“Mrs Clark said you wished to speak with me, Brother.” Georgiana Darcy said, as she entered his study.
“Yes, I wished to inform you of our travel plans.”
“But I told you that I desired to stay with Uncle Henry and Aunt Rebecca. They said it would be fine with them, so I see no need to discuss the matter.”
Fitzwilliam Darcy was having a difficult time with his sister, since she had reached the age of five and ten, she had become rather impossible in her behavior. “I told you that we were going to Hertfordshire, to visit with Bingley and his sisters. Then we will make the journey to Pemberley.”
“How dreary, William. You know how I detest spending time with the Bingley family. They are so far beneath us; I do not understand why you associate with them. It was one thing, when you were in school, to associate with Mr Bingley, but the family’s wealth comes from trade. Miss Bingley is the most repulsive, vulgar creature I have ever known.”
Darcy shook his head. “I will not tolerate your speaking of the Bingleys in such a manner. Charles Bingley is a good man, and one of my best friends. His sister can be a challenge, but you will survive a visit with them. It is for a month; you can endure such a short stay.”
“A MONTH!” Georgiana was far from pleased. “No, William, I cannot stay with the Bingleys for an entire month. You should allow me to stay with our aunt and uncle.”
“Uncle Henry informed me that they were planning to journey to Kent, to visit Aunt Catherine, at Rosings Park. They plan on remaining there until after the first of the year, when they will return to Town. Since Albert is running their estate, Uncle Henry says he is not needed at Matlock, and can do as he pleases. Aunt Catherine has been insisting on their joining her and Anne for the holidays.”
“I am certain that Aunt Catherine and Anne would appreciate our joining them for the holidays as well, William. You keep finding excuses to avoid spending time with them, and it has disappointed Anne terribly.”
Darcy knew where this subject was heading. “Georgiana, we are not going to discuss the matter again. I am not going to Rosings, and I am not going to marry our cousin Anne. I have been clear on the matter, and I know that it was not the desire of our mother and father, so Aunt Catherine has been lying in saying Mother wished for the union since I was an infant in my cradle. Anne knows I have no intention of fulfilling her mother’s request, so she should not be too disappointed in the situation.”
“She is disappointed, as she told me that one day you would see the prudence of such a union. Your talk of marrying for love is ridiculous. No one in our society marry for love. It is what the union will bring to the family, wealth, lands, titles.”
“Some feel that way about entering a marriage, but I do not. Father and Mother loved each other, and I wish to have the same sort of relationship with my wife.”
Georgiana could not understand her brother. “You cannot be serious. And what of poor Anne? What will happen to her?”
“Our aunt needs to understand the truth and allow Anne a chance to meet other men. Aunt Catherine never allows Anne any freedom, or to socialize with other people of her own age.” Darcy claimed.
“Anne’s health is fragile, William. What if she were to socialize with someone who was carrying a disease? Anne’s health would be jeopardized from such contact. You are being cruel to our poor cousin.”
“I have had enough of this discussion, Georgiana. We will be leaving in two days for Hertfordshire, to stay with the Bingleys. Make certain to have your trunks packed and ready to leave by nine on Thursday morning.”
Realizing her brother was not going to budge on the matter, Georgiana decided to try a different track to get her way. She would send word to her Aunt Rebecca, Lady Matlock. If anyone could assist Georgiana in swaying her brother, it was the Countess of Matlock.
“Very well, Brother. I had best see to my lessons on the pianoforte, before we leave for the rustic wilderness.”
Georgiana left the room, just as Mr Clark, the butler of Darcy House, made to knock on the door. Allowing the young lady to leave, Mr Clark coughed to attract his master’s attention.
“Yes, Clark, what do you need?”
“Sir, this message just arrived for you. From the appearance of the writing, I would hazard a guess that it is Mr Bingley’s handwriting.”
It had become somewhat of a joke that Charles Bingley’s handwriting was atrocious, and at times, unreadable.
“Thank you, Clark. Is the messenger still here, or did he leave?”
“He left, Mr Darcy. Do you wish for me to have someone ready to take a response back to Mr Bingley?” The butler inquired.
