kitty how proud I was of her and told her how much I loved her. I then wished her the best of all that life had to offer in the union which she had consented. After a while, we ran out of things concerning her intended and the engagement to discuss, I requested that she ask her fiancé to return to my room, so that he and I could discuss a date and determine the details of a settlement.
Well, I am happy to say that in a few weeks time I am to lose another of my girls. I know that I will miss the nightly discussions I have recently shared with her and her sister Mary. Life continues to treat us very well these days. I wonder when it will be Mary's turn to wed. From the look in the eyes of my brother Phillips' clerk, I do not think it will be long at all.
Longbourn -- April - 1814
I am looking toward the future with David; when he reaches the age of three or four, I anticipate teaching him to ride around our park, much as my father did when I was small. I remember my father sitting me in front of him on his horse, holding me tightly as he showed me around Longbourn. I foresee educating my boy as I did Lizzy and Jane. I shall take him on walks about the grounds; teach him to ride; teach him my favourite game, chess; and, most of all, read with him in my book room. Before he leaves for Eton and Cambridge, I shall insure that he learns all he must, and I intend to engage a tutor to that purpose. Fanny and I are determined that our son will have the best we can give him.
Late as it is, I had better start to save so that I will have enough to afford the tuition and university fees I will need for David and for any future unforeseeable occasion. I hope that the new methods we have put into practice on the farm this year will improve the arable fields.* Darcy has also advised me to get some sheep and allow them to graze the fields we do not plant this year. This will allow the tenants who farm these fields to have some form of an income from selling the wool while the fields lie uncultivated. I have also been told that leaving these areas to lie fallow for a year or two and allowing livestock to pasture in them, will then help to improve the yields once we start to plant them again. I have seen the results of this at Pemberley's farms, where the crop productivity improved tremendously. In a few weeks time, Darcy is to send me some of his livestock as last year, a large number of lambs were born.
I can now say that I am a happy man with a new outlook on the future, and I feel content in watching my family grow. No longer do I worry about my family; I now know that their prospects are secure. I am also looking forward to my old age now that I have a son to run Longbourn and keep it in the Bennet family.
*Arable the dictionary term for this is: - acres of arable land Farmable, cultivable, cultivatable, ploughable, tillable; fertile, productive, fruitful, fecund, lush.
Posted on 2008-08-08
Twenty-two years later
David set down the worn volume and rubbed his eyes. With a shake of his head, he realized that all he had just read had occurred more than twenty years previous. Taking in a deep breath, he leaned back in his chair; with sadness, he acknowledged the fact that he had moved into the position of master and the daunting task of running Longbourn. It had not been long since his most excellent parents had passed from this world, and he had every intention of living up to their every expectation for him. As he closed his eyes, he thought over all that his father had written in his journal. Stretching out his legs and relaxing a little, he realized that in his brother Darcy he had a wonderful mentor and guardian upon whom to lean if times became difficult. He well understood as well that his sister Mary lived not thirty miles away in London with her husband, a successful judge, and would respond in an instant should he call. His other sisters, Jane, Elizabeth, and Kitty, who lived considerably farther from Meryton, would always come should he need them: to lend him an ear, to give him a hug, to stand by his side no matter what the future might throw in his path. His many cousins would also arrive to offer him aid, even should he not ask for their assistance.
Still at university, David allowed Darcy to recommend a good steward to replace Mr. Marsden, who could no longer deal with the day to day demands of the job; the older man had gladly agreed to act as assistant to the new fellow. David hired the man Darcy suggested, readily, so that he could continue with his studies. That man, Mr. Russell, would assist David in running Longbourn and see to it that during breaks from his classes, David would learn anything his good father had inadvertently overlooked teaching him. Dropping his head into his hands, David listened to the silence that now surrounded him. Life at Longbourn was so incredibly quiet now, with his mother gone. A sigh escaped from his lips, for it was not long after her passing that his father followed her into the blessed state of peace.
In an attempt to make amends, and to compensate him for the loss of Longbourn, David's father, Thomas Bennet, offered his cousin the parish of Longbourn, situated close to Sir William Lucas, Collins' father-in-law. Mr. Collins unhappily accepted the living not long after the passing of Her Ladyship. Collins, and especially his long-suffering wife Charlotte, enjoyed living near her parents, and they proved a great help to her family when her mother, unexpectedly, passed away.
The morrow would find David's male cousins, the Darcys and Bingleys, at Longbourn for a shooting party, before he and the twins returned to Cambridge for their final year. His younger cousins, Ernest Bingley and Colin Darcy, were also to join them. They were to begin their first year at Cambridge and looked forward to all of the new experiences they would meet there. The Bingley boys resembled their mother and father in many ways. They were quiet and calm when that manner was required, and they never spoke ill of any person, always having a pleasant word for everyone. University, at times, seemed a struggle for them, for they took after their father in their preference for action and companionship over the solitary pursuit of studying. Still, they achieved respectable marks and had the completion of their degrees well within reach.
