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Ignorance and Irony - Epilogue

July 17, 2017 03:53PM
Author’s Note: Big final shout out to Betsy and Roxey who both helped me so much with this story. Full disclosure: you may not like the ending. I am sorry in advance! I hope you have enjoyed this story! It is somewhat bittersweet to be posting the very last post. I guess I might have to write another one soon!

Pemberley, 1815

“Your Grace?”

“Yes, Jones?” the Duke asked distractedly as he sat in his plush chair, holding the most precious gift he had been granted by Elizabeth not four weeks prior, “What is it?”

“A Miss Anne De Bourgh to see Lady Elizabeth, sir,” Jones replied.

Elizabeth’s head lifted immediately from the book she had been reading, when she heard the announcement, she looked at her grandfather and said, “She is not her mother, Grandfather, she treated me well as a friend while I was in Hunsford. I understand from Charlotte that Anne was extremely ill when her mother visited.”

James only nodded, and said to Elizabeth, “This is your home, not mine. I will meet with her if you wish. As you said, she is not her mother.”

Elizabeth nodded to Jones to bring the young lady into her husband’s study. As she sat there watching her grandfather, Elizabeth could not help but smile at the turn of events the past three years.

Elizabeth and Darcy were married, as one can probably imagine, in less of a grand affair as Mrs. Bennet wanted but more of an affair than either Darcy or Elizabeth wanted. They married quietly from Heythrop’s chapel at the request of James. It was a beautiful event. Elizabeth and Darcy allowed Mrs. Bennet to decorate and plan to her heart’s content. Between Mrs. Gardiner and Mrs. Reynolds, she was able to come up with an elegant yet simple affair, about which neither the bride nor the groom had any reason to complain. “In only a few weeks too”, Mrs. Bennett could oft be heard saying to her friends long after the momentous year of marriages for her daughters and niece.

For a while, no one knew, except Thomas of course, what James spoke with Fanny about that first day they met and walked in the garden. About a year after Elizabeth and Darcy married, they all found out that he had offered the use of the dowager cottage to Fanny and Thomas for as long as they wanted it free of rent or any type of bills. When the Collins’ informed Thomas that they had birthed the next heir to Longbourn, Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet promptly removed to Heythrop Park. Mrs. Bennet was so excited at refinishing the dowager house that she did not have time to mourn the loss of Longbourn. After all, the Dowager Cottage was somewhat two times larger than Longbourn.

In fact, His Grace’s offer to allow Mrs. Bennet and her husband to live with him at Heythrop Park, or if they chose, to live in the dowager cottage whenever they chose for however long they chose, had a fairly large effect on Mrs. Bennet. During the engagement period, the family was astonished to see Mrs. Bennet calm down. During the planning at Heythrop, she only had one or two flutterings of her nerves and in both situations the family felt they were deserved.

Mr. Bennet had made handsome profits on some investments under some guidance of the Duke and Darcy during that first year and continued to do so after they moved to Oxford. By the time he and his wife moved to the Cottage, he had made enough profit to barely feel the loss of Longbourn’s income. As the years would progress, he continued to find amusements in investing and made a few rather sound financial decisions. As it was, when Catherine was ready to marry he had increased her dowry significantly. When Lydia married, he had stored away almost a solid £2,000 for her dowry.

The Duke of Shrewsbury had been serious when he had told Mrs. Bennet that her family was now his, and that he would take care of them for as long as he lived and that Elizabeth would do that same once he was gone. When Catherine married Lieutenant Sanderson, and Georgiana married a friend of Darcy’s almost a year after Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage, James settled an additional £5,000 on Catherine. Together with the help he received from Darcy and Richard, Lieutenant Sanderson would become Colonel Sanderson before he would retire. When his own grandfather died, Sanderson decided to sell the property to some of his cousins and buy a smaller estate better suited to his and Catherine’s lifestyle. This suited both Georgiana and Catherine perfectly when Georgiana married an Earl whose estate was not fifty miles from Catherine’s home.

Everyone was shocked when Lydia came home each summer from finishing school each year, more and more changed. She had lost her wild nature, but retained much of her joyous spirit. She was, as James affectionately termed, “feisty” now. She and James became almost best friends and she became almost as close to him as he was with Elizabeth.

While she was at school, she had developed a deep love for horses. Upon completion of her schooling, James provided her with her own jumping mare. That summer, she was out jumping hedges when she almost jumped and landed right into a man on the other side of the hedge. His horse had refused to jump the hedge, and he had gotten off to ascertain why. Colonel Fitzwilliam had only just approached the hedge when he heard the other horse on the other side.

