The following days found the Bennet family visiting Matlock House, as plans were made for the upcoming wedding of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Mrs Bennet and Lady Matlock became fast friends as they prepared for the wedding, and, even though it was to be a small event, no detail was overlooked.
A special license was obtained and the bishop was willing and available to perform the wedding in a fortnight. Mr Bennet and Lord Matlock assisted Darcy in developing the marriage settlement, with the solicitor visiting frequently to make the settlement air tight. Mr Bennet had enough funds, from selling Longbourn, to settle five thousand pounds on each of his daughters. He was amazed to find that Darcy settled thirty thousand upon his betrothed, and permanent residence in all of his homes, even after his death. Elizabeth would be protected for the rest of her life, Darcy would make certain of that.
Richard was soon allowed to join the family in the sitting room near his suite of rooms, allowing him to become familiar with the Bennets and Gardiners. Knowing that they were magical, and he did not have to hide this part of his life, was a comfort Richard had never known before.
A week after Richard was healed, the family had a visit from Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
“Henry, I have come to insist one last time that you demand Darcy marry my Anne. If you do not, I will be forced to take matters into my own hands.”
“Catherine, enough with your foolishness.” Lord Matlock stated, as he sat at his desk in his study. “There is no possible way that William will marry Anne, and it is time for you to accept the fact. You are intelligent, Catherine. So why is it that you refuse to accept the truth? You will be losing control of Rosings in a month. I would suggest you make nice with our nephew or start searching for a new place to live. If you do not respect William, he will have you evicted as soon as he takes charge of the estate.”
“He would never.” Lady Catherine fumed. “It is my home, and I refuse to be forced from it until I die. Do you hear me? It will be over my dead body that Darcy forces me from my home.”
“You are the biggest fool I have ever met, Catherine. You have claimed, for years, that our sister wished for the union between William and Anne. That is false, and you know it. Our sister was angry with you for the way you treated her, and she wanted nothing to do with you and your daughter. Why would she decide to force her son into an arranged marriage to someone with whom she wanted no relationship?”
“My husband was the fool. How could he treat his wife and daughter as he did? Writing his will to exclude us, giving everything to Darcy. It is not right, and I will see that my Anne is protected. She deserves to be protected, and only Darcy can do so. He does not even need to remain with Anne. Darcy is free to keep as many mistresses as he wishes. Just allow Anne and me to remain living at Rosings, and Darcy can live his life as he wishes. Anne understands. She does not wish to be a wife in all ways, as such relations would jeopardize her health.”
“And if William is married to Anne, any children he would have with another woman would not be able to inherit his estate. No, Catherine, you ask too much from our nephew. Your husband was the one to set the stipulation in his will, and William should not suffer due to your displeasure with it. William will marry where his heart leads him and that is not to Anne.”
A knock on the door captured Lord Matlock’s attention. His butler announced Mr Bennet and Elizabeth, who were shown into the room. Lady Catherine glared at the newcomers.
“You…it is all your fault that my nephew is failing to do his duty to his family.” Lady Catherine made to strike Elizabeth’s cheek, but the elder lady stumbled and missed Elizabeth, landing on the floor in a heap.
Lord Matlock had a difficult time keeping from laughing. He made his way to his sister, assisting her to her feet. All the while, Lady Catherine ranted towards Elizabeth.
“How dare you strike me? You knocked me to the ground, you violent girl. I insist on someone going for the constable. I demand charges be made against this harlot for assaulting me.”
“I was a witness, Catherine. You were attempting to strike Miss Elizabeth, not the other way around. I will testify against you, Catherine. You had best drop this farce and leave my house. And you had best do so now.” Lord Matlock said as he aided his sister towards the door. “You would be wise to stay away from my house until you can treat our nephew with respect.”
Lord Matlock requested two of his footmen to escort his sister from the house. He also requested his butler forbid Lady Catherine access to Matlock House in the future.
When he returned to his study, Lord Matlock went directly to Elizabeth. “Are you injured? Did she harm you?”
Elizabeth smiled. “I am perfectly fine, Lord Matlock. She was not able to even touch me.”
“Ah, I am pleased to hear it. Well, let us finish our paperwork, so you can spend time with your betrothed.” Lord Matlock stated.
