Mr Bennet had several delays in returning to Pemberley, including having to travel to London to assist his brother in law, Edward Gardiner. His latest letter informing of his delay arrived on one of the darkest days in young Fitzwilliam Darcy’s life.
Lady Anne’s labors began before the sun had peaked above the hills. The physician, Mr Holden, and the midwife, Mrs Lyman, were summoned and arrived quickly. Through the day, Fitzwilliam and his father were found pacing in whatever room they occupied. Elizabeth and Jane sat in the sitting room across the hall from Lady Anne’s suite, which was not the location Mrs Reynolds had placed them. The housekeeper did not wish for their delicate ears to hear the cries of a lady birthing an infant, though Gerald Darcy informed the elder lady that the Bennet girls had experienced their mother’s cries when she birthed their sister.
With each cry from the Mistress’ chambers, everyone in the grand house winced. The pain which was being endured by the great lady was felt by those who loved her and the staff who greatly respected her.
The wait felt as if it had been on-going for years rather than hours. Elizabeth finally decided to pace with Fitzwilliam, holding his hand as they attempted to wear a path in the floor of the sitting room.
Food and drink had been brought for those waiting in the sitting room, though none of it was touched. Jane attempted to stitch on a gown she was making for the babe, though she had a difficult time keeping her hands from shaking.
Near nine that evening, a baby’s cries were heard coming from the Mistress’s suite. Everyone smiled at the sound, the babe had survived the birth.
“William, you are a big brother.” Gerald said as he clapped his hand on his son’s shoulder. “You three stay here, and I will check with Mrs Reynolds as to whether the babe is a boy or a girl.”
Mr Darcy had only reached the door to his wife’s rooms, his hand raised to knock, when Mr Holden stepped from the room. The grim look that the elder man wore spoke volumes.
“Holden, what is wrong? Is something wrong with the babe?”
Mr Holden shook his head. “I am so terribly sorry, Gerald. Lady Anne… she… she… there was too much bleeding.”
Gerald Darcy sank to his knees. “NO! NO! I CANNOT LOSE ANNE! PLEASE, NOT ANNE!”
Fitzwilliam stood still, as if he had turned to stone. Elizabeth squeezed his hand, tears flowing down her cheeks. Her young mind was not certain what had happened, but she was sure that it was nothing good.
Gerald’s valet, Alfred, came rushing from the Master’s suite. He had been listening at the door which connected the Master and Mistress rooms, and knew the Master would need to be tended. Placing his Master’s arm over his shoulders, Alfred lifted Gerald from the floor and guided the man down the hall. As they reached the door to Gerald’s bedchamber, the Master of Pemberley came back to his senses.
“I must see her. Please, Alfred, let me go to my wife.”
“Sir, allow the ladies to clean Lady Anne and prepare her to be seen properly. You do not wish to have the memory of her as she is at the moment.”
“It does not matter. I demand to see my wife now.”
Knowing Gerald Darcy’s love for his wife, Holden knew the younger man would continue until he got his wish. He stepped aside, allowing Gerald to enter the bedchamber of his beloved wife.
Lady Anne Darcy’s body was being cleansed by her maid and Mrs Reynolds, both of whom had tears streaming down their cheeks. They were surprised to hear the Master’s voice as he demanded them to leave. Both of the ladies moved quickly towards the dressing room, allowing the gentleman some privacy.
The trembling man sank to his knees beside the bed, grasping his wife’s hand in his own. There was still warmth, and he lifted her hand to his cheek. “My love, how can you leave me? What am I to do without you? My dearest Anne, you are the only love I will ever know. And now, now I will have to raise our son and a new babe, on my own. How can I raise them without you? Please, my dearest love, let this all be a terrible nightmare. Let me wake with you alive and in my arms.”
His tears splashed on his wife’s arm, and Gerald knew his wife would be disappointed in his behavior. Realizing her body was still showing the blood which had drained from her frail body, he took it upon himself to begin cleansing her. Dipping the cloth into the basin of water, then squeezing out the water, Gerald began delicately washing the blood from his wife’s body. He went to the door of the dressing room and was given a fresh night shift from Mrs Reynolds. Returning to his wife’s bed, the devastated man took off his wife’s stained gown and re-dressed her, then lifted her gently, so he could call for the housekeeper to enter the room.
