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To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

December 01, 2016 04:30PM
Thanks to you all again for the comments. The issue of Darcy and Miss Bingley traveling together (even with a maid) seems to have be an improbable situation in real life. I’ll look to correct the problem in the next version. Thanks go to Marie V. for (a) saying the story is entertaining (a first time author loves that sort of stuff) and (b) for providing a possible solution to this problem.

In the story so far, the Gardiners and Lizzy and Darcy, with Miss Bingley attached, are in the Lake District. Bingley’s has reconnect with Miss Bennet. What could go wrong from here?

Chapter 5: Romance Continues

While Charles did not have a hostess to allow entertainment at Netherfield, he found many ways to be at the side of his angel. The fortnightly assembly was one case in point. He managed to surprise no one by securing both the first and the dinner dance with Jane. The music was perhaps not up to London standards but do you think Bingley noticed? No, he had all eyes for Jane. Her gown, he could not remember the colour of the next day, but her shy smile when she looked at him at times was burnt into his memory.

Jane tolerated much ribbing from her family about that evening.

“Jane was the queen of the ball given the honour of the first dance.”

“Did you see the way Mr. Bingley specifically escorted Jane out at the end of the evening and waited with us for the carriage?”

“While Mr. Bingley danced with others, I was afraid for his partners as he kept his eyes on Jane. Did he really accidentally step on Miss Goring’s toes?”

“Oh Jane, I know you were made so beautiful for a reason!”

What Jane remembered was how Charles danced so lightly on his feet and how handsome he looked, oh, and how he looked at her. It was delightful and terrifying all in one. It caused stirring in her body she had never experienced before. She would write to Lizzy and ask for help to understand her thoughts. In the meantime, she found the situation caused her to smile just a little more than usual.

There were picnics for all the Longbourn ladies that Mr. Bingley hosted. There were rides in his carriage where Jane and Mary showed him the roads around Meryton. There was even a drive to the next village with Kitty to look for art supplies. Kitty offered to do a pencil drawing of the two of them to send to Lizzy. Bingley found the time simply sitting next to Miss Bennet exhilarating.

When the weather wasn’t cooperative, he spent his time in the Longbourn parlour with the Bennets. There was no question that he was always welcome. He often showed up before the family had broken their fast.

When the weather was downright miserable, he stomped around Netherfield alone practicing his swearing and wishing he could just three miles distant.



Chapter 6: The Play

Caroline had managed to twist her ankle on her night’s haunt and thus was unable to leave the house in the days up to and including the play. Thus it was the Gardiners, Elizabeth, and Darcy who met in the lobby of the Shakespearian Royal Hall that night. Elizabeth was draped in a pale blue dress that mirrored the colour of the lakes on a sunlit day which brought to Darcy’s mind several thoughts that gentlemen were not supposed to have. His valet, he realized, was due a substantial bonus as somehow he had determined the exact colour of Elizabeth’s dress and had attired Darcy with a precise match. The presence of such beauty and wealth at one time had never graced the Royal Hall ever before.

Whispers of his name and fame could be heard in the theatre lobby but there were also questions of who the beauty on his arm was. Darcy thought how much he would enjoy repeating this experience in London, showing the world his wonderful Elizabeth.

Elizabeth conversely was petrified. She had suddenly realized what it meant to be associated publicly with Mr. Darcy. People, obviously of the upper circles, were looking at them. Would the news make it back to London? Even to the gossip columns? ‘Mr D. of Derbyshire was seen with a country bumpkin on his arm in the Lake District ….’ And yet, for her Mr. Darcy, she would do anything. And with a squaring of her shoulders, she beamed and smiled at him. And people noticed.

Lord Bilstrom had been watching from the refreshment table as his good friend from university, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and a couple he obviously knew entered the theatre. But what he centred his attention on was the young lady accompanying Darcy. Who was she? Quickly recalling what Georgiana and Darcy’s immediate family looked like, he found no answer which lead to a very interesting question, if she was not a relative, what was the fastidious Darcy doing with such a beauty on his arm? As Bilstrom watched, Darcy happened to bestow his dimples on Elizabeth, further piquing Bilstrom’s interest.

With a need to satisfy his curiosity, Bilstrom strode over to the couple and entered into conversation with the Darcy party. “Darcy, it’s been a while. How are you doing?”

“Bilstrom, a pleasure to see you. It’s been forever.”

“What are you doing in my haunts? I thought that only Pemberley held your interest.” He said as he discreetly glanced at Miss Elizabeth causing her to blush and drop her eyes to the floor.

Darcy explained that he was presently vacationing at Lily White. Would he be allowed to introduce his party? Introductions were made though the bell then rang indicating the play would start shortly. Making his apologies, Lord Bilstrom left the party after asking and receiving permission to send an invite to High Castle for later in the week.