He was astonished to see a spirited lady not only jump the high hedge but manage to avoid both him and his horse as she landed. He exclaimed as much when she got off her horse. When he found out this was the scamp whom he had helped save years before, he was even more shocked.

Colonel Fitzwilliam had just retired and was making his way to Heythrop Park to spend the summer before he found a small farm where he could raise his own horses. The rest of the summer was spent in Lydia’s company. When they announced their engagement at the end of the summer, no one was surprised. The Duke not only settled £5,000 on Lydia; he, Elizabeth, and Darcy all agreed to gift a small farm that was part of the Heythrop Park holdings to the couple as a wedding present. Their excuse: the Colonel would be able to use more money toward the horses themselves. If anyone noticed the new barn and renovated house on the property, no one mentioned it.

Even Robert had started to create a life of his own. He married his sweetheart and on a spring day in 1813 and Mrs. Rembrandt became Mrs. Talbot, finally. The couple was so advanced in years that both never expected to have a child together, and so took on the role of grandparents to Mrs. Talbots’ grandchildren.

For the past three years, Elizabeth had found herself surrounded by the encouragement of their friends and family. No one to whom she considered herself or Darcy close ever gave them cause to repine the impending loss of the title. Though many, over the last three years, had attempted to make Elizabeth and Darcy see sense: after all, there was still time. However, Elizabeth loved being a Darcy and the only person who had the ability to change their minds did not care.

Surrounded by those that had done nothing but encourage William and Elizabeth, there was one memory Elizabeth could not shake. As she waited for Anne to be shown into the main study at Pemberley, Elizabeth recalled the last time she had met with a De Bourgh or Talbot.

Lady Catherine had been informed of Elizabeth’s inheritance and engagement before she had been told by Darcy himself. When she did found out, she raced to Longbourn only to find the entire family had already gone to London and then to Heythrop.

After a long week of travelling Lady Catherine finally was announced into a drawing room at Heythrop, where Georgiana, Elizabeth, and Catherine all sat discussing Elizabeth’s wedding with Mrs. Bennet. To say that Elizabeth was shocked by her ladyship’s sudden appearance was an understatement.

“You can be at not loss, Miss Bennet, to understand the reason for my visit. Your very own conscience should be able to explain that to you.”

Elizabeth, astonished, replied, “Indeed you are mistaken, my lady, I have no idea why you wish to particularly see me.”

“Miss Bennet,” replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, “You ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with. But however insincere you may choose to be, you shall not find me so.”

“Aunt, it is Lady Elizabeth,” interrupted Georgiana who immediately blushed at her own rudeness to her aunt,

“Excuse me?” cried Lady Catherine, not used to being interrupted and less so by Georgiana, “Surely you do not believe this drivel that she is actually related to a Duke?”

Elizabeth looked at her latest guest incredulously and said, “If you believed my connection to be impossible, I wonder at you coming so far. Your presence at my grandfather’s home would seem to support it.”

“I came as quickly as I could. A report of a most alarming nature reached me almost a full week ago. I was informed that you, Miss Bennet, for I do not believe for one moment that you are related to His Grace, have been spreading lies and rumors around stating that you will be marrying my nephew Mr. Darcy.” She stopped and calmed herself a little before she continued,
“I know this to be untrue, the moment I heard your lie I immediately set off to make my sentiments known to you.”

Elizabeth did not know whether to feel amazed by the audacity of the woman or upset by her extreme slight and disrespect. She turned to where Jones had placed himself in the room and ordered, “Have someone fetch my Grandfather, and William please.”

Jones nodded and was gone for only a second before he returned and placed himself, once again as close to Lady Catherine De Bourgh as he could.

“Do you pretend to be ignorant of it? Did you not start the rumor yourself?” cried Lady Catherine, “By all means, bring my nephew here and have him prove your lies false.”

“Lady Catherine,” Elizabeth attempted to remain calm, but there was a clip to her tone, “There was no lie –”

“You deny spreading the vicious rumor?”

Here Mrs. Bennet interrupted, “It is not a lie, Lizzy is engaged to Mr. Darcy and she is the granddaughter of His Grace the Duke! Why do you think we are here, in his home?”

Lady Catherine cried in outrage and exclaimed, “And just who are you?”