“Mrs Reynolds, would you please change the bedding. I will hold my wife, so you will not need to move her.”
Mrs Reynolds and the maid nodded, moving into the room with the fresh sheets already in their hands. They made quick work of the task, and left the room quietly.
Gerald sat in the chair, next to the bed, holding his wife in his arms for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he knew it was time to place his wife on the bed, and prepare to bring his son in to see his beloved mother.
Folding her hands on her flattened stomach, Gerald then pulled the bedding up to her shoulders. He then stepped to the door leading to the hall and opened it.
It did not surprise the Master of Pemberley to find his son there, his hand clasped in the hand of Elizabeth Bennet, tears streaming freely down the cheeks of both of the youths.
“William, your mother is ready for you to see her.” Gerald stated.
“May Lizzy come with me?” Fitzwilliam asked, his voice filled with emotion.
“Of course, if Lizzy wishes to come in, she may.”
Elizabeth was frightened, but she felt the need to be at her friend’s side. And she did not wish to be alone with her own emotions. She loved Lady Anne Darcy, as if she were a second mother. The loss of the grand lady was as painful to her as it was to the Darcys.
The two youths moved slowly towards the bed. Fitzwilliam donned a mask of indifference, not wishing to have anyone witness his tender feelings. Standing beside the bed, he looked upon his mother’s serene appearance. It was as if she were simply sleeping.
Elizabeth placed a hand gently on Lady Anne’s shoulder. She could feel Lady Anne’s body was beginning to cool, and the paleness of her skin surprised the girl. She had never seen a dead person up close, though she knew of death. When her grandmother had died, when Elizabeth was only four, her father sat down and explained that when someone died, their spirit went away, leaving the shell of their body behind to be buried in the ground. The girl knew that Lady Anne’s spirit was gone from her body, Elizabeth just had not expected the body to look so natural.
Fitzwilliam watched over his mother’s body for some time, quiet and still, just as he was. He could not find any strength inside him to speak or move, and he was afraid to touch his mother. All he knew was that his heart was broken.
After a while, Gerald escorted the children from the room, and into the sitting room. Mrs Reynolds entered the sitting room, holding a bundle in her arms.
“Mr Darcy, would you wish to meet your daughter?”
Gerald had completely forgotten to ask the housekeeper about the baby, and was even unaware of the gender of the infant. He was frozen, as the housekeeper placed the babe, swaddled in the infant blanket Lady Anne had made for her babe, into the Master’s arms.
Suddenly, Fitzwilliam became animated. “A sister? A girl? I told you that girls were no good. I told you I did not want a sister. And now I have lost my mother because of a sister. I never wish to see her, she killed my mother.”
He ran from the room, leaving behind a room filled with shocked people. Elizabeth ran to her sister’s arms, sobbing at her dearest friend’s words.
“Why is he angry at girls? It is not the babe’s fault for Lady Anne…for her…” Elizabeth began to cry harder.
Gerald was shocked at his son’s behavior, but he felt it important to comfort the girls in the sitting room. “Lizzy, would you and Jane wish to see the babe?”
When Jane nodded her head, Mr Darcy walked to the sofa, holding the infant so that the girls could see his daughter. Jane smiled. “Look, she has golden curls, just like Lady Anne. She is so sweet, so delicate.”
The first smile he had felt all day rose to Gerald’s lips. “Yes, she looks just like her mother. My sweet Anne gave us a blessing. What should we name her?”
“She should have a bit of your name and a bit of her mother’s name.” Elizabeth said. “Lady Anne told me she had prayed for a daughter, and that the girls should be named for both of you.”
Thinking for a little while, Gerald nodded his head. “Georgianna. What do you think? My full name is Gerald George Thomas Darcy, so we could use part of George and part of Anne.”
Elizabeth nodded her head. “I like that name. Georgianna. Lady Anne would be pleased.”
“What of a middle name?” Jane asked. “She must have a middle name.”