When they were younger and being tutored at home, their mother encouraged them to read. She asked her father and sister Lizzy for a list of books so that she and her children could enjoy them together. At first, they seemed to take pleasure in this, but, as with their father, once the boys entered Eton, they drifted away from reading; thus, other pursuits, such as fencing and billiards, took over their attention.
Sadly, the Earl of Matlock passed away three years before David's parents. His sister Kitty, therefore, rose to the rank of Countess, a role she filled with great aplomb. She and Andrew had two boys and a girl. Both boys presently enjoyed their first year at Eton. The girl, their eldest, now resided at Madam Sophia's College for Proper Young Ladies, as did her cousins: Lucy-Anne and Helena Darcy; Elizabeth and Dorothea Bingley attended as well. Kitty now happily spent a great deal of her time with her frail mother in-law, Lady Rebecca, upon whom she and her family doted.
Lady Catherine had found a new physician, one with new ideas about how to help Anne overcome her illness. From the time she was eight years old, Anne had suffered with a strange malady. During the summer months, Anne was often short of breath, wheezing all the time; she had a permanent cold, and her eyes ran with tears. After great deliberation and research, Dr. Greenwood advised removing certain plants, lilies* in particular, from out of the conservatory and also to relocate similar plants from the manors gardens. Once these were away from Anne, her health began to improve. Her symptoms abated, and she had only an occasional wheezing attack. These residual episodes occurred primarily when she spent time near the walled garden, where lilies still grew in the flowerbeds. Once she came to understand the problem, Lady Catherine ordered every single lily removed from all of Rosings' gardens. Anne's physical state improved tremendously. Once the wheezing and sniffles stopped, the doctor set about the task of correcting her poor digestion by restricting her to certain foods and adding different ones, bit by bit, in order to discover what could cause such upset. They soon found that she held a sensitivity to fish**. By avoiding eating any form of fish, Anne continued to blossom.
*Lilies are known for their strong scent and high pollen output.
**Wikipeda states that many asthma sufferers experience some form of fish allergy.
Colonel Fitzwilliam, who had acted more as a doting uncle to David than a distant relative, married four years after his brother, the viscount, and his cousin, Darcy. After he returned home unscathed from fighting in the Peninsular War, he visited his aunt and cousin at Rosings. Once he saw Anne, discovered how much her health had improved, and spent sometime getting to know this new and lively young woman, he fell immediately, head-over-heels, in love with her and asked her to marry him.
Six months after their marriage, Lady Catherine passed away; it was as if she had been waiting for someone to come and look after her beloved daughter, biding her time until she could no longer hold on to her earthly form. Now, the Fitzwilliam family had grown to include a boy and a girl, neither of whom had been stricken with their mother's illness, which was a blessing in itself. The children were lively, intelligent, and strong-willed. On occasion, they reminded Richard and Anne of Lady Catherine. As good parents, they did everything within their power to control the youngsters' domineering ways, with varying degrees of success.
Georgiana offered Darcy and Elizabeth a huge surprise when, after living with them for many years, she accepted the proposal of the Earl of Shropshire, Gerard Rawlinson. Elizabeth had once mentioned to David that they had thought Georgiana would never marry, as she seemed quite settled at Pemberley and happy enough as a loving aunt to her five nieces and nephews.
It was just after her twenty-fourth birthday when Georgiana met Gerard Rawlinson at one of her Aunt Rebecca's garden parties. For Gerard, it was love at first sight, but Georgiana was, at first, wary of him, due to her extreme shyness and an earlier, ghastly experience with a rogue. After talking to her trusted sisters, Elizabeth and Kitty, Georgiana learned to have faith in her judgement again, and allowed Gerard to court her. After several months of serious wooing by him, he and Georgiana married in a relatively small ceremony at Pemberley. They were now the proud parents of two young boys, aged five and six, with a new addition, a baby girl, just six months old.
As to Charles's eldest sister Louisa, she and Mr. Hurst now had quite a large family consisting of five boys, all of whom were studying at Oxford University, the alma mater of their father and grandfather before them. The second eldest, Howard, and the youngest, Clive, were now studying theology in preparation for lives as clergymen. Their humble temperaments ensured that they would make excellent clerics. Jonathan and Charles, the two middle boys were acquiring knowledge of the law, as their studious, inquisitive natures would help them in their chosen profession. Mary's husband, James, offered them each a position in his office once they had completed their education. The eldest boy, Oliver, had not long finished at university and was now learning from his father how to run the small estate he was to inherit. His disposition was very much like his Uncle Charles's, outgoing and amiable.
