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The Way It Ought to Be, Chapter 18

November 15, 2016 06:26AM
I am so, so sorry to be posting my final chapter late! The fact is that the last lines of this have been giving me stitches for weeks (blame it on my betas; they convinced me I had to add another scene). While I hoped 8 weeks of posting would give me plenty of time to figure out one short speech, I was overly optimistic. It wasn't until I got desperate (read: today) that I finally abandoned what I was attempting and could not achieve, and took it in a little bit of different direction instead. But I hope I achieved a credible result anyway, and that you will find it... well, what it ought to be.

Thank you, thank you, to all of you who read, and especially those who commented so faithfully. I have really enjoyed it. And thank you, one last time, to the ladies who went over all it all multiple times for me. Liz, Debra, Agnes--I appreciate you more than you know.



Chapter 18: The Way It Ought to Be


On a beautiful autumn day in October, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy went to church and were married. It was a large wedding, what with both her family and his sister. Even the Collinses had come to town; it appeared that Lady Catherine was not at all pleased by her nephew’s marriage, and both Mary and Mr. Collins being guilty by association, they found it expedient to remove for a time from the Hunsford parsonage.

So Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, Kitty, Mary and Mr. Collins, Jane and Mr. Bingley, and Georgiana all gathered in the old chapel to hear the service read by Mr. Hartley. Afterwards they signed the register, and left the church to the cheers of their friends and neighbours.

Elizabeth was very happy. She was happy, and she knew that Darcy was happy too. To think that it was not even a year since her days at Netherfield nursing Jane, and his ill-fated proposal! How much had changed; how much she had changed. Riding in an open carriage back to Longbourn, she looked at her husband’s profile. He was the handsomest man she had ever seen, and the best. Henceforth, he would be everything to her, and she to him. It was a pleasing prospect.

~*~


One week later, they were driving on a long, winding road between trees. “There is a break up ahead,” said Darcy, “and you can see the house from there.”

“And all of this is yours?”

“All of it,” he said, with pardonable pride.

Elizabeth was very quiet after that. They were sitting close in the carriage, with Darcy’s arm about her waist, both watching out the window.

Gradually, they began to climb. For about half a mile they ascended, and there, on the peak of the hill, the woods gave way as promised. A small valley stretched out below them, and on the opposite slope, Pemberley House.

Kitty and the Gardiners had toured Pemberley during their trip around Derbyshire, and Elizabeth had thought herself prepared by their descriptions. Now she discovered she was not. The beauty of the small, verdant valley, with its woods and its lawns and its broad, winding stream; the gravity and grandeur of the great stone house, were really beyond any description. She felt within moments of seeing them that she had never truly understood her husband before now, that here before her lay a key to unlocking his character which, had it been provided sooner, would have altered her mind faster than a whole season of dancing and calls.

“Can we get out?” she asked. Immediately he rapped on the ceiling, and the coachman pulled up. Without waiting, he unlatched the door, and helped her out. Together they walked a little ways, to nearly the edge of the eminence. Elizabeth looked, and looked, and looked.

At last Darcy stirred. “Mrs. Darcy?”

She smiled at him rather mistily. “Yes?”

“We have stood here for some time now, and you have yet to speak. Tell me, do you like it?”

“Like it? Oh, my dear,” she reached for his hand, “I feel like I am looking at you!”

~*~


Hunsford Parsonage
17 March, 1813

Dear Lizzy — I have been with Mary for a week, and it is perfectly awful. I do not know how she and Mr. Collins contrive to remain here all the year, as there is nothing to do but take tea with Lady Catherine and Miss de Bourgh. Lady Catherine is very dignified and very unpleasant, and I am sure she hates me—mostly because of you, of course. She talks all the time of the impertinence of people who wish to marry above their station. Miss de Bourgh is very small and thin, and almost never speaks. I feel sorry for her, for I think it would be dreadful to have a mother like Lady Catherine, and she has never been allowed to go anywhere or anything fun at all. She has never even been to a ball!

I do not know if you noticed, for you were getting married, but when we saw Mary and Mr. Collins in October, they did not seem to be getting on very well at all. It was like they were always fighting with each other when they made speeches, and their speeches were awful. I could hardly bear to be in the same room with them—I almost didn’t agree to come because of it. Well, at least I can say that Mary seems happier now. The baby has made such a change in her, you can’t imagine, and she spends less time talking about virtue and more time talking about—well, pigs and carrots and candles, and all kinds of nonsensical things, but at least they are better than extracts. She cares for nothing but housekeeping now.