“What about Georgiana Rose Darcy? Lady Anne loved roses.” Elizabeth suggested.
“Indeed, she did. Miss Georgianna Rose Darcy, I wish to introduce you to your cousins, Miss Elizabeth and Miss Jane Bennet. Lizzy and Jane will be a part of your life, teaching you all sorts of proper behavior for a young lady.”
Jane laughed. “Yes, Lizzy will teach her how to play the pianoforte quite ill.”
Gerald began to laugh. “Remember, Jane, Lizzy is still young. When she is older, I am certain she will be able to play well, after being instructed by a master.”
The trio sat together looking at the babe and speaking of happy thoughts, all the while attempting to block out the very sad reality across the hall.
When Georgianna began to fuss, Mrs Reynolds entered the sitting room. “Mr Darcy, the wet nurse is here and I can take the babe to her to be fed.”
“Yes, she must be hungry. And I need to speak with my son.”
“Master William has locked his doors and refuses to speak with anyone.” The housekeeper stated.
“I will use my key if necessary. Thank you, Mrs Reynolds. You are truly a blessing to our family.”
Tears were welling up in the housekeeper’s eyes. “I wish today was a happy one, rather than filled with sorrow. Whatever you need of me, Mr Darcy, you only need ask.”
~~ ** ~~
Fitzwilliam refused to leave his room, even after his father spoke with him. He refused to eat anything brought to his room, and even refused to see or speak with Elizabeth. This was painful to his dear friend. So Elizabeth began spending more time in the nursery, and was even allowed to hold baby Georgianna and rock in Lady Anne’s favorite chair in the nursery. She would speak with the baby girl, telling her about her mother and father, about her elder brother, and of Pemberley.
A week after Lady Anne’s funeral service, Mr Bennet arrived at Pemberley to pay his respects and collect his daughters.
“Gerald, please forgive me. I was with Gardiner in Dorset. He was arranging a business deal and asked for my assistance. I came here immediately after learning of your loss.”
“Thomas, come in the house. The girls will be happy to see you.”
“I am sorry you have had to contend with them during this trying time.”
Gerald shook his head. “They have reminded me of the love I shared with Anne, and they have been wonderful with my new daughter.”
“A girl. I am pleased for you. Anne would have been thrilled. What did you name her?”
“As suggested by Lizzy, my daughter is Georgianna Rose Darcy.”
Mr Bennet smiled. “I believe it is an appropriate name for your daughter. So, where are my girls hiding? Is Lizzy with William?”
The look of sadness overtook Gerald Darcy’s expression. “William refuses to come out of his room. He has eaten very little, and refuses to see his sister. He blames Georgianna for Anne’s death. My son even refuses to speak with Elizabeth.”
“What will you do?”
“I do not know.” Gerald led his cousin in the house and up the stairs. As they approached the nursery, the gentleman continued. “Richard and Marcus will be here next week, on school holiday. I pray they will be able to speak with William. They have a younger sister, and Lady Matlock is still alive. At this moment, my son believes all girls are evil and will kill their mothers.”
“But he knows better than that, as my wife has given birth to three daughters and is still alive. And she is heavy with child.”
Gerald stopped quickly and turned to his cousin. “Thomas, I pray that all goes well for Fanny. And I pray it is the son and heir you have wished for, as it will break that blasted entail, once and for all.”
“Fanny would be able to relax if it were a son. She worries of what will happen with the girls and her when I die.”
“You still have not spoken with her of the settlement we wrote for Lizzy and William’s marriage?” Gerald asked.
Mr Bennet shook his head. “No, though I should. It would bring her comfort to know there is no need to fret about being kicked to the hedgerows.”
“Lizzy knows. William spoke with Lizzy and told her of the arrangement.”
“I was sure they would discuss it while the girls were here. In years, Lizzy is still young, but her mind is far older. She would understand the arrangement more than Jane would.” Mr Bennet said.
The men finally reached the nursery, and Gerald Darcy opened the door. Thomas Bennet smiled at the sight of his Elizabeth sitting in a rocking chair, cradling the infant Darcy family member in her arms.