“I will inform you, after I finish reading what he says.”
“Very good, Sir.”
Darcy broke the seal and began to read.
I thought I should inform you of something that has happened since my arrival at Netherfield.
We were invited to dine at the neighboring estate of Longbourn, which is the home of the Bennet family. During the dinner, when Mr Bennet learned of my friendship with you, he became furious and began speaking ill of your family. Then the gentleman collapsed. We have learned that he had an episode of apoplexy. He is not in good condition, but he is alive.
According to what we learned, his first wife was some relations of yours. I have never heard you speak of the Bennet family, so they must be distant relations. Perhaps you do not know the family. But it is clear that he is not a fan of the Darcy name. Evidently his eldest two daughters are from his first wife, Miss Jane and Miss Elizabeth Bennet. They are both beautiful young ladies, especially Miss Jane, the eldest. A delightful angel, if ever I saw one.
If you decide to avoid meeting the Bennet family, I will understand and will not fault you for not coming to Netherfield. You are still welcome, just so you know. My sister would be disappointed if you decide against coming.
Send word of your decision.
Bennet. A name he had not heard in some time. Though he had not heard the name, his cousins were frequently in his thoughts, especially Elizabeth.
He had not seen them for some time, since before his father’s death. Darcy could remember walking in Hyde Park one sunny afternoon, when his father suddenly decided to sit on a nearby bench.
Being concerned for his father, Darcy had taken the seat next to Gerald Darcy. “Father, are you well?”
Gerald nodded his head, as he stared out over the grounds at a lady, walking with two young ladies who appeared to be near the age Georgiana was now. A smile graced Gerald’s lips as he watched the trio. It was clear to see that he recognized them, and had been anticipating seeing them.
“Who are they?” Darcy asked his father. “Do I know them?”
“It has been a few years, but yes, you know them. The girls are Jane and Lizzy, your cousins.”
“Lizzy…and Jane. Should we not make our way to greet them? It has been many years, and I would like to speak with them, learn how they are faring.”
“They are well, though we cannot approach them. It is a promise I made many years ago.”
Darcy was confused. “But why can we not speak with them? Surely their father cannot keep us from contacting them, as the girls are nearly grown.”
Gerald Darcy shook his head. “I promised their aunt, by their stepmother, that I would never approach the girls. Mrs Helen Gardiner has done me a great favor over the years, by keeping me informed of what was happening in Jane’s and Lizzy’s lives, and allowing me a chance to see them from afar. If Thomas Bennet were to ever discover that I was in contact with his sister in law, he would cut all ties with the Gardiners. It is best to enjoy what we can, rather than to have no contact at all.”
“Mr Bennet was wrong to deny us to be part of the girls’ lives. Aunt Olivia’s death was not by our doing. I miss my aunt dearly, and my cousins.”
“After losing your mother, I can understand the pain that Thomas felt when my sister died. Grief does things to a man, and sometimes we forget that others are grieving from the loss of the same person. Thomas forgot that his daughters lost their mother, not to mention all contact with their mother’s family. This compounded the pain the girls suffered. We could have kept Olivia’s memory alive for the girls, rather than having everything connected to her taken from them.”
“So, Mr Bennet remarried?” Darcy asked.
“Yes. He married Fanny Bennet, nee Gardiner, and they had three more daughters. From what I have been told, Thomas favors Lizzy, as she is the very image of her mother. This has caused the current Mrs Bennet to be jealous of your cousin.”
Darcy looked at the young ladies, and, even with them wearing bonnets, knew which was Lizzy. His aunt had been petite, thin and full of life. The young lady wearing a light green gown and a darker green pelisse was nearly skipping along the path, while the young lady wearing shades of blue was taller and more reserved. It was clear to Darcy that Lizzy was the young lady in green. Then she turned her head in his direction, and his heart nearly stopped. She was, indeed, the very image of her mother.
“She is so like Aunt Olivia.” He declared. “Even from here, I can feel her excitement at being in nature, as Lizzy always took pleasure being outdoors.”