~~ ** ~~
While her family was busy with the preparations for Elizabeth’s wedding, the Bennet family’s middle child spent much time in the presence of the Fitzwilliam family’s middle child. Mary Bennet found her time speaking with Richard Fitzwilliam to be the most pleasant of her life. He encouraged her intelligent side, discussing books and philosophy with Mary. But it was when Mary played the pianoforte for him that Richard knew where his heart was leading him.
Since his injuries, Richard was given several months from duties, as it was believed that he would require such to be able to recover fully. He could not argue with the time from the battlefield. His mother and father spoke to him of his resigning from the military, and, the more time he spent with Mary Bennet, the more Richard desired to settle down and have a family of his own.
~~ ** ~~
The day Elizabeth would give up her family’s name and take the name of her husband finally arrived. Elizabeth walked down the grand staircase of Matlock House, holding tightly to her father’s arm. From this day forward, she would be a married woman, and would be living in the home of her husband. She would no longer be her father’s little girl, running to him to soothe her sorrows and pains. She would be Mrs Darcy, and spending her life at her husband’s side.
Softly, Elizabeth whispered to her father. “I love you, Papa. Thank you for being the best of fathers.”
“Do not forget, Lizzy, you will always be my little girl.” Mr Bennet whispered back, just a moment before they reached the young man waiting beside the bishop. Placing a kiss on his daughter’s forehead, Mr Bennet then took his beloved daughter’s hand and placed it in the hand of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Looking into the eyes of the young gentleman, Mr Bennet attempted to hold back the tears stinging his eyes. “Love her always.” He said as he turned and walked to the chair beside his wife.
Mr Bennet took hold of his wife’s hand, bringing it to his lips and placed a kiss on the back of it. Mrs Bennet smiled, remembering the day she became the wife of the man beside her. She would never regret that day, as she loved Thomas Bennet, and the life they had shared. Though she never gave him an heir, she was pleased with the children with whom they had been blessed. Fanny Bennet could not imagine having a different life, for she had been blessed.
The bishop read the vows from the Common Book of Prayer, having to repeat himself several times due to the young couple being oblivious of anyone else in the room. It was clear that the couple loved one another. Richard, who was standing up with his cousin, had a difficult time not chuckling at his cousin’s expense. A gentle nudge from Richard was the reminder that Darcy needed to realize what was going on around them.
After what seemed endless to Darcy, he heard the bishop declare Elizabeth to be his wife. Mrs Elizabeth Darcy. She would be at his side for the rest of their lives. There was no need to remind him when it came time to kiss the bride, Darcy had been waiting for that moment. He did require a nudge from Richard to remind him that there were others in the room, and that the kiss was becoming too long in duration. Reluctantly, Darcy released his hold on his wife’s lips.
The newlyweds were greeted by their loved ones, with all the well wishes from their family. Everyone moved down the hall, to the dining room, where the staff had prepared an elaborate meal to celebrate the wedding.
“I believe the staff has outdone themselves with this meal.” Lord Matlock declared as he picked up a plate and looked at the many choices before him.
“My wife brought our family cook over to assist in the preparations. She has been with our family since Lizzy was just a babe, so she wished to assist in making her favorite dishes for the celebration.” Mr Bennet stated.
“Well, between our two households, I believe we are to enjoy a meal fit for a king.” Lord Matlock piled his plate with delectable morsels.
Darcy and Elizabeth sat near the head of the table, barely touching their food, as they whispered to each other. “Come, cousin, you will need all your strength tonight.” Anthony teased his normally taciturn cousin. “You had best eat a good meal.”
Richard decided to join in the teasing. “You would not wish to be fatigued due to not eating enough to keep a bird alive. How would that be on your wedding night, William?”
Elizabeth turned bright red from the implications of their words. Darcy gave his cousins his infamous glare, in an attempt to quiet them.
“I have no fear of having no strength.” He stated, his brow arched as he spoke. “Besides, I know my staff will have food prepared for us through the day and evening. We will have plenty of time to replenish through the next few days.”
Both of the Fitzwilliam brothers broke into laughter. Anthony noticed that Bingley and Jane were speaking privately. “Looks like your friend is following in your footsteps.”
Darcy looked down the table towards his new sister and his friend. “Well, they would be a perfect couple.”
Mr Bennet laughed. “As amiable as the two of them are, they will always be poor if they were to marry.”
His wife swatted him on the arm. “He is wealthy, Thomas, how would they be poor?”
“They are so amiable that they would be taken advantage of by their staff.” Mr Bennet smiled. “Good thing we know most of those who live in the area of Longbourn.”