The box Darcy had hired was wide enough for four across and with a bit of asserting, he had managed to seat the Gardiners on one side of Elizabeth and himself on the other. As the lights dimmed, it was fortunate that Darcy knew the play well as he had eyes only for Elizabeth. With a slight shift of his chair, he could pretend to be looking at the stage when in fact, he could instead view her profile. He loved the way her expressions transitioned through various emotions as the play unfolded. Occasionally she looked his way to share an amusing thought causing his dimples to appear frequently that night.

It was during the second act that Elizabeth knew she had to take action. Her feelings toward the gentleman to her left had subtly changed. His demeanour, his goodness, and the way he had treated her and her relatives were all to be encouraged. With that, she dropped her program. Darcy quickly collected it and presented it back to her with a small whisper, “For you, Miss Elizabeth” at which point she grasped his hand, not the program, and with a sparkle in her eyes whispered, “For you, Mr. Darcy”.

The feeling that travelled up Darcy’s arm made him visibly shake. But with a little movement unseen by the elders in the box, he was able to interlace his fingers with hers until the second intermission. To say he was ecstatic was an understatement. Elizabeth, when she looked at him thought he positively shone as brightly as the sun rising in the east. She had achieved her objective and had learned that his heart was, in fact, still tightly engaged with her.

Darcy’s coach took them all back to Lily White. It was a difficult trip for the two lovers. Elizabeth’s eyes darted between Darcy’s eyes and his large hands, at which point shivers travelled up her arms. Mrs. Gardiner, who missed none of this, tried to catch her husband’s eye but he was oblivious. They would need to have a conversation regarding her observations later that night. She did introduce some topics into conversation - the principal actor, the beauty of the hall - all of which fell flat as Darcy and Elizabeth simply stared at each other.

Darcy fought to remain in his seat despite his almost irresistible desire to jump up and sit next to Elizabeth. At last the coach stopped and Mr. Gardiner helped his wife down leaving Darcy to do the same for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was sure she would have to require a long think on what happened at the theatre but for now, she was too heady to formulate clear thoughts and decided she would merely enjoy Darcy’s attention. If a devilishly handsome gentleman, with dimples no less, who was kind and good wanted to pay attention to her, who was she to argue?

Lily White had a large dining room but the table had been shortened to make an intimate dinner setting for five. Darcy had arranged the seating with Caroline as hostess at the opposite end of the table from himself, but even that wasn’t distant enough. The discussion started well enough, Mr Darcy and the others describing the play to Caroline but she quickly bored of not being the centre of the discussion and thus kept pivoting the discussion to different topics.

“Miss Elizabeth, have you any news from Meryton? Is there any news of the officers?”

“My last letter from Jane conveyed no immediate news.”

“But were you not a favourite of one of the officers? A Mr. Wickham I believe. You and he were such good friends,” said Caroline in a sickeningly sweet voice.

“I am afraid you are mistaken. Mr. Wickham and I were never anything more than acquaintances. And that was before I was aware of his true personality. Have no fear for Mr. Wickham. I have no interest. Do you ask in that you do?”

“Of course not!” Miss Bingley replied and Elizabeth’s wit did halt Caroline from further inquiries.

The conversation thus continued enjoyably though at one point, while talking of the wilds of the Lakes, Mrs. Gardiner stated “Actually, it is a bit too wild for me.” Mr. Gardiner and Lizzy were immediately silenced. Mr. Darcy could not help but notice and politely asked why. With a look at her travel companions, Mrs. Gardiner stated, “Because we were robbed on the way here.”

Darcy sat stunned. His Elizabeth – and when had he started thinking of her in those terms - had been robbed. This was unacceptable. As he started to rise to rush off to find these villains and beat them senseless, Mr. Gardiner put a hand on his shoulder and held him in his seat.

“It was not that awful, sir. The thieves stopped us five miles back down the Old North Road. We had started late that day due to necessary tack repairs and we had wanted to finish our trip on time, saving ourselves an extra stop. Thus, we were travelling later than appropriate when we were approached by three men. They took our jewellery and money, nothing that cannot be replaced though Elizabeth did lose a garnet cross given to her by her father. We reported the crime to the local sheriff, but nothing has been recovered.”

Elizabeth could tell Mr. Darcy was upset and decided to calm him. “Really sir, it was nothing. A simple tale to tell my children. Everyone should have something stolen from them to add a dash of excitement to their life.”

Caroline’s contribution to the conversation was that only those deserving to be robbed were. She would never be robbed.

Darcy’s thoughts were that maybe someone had stolen his heart and he would be happy to tell his children about it. He blushed as he remembered the act of how children were begot, distracting him from thoughts on the unfortunate event.