Looking up, Elizabeth saw her father had arrived. “Papa, you have arrived.” She said softly. “Please keep your voice low, as Georgianna has just now fallen asleep.”
“Might I have a look at our new cousin?” Mr Bennet asked in a whisper.
Elizabeth nodded her head. Mr Bennet glanced at the babe, and tears began to well in his eyes. “She is much like Lady Anne.” Elizabeth stated to her father.
“Indeed. I believe she will be the spitting image of her mother when she grows up.”
“How is Mamma?” Elizabeth asked nervously. After the previous week, and the loss of Lady Anne, Elizabeth feared for her own mother’s safety.
“Your mother is well. She looks forward to having you and Jane at home.”
The young girl did not believe her mother would ever miss her. Though she was certain that her mother loved her, Elizabeth was just as certain that Fanny Bennet preferred Jane, and even Mary, to her second born daughter.
“When will we return home?” Elizabeth asked, looking at the infant in her young arms.
“I believe we should take our leave tomorrow. Gerald must wish to have his home free of visitors. And it is time for you to return to Longbourn.”
With a nod, Elizabeth continued looking at Georgianna. “I will miss Georgianna. And I pray that William will realize the truth. His sister is to be loved and cherished, not blamed for their mother’s death.”
“Perhaps, in time, we will see William return to his normal self.” Gerald said. “I will write often, and keep you updated on both of my children.”
“Thank you, Mr Darcy. I will look forward to Papa reading your letters to me.”
Gerald chuckled lightly. “Lizzy, I am certain that you would be able to read my letters on your own.”
“Most likely, but it would not be proper for an unmarried lady to receive any letters from a gentleman who is not related to themselves.”
This statement caused both of the men to struggle with laughter.
~~ ** ~~
The Bennets left the following morning, with promises that the Darcys would visit them when Gerald took his children to London for Fitzwilliam’s birthday, in a little over a month.
Fitzwilliam refused to see his dearest friend before she left, leaving Elizabeth heartbroken. Her young heart wished to do something to show her friend how much she cared, how much she wished to be there for him, but he would not allow her to come near him.
“Lizzy, give William some time. He is in deep pain, and it will take some time for him to come to terms with his loss. You know how dear his mother was to William.”
“But for him to hate all girls, his mother was a girl.”
Gerald smiled and nodded his head. “It is simple for you and me to know the truth, but his mind is filled with anger and bitterness. Those emotions are not allowing him to see past the pain. He will, one day, and realize that he is being foolish. Until then, we must allow him to deal with the pain in his own way.”
“Very well.” The girl stated, unhappy with the decision. “Would you tell him I will miss him? I pray he will write me letters.”
“We will see, dearest Lizzy. We will see. Now, you tell your mother that I send my best wishes for her health, and give Mary a kiss from me, on her forehead.”
“I will, Mr Darcy.” Elizabeth hugged the gentleman. “And I will keep you and your children in my heart, always.”
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~
Elizabeth Bennet was three months from her eighteenth birthday. She had received a letter from Gerald Darcy, inviting her to join him and his daughter in Town, so Elizabeth could begin shopping for her trousseau.
My Dearest Lizzy,
Georgianna and I are looking forward to your visit at Darcy House. While you are there, we will look at papers and paints, and furnishings for your apartment at Darcy House and Pemberley. I have chosen the suite in the west wing at Pemberley, which would allow you and William some privacy to come to know each other better.
Your parents have written that my son has not been in contact with you for over a year. I beg your forgiveness. He has been busy with exams and such, as he graduates from Cambridge next week. After graduation, he will journey to Matlock to visit with Richard and Marcus for a fortnight. As you well know, while he is there, Georgianna will be celebrating her birthday. William still refuses to celebrate his sister’s birthday, as it was also the date of his mother’s death. It is my greatest hope that, after the wedding, you will be able to change his mind with regards to his sister. Georgianna is pained by her brother’s refusal to be a part of her life.
As you most likely know, Richard will be joining the army after the first of the year. His parents worry, especially since he refused to allow them to purchase a commission for him. Richard wishes to earn his promotions on his own. Though commendable, it also makes his going to war a reality. Pray for my nephew, Lizzy. He will need all the prayers to help him escape death on the battlefield.