Louisa and her husband had changed considerably. Mr. Hurst was no longer the drunken layabout he had been and was more involved in running his estate, which he had inherited upon the death of his father. The Hurst's estate held the title of Appleby, owing to the nature of its primary crop. The estate comprised many orchards and mainly produced various types of fruit: grapes, raspberries, pineapples, and oranges. These, they grew primarily in their large hothouses. From this, they started to make wines which turned out excellently and were very popular due to the embargo on wines from France. This resulted in the Hursts earning an income of five thousand a year. The Hurst estate was situated a mere twenty miles from Pemberley and was even closer to the Bingley's estate, Angel Heights. As well as being sisters, Louisa and Jane had become fast friends; they, along with Elizabeth, involved themselves in helping at the new school for young boys and girls in Kympton; these pupils being the children of tenants from several of the estates in the surrounding area.*
* This school would be much like the one at Beamish, a living history museum in County Durham, UK, which aims to preserve the heritage of North East England with no modern day alterations. It helps demonstrate what life in Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian Britain was like. Exhibits include a school, a variety of shops, an old mine shaft, and a farm along with other buildings that visitors can view In the school, boys and girls were segregated and had different entrances, different teachers, and were taught different lessons. Girls mainly learned about sewing, cooking, and various herbal remedies along with reading and writing. Boys were taught mathematics, reading and writing, and they received instruction in an assortment of trades.
Caroline stayed with her elder sister in Shrewsbury, Shropshire for a short while. One day, at a local folk festival, she met a local squire, a Mr. Anderson, with whom she soon fell deeply in love. After her wedding, no one heard much from her until the birth of her first child, Cassandra. Having a child to love changed Caroline completely, and soon after the girl's birth, she wrote to her family, as well as to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, asking for their forgiveness of her past wrongs.
David did not hear much from Lydia. He had last received a brief letter from her after George Wickham had died in a duel with his commanding officer, General Webster, as Wickham had compromised the man's daughter. Lydia soon remarried and moved to Edinburgh with her new husband, Colonel Percival McGee. It had been six long years since Lydia had contacted David; at that time, she had informed her parents and younger brother that her daughter, Jane, had a new brother, Percy, named after his father. David delighted in his sister's finding happiness at last, and that she did so with someone who truly loved her and treated her well was a blessing, indeed. He hoped that she now felt content and would remain so for the rest of her life. All the family missed Lydia and wrote to her, keeping her up to date on family matters, but only Elizabeth would, on rare occasions, receive short notes from her in return, the content of those missives speaking fondly of Lydia's husband and children, as well as her life in Scotland and how much she loved it. Through those letters, Elizabeth could tell how much her sister had grown up and how she had settled down with her family. Elizabeth would take pains to share this information with David, hoping that these insights into Lydia would help him become familiar with and understand this sister he never really knew.
Of all his family, David felt closest to his sister Mary. After she first married, she continued to live in Meryton with her husband, James Cyril. She had met him when he worked in her Uncle Phillips' law office. The young man did not stay there long and quickly moved up in the world. Mary had spent quite a lot of time with her younger brother during those early years of her marriage, encouraging him, along with her own children, to read. She also spent many hours in David's company, enjoying games her father had taught her after her older sisters had left home. They shared innumerable evenings in happy camaraderie while engaging in backgammon, draughts, and chess. Sadness descended upon David when his sister and her family moved to London, but he knew he would find her home open to him whenever he might need it. Indeed, while at Cambridge, he chose to stay with her during the short holiday breaks, rather than at Darcy's house due to the close affection which had developed over the years. Every year at Christmastime, he would travel to Derbyshire to celebrate Christmas with Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam. They would all then celebrate the New Year at Angel Heights with Jane and Charles.
After reflecting on all that had passed, as well as on the future that lay ahead of him, David understood that his life would be considerably easier than his father's had been. His birth had broken the entail, which meant that David need never worry about his family's prospects, even should all of his children turn out to be girls. Were that to happen, he knew he would make a special effort to train his eldest daughter to take over the running of Longbourn. He would provide her with every bit of knowledge he could imagine which she might require for such an undertaking
Longbourn now thrived, a very prosperous estate, due to well-placed investments and higher crop yields resulting from the new planting methods which the senior Mr. Bennet had put into practice all those years ago. Thomas Bennet, through careful planning, had been able to purchase more land, and the estate now provided ?7,000 a year. David knew that once he found a bride, a woman he could love and cherish as his brothers Darcy and Bingley cherished their wives Elizabeth and Jane, his life would be complete. However, that event remained in the unforeseeable future. Now, he needed to learn how to run the estate fully, as his father had done before, and by following Fitzwilliam and Charles's skilful examples on their own estates. This he looked forward to with great enthusiasm. Soon, he would complete his formal studies and begin ongoing instruction at Longbourn, thereby stepping fully into his role as master of the estate. It would be a challenge, but he knew, without hesitation, that he was up to it and that he would honour his parents' memory by living up to their expectations for him. He smiled as he reflected upon the wonderful upbringing he had experienced under the loving care of Thomas and Fanny Bennet. Life had, indeed, been very good to him.The End