“I pray that one day, we will be able to meet with Jane and Lizzy, and welcome them back in our family. Until then, I will accept the glimpses of them that I am allowed. I am extremely grateful to Mrs Gardiner for her kindness to me, as she knew Olivia, when she was a girl. Mrs Gardiner is from Lambton, and her father is Mr Watkins, the owner of the millinery. Olivia was kind to Mrs Helen Gardiner, nee Watkins, and the lady is repaying my sister in the only way she can.”
“One day, I pray that we will be able to be a part of the lives of Jane and Lizzy again.” Darcy could not take his eyes from watching Elizabeth. She was filled with delight at being in the park, and made Darcy feel lighter just from watching.
Darcy knew he would do anything in his power to see his cousins again. He had dreamed of one day finding a wife like Elizabeth, with her beauty, her zest for life, and her personality. She had been extremely intelligent, even as a small child. He had no doubts that she was still a voracious reader, devouring anything she could read.
Georgiana had never met their cousins, as she was born after Olivia had died. This was a good reason to insist on Georgiana accompanying him, rather than allow her to make the journey to Rosings. Darcy would be able to connect his sister to their father’s side of the family, finally introducing her to their cousins.
~~ ** ~~
Georgiana Darcy was furious with her brother’s decision of not allowing her to join her relations. She had been looking forward to spending time with Anne and their family, away from her brother’s friends.
“How can he expect me to associate people from trade? It is not proper, as I am the granddaughter of an earl. No, I refuse to visit with the Bingleys, as they are social climbers. Miss Bingley is only after my brother to advance her position in society. And Mr Bingley is far too amiable, reminding me of a puppy, following William around all the time.”
She began pacing around her bedchambers, thinking on the matter. Suddenly she moved towards her writing desk. Pulling out a sheet of parchment, she dipped her pen in the ink well.
Dear Aunt Rebecca,
I am writing to you for your assistance. Fitzwilliam is refusing to allow me to accompany you to Rosings for the Holidays, and I so wish to be with my family, not visiting with his friends, the Bingleys. Why would I wish to stay at the leased estate of people in trade, watching Miss Bingley fawn over my brother, in an attempt to convince Fitzwilliam to marry her? He is rightfully meant to marry Anne, and he should visit Rosings, spending time with her. Can you please assist me in convincing my brother to see reason?
I made the appointment with Madame LaSalle, as you suggested….
~~ ** ~~
“Lizzy, I will sit with Papa. You require rest.” Jane stated, giving her sister a look which demanded no argument.
“I was just about to exercise his limbs. It is important to keep his arms and legs moving, or the muscles will weaken.” Elizabeth said, turning her face to look at her father, rather than the determined expression of her sister. It was rare that Jane Bennet ever demanded anything, so when she did, most gave in to her quickly.
“Do you think I am incapable of assisting our father in this manner? I believe I am just as able to move his arms and legs, as I watched you do last night, and the day before, and the day before. Truly, Lizzy, the task is simple enough.”
“No, Lizzy. You need rest. Papa would not wish for you to make yourself ill by neglecting yourself. You have not eaten today, and Mrs Hill will have something freshly made when you wake. Now off with you, or I will…I will… oh, I do not know what I will do, but you will not be happy.”
Elizabeth had a difficult time keeping from laughing at her sister. “Heavens help us; I do not wish to provoke your ire. Make sure Papa takes more broth and tea in about an hour. And then he will require his medicine near one o’clock.”
“Yes, yes. Off with you.”
Wishing to keep her sister calm, Elizabeth left the room and made her way to her own chambers. She was in dire need of rest, as it had been three days since she had had a good night’s sleep. Her father was not improving, though Mr Jones was pleased that there had not been another episode. The apothecary informed Elizabeth that it would likely take months for Mr Bennet to recover fully, if he did not have another attack.
Lying down on her bed, Elizabeth had not even taken the time to change from her gown. She simply pulled the blanket over top her, then draped her arm over her eyes. But her mind just would not relax.
Turning over on her bed, Elizabeth pulled out the drawer of her nightstand. Underneath her journal, she reached for the treasure she knew was there. Fitzwilliam’s handkerchief. She had kept it safe since the day he had given it to her, the last time she saw her cousin. How she had missed seeing him, and her aunt and uncle. Elizabeth had prayed that one day, her father would put aside his anger with the Darcys, and the family could once again enjoy being together.