Lady Catherine has been her usual self, demanding that we find a way out of the arrangement. I am telling you this, as I am certain Catherine will attempt some way to break up the union. Do not underestimate her, Catherine may even come to Longbourn to speak with you personally. Know that we are still in favor of the arrangement and have no reason to change the situation.
Give your parents my best, and my love to Jane, Mary, and Gerald Thomas. I know your father is excited for Gerald to start school, and that he has already begun to instruct your brother, just as he instructed you when you were younger. I am pleased that your father hired the masters for Mary and you. We will be looking forward to hearing both of you play the pianoforte.
I am looking forward to being able to soon call you my daughter. It is a day I have long waited for and I know Anne was pleased with the knowledge that you were to be our daughter, and take her place as the next Mistress of Pemberley and Darcy House.
Your soon to be father in law,
I just remembered something important. One of William’s classmates is leasing an estate to learn the ins and outs of being a landed gentleman. He has leased Netherfield Park, which we all know is near Longbourn. His name is Charles Bingley. Tell your mother that his family’s fortune comes from trade, but he has five thousand per annum and is unmarried. I have met Mr Bingley several times, and he is very amiable and reminds me of Jane in many ways. He has an unmarried sister who will be staying with him to serve as his hostess, and I must warn you, Lizzy, she has her sights set on William. Though her brother has told her, time and again, that William is betrothed, Miss Bingley is determined to have him, or should I say all that he would bring to a marriage. She wishes for people to think her a member of the highest circle of society, and the Darcy name would give her such an opportunity. Have no fear, my dear girl. William has no desires towards her.
We will see you soon, GD
Elizabeth smiled as she read the letter. It was difficult to think that she would soon be Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The past years had been difficult. Since the death of Lady Anne, William had changed drastically. Their once close friendship had turned into a cold and lifeless formality. When William was not at school, he preferred to be at Matlock with his cousins. The reminders of what had been at Pemberley, and was there no longer, were too painful for him to stay at his home for long.
To be honest, Elizabeth was surprised that William was willing to continue with the arranged marriage to her. The last time they had spoken had ended in a terrible argument. When her betrothed had barely acknowledged her or even greeted her, Elizabeth was finally frustrated with his behavior.
“Fitzwilliam Darcy, you are arrogant, conceited, and have a selfish disdain for the feelings of others. You are nothing like the boy I knew and for which I cared. Is this all that I am to expect after we are wed? For your cold and taciturn behavior, and your running off to Matlock to avoid remaining at Pemberley?”
“I enjoy spending time with my cousins. Richard is more like a brother than a cousin, and I will miss him next year, when he joins his regiment. Once he is gone off to war, I will have no one else with whom to spend time.”
“So I am to expect your company due to lack of anyone you prefer? How welcome I feel. And I assume that you will abandon my company when someone more enjoyable comes along.”
“You know I am uncomfortable being around ladies. You have known this since you were a child. Can you not just accept our situation and be pleased with being the Mistress of my homes? Is that not good enough for you?”
“I wished to marry for love, William. I wished for a husband who was warm and caring, who wished to be with me. Instead, I will be a burden.”
“You are being foolish, Elizabeth. You are being…a girl.” With those words, Fitzwilliam turned and marched from the room.
The argument had happened nearly ten months previously, and she still had not received word from her betrothed. What sort of life were they to have if Fitzwilliam was to treat her with disdain?
~~ ** ~~
Gerald Darcy broke the seal on the letter from his son. Beginning to read the young man’s words, Gerald shook his head.
I wish to speak with you on the upcoming event of my marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. As you are aware, I am soon to graduate from university. I would prefer to take a Grand Tour and see parts of the world that I might never see again. From what Richard has said, the war is close at hand, and once begun, it will be too dangerous to travel, not to mention the damage to some of the beautiful sights to behold. I am a young man, and wish to enjoy my life after all the hard work I have put into my schooling.