Mrs. Bennet sat up straighter and answered, “Mrs. Thomas Bennet –”

“Ah! The unintelligent wife of this chit’s uncle, the one who took her in!” Lady Catherine replied as she coolly dismissed Mrs. Bennet, “You may leave us. It was probably your scheming and matchmaking that allowed Darcy to get caught in this web of fabrications.”

Up until this moment, Elizabeth had decided for the sake of her fiancé she would take whatever indignities her ladyship would dispense. However, her ladyship’s complete lack of respect and her continued insults to her aunt, Elizabeth would not just sit for.

She rose and icily said, “Lady Catherine, you have over stayed your welcome, I will have Jones show you to the door.”

“Uncultured girl! You would throw me out of a home that is not even yours? This is not to be borne. Miss Bennet, I insist on being satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an offer of marriage?”

“Your ladyship has declared it to be impossible.”

“It ought to be so! However, you must have used some trickery to even get this idiotic Duke to believe you are his long lost granddaughter. Those same arts must have made Darcy forget what he owes to his family; what he owes to Anne! Let me be rightly understood. This match you have the presumption to aspire can never take place: he is engaged to my daughter. Now what have you to say?”

“If he is engaged to Miss De Bourgh, he would have had no reason to offer to me, twice!”

“Their engagement was planned from infancy with his mother. Do you pay no regard to the wishes of his friends? Are you lost to every feeling of propriety and delicacy?” cried Lady Catherine.

Elizabeth fumed, “If there is no other objection to my marrying your nephew, why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him?’

“Because honor, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any of us.”

“These are heavy misfortunes,” replied Elizabeth, “But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness that she could upon the whole, have no cause to repine.”

“If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up,” yelled an extremely irate Lady Catherine De Bourgh.

“In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman and I am a gentleman’s daughter, so far we are equal.”

“True. You are a gentleman’s daughter. But who was your mother? Who are your uncles and aunts? Do not image me ignorant of their condition. As I have said before: I will not be taken in by this farce of an inappropriate inheritance.”

“Whatever my connections may be, whether you believe them to be true or not,” said Elizabeth, “if your nephew does not object to them, they can be nothing to you.”

“Lady Catherine!” James barked as he marched into the room closely followed by a very dark and very angry Darcy.

When they reached the group of women, Darcy put himself directly between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth as James stood directly in front of the woman, “It has been too long, Lady De Bourgh, since I saw you last. I believe it was at your own late husband’s funeral. However, let me introduce you to my granddaughter, Lady Elizabeth Evette Bennet Talbot.”

“Your Grace,” the elder enraged women said as she curtseyed, “You cannot mean to tell me that you believe that this…this…” she waved her hand toward Elizabeth, “woman is your granddaughter!”

“She is. I will only tell you this once: if you do not respect her position I will have Jones bodily remove you from this house.” Before the lady could respond he continued, “I can only imagine that you are here to offer your congratulations on my granddaughter’s recent engagement and imminent marriage to your nephew.”

Lady Catherine sat there, confronted by the truth, and still she did not wish to believe it. Instead of addressing the Duke, she stood and approached Darcy, “You cannot be serious in your attachment to this…this –”

“Lady Elizabeth Talbot,” ground out the Duke from behind her.

Mr. Darcy ignored both the slight to Elizabeth and her grandfather’s response, and almost snarled, “I thought I had made myself clear years ago: my choice of a wife is my choice. As head of the Darcys, I have no reason to obtain the consent from anyone and do not need the blessing from anyone except Georgiana. Your opinion means nothing. Second, I have it on good authority that the Earl, who is the head of the Fitzwilliam family, has already welcomed Lady Elizabeth into his family. I saw it personally. In fact, I am sure we can find you a room if you wish to ask him yourself. He is due to arrive tomorrow for our wedding in three weeks.”

“You would pollute Pemberley with this family!” said a shocked Lady Catherine, pointing to Mrs. Bennet and Catherine who Elizabeth had an arm around each. “I am no stranger to the particulars of the youngest child’s near elopement with a soldier!”

James grabbed Lady Catherine’s arm and almost snarled, “You can now have nothing further to say, you have insulted the Bennets with you malicious lies in every possible method. I demand that you leave at once.”

“You have no regard, then, for the honor and credit of being my nephew! Unfeeling, selfish man! Do you not consider that a connection with this hoyden would disgrace you in the eyes of everybody?” she spat back at His Grace.