Fitzwilliam Darcy had been dear to her, all of her life. Even though she had not seen or spoken with him in so many years, she thought about him often, and wondered what he was like.
Elizabeth had never informed her father that she had heard of her aunt’s death, after giving birth to a daughter. She had seen a letter that Mrs Gardiner had received from her father in Lambton, announcing the birth and death. It broke Elizabeth’s heart to know her Aunt Anne had died, and the pain that her dear cousin was likely experiencing. Mr Bennet always refused to hear his daughter’s pleas to allow her to write to her mother’s relations.
Lifting the handkerchief to her cheek, Elizabeth held it close, as the tears which had been stinging her eyes began to flow freely.
William, how I pray that you will come to the neighborhood. I need to see you, to speak with you. I have missed you and Uncle Gerald so much. I long for word of him and you. Though I do not wish harm to Papa, I wish to know of you and see you. Papa has been wrong to keep us from you and your family. Jane and I should have been there for you when Aunt Anne died. You were always so kind to me, caring for my feelings. I have missed having you in my life. Every time we are in Town, it has been my fondest wish to see you or even hear about you.
Please, God, allow my cousin to come here. And do not take Papa from us, as I could not survive losing him.
Finally, tears still wet on her cheeks, Elizabeth succumbed to sleep.
~~ ** ~~
A letter arrived at Longbourn. Realizing that her husband would be unable to correspond with anyone for some time, Mrs Bennet broke the seal and unfolded the parchment. She instantly gazed at the bottom of the letter, to discover who the letter was from. The name she read brought shivers of disgust to her. Mr William Collins, the distant cousin of Thomas Bennet, and the man who would inherit Longbourn upon her husband’s death.
“What does that odious man want with us? Is it not bad enough that he will likely toss us out of our home when my husband dies, do we have to receive correspondence from the man while Thomas is still alive?”
Fanny Bennet began reading the letter, and she began to become excited.
My Dear Cousin Bennet,
As my own devoted father has recently died, I have come to realize that the breach in our family should be mended. I have been fortunate enough to have secured the living of Hunsford Parish, having been ordained two months previous. My benefactress is Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and a more gracious woman you will never find. She comes from the honorable Fitzwilliam family, daughter of the former Earl of Matlock. I count myself quite fortunate to have been granted the living, as she is all benevolence and kindness.
I wish to make amends for the offense given your family by my late father. It is my plan to make the journey to Longbourn next month, on the fifth, and I pray you will find it in your heart to allow me to stay with your family.
While I am there, I plan to choose from your daughters a wife. It is my belief that with one of your daughters married to me, being your heir, it will provide security to your wife and other daughters, upon the sad event of your death.
If you would be so kind as to respond with your answer, so I may make the arrangements for travel, I would be grateful. Lady Catherine has graciously deemed it necessary for me to have the time away from my parish, as she feels it important that I marry. It was her suggestion that I choose from your daughters, as she felt it appropriate to provide security to your daughters for their future.
“Oh, what a miracle. We are saved. If Mr Bennet dies, we will not be thrown to the hedgerow. I must write a reply to this man immediately. But which daughter should I suggest he marry? I am certain that Jane is too pretty and too good to be married to this man, as Thomas has never spoken kindly of the man’s family. Jane is destined for someone like Mr Bingley. The way he looked at her, it is clear that he is smitten with her. I must do what I can to promote an arrangement between them. Then there is Elizabeth. Yes, I think Elizabeth would do nicely for a parson’s wife. It might humble her, after being treated with such devotion by her father. Indeed, Elizabeth would be the perfect wife for Mr Collins.”
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~
Darcy had nearly finished his work when he heard a knock on his study door. “Enter.”
The door opened, allowing Lord and Lady Matlock to enter the room. Darcy’s uncle greeted the younger man. “William, it seems you are always at work. You have a steward to manage your estates, why not enjoy some time with your family?”