It has also come to me that, rather than marrying Miss Elizabeth, I should marry someone like my cousin, Anne de Bourgh. I know you believe that a marriage between Cousin Anne and myself would be lacking in affection, but that is the reason I make the suggestion. I do not wish to have romance in my life. Romance and love lead to heartache and pain.
With Cousin Anne’s frail health, she would be unable to perform wifely duties or bear a child. This would relieve me from such commitments. I would be able to find relief at the courtesan houses, where I would have no worries of attachments or children. Yes, it is expected I father the next heir of Pemberley, but I have no desire to father children. In fathering a child, in bedding someone like Miss Elizabeth, I would be emotionally involved. But there is a chance that she would die giving birth, and I could not tolerate such pain. How you were able to go on with life after Mother died is beyond me to comprehend. Therefore I prefer to have a wife I have no relations with and do not love.
Would you please speak to the solicitors of ending the arrangement with Miss Elizabeth Bennet and have them prepare the marriage articles for me to marry Cousin Anne? I would prefer to marry soon after my Grand Tour, perhaps in a year.
Gerald shook his head. This was not to be allowed. He would sit his son down and have a serious discussion with him. And the last thing that Fitzwilliam was going to do was give into Catherine and marry Anne de Bourgh.
He reached for the bell and rang for Mrs Reynolds. When the housekeeper arrived, the Master of Pemberley asked to have his daughter sent to him.
When Georgianna arrived in her father’s study, she sat in her usual chair in front of his desk.
“How are your lessons coming? Is Mrs Williams keeping you hard at work?”
Georgianna smiled. “Of course, Father. She says that I should spend at least twenty hours each day in study, an hour total for meals, and the other three hours each day to sleep and see to my toilette. I feel she is being too easy on me.”
Gerald laughed. “Indeed, you should not need more than a quarter of an hour of sleep each day. I have a surprise for you.”
The girl’s eyes lit up. “What is it, Father?”
“We are leaving for Longbourn tomorrow. I will send word ahead for Lizzy to be ready to journey to Town with us. I will leave you and Lizzy with Mrs Williams, while I make my way to Cambridge to see William.”
The mere mention of her brother’s name changed the young girl’s attitude. She went from a happy youth to a withdrawn and saddened child. Her brother’s disdain for her had always been apparent and painful, and Georgianna had always wished for a way to win her brother’s good opinion.
“Georgianna, will you not enjoy spending time with Lizzy? She will have much shopping to do, and I am certain she will wish to have you join her excursions. Your Aunt Rebecca is planning to take both of you to her modiste and to all the best shops in Town. Lizzy will have many items to purchase, and she will require multiple visits to the modiste for fittings. And, as you are growing so much, you will require a new wardrobe as well.”
The girl’s eyes lit up with excitement. “How long will you be gone?”
“A few days, a week at the most. When I return to Town, we will have much planning to do, for it will not be long until Lizzy will marry your brother. Then she will be moving to live with us.”
“I am thrilled. Lizzy is all I could ever want in a sister. It will be joyous to have her living at Pemberley, and to be able to call her my sister.”
~~ ** ~~
“Father, I had not expected you to arrive so soon. Graduation is another fortnight away.” Fitzwilliam said, as he greeted his father. “Have you come to arrange my Grand Tour? You need not bother, as I have already spoken with Mr Wallace, who arranges such excursions. He has prepared the plans for the journey I wish to take.”
“No, William, I came to speak with you on a matter of extreme importance.”
Fitzwilliam frowned. “What could be so important?”
“Please, son, let us step into the house Mistress’ study. She has given us permission to use her room, to give us some privacy.”
The younger of the men frowned, but motioned to his father where the study was located.
Once inside the room, with the door closed, Gerald took a seat in one of the cushioned chairs. “William, I received your letter, and I must say, I am quite displeased.”
“Why could you possibly be displeased? I have made plans for my future which are more in line with my desires. The arrangement which you and Mr Bennet made, so many years ago, was for two children. Now that I have grown up, and know more of the world, I have a better knowledge of what I wish for my future.”
“I am here to tell you that any thoughts of marrying your cousin, Anne de Bourgh, are out of question. I will not allow such a union, as I know how miserable you would be with Anne as your wife. She has always made you miserable, and you know that your aunt would also be making demands of you. Catherine has always wished to merge the two estates into one, all powerful force. And you would not be in control. Catherine would make certain that she would have the last say on all matters.”