If Mary writes you that William is a beautiful baby, do not believe her. He looks just like Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins, of course, thinks he is perfect. He calls him his olive leaf, and the Greenest Branch of the Great Collins Tree. Mary calls him the Heir of Longbourn. I must admit, though, he is not fussy at all, and when he smiled for the first time only yesterday, it was at me. Mary says he was really smiling at her behind my shoulder, but I know better. I am prettier than Mary, so of course he smiled at me. Do not tell Jane and Charles, but I think I might like him better than Janet, who cries all the time. Your affectionate sister,

Kitty

~*~


Netherfield Park
4 June, 1813

My dearest Lizzy — We have only just arrived home from London to find the most significant news waiting for us: Mr. Morris has found a purchaser for the lease. They are to take possession as soon as we are able to remove ourselves, so that by the time we come to you next month we will be quite homeless. Charles assures me we will have no difficulty finding a good estate in your area of the country, and as that is the dearest wish of both our hearts, we cannot be very sorry to leave Netherfield, however happy we have been here. We will bring Kitty with us when we come, of course. When last I spoke to her she pretended she did not care, but I could see that she is really very excited at the prospect of different society than she has here. She is certain to be happy at Pemberley.

I am so glad that I am to be with you during your confinement. You will see, my dearest sister, how motherhood makes all your joys increase and abound! You have always laughed at me when I have spoken of it, but when your time comes, you will feel all I do, and perhaps even more.


Since writing the above to you, Lizzy, we have been at Longbourn. We found Capt. Turley come to visit Lydia, and he brought his commander with him, Col. Morrow. The colonel had very kindly wished to come with him, in order to personally commend him to my father, and because he wished to meet the family he was to marry into. He seemed a very sensible man, and was especially kind to Lydia. Lydia and the Cpt., I am glad to tell you, seem as attached as ever. I really think her manner is growing softer when he is by. While we were there, the Lucases also came in, and—Lizzy, I am not certain whether I ought to tell you this, but Charles says I should, because he thinks the same as I do. Lizzy, it really seemed that Col. Morrow took a great liking to our dear Charlotte. They spoke together for a long time, and before he left I heard him ask Lady Lucas if he could call on them next time he was in town. You will wonder what appearance he has: He is about five and thirty, I should think, quite tall, thin, but with a good figure. Although I cannot call him handsome, he has a good countenance, like a man of sense and humor. Everything I observed of him was favourable. As for Charlotte, she did not say a great deal after he left, even when Lydia assured her that he was not married, but I think she liked him very well herself. Perhaps she will tell you more when she writes to you.

My father wishes me to tell you that he misses you, and that he intends to appear at Pemberley again, but only when you least expect him. My mother also sent many messages, which I will tell you in person when I see you. She is glad now, I think, that Lydia is not to be married yet, and takes much comfort in her company when Kitty is gone. This is all I have time for now. I will write you again soon—with my dearest love,

Jane Bingley

~*~


—shire
21 April, 1814

My dear Eliza — I must thank you for your kind invitation, but I do not think my husband will have leave enough to travel to Derbyshire any time soon. We have now settled into our house here at —ton, and he is hopeful that his regiment will be stationed here for some months. We were in our last house for so short a time that I did not have opportunity to think of it as home, but already I have began to feel at ease here. I find I enjoy housekeeping very much, and since I got married I have often thanked my mother for her foresight in teaching us to cook. The Col. is particularly fond of mince pies, which as you know I can make very well.

You asked me to write and tell you how Capt. Turley was getting on. He is conscientious in his duties, but Thomas says he can perceive that the fellow’s heart is not in it any more, as he is looking forward to his marriage in a few months, and the captaincy in the regulars which Mr. Darcy has promised to procure for him. He went through a despondent spell a few months ago—I believe you know the cause. According to Maria, however, Lydia has become quite altered since, and no longer flirts with the local boys at all, so I suppose that is proof that she really does love him.