“Uncle Henry, Aunt Rebecca, how nice to see you. Uncle, as you well know, I take an interest in my estate and business ventures, just as my father did, and his father before him. It is a Darcy tradition, and I have no desire to change. My guess is that you are here at the request of my sister.”
“Fitzwilliam Darcy, you very well know that your sister adores Anne, as she should, since they will one day be sisters.” Lady Matlock stated. “We all wish you would settle down and marry Anne. You require an heir, and you had best be working towards acquiring one.”
“You truly believe that Anne is the best candidate to bear a child for me? Are we speaking of my cousin, Anne de Bourgh, who has been sickly since she was a child? You cannot tell me that she would be able to survive such, as her health would never tolerate being with child, let alone the birth.” Darcy said, having a difficult time keeping from rolling his eyes. This was an endless conversation, one which they had had many times since Darcy came of age.
“Well, Anne is willing to try. She is a bit stronger than she was the first of the year, as Catherine has employed a new physician. His treatment has improved Anne’s health, and she will continue to improve.” Lord Matlock declared, parroting what his elder sister had told him. “And all of your family supports the union, especially your sister. What better role model could you have for Georgiana? Anne is a fine young lady.”
“Who would have been so accomplished, had her health only allowed her to learn to play the pianoforte, or sew, or draw, or anything else for which other young ladies are trained. Oh, yes, Anne is a fine role model of how to justify having no accomplishments to claim. She does not even like to read.”
“Please, you are not going to state a truly accomplished young lady improves her mind through extensive reading?” Lady Matlock asked. “You cannot believe that a well-read young lady is well versed on all the happenings of the world and reads in the same manner as a young man.”
Darcy was frustrated with the same conversation being held for what seemed to be the millionth time. “You may not agree with me, Aunt Rebecca, but it is one of my requirements in choosing a wife. My mother was well read, as was my Aunt Olivia. My father loved both of them, and approved of their knowledge being far greater than what are the latest fashions.”
“Your father was thought a fool when it came to society.” Lord Matlock replied. “Though I loved my sister, your mother was not the sort of lady of which our society would approve. My father and yours allowed her too many freedoms, giving her everything that she desired. And your aunt, she married far from what she should have. What was his name…that country squire…Benton…Bentley? He was so beneath the Darcy circle in the ton. Your father and grandfather should have put a stop to the wedding. That man had nothing to contribute to the union, no connections, and he was extremely poor in comparison to the Darcys.”
“Uncle, I do not wish to hear any more of your disparaging my family. I loved my Aunt Olivia dearly, and her daughters. My father was able to keep track of my cousins, as he cared for them. His sister was dear to him, and she was in love with Thomas Bennet. As my father loved my mother, he would not deny his sister the same happiness in her own marriage.”
Lady Matlock shook her head. “Marriage is about business, Fitzwilliam. Wealth, connections, those are what make a marriage in our society. Anne is perfect for you. It will unite two grand estates, keep the family strong, and she will adorn your arm at all the functions you will attend. Though she is not a stunning beauty, with some care of a new lady’s maid and new modiste, Anne will be pretty enough to make you proud.”
Darcy stood, walking over the nearby window. Looking out at the street below, as people went about their daily business, he knew it was time to stand his ground. “I have told you many times, but this will be the last time the discussion will be held. I will not be marrying my cousin, Anne de Bourgh. Not now, not in the future. Never. Do I make myself clear? There will never be a union between Anne and myself. Please do not speak of the matter again, as I will be forced to ask you to leave my home. I respect you as my mother’s brother and sister in law, but I am my own man. I do not need to answer to you, for you are the head of the Fitzwilliam family, not the Darcy family. Now, if you have nothing more to speak of with me, I will bid you a good day.”
His aunt was appalled. “Fitzwilliam, we need to discuss Georgiana. She will soon be ready to come out. She needs guidance, guidance she cannot acquire from you. Please allow us to take Georgiana with us to Rosings. It will be good for her, in her preparations.”
“How is my sister being at Rosings going to aid her in preparation for coming out? It has been years since Aunt Catherine has been seen in society, and Anne has never had a coming out. My answer is no, and will continue to be no. Georgiana is going to Hertfordshire with me, and then to Pemberley. There is nothing more to discuss.”