“Cousin Anne and Aunt Catherine would prefer to remain at Rosings, I am certain. Cousin Anne and I would be married in name only, and live separate lives.”
“You cannot believe that Anne and Catherine would allow you to do as you please. Look at your uncle. Whenever Louis de Bourgh wished to make changes at Rosings, he was quashed by the demands of his wife and daughter. That is why he took to drinking so much, which ultimately led to his death. I will not allow you to be a casualty of those two women.”
Fitzwilliam was angry. “So you are going to force me to marry Miss Elizabeth Bennet? She is beneath us socially, and would be treated as the inferior she is, while in Society. It is not to be borne. Will the shades of Pemberley be thus polluted?”
“Fitzwilliam Richard Thomas Darcy, I will not have you speak so of our relations. Thomas Bennet has made a comfortable living between his estate, the horse breeding, and investments. You might think him beneath us, but I believe Thomas Bennet is superior to you at this moment. Lizzy was correct, you are arrogant.”
“Then why would you make me marry her? Why would you demand such of me?” Fitzwilliam insisted.
“Because I know how dearly you cared for Lizzy when you were younger. She was your dearest friend. It is you who has changed and pushed her away. You are afraid of allowing anyone to have a claim on your heart. It is simpler to keep everyone at a distance than to allow anyone to become close.”
“And what does that matter to you? You, who could forget my mother so easily after her death. You, who could become so loving to that girl who took from me the love of a most cherished mother. You made your choices, so why are you refusing to allow me to make my own?”
Gerald was livid. “I cannot believe you are my son. How can you be filled with so much hatred? Your mother would be ashamed of your behavior. You are hateful to the daughter my beloved Anne had always wished wanted, after having a son and heir. Georgianna is a part of my beloved Anne, and you refuse to accept the love your mother left behind for us. You are wasting your energy in hating Georgianna, when you could be loving the gift your mother gave you. William, your mother did not have years to be with us, as we would have preferred. I learned from Mr Holden that your mother’s body was wearing out. She had cancer, William. We never told you, but she was dying. Even if she had not given birth to Georgianna, your mother would have died within a year at most.”
“You are wrong. Mother would have lived for many more years. She might even still be alive, if it were not for giving birth to a girl.”
“How can you blame the birth of a girl to be the cause of your mother’s death? Your Aunt Rebecca gave birth to a daughter, and is still alive. Many women give birth to daughters with no difficulties. Even Lizzy’s mother, as she gave birth to three daughters.”
“I cannot answer why some women survive, but there must have been something wrong with the girl child my mother birthed.”
“GEORGIANNA. YOUR SISTER’S NAME IS GEORGIANNA. Stop referring to her without calling her your sister or by her name. Georgianna shares your blood, she is your sister.”
“I WILL NEVER CARE FOR THAT GIRL!” Fitzwilliam shouted at his father. “You can claim her all you wish, but she killed my mother. I will NEVER claim her as a relation.”
“But you will claim your cousin Anne as a relation. Anne, who is a spoiled, selfish, headstrong girl who cares nothing for concerns of others. Your sister is a sweet girl, filled with love and compassion. Lizzy has taken Georgianna under her wing and guided your sister in the proper behavior of a young lady. Did you know that your sister and her governess minimake visits to our tenants? They see to the needs of those who make Pemberley strong. Georgianna is highly respected, and she is still just a child.”
“Miss Elizabeth has contact with the girl child? That is another strike against her.” Fitzwilliam walked to the nearby window, staring out of the pane of glass rather than looking at his father.
“I will hear no more against either of the ladies. Your wedding is set for two months from your graduation. You will not be taking a Grand Tour. After your wedding, you may take a wedding journey, if you wish. Then you will be taking over the duties of seeing to the horse breeding. Lizzy brings three mares as part of her dowry, and we have two mares and three stallions. We need to plan for their breeding. And you will need to begin learning your duties as the heir to Pemberley.”