The conversation thus continued in a more subdued manner until the separation of the sexes.

The men presently retired to Darcy’s office for fine wine and cigars. Darcy had thought to skip this social tradition but actually had a question he thought was best asked of Mr. Gardiner in private. As he poured a glass of the best whiskey he owned, he asked. “Gardiner, you could not tell me your plans when we first met, have they now been settled?”

Mr. Gardiner, in response, grimaced and confessed they were to leave Windermere shortly. “But why?” exclaimed Mr. Darcy with a force that Mr. Gardiner knew he must remember to relate later to Margaret. “Well, this is quite embarrassing but as you now know, we were robbed. It is not the loss that matters so much, but instead that I have not the cash on hand to pay for a longer stay. And yet, I am hesitant to leave as it is most unlikely that our party will ever make this trip again.”

The two gentlemen drank in silence until Darcy boldly proposed a solution. “Gardiner, you must stay at Lily White.”

“Sir, that is impossible!”

“But why?”

“I am not some poor relative who would leach off my betters. No, you have no obligation to host us and I cannot allow you to put yourself out.”

“But sir,” Darcy pleaded, as a man in love will do many a silly thing, “… in fact I am greatly indebted to you and this invitation would allow me to make amends. It can require no imagination for you to see that I am at risk. Risk of life and limb. Had I not been so fortunate to meet you at Promontory Point, I might be married by now! Please, I need your help again. I need your protection. Will you not show some brotherly love to one of your same sex by helping me in this hour of need?”

Mr. Gardiner chuckled for Darcy had played his role well. And if life was a stage, Mr. Gardiner had a part to play too. “Well, sir, with your point so well made, how could I refuse?”


Pemberley
Mrs. Reynolds,

I so appreciated your note providing us with information on our travellers as it has made our task of providing excellent care to Mr. Darcy so much easier. We have been somewhat less successful with Miss Bingley, as some people don’t seem to want to be pleased.

We are now told that Mr. Darcy is expanding his party. A Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and their niece, a Miss Elizabeth Bennet, will be staying with us. Do you know of their preferences with regards to food and lodgings that will help us make their stay more enjoyable?

Sincerely,
Mrs. Cali
Lily White Housekeeper



(~)


Pemberley

Mrs. Reynolds,
Please send to Lily White as quickly as possible Tom, John, and Smitty. Spare no expense or time. Also send Sam and tell him to bring his weapons. A Miss Elizabeth Bennet has been robbed and I’m interested in seeing if we can capture the guilty parties.

Also get Landsome home from Meryton as I will be away for a while longer.

Mr. Darcy
Lily White House
Windermere


(~)

Matlock House
London

Richard,

I need your help, and immediately. If I can call in any brotherly favours, please find a way here as quickly as possible. Pemberley will provide all assistance you may request.
Remember Miss Elizabeth Bennet from when we were at Kent? We are rendering her aid.

Darcy
Lily White House
Windermere



Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam was Darcy’s second closest friend, after Bingley, and definitely his oldest friend. The Fitzwilliam family and Darcy’s had always been close given Ann Darcy (nee Fitzwilliam) was Darcy’s mother.

Richard had first befriended Darcy at the age of eight as Darcy was two years younger. One summer at Pemberley, the three boys, Richard, Darcy and Wickham, had been out exploring and Wickham had “accidentally” tripped Darcy causing him to tumble down a ravine. Wickham yelled down that he would go get help but instead had simply started walking back to Pemberley. Richard hadn’t seen the accident but catching up to Wickham asked what had happened to Darcy. Wickham reported that Darcy had decided to walk into town and since walking into town unescorted was forbidden, Wickham instead was returning to home. Richard would have none of it and backtracking from their location, eventually found Darcy unable to move given a strained ankle as twilight settled. He had scurried down the rocky hillside, had retrieved Darcy and was supporting him on his shoulder when they arrived back at Pemberley at full dark.

From that point onward, the two, both of whom honoured loyalty highly, had become fast friends. Richard had offered protection when Wickham had bulked up having reached puberty first. In time though, Darcy’s lessons in epee, boxing, and wrestling as provided by Richard protected him. Later in life, it was known for Darcy to make outlandish bets with Richard, both in the subject of the bets but also in their amounts, which Darcy always seemed to lose.

Richard would, of course, answer Darcy’s request.
SubjectAuthorPosted

To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

troDecember 01, 2016 04:30PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

gioDecember 02, 2016 02:57PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

troDecember 02, 2016 06:58PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

Lucy J.December 02, 2016 04:59AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

Laura M.December 01, 2016 07:05PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

EvelynJeanDecember 01, 2016 07:04PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 5 and 6

Harvey S.December 01, 2016 05:47PM



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