The laughter around them brought Jane and Bingley back into the conversation. “Bingley, what have you heard from your sisters?” Darcy asked his friend.
“Louisa and her husband, Hurst, are to travel to the continent later in the year. Caroline wished to spend time in Town, as she was certain a very eligible man would be around, but now that gentleman is married and planning to leave for Pemberley, and I will be returning to my estate soon, Caroline is furious. According to Louisa, Caroline was planning to return to Town immediately, as she was certain she could talk you out of becoming married to someone other than her.”
“Heaven help me, I have made it clear to her that I had no desire for any sort of relationship with her.” Darcy shook his head. “What does it take to make her see the truth?”
“Well, Louisa and Hurst refused to allow her to use their carriage, and Caroline would never be caught on a post coach, so she ranted for an entire day. From what I have heard, there will be many trinkets to replace in Hurst’s aunt’s house.”
“So your sister wished to marry my husband?” Elizabeth said, her brow arched.
“Your husband has been hunted for many years now. Between his money, position in society, and his handsome appearance, he has been deeply desired.” Lady Matlock chuckled. “But they all wished for what they could gain from him, and did not love him. Only you, my dear girl, love him as he should be loved.”
“And my sister was one of those who only wished for his wealth and what Darcy could do for her socially. As his wife, Caroline would have had access to all the parties and teas with all those in high society.”
Elizabeth lifted her husband’s hand to her cheek and placed a kiss on it. “I care nothing for material things. William holds my heart, and I could not love him more.”
“We are both blessed.” Darcy returned his wife’s kiss, only placing it on her cheek.
The wedding breakfast continued for another hour, before the newlyweds made their farewells to their family and friend. Once they were out the door, Darcy assisted his bride into the carriage before taking the seat beside her. Once the door was closed and the carriage began to move, Darcy took his wife into his embrace and kissed her soundly on her lips.
Breaking apart only when both required air, Elizabeth could not begin to understand the feelings which were flowing through her. His kiss had awakened a part of her very soul, a part she never knew existed.
“My love, are you well?” Darcy asked, concerned with her suddenly changed expression.
“I am well.” She replied, though she was unable to lift her eyes to look into his.
Taking a finger, Darcy gently lifted his wife’s chin upward. “What is wrong, my love?”
“Your kisses, they make me…feel…so wanton. I am afraid you will be displeased by such thoughts.”
Darcy laughed. “My dearest, loveliest Lizzy, our relationship is nothing like any normal marriage of the ton. I know it is thought to be improper for a lady to find pleasure in the marriage bed, but I do not wish for you to think of our couplings as a duty. I wish for you to be equal in our couplings, able to receive pleasure, not just bring me pleasure.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “You wish for me to be wanton in my thoughts?”
“In your thoughts and actions, I want to know what brings you pleasure so that I may do so often. Your happiness is important to me.” Darcy said, as he leaned towards her to kiss her again.
Just as his lips touched hers, they felt the carriage jerk, then, suddenly, sped up. Darcy pounded on the roof of the carriage, shouting for the driver to slow down. His demand went without response, as the carriage rolled rapidly through the streets. Darcy looked out the window, seeing that they were traveling in the opposite direction than should have been taken.
“Something is wrong.” He stated when he looked at his wife. “Not only are we traveling at a dangerously fast rate, but we are heading away from our home. It is not like my driver to behave so carelessly.”
“Could he be injured or have taken ill suddenly?” Elizabeth asked.
“I am not sure, but I must try to find out what has happened.”
“William, you cannot be thinking of trying to climb up on top. It is far too dangerous. You would be killed.”
“If I cannot get up there, and the carriage overturns, we could both be killed. I do not wish to leave you at this moment, but I think it is important I try.”
Elizabeth was desperately attempting to keep her emotions under control. She knew she could not use any magic if she were not in control, and her magic was the only thing she could think of to save them from an accident.
Holding on to her husband’s hand, Elizabeth closed her eyes. Stretching out her magical hold, she was able to feel the horses which were pulling the carriage. She could sense their fear, as the driver had obviously struck the animals with a whip. They could hear the driver shouting at the horses, and the crack of the whip.
“What is happening?” Darcy asked, his eyes wide with wonder at his bride’s abilities.
Elizabeth responded to him. “The horses were afraid of being whipped. The driver has been freely using it to strike the horses. If I could only see what was in front of us, I could possibly use something to slow us down, but my abilities leave me unable to move things I cannot see.”