“Do I need to write to Richard? You do remember that my younger son shares guardianship of Georgiana. I am certain he would agree with me that it would be best for your sister to be with me at Rosings, rather than some unknown estate with the children of a tradesman. You ask who will guide Georgiana, and my answer is simple; I will be able to guide your sister for her coming out. She needs to be with other women, not with some social climber and a neighborhood filled with country nobodies.” Lady Matlock was furious that she was not achieving her goal.
“You are free to write to Richard, but as he is in France, on the battlefield, I do not believe the good colonel will be able to correspond to an express. By the time word would return from him, it will be long after my arrival at Pemberley.” Darcy gave his aunt a look which begged her to follow through with her threat.
Lord Matlock was equally frustrated as his wife. “William, your mother and Catherine had such dreams of uniting their families through a marriage between you and Anne. Have you no respect for your mother? My sister must be turning in her grave from her disappointment. How could you break my poor niece’s heart? She has known, all her life, that she was meant to be your wife. Now you will refuse to honor your family obligations, destroying the bonds of our family forever?”
“Uncle, I have never desired a marriage to my cousin. I have told both of you, and Aunt Catherine, and Anne. My mother never spoke of such a desire, and it was only after my father’s death that Aunt Catherine spoke of such an arrangement. As I have already said, Anne would never make a proper Mistress for my homes, and could never bear children. What good would it do me to marry someone who could not give me an heir for Pemberley?”
“My sisters spoke of this since your birth.” Lord Matlock said. “And Anne has known, all of her life, that she was formed for you. With the medical treatments, she will be able to give you an heir and a spare.”
Darcy’s anger was building. Why will they not listen to me? Looking at his aunt and uncle, Darcy spoke through gritted teeth. “I am finished with this discussion. Now, I have much to finish before Georgiana and I leave for Hertfordshire. I wish you a good day.”
Lord and Lady Matlock left Darcy’s study, just as Georgiana was coming down the stairs near the foyer. “Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Henry, what a pleasure to see you both. Have you spoken with my brother?”
Lady Matlock huffed. “We did, not that he was at all polite. He has made his feelings clear that he will not allow you to join us and that he will not marry Anne. Your brother was quite rude about the matter.”
“But, he cannot expect me to go with him. It would not be fair to subject me to such torment. I mean, the family comes from trade.”
Her uncle took pity on his young niece. “There, there. We will write to Richard. It may take some time to receive word, but he can give us authority to act in his stead, and allow you to come with us. As soon as we hear from Richard, we will come to retrieve you. And, with you at Rosings, it would be natural for your brother to decide to join us. I am certain that he will come to see the merits of the union, once he sees how happy it will make the family.”
“I will write to you often, Georgiana, have no fear. Your uncle and I will work on your brother, make him see that we are correct. One day, he will thank us for stepping in to keep him from making a foolish mistake.”
Georgiana was heartbroken that she would have to make the journey with her brother, but she held hope that her relations would be able to convince her brother to go to Rosings. “Please give Anne my best wishes, and tell her I will see her as soon as I am able.”
~~ ** ~~
Darcy was not surprised to find a sulking sister when he entered the carriage to begin their journey. He sat on the bench across from her, sitting a book beside him. After the tantrum she had when their aunt and uncle left Darcy House, her behavior was to be expected. Darcy realized Georgiana was quite spoiled. Their father had doted on her, possibly in an attempt at making up for her mother having died. Lady Anne Darcy’s death left a void in the lives of her children, especially a girl who demanded things be done the way she wanted, and found ways to make others miserable if she did not achieve her goal.
For the first hour, Georgiana refused to speak to her brother, as she sulked and stared out the window of the carriage. Finally, she spoke. “So, how long am I to be held prisoner in Hertfordshire?”
“You are not being held a prisoner, Georgiana. You will be a guest at a nice estate, and you will be able to ride your horse and enjoy the neighborhood.”
“I could ride my horse in Kent. And Anne has a lovely phaeton and ponies, which she promised I could drive when I next visited.”