You must give your son kisses from me. How he must have grown since I last saw him! Yours affectionately,

Char. Morrow

~*~


Longbourn
10 July, 1814

Dearest Lizzy — I have been engaged so long, I can hardly believe that I am at last to be married. To think that neither Janet nor Charles nor Edward even existed, when I met James! It has been a very long two years, and I often thought Papa quite cruel, and Darcy too, but now I am so happy that I can forgive you all. I do wish more of you would be at my wedding, but I know that Derbyshire was too far, especially as we shall be away immediately. Mama thinks you are increasing again, but I know it is because of Kitty and her curate. Gracious, to think of Kitty as a clergyman’s wife! It is fortunate that Darcy has so many livings he can bestow, or they would be very poor. James says he is now the whole family’s patron, and I suppose he is right. How fortunate it is that you married him!

James has come in while I was writing, and he wants me to tell you again how pleased he is with his new commission. It is just what he would have wanted, and he is determined to act so well in it that Mr. Darcy will never have cause to regret using his money or name to get it for us. I can see your face now, Lizzy—you will tell me that I do not deserve him, and I know you are right—but you did once tell me that you did not deserve Mr. Darcy either, so perhaps that is the way it ought to be. Farewell for now! I am to be married tomorrow.

Yours, etc,

Lydia Bennet (for today)

~*~


“Will you play for me tonight?”

“Well I suppose I must, since you request it. What would you like to hear?”

“The same as usual.”

“What, that old song? Will you ever be tired of it?”

“Not likely.”

“I know why you like it so much. You like it because every time you hear it you see me as I was, that pretty, impertinent girl you fell in love with, singing for you at Netherfield. You proposed to me because of that song, did you not?”

“I will not deny your singing affected me.”

“Affected you? Pfft. I remember how you looked at me. If I was too ignorant to understand it then, I am not now. I daresay you would never have proposed at all, if I had refused to sing that night.”

“Your memory misinforms you: I already looked at you that way. I look at you that way now. It was never about the song; it was always the singer.”

“Well, flattery is never wasted on me, Mr. Darcy, as you well know. Still, if that be the case, I see no call for me to keep crooning the same old air to you. Perhaps I ought to try one of these more modern tunes.”

“You will do as you like, but I still prefer the old. As you say, it carries pleasant memories with it.”

“So you admit it! You admit that you like it because it reminds you of the way I used to be, in all my youthful charms, before marriage and babies and time had their effect!”

Elizabeth.” Sitting by her, he caressed her face. “You sang it once as a girl, before either of us knew the other very well, and my feelings and your prettiness were everything you say they were, but you have sung it many times as my wife. You sang it to me the first night I brought you to Pemberley, do you remember?” She blushed and nodded. “You crooned it as a lullaby to our children. You have played it on every instrument in this house, and you have sung it, for me, through every season of life we have had. Those are the memories I speak of.”

“Oh, my dear love.” She set her hand along the planes of his cheek. “Whatever did I ever do to deserve you?”

His deepest smile appeared, with the slight dimples at the very corners. “According one very good authority, nothing but be exceptionally teasing.”

She began to laugh. “Very true. I am sure it was nothing more than that.”

“Of course it was more than that.” He caught her hand. “Elizabeth!”

“Fitzwilliam!”

“Should you like to ride out with the children in the morning?”

“Oh, in the morning? Of course. Shall we make it a picnic?”

“If you like.”

“The weather should be very good. I will ask cook for a basket; she baked those tarts you liked so well again today. Can we take the boats?”

“Yes, but only—”

“I know. Do not sink.”

“I was going to say fall in, but that as well.”

“Tsk, tsk, when have I ever fallen in? Do not answer that!”

“Believe me, I was not going to. The years have taught me that much wisdom, at least. Did you happen to visit Mrs. Markson today?”

She shook her head, and answered him, and they spoke of tenants and children, and plans for dinner on the morrow, and then she sang her song, and they went upstairs, arm in arm.


The End
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The Way It Ought to Be, Chapter 18

Suzanne ONovember 15, 2016 06:26AM

Re: The Way It Ought to Be, Chapter 18

Lucy J.November 26, 2016 06:59AM

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Linnea EileenNovember 23, 2016 07:53PM

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SarahC.November 18, 2016 11:33PM

Re: The Way It Ought to Be, Chapter 18

jancatNovember 17, 2016 02:32PM

Well Done! (nfm)

PeterNovember 16, 2016 09:50PM

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EsteeNovember 16, 2016 09:02PM

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Lucy J.November 16, 2016 06:31AM

Very sweet! (nfm)

ChristineNovember 16, 2016 01:47AM

Re: Very sweet!

LucieNovember 16, 2016 02:56AM

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