Fitzwilliam continued to look out the window, and remained quiet for some time. Finally, he turned back to his father. “Very well, Father. Since you refuse to allow me to live the life I wish, I have stipulations.”
Gerald had a difficult time keeping from rolling his eyes. “And what are your stipulations?”
“If I am to be forced into the arranged marriage, I wish to have the wedding performed simply and quickly. A special license can be obtained and we can wed the day I return to Town after my graduation. I only want immediate family to be in attendance. And I wish to live in Grandmother’s house on the estate, not in the main house. If Miss Elizabeth does not approve of my decision, she may live at the main house with you. After what she accused me of the last time we spoke, I am surprised she would even wish to be married to me.”
“I am well aware of what Lizzy said to you. It is her greatest hope that you will, one day, return to being the young man she fell in love with, many years ago.”
~~ ** ~~
Barbara Williams was in her fifties when she was hired to be Miss Georgianna Darcy’s governess. Mrs Williams was a widow for more than ten years, and had never been blessed to have children of her own. But she loved children, especially Georgianna.
Due to her love of Georgianna Darcy, it frustrated Mrs Williams to witness the behavior of the girl’s elder brother. There was many times that the governess wished to take heir to Pemberley by his shoulders and shake some sense into him. He had always avoided Georgianna, treating her as if she were nothing but rubbish. Every time he was near, Mrs Williams could see her young charge become melancholy.
What Mrs Williams could not understand was the engagement of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. How could someone as kind and caring, as Elizabeth Bennet had proven time and again, be willing to marry such an arrogant man as Fitzwilliam Darcy? Mrs Williams was certain it was not for financial gain, for Elizabeth Bennet had proven her lack of care for wealth and society.
The future Mrs Darcy and her soon to be sister were to shop with Lady Matlock that afternoon, which would allow Mrs Williams a chance to visit a cousin she had not seen for some time. Harriet Younge was quite a bit younger than Mrs Williams, but Barbara Williams had received a letter from her own mother asking her to visit Mrs Younge. According to her mother’s letter, Mrs Younge had recently been widowed, and was struggling to find work to support herself, as her husband had been a gambler and left his widow in debt.
So Mrs Williams prepared to make the journey across Town to an area of London she had never been before. Only her mother’s plea would have encouraged her to make the journey, and the governess would make sure she carried the small handgun her husband had given her years ago.
~~ ** ~~
“Lizzy, that pale yellow silk will look wonderful with your coloring. I agree with your choice.” Lady Matlock declared. “Ruthie, what do you think?”
Ruth Fitzwilliam was a year older than Elizabeth, and was preparing for her first season in Society the following year. The youngest member of the Fitzwilliam family, Ruth was nervous for her coming out, not having an older sister to rely upon for advice. Though Ruth loved her mother, it was difficult for the girl to speak openly with the grand lady. “I believe you are correct, Mother. With Lizzy’s dark hair and the golden specks in her brown eyes, the pale yellow will be beautiful, especially with the style you chose for the gown.”
“Are you certain that you wish to have that gown to wear for your wedding? The cream gown with the maroon ribbons is also quite elegant.” Lady Matlock, or, as Georgianna referred to her, Aunt Rebecca Fitzwilliam, asked.
“I thought of wearing the cream to the ball you have insisted on having for William and me, announcing our engagement. Mr Darcy gave me a beautiful necklace of pearls, with matching earbobs, which will be perfect with the cream gown.”
“The set that was Grandma Darcy’s.” Georgianna asked. “I know he was planning to give them to you as an engagement gift.”
“He gave them to me when we arrived at Darcy House. I wonder when we will receive a letter from Mr Darcy, he should have arrived at Cambridge two days ago.”
Georgianna took hold of her future sister’s arm. “Have no fear, Lizzy. I am sure we will hear from Father soon. He was not planning to be gone long, so perhaps he chose to just wait until he returned home to tell us any news.”
“I am just worried. The last time I spoke with William, we argued. I pray that he will forgive my behavior.”
“Do not fret, Lizzy. I am sure that all will be well.” Ruth said. “If there was a problem, I am certain that Marcus or Richard would have said something.”