Darcy took a deep breath. “If you are miserable on this journey, you have no one but yourself to blame. My friends will do all they can to make our stay with them pleasant. And, I had not told you before, but we will be seeing some of our Darcy relations.”
Georgiana was skeptical. “I know of no Darcy relations. They must be distant relations, or you would have told me about them.”
“They are our cousins. Their mother was sister to our father. Our Aunt Olivia, who died before you were born. Her daughters, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, live on their father’s estate of Longbourn. It just so happens that it is the nearest estate to Netherfield Park, the estate of which Bingley has taken the lease. We will have an opportunity to know our cousins better.”
“If their mother and our father were siblings, why have I never met them before? There is something you are not telling me.” Georgiana watched her brother closely.
“Aunt Olivia had come to Pemberley to assist our mother when she had taken ill, a few years before you were born. On her way home, highwaymen attempted to rob the carriage. The driver was attempting to escape the highwaymen, and the carriage overturned, killing Aunt Olivia. Her husband, Mr Thomas Bennet, was devastated by her death, and he became bitter against the Darcy family. He blamed the fact that Aunt Olivia was in one of the Darcy carriages for the reason the highwaymen attempted to rob them. After our aunt died, Mr Bennet refused to allow us contact with our cousins. Father was pained by the loss of his dear sister, and further pained by not being able to spend time with his nieces. The younger of the two, Miss Elizabeth, bears a remarkable resemblance to her mother.”
“Why have I never heard of them in Town? Surely Aunt Rebecca would have known of their coming out in society. How large is their estate? Where is their townhouse located in Town?” Georgiana assaulted her brother with questions.
“Mr Bennet’s estate is worth approximately three thousand per annum. They do not have a townhouse, and I do not believe Mr Bennet journeys to Town. When Elizabeth and Jane visit Town, they stay with relations of their stepmother’s. As far as I know, the girls have never had a Season in Town, therefore our aunt would not be aware of a coming out for either of the girls.”
“In other words, they are poor relations. How can you force me to acknowledge them, when they are obviously far beneath our notice? When Aunt Rebecca learns of your bringing me to meet relations who would embarrass us in society, she will come to remove me from your guardianship.” Georgiana fumed. “What will the ton think of us, socializing with poor relations and the children of tradesmen? I will be ruined before I even have my coming out Season. You cannot do this to me, Fitzwilliam. I will never forgive you for ruining my life.”
Darcy shook his head. “How did you become such a selfish child?” Seeing her preparing to complain, he continued. “Yes, you are selfish, and you are a child. Everyone has given you whatever you desired, allowed you to behave as you wished. You were taught better manners, yet allowed to act with pride and disdain for others. No more. You will no longer be allowed to treat others with arrogance. Without people in trade and servants, you would have to do things for yourself. So I plan to have you learn a lesson during our stay in Hertfordshire.”
“My masters will be in Town; how can I have lessons in Hertfordshire?” Replied a sarcastic Georgiana.
“You will not require a master for the lesson you will be taught while we stay at Netherfield. I will speak with the housekeeper of Netherfield. You will learn how to change your bed coverings, assist the maids in cleaning your rooms, learn how to wash your own laundry. There will be no ordering of food trays brought to your rooms, as you will either eat with us, or you will go to the kitchen for your tray and carry it to your rooms. It is time you learn what life is like for those who take care of us.”
“You cannot make me act like a servant.” Georgiana glared at her brother. “I will not stand for such treatment.”
“You will learn these duties, and that is final.”
“Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Henry will come for me. They will lock you away in an asylum, as you have obviously lost your mind.”
A chuckle came from her brother. “Our father had me muck out the stalls in the stables, carry bath water, build the fire in my rooms’ fireplaces. He made me learn what it is like to have to work, and I appreciate people because of his teachings. Father would be disappointed in your behavior, and I am certain he would have taken the same steps to correct your view of others.”
“Our father was a fool. He should have married Aunt Catherine. She would have made Pemberley better than it is, and you would know your place, rather than all this foolishness. Aunt Catherine was the wiser choice, but our father chose our mother. Our mother was weak, too soft on the servants. She did not know how to run a household properly. Just look at our homes. The furnishings are inappropriate; nothing ornate or showing of our wealth. And the colors are dull and boring. All because our mother did not know what she was doing when she decorated our homes. But Anne has learned from her mother how to decorate properly, so that everyone who enters sees how wealthy we are and pays us due respect.”