“Do not fret, my dear. I do not understand why the driver is behaving so. All of our drivers know better than to abuse any animal. I will be having words with the driver.” Darcy said. The carriage finally came to a stop, but the door would not open. Without the sound of the carriage rolling on the streets, Darcy was able to hear the voice of the driver.
“What the bloody hell is he doing here? Lizzy, we are in trouble.”
“Who is it, William? What is wrong?”
“It is George Wickham. I told you about him, the man who attempted to elope with Georgiana.”
Elizabeth gasped. “Why would he be driving our carriage? What could he have planned for us?”
“Nothing good, of that I can guarantee. Now, if I can get the door open, I want you to run.”
“I will not leave you, William.” Elizabeth said firmly. “Besides, I may be of assistance.”
“You do not have any of your stones, how strong can your magic be?” He asked quietly, not wishing anyone else to hear his words.
“Mamma and my aunt placed crystals in the hem of my gown. They said it was tradition in our families, to bring good luck to the newlywed couple.” Elizabeth smiled. “Allow me to be of assistance.”
Darcy nodded his head. Knowing his wife’s talents with her stones, he felt calmer than he thought he should.
The carriage door was finally opened and Wickham filled the doorway. “Bloody horses, they will not move. We will have to travel on foot from here. Out of there, now.” He brandished a pistol, waving it back and forth at the couple.
Darcy exited the carriage first, turning to hand his wife down. “Wickham, whatever you are being paid, I will pay you more. Let us go and I will see that you have funds to start fresh somewhere else.”
“You were never willing to pay me before. Had you allowed me to marry Georgiana, I would have been set for life, but no, you had to refuse the match. I will not accept your money, as I am being well paid by another, not to mention I am going to enjoy seeing you brought down.”
“Who is paying you? Is it my aunt?” Darcy continued to ask questions.
“As it no longer matters, yes, Lady Catherine hired me to bring you both to her. She will have her way, or you will regret ever meeting Miss Bennet.”
Darcy had a difficult time holding his anger in check. “She is Mrs Darcy, as you well know. My aunt cannot change that fact.”
Wickham laughed, a wicked cackling laugh. “Ah, yes, but the marriage has not been consummated. Your aunt intends to see that the marriage is annulled immediately.”
“I will never agree to such.” Darcy replied.
“I believe you will. I have ways of…shall we say, encouraging you to do as Lady Catherine wishes.” The look in his eyes as his gaze raked over Elizabeth’s figure told Darcy what his intentions were.
“If you lay one finger on my wife, I will kill you.” Darcy’s voice spoke of the truth in his words.
“I do not fear you, Darcy. I hold the weapons and you will soon be unable to do anything.”
The trio had walked some distance from the carriage, down a narrow alley. Suddenly, Wickham pointed towards a shack ahead of them. It was a rundown building in a questionable area of Town, and Darcy knew that it was not a safe place for him and his bride. When they arrived at the shack, Wickham insisted they enter, without even knocking on the door.
The shack was small, with only three rooms. Inside the main room was Lady Catherine. “What took you so long? I have been waiting for hours for you to arrive.”
“Well it is not as if I could walk into your brother’s townhouse and force them to come with me. I had to wait until they got into the carriage.” Wickham stated. He motioned Darcy to a nearby chair. “Miss Bennet, you will use the rope to bind your husband’s arms to the chair. And do not think of leaving the rope loose, for I will be checking your work when you are done. If they are loose, I will exact punishment for it.”
Elizabeth looked at Darcy, attempting to convey a calm demeanor. She walked slowly behind him as they approached the chair. Darcy sat down, and Elizabeth, having picked up the rope from the floor, began to tie his arms to those of the wooden chair.
Once Wickham was certain that the rope was snug against Darcy’s limbs, he demanded Elizabeth to take a seat in the chair across the room from Darcy’s chair.
Lady Catherine sneered at her nephew’s wife. “Well, Miss Bennet, we meet at last. I will tell you now, it is to be the last time we meet. After I ensure that your marriage is annulled and my daughter is Mrs Darcy, you will be leaving England forever. Mr Wickham will be escorting you from here, to some far off lands.”
“My wife is not going anywhere with Wickham.” Darcy shouted at his aunt. “And I will not be marrying Anne. You must accept the truth, Lady Catherine. Let us go now, and I will not bring the authorities into the matter.”