“Her name is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, Lady Catherine; you will need to remember that, because until you apologize sincerely, you can have nothing further to say to me, my family, the Bennets or anyone connected to them,” replied the Duke as he walked her toward the door to his home personally.

At the door he said, “If you believe nothing else that you have heard today, believe this: Until you recognize Elizabeth, I will never recognize you.”

Lady Catherine was also never mentioned by the entire family again. James lived up to his word. The following season the Darcys and James were in town and so was Lady Catherine with Anne. Lady Catherine had decided to attend a play that James and his family also had decided to attend. Anne, who had been ill, had not been present. James was still so angry when he saw Lady Catherine, that when she came forward to greet them, James cut her direct.

The move had shocked even the most snobbish of the ton. In his entire life, no matter how annoyed he had gotten with the more irritating people who wished to ingratiate themselves with him, James had never cut a person directly. Now, for him to do so to a member of his godson and now grandson’s family was delicious gossip for society. Unlike other similar situations, Lady Catherine’s disgrace continued to be mentioned for years later.

It did not help that Lady Catherine was so shocked she removed to Rosings where no one heard from her again. She attempted to write to her friends but no one wanted to be on the bad side of the Duke and so no one responded. According to Charlotte, Elizabeth found out that Anne was not allowed to leave Rosings even if she wished to, simply for Lady Catherine’s fear she might meet with Elizabeth.

If that were the only thing that had happened, Elizabeth may have been able to ignore the small rift in their family. However, the next day brought not only the Earl of Shrewsbury to the Darcy London home, but also his two brothers and sister, Lady Caroline Wharton.

The Duke had decided to stay with the Darcys instead of in his own drafty home that season. Elizabeth had already announced that the next generation of Darcys would be arriving soon and he wanted to be as near as possible when the event occurred. It escaped his notice that they still had six months to go before that happened and no one else cared to mention it.

Neither Elizabeth nor William minded his presence and in fact, loved having him so near; William would always say he would be thankful for James’ presence that day for the rest of their lives.

The day after His Grace cut Lady Catherine, Elizabeth had been entertaining a few new friends in her favorite parlor. The calm the ladies had been enjoying was quickly interrupted with the arrival of her four cousins. The ladies, one of whom was Lady Matlock, quickly left and Elizabeth immediately rang for her husband and grandfather.

However, by the time William and James arrived the damage would already have been done.

“My Lord, what an unexpected surprise,” Elizabeth started as soon as she saw her guests leave. “I had not realized you had an appointment with my husband today.”

“We do not,” waving off the seat Elizabeth offered, the Earl of Shrewsbury continued fairly rudely, “I was informed last night of something that not only angers me but also has me questioning the sanity of this side of my family.”

Elizabeth wisely chose to say nothing.

It became apparent to Elizabeth that her silence did not seem to matter to the Earl when he continued almost immediately, “Pardon me for being frank: are you out of your senses?”

Alarmed by his sudden rudeness and abrupt tone, Elizabeth asked, “You will have to be more explicit, sir? To what do you refer? Surely, you do not condone the brazen rudeness to which I was greeted with by my husband’s family at the theater?”

“I was not referring to His Grace cutting Lady Catherine.”

Confused, Elizabeth asked, “Then I am unsure of what you speak.”

“Once again, your simple country roots are showing,” he replied tersely. “I was referring to the fact that you now carry the next generation to inherit the Dukedom and you and your husband have chosen not to follow the parameters set out regarding your child inheriting it.”

“You refer to my husband not changing his name?”

“Yes. I ask once again: are you out of your senses? Surely even you can see the error that is being made. He must change his name; you must take back your old one before this child is born.”

Elizabeth rose when she saw Jones enter the room. “Pardon me, My Lady, you are needed upstairs. I would not interrupt if it were not important.” Not one to take a clear attack on her intelligence lightly, Elizabeth did not immediately leave the room with him and almost ignored Jones.

Instead she chose to stay and confront her attackers, “I will be there in a moment, Jones.” Turning to her unwanted guests, she replied, “My Lord, let us be crystal clear: the decision to allow the dukedom to go extinct was made between myself and my husband and was sanctioned by the current Duke himself. The decision has been made and sanctioned by all parties necessary. Short of being ordered to either our Queen or King, that decision is not changing. I suggest you learn how to live with it. As to your presence, I am sure, as soon as Mr. Darcy, and His Grace return, they will be more than happy to discuss any topic you wish to choose.”