“It is clear that you have spent too much time with Aunt Catherine. You did not know our mother, so it is improper for you to make such judgements of her. All you know is the ramblings of a bitter old lady who was denied the toy she wished, and that toy was our father. But Father was in love with our mother, and she loved him in return. He did not like our aunt, and would have been driven to bitterness if he had been married to Aunt Catherine. Lady Anne Darcy was a kind and beautiful lady, who had elegance and style. She did not like the furniture such as Aunt Catherine prefers, as it is uncomfortable. Mother preferred to have chairs and sofas that welcomed you to sit on them, rather than torture devices that bring you pain and discomfort. And she preferred earthy colors, greens, rich browns, blues. There was no need for gold everywhere, no need to shimmer and sparkle.”
“She had poor taste. Shimmer and sparkle are appropriate for upper class society. And now you expect me to know cousins who are the daughters of a poor country nobody, and I am certain they have poor taste as well. Our father may have come from wealth, but he was not a peer. He had no title, and did not know the proper ways of society. Aunt Catherine could have taught him proper ways, made him into a man worth knowing. But he chose love rather than society. Foolish, foolish man.”
“Georgiana, that is quite enough. You will be civil and proper while we are in Hertfordshire. And you will learn how life truly is for others. If our aunts and uncle disapprove, that is too bad. I am your guardian, not them. And I will make decisions I feel appropriate for you. Do I make myself understood?”
Georgiana refused to speak, her arms crossed in front of her chest.
“I asked you if I made myself understood. I expect an answer from you.”
“You made yourself understood. But you had best remember that I will not take your abuse. I will contact our relations and inform them of your insanity.”
“Do as you wish, though it will not make me change my mind. You had best come to understand, you will be doing as I said.”
~~ ** ~~
“Darcy, welcome. It is good to see you, my friend.” Charles Bingley said as he shook his friend’s hand. “And Miss Darcy, indeed, a pleasure to welcome you both to Netherfield. Come inside, we have refreshments prepared for your arrival.”
“Bingley, I am impressed with what I have seen so far, as the building appears to be sound and the grounds are well kept.”
Charles Bingley beamed with delight. “Tomorrow, after you have had some rest, we can begin looking over the estate. I have some areas for which I would appreciate your opinion.”
“I look forward to seeing the entire estate. And my horse, Zeus, would be pleased to have a good workout. It has been a few months since he has been able to run hard across fields.” Darcy declared.
“That is one of the pitfalls of living in Town. Riding paths in the city just do not compare with wide open fields.” Bingley smiled. “You will approve of the areas here; Zeus will have a plenty of space to run.”
“Brother, I would like to be shown to my rooms. I am done in by our journey, and would like to rest.” Georgiana pleaded.
Bingley apologized. “Of course, Miss Darcy. Forgive me for not realizing that you would be fatigued. Mrs Nichols is the housekeeper. She will show you to your rooms, and see to any of your needs.”
Mrs Nichols moved closer. “We have water warming on the stove, if you wish for a bath. The roads are extremely dusty this year, as we have lacked rain this autumn. And I can have a tray of refreshments brought to your rooms. Anything you require.”
“For now, I wish to rest. When I wake, I can have my maid alert you of any further needs.”
The housekeeper nodded her head. She could tell that Miss Darcy was going to be a difficult visitor, sensing the young girl to be spoiled and snobbish.
“Actually, Mrs Nichols, my sister will be taking refreshments with the rest of the party, or she will visit the kitchen for a tray. She will not require assistance to bring refreshments to her, and will be responsible for cleaning her rooms, including making her own bed.”
The look he received from the housekeeper was of shock, yet approval. “Very good, Sir. If there is anything else you require, please send for me.”
Darcy was pleased there was no questioning from the housekeeper. The look on Bingley’s face was one of complete surprise, though the young man had the good sense to keep his response quiet.
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~