“You are in no position to make demands, nephew. Now, Wickham, show my nephew what will happen if he does not cooperate.” Lady Catherine gave the impression of a cat toying with a mouse.
Wickham neared Elizabeth, carrying a small club like object in his hand.
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~
As Wickham approached his wife, Darcy tried to remain calm. He knew Elizabeth’s capabilities, and he knew that she would draw on his energy to perform her magic. She had told him of the power of some of the stones to block negative energy, and her ability to keep criminals from entering the shop. Taking a deep breath, he attempted to still his heart and mind.
Wickham was looking forward to this moment. He had found Elizabeth Bennet to have an extremely pleasing figure, and the fact that she was the love of Darcy’s life, made Wickham savor the plans he had for the young lady. He was near enough to touch her, to begin his initial attack, when he suddenly turned and walked across the room.
“What are you doing?” Lady Catherine snapped at her henchman.
Seeming somewhat bewildered, Wickham looked puzzled. “What is going on?”
“You were to show Darcy what his refusal to cooperate will cause. Get on with it.”
“Oh, yes.” Wickham stated, shaking his head in an attempt to clear his thoughts. He walked towards Elizabeth again, and when he was only inches away from touching her, he suddenly stopped, turned, and walked from the room.
“Wickham, come back this moment. We need to show my nephew that we are serious. Do as I say immediately.”
Several more times, Wickham would approach Elizabeth, prepared to bring harm to her, only to find himself confused and walking away, many times, leaving the room.
One of the times Wickham returned to the room, appearing confused and dazed, as if he had been struck over the head with a hard object. “Lady Catherine, what are you shouting about? Do you have to be so loud?”
“What is wrong with you? You know what the plan is, why are you not following through with it?”
“I…I was supposed to…to…oh, yes, teach Darcy a lesson by harming his wife. Yes, yes, I will do it.”
Wickham approached Elizabeth yet again, and again, when he was close enough to touch her, he turned and walked away. This time, he exited the shack and walked down the street.
Lady Catherine was furious. “What is wrong with that man? What is going on?”
The grand lady stepped towards the door and looked out. Unable to see Wickham anywhere in the area, she was livid. “Where did he go? He had best remember who is paying him. If he does not return and do as he planned, he will not collect his pay from me.”
She turned back to Elizabeth, seeing a smile on the young lady’s lips. “Do not look so pleased. If necessary, I will see that matters are handled on my own.” Lady Catherine began to walk across the room, towards her nephew. “You must marry Anne, and you will. Do you understand me? I will not allow you to do otherwise. This marriage will be annulled, and a special license procured to have you and Anne wed immediately. If you will not cooperate, Miss Bennet will suffer dearly for her mistake.”
“You will not harm my wife.” Darcy said, in a cold, chilling voice. “I married the woman I love, and I will not agree to an annulment. Nor will I agree to marry anyone else, and that includes Anne.”
“Do you wish for Miss Bennet to pay with her life? You are being far too selfish, Darcy. If you agree to my terms, Miss Bennet will live, and if you do not…well, you can be certain that I will see the deed done.”
“Your hired help has left, and I doubt very much that you would lower yourself to perform such an act.” Darcy said, knowing that Elizabeth would be able to repel Lady Catherine with ease, after witnessing how she handled Wickham.
Lady Catherine turned and began walking towards Elizabeth. “Have faith, Darcy. If need be, I can be just as ruthless as Wickham.” She raised her hand, intending to bring it down against the side of Elizabeth’s face. Suddenly, she found her own face stinging. She looked at the young lady, and saw that Elizabeth remained seated and there was no one else in the room besides Darcy, and he was still tied to his chair.
Looking at her hand, Lady Catherine realized that she had struck her own cheek, rather than Elizabeth’s. “What is going on here? I demand to know what is happening.”
Elizabeth smiled sweetly. “I do not understand, Lady Catherine. Is something wrong?”
“You…what is going on here? What is happening?”
“Doing what, Lady Catherine? I am simply sitting here. It is not my fault if you slapped yourself.”
Lady Catherine approached Elizabeth quickly. Instead of striking her intended victim, Lady Catherine found a loose board sticking up from the floor that tripped her and she fell to the floor.
“What is going on? Where is that man? He is supposed to be doing this, where is he?”