“I am not done speaking with you!” cried the Earl. He rose as Elizabeth started to walk away from them. “On my honor! I am never been received with such insolence before. I am sure it is in no small measure due to your childhood spent solely in the country, but I will tell you: this is not how a member of the peerage is treated, even by another member!”

Elizabeth replied as she left the room, “I apologize for the apparent disrespect in my manner; however I find it has only been fitting to the manner in which I was accosted this morning.” She then quickly left, with Jones standing behind her.

The Earl and his brothers became so angry, they attempted to follow her. She quickly mounted the steps and turned back to see two other guards had come to join Jones and stand between her and her extended family. “My Lord, as I have said before: I am positive that my husband would be pleased to speak with you. You may wait for him in his study. Jones will escort you there if you still wish to stay and wait.”

Somehow, no one noticed that Lady Caroline has snuck past the guards and was approaching Elizabeth. When Elizabeth did see her cousin, she allowed her near.
“Lady Elizabeth, I apologize for the rudeness of my family; however surely you can understand our point of view. The dukedom does not just belong to you and your grandfather but rather the entire Talbot family. If you do this, if you allow it to become extinct it will lower the expectations of my own family.”

Elizabeth felt sympathy for the elder women. She, like James, had come to find Lady Caroline not as insipid as her brothers. She did indeed remind Elizabeth of Mrs. Bennet: her only concern was for her daughters and sons to marry well. “I am sorry, Lady Caroline, that this will affect you so, however, my husband and I are resolute: we are Darcys.”

Elizabeth turned to continue up the stairs, she felt a hand reach out and grab her and she raised her foot to take another stair. Unfortunately, it surprised Elizabeth great enough that she started to lose her balance.

As Elizabeth felt herself falling, she felt the fear rise in her throat as she desperately reached out to grasp something, anything to hold onto in order to stop her from careening down the stairs. Unfortunately, the closest thing she was able to grab onto was Lady Caroline, who had become just as startled by the event.

The fall only lasted a few seconds. Jones, had not seen her start, and by the time he was able to reach Lady Elizabeth, she had already fallen more than fifteen steps. He was able to stop her dangerous decent before her head hit the marble floor.

Before Elizabeth blacked out, she could hear the shouting of her guards, and voices in the background. The last thing she remember seeing was her husband’s concerned eyes as his face loomed over hers.

Elizabeth shook off her melancholy. It was a memory she had no wish in recalling. She did not regret the rift that had come after her fall. The Talbots no longer spoke with the Darcys, or any member of Darcy’s extended family.

News of the loss of her child reached the ton’s ears and had a surprising affect. When the first circles had finally found out that Darcy had no intention of changing his name and thus almost guaranteeing the extinction of a title, the ton became polarized. Many people thought that it was indeed a very selfish move on Darcy’s part; whereas the other half found the entire situation romantic and acceptable. After all, there were enough Talbots around anyway.

After Elizabeth’s fall, society came together once again. Elizabeth had charmed them during her first year and believed she had enough loss in her life already. Those that had fallen in love with Elizabeth and those that had always respected Darcy immediately cut the Earl of Shrewsbury and his family; his title notwithstanding. Lady Caroline would never be seen in public again, and even though all of her children did eventually marry: none married as well as she had hoped for.

At that moment, Miss De Bourgh was shown into the room. As Elizabeth sat and watched the frail young lady come hesitantly in, she suddenly realized that what she had told her grandfather was completely true: Anne had welcomed her when she thought Elizabeth was only the friend of her parson’s wife. It was with a spirit of resolve that Elizabeth rose and outreached her arms, and cried enthusiastically, “Anne, it is so good to see you again!”

Miss De Bourgh looked as if she wished to approach Elizabeth and accept her hug only she was worried about the Duke, who was still sitting in his chair. Elizabeth encouraged her by adding, “Please, let me convey my condolences on your mother’s recent passing.”

Elizabeth turned to James and said, “Grandfather, let me introduce Ann De Bourgh. I do not recall you ever mentioning meeting her before. She has been a good friend to one of my very good friends. You remember Charlotte?”

James rose, carefully holding his bundle, and said, “Yes, I do. You are very welcome here, Miss De Bourgh, or may I call you Anne?”

Anne looked between the two, shocked, and stammered, “Of –of course, Your Grace!”

With one hand the Duke waved off her use of his title, and said, “None of that now! We are family! I am James, Talbot, or Grandfather, whichever you prefer.”