Darcy was having a difficult time keeping from laughing. He knew it was his wife’s doing, that she lifted the board with her magic. But Lady Catherine was baffled as to what was happening to her.
Again, the lady bore down on her goal, and again, she found herself tripping over floorboards. “You realize, Lady Catherine, in such a pitifully rundown place such as this, there is danger from loose boards and such. It would be best if you let us go and we all leave this place. I would not wish to see you further injured.”
“I walked on this floor while I was waiting for Wickham to bring you here and there was nothing wrong with the boards then.” Lady Catherine looked about the floor, attempting to find which boards were potentially loose. She took a few careful steps, making certain she would not trip, then looked at Elizabeth, her eyes squinting into a glare. “It seems that the boards that are dangerous are only around your wife’s chair. If anything, she is in more danger, in case the floor gives way and she fall to the cellar.”
Wickham returned just then, still looking confused. “Why was I down the street?”
“I have no notion, but you had best get to business.” Lady Catherine replied. “I wish to leave here as soon as possible.”
As Wickham stepped near Elizabeth, one of the floorboards popped out of place, with his foot on one end, and the other end flew upwards, smacking him in the face. “Good God, what is this?” Wickham howled in pain. “We must take them somewhere else. This place is cursed or something.”
“If you would do what I paid you to do, we would be finished soon enough. Now, get with it.” Lady Catherine was nervously looking around the floor.
Wickham stepped carefully around the previous board, only to find one that gave way, plunging Wickham down, though a wooden beam between his legs kept him from landing in the cellar. Wickham cried out, cursing loudly at the building, at Lady Catherine, and at Darcy. When Lady Catherine stepped over to assist her flunky from the floor, she felt a sudden smack on her rear end from the board on which she was standing, which had come up to strike her.
Elizabeth was beginning to giggle lightly. Looking at her husband, he raised an eyebrow as if to warn her to be careful.
Wickham was still on the floor, straddling the beam, wailing in pain. Lady Catherine attempted to assist him again, only to find a board striking her hard enough that she fell on top of Wickham, who then fell from the board, pulling them both into the cellar.
The rope tied to restrain Elizabeth was easily removed, allowing her to assist her husband in freeing himself from his bondage. Just then, the door of the shack opened, with Richard Fitzwilliam holding a pistol in one hand and a sword in another, as he entered the building. Bingley, Mr Bennet, Mr Gardiner and Lord Matlock followed the colonel.
“How did you know what had happened?” Darcy asked. “And how did you find us?”
Mr Bennet looked his daughter over carefully, noticing her jovial attitude. “Your driver was found behind Matlock House. Once we knew that you had not arrived at Darcy House, we began to search. A boy saw your carriage coming in this direction. Once we found your carriage, it was not difficult to locate this shack, especially with the screams we heard coming from here.”
“Mr Wickham is in a considerable amount of pain.” Elizabeth said, as she attempted to bite her lip to keep from smiling. “He has injured a sensitive part of his body, and then Lady Catherine fell on top of him, and they both ended up falling through the floor. Loose floorboards are quite dangerous.”
Only Bingley did not understand the true meaning behind her words. Mr Bennet was proud of his daughter, and placed an arm around her shoulders, giving her a loving squeeze.
“I am glad you are well, Lizzy. And you, as well, William. Should we pull those two up from the cellar?” Mr Bennet asked.
Lord Matlock looked down the hole in the floor. “I cannot see down there very well, but it appears to be quite filthy.”
“It is muddy as well, as the barrels of water which were stored down there burst when Lady Catherine and Mr Wickham landed on them.” Elizabeth laughed. “I believe they will be terribly messy.”
As he laughed, Richard spoke. “Perhaps Darcy and Elizabeth can go on to Darcy House. Father, if you would go back to your townhouse and gather some men to come, and bring some rope with you, we will be able to retrieve the culprits from the cellar and see that they are dealt with.”
“What a wonderful suggestion, Richard. I will leave Bingley here with you, though I doubt that those two will give you any trouble.” Lord Matlock declared. “Mr Bennet, Mr Gardiner, would you gentlemen care to join me?”
Both of the men nodded their heads. Mr Bennet turned to Darcy and stated that there was one of the stable hands ready to drive the Darcy carriage to their townhouse.
After the others had left the shack, Richard took a seat on one of the chairs in the room. He could hear movement from the cellar, and he called down to his aunt. “Father has gone to fetch some rope to aid us in bringing you up. He will return soon.”