Anne sat after James indicated she take his own chair. The trio lapsed into silence until Elizabeth said, “I was very sorry to hear about your mother’s illness. It was so very soon after your own. Are you well? You should not have traveled so far, in your condition.”

Anne shook her head, and replied, “I thank you for your concern. Her death was not very sudden, and we had much time to speak before she died.” Here she hesitated, “As to the travel, I felt it was necessary. What I have to say, I do not believe can be said properly in a letter.” Timidly she added, “I will admit to some surprise that you are receiving me at all.”

Elizabeth smiled encouragingly and said, “You are the same young lady who, for no other reason than you could, brought me my correspondence while I was visiting Charlotte. The Anne that I met on that trip was kind and considerate. I am very sorry that I have not been able to get to know you better these past three years.”

Anne nodded and said, “That is why I am here. I have come to apologize for the behavior of my family.”

The duke snorted from where he sat and asked, “Please forgive me, but are you telling us that your mother had a death bed change of heart?”

“Grandfather!” admonished Elizabeth.

The Duke did not look repentant at all. Anne chose to answer him and replied, “No, she did not. She attempted to make me promise to never be known to you, Lady Elizabeth.”

The room became silent at this announcement. James was grim, and Elizabeth curious as to what Ann had told her mother remained silent. Anne, after a few moments, said softly as she started to cry, “I could not do it, and my mother died angry with me.”

Elizabeth immediately rose and went to comfort the young lady. Anne continued and added, “I could not. You were nothing if not respectful of her. The things she said about you, I just could not believe her. Elizabeth, my apology is for me: until her death I never once went against her word. I did not when she almost kicked Charlotte and her husband out of Kent simply because he was related to you, I did not voice my opinion or stand my ground when she attempted to turn the ton against you. I just could not and cannot continue this feud.”

Elizabeth tried to hush Anne, but Anne would not be swayed, “No! Please! Please, say you will forgive me?”

Elizabeth replied, “Of course I will. However, I do not believe you have anything you need to be forgiven for! Please! Stop crying. You are here now,” she said comfortingly. In an attempt to show Anne she was truly forgiven, Elizabeth added, “How long can you stay?”

Anne sniffled and replied, “I have no plans. I was going to go to Uncle Edward’s house. He is in London at the moment, and I simply cannot bear to be in that drafty house in Kent by myself.”

“Well, you are to stay here and for as long as you like! When we return to London, if you wish, we can convey you to Eddy then!”

Anne smiled at Elizabeth and then turned toward the Duke and said softly about the child held in his arms, “She is beautiful. Charlotte wrote to me of her.”

Elizabeth looked at the little bundle being held by her grandfather and asked, “Yes, she is. Would you like to hold her?”

Anne instantly became alarmed, “I do not know. I am still very weak; it took me almost a week and a half to get here. We had to keep stopping.”

Elizabeth cried, “Where are my manners? Come, I will show you to a room so you can rest.” She then called for their ever present servant, “Jones, please see that Anne’s things are taken to a room in the family wing. I believe the one next to the Bingley’s normal suite would be perfect.” The man nodded and went to get Mrs. Reynolds.

As Anne was escorted out of the room by Elizabeth, James sat back in his chair and simply held his first grandchild: Faith Ann Francis Darcy. As he had for the past three years, he felt at peace. When Darcy came in a few minutes later and took his daughter from James arms, they sat and spoke for a while. James told him of Anne’s arrival and Darcy nodded pleased that the breach in his family was finally being healed.

That evening, as James went to bed he reflected on his life. The past few years had been a hard and had taken a lot out of him. He found he was not as active as he once was: allowing Darcy and his other grandsons-in-law to take care of matters for him.

As he lay in his bed, James reflected that he had never once regretted his decision to take Gregory’s family for his own. He felt like a great-grandfather to all the children that came from each marriage. The year Catherine and Georgiana married, Jane had a set of twins, and James welcomed them as if they were his own great-grandchildren. When Faith had first been put in his arms a few weeks ago he felt as if his world was finally complete.

No one was aware of his failing health; to everyone James was still as large as life. So when Robert went to his brother’s room the next morning to find out why he was so late for their usual morning ride, it was a great shock to find his elder brother had died in his sleep.

To say that the family grieved would be an understatement. A year and a half later, when Elizabeth had their second child, everyone knew what his name would be: James George Thomas Darcy – who would live up to his name, but that is a different story.

Ignorance and Irony - Epilogue

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