“Fitzwilliam, what are you doing here? Where is Darcy?” Came the weak voice of Lady Catherine.
“The Darcys have departed for their townhouse where they will be undisturbed for some time to come. I am here as I came with my father and the rest of the men in our party. We were informed that the Darcys had been abducted and were in need of rescue.”
“Darcy cannot leave. He must marry Anne. He must do so immediately.”
“It is over, Aunt Catherine. Your plan will not come to be, and you had best learn to accept it.” Richard was shocked that his aunt remained unchanged in her attitude.
“But he cannot remain married to that witch. Yes, that is what she is. How else would all those things have happened since she was brought to this building? She is some sort of witch, putting evil spells on all of us. You must stop your cousin, bring him back here immediately. She has obviously put a spell on him, forcing him to go against his better judgment to marry her. If it were not for her spell, he would have agreed to marry Anne.” It was clear that Lady Catherine was recovering her strength after the fall through the floor.
“Do not be a fool, Aunt Catherine. Darcy is in love. Nothing can change that. There is no magic spell to force him, against his wishes. The only magic is the magic of the heart. Something you can never understand.”
Lady Catherine refused to admit defeat. “No, you do not understand. The floorboards kept coming out of place and striking Wickham and myself. There is no other reason than that chit was using some evil spell to cause us harm. She could have killed us with her spells.”
“This is an old shack, and it is not unusual for the floorboards to come out of place. You were a fool to behave as you did, abducting my cousin and his bride, bringing them to this rundown building. It is amazing that more injuries did not occur, or that the walls did not buckle and collapse.” Richard was tired of his aunt’s foolishness.
“Pull me out of here immediately.” Lady Catherine demanded.
Richard shook his head. “I told you, my father is off to collect rope and men to help us bring you to the surface. You must wait until they have arrived.”
“It is horrible down here and I demand you bring me up there immediately. I am not a hog, meant to wallow in mud.”
“You made your bed, Lady Catherine. Now you must remain there until Father has returned. Be glad that it is only mud, for it could be far worse.”
Lady Catherine continued to argue, demanding she be assisted immediately. The only other sound coming from the hole in the floor was the sound of Wickham moaning from his agony. Bingley kept shaking his head, attempting to refrain from laughing.
When the men returned with servants of Matlock House and ropes, Lady Catherine had worked herself into a tizzy. She refused to assist Wickham in tying the rope around himself, insisting that she be brought up first.
As soon as Lady Catherine was out of the hole, she turned to her brother and began wailing on and on with her accusations of Elizabeth being a witch and using spells to force Darcy into marrying her.
Hearing his sister’s words, Lord Matlock smiled. It was just what he needed to put an end to her manipulation of others. He whispered into the ear of one of his servants, asking the young man to call for the family’s physician to meet them at Matlock House.
~~ ** ~~
The group arrived at Matlock House, and entered through the rear of the house. Lady Matlock had a difficult time stifling a laugh when she saw her sister in law covered in mud and wrapped in a blanket. Lady Catherine could not help declaring her unhappiness, demanding that Darcy and his chit be brought to her, even before she took a bath. Lady Matlock ushered the furious lady up to one of the guest rooms, where a bath had been drawn for her.
Wickham had to be carried into the house, and was placed in the guest room next to Lady Catherine’s. Two of the male servants were assigned to clean up the scoundrel, preparing him for the physician to examine his injuries. The man’s moans had continued through the entire journey to Matlock House, and when the men began removing his clothing, Wickham cried out in extreme pain. His manhood was extremely swollen and painful.
The physician was finally able to examine his patients, beginning with Lady Catherine. Her ranting about her nephew being married to a witch who was putting spells on people, added to the fact that she had abducted the Darcys, the physician agreed with Lord Matlock that Lady Catherine de Bourgh should be placed in an asylum. The physician believed that her ladyship was a danger to herself and others, and should be kept sedated and under complete supervision at a private asylum which was located in Kent. Arrangements were underway when the physician visited the room where Wickham was found, his moans were loud.
After examining Wickham, the physician returned to speak with Lord Matlock. “Well, there is severe damage to his privates. The discoloring to his manhood is severe, and there has been damage to the…to the…well, he will not be able to father children as there has been rupturing and a certain part of his anatomy will require removal. The young man will be in considerable pain for some time to come. With the swelling and discoloration, there is a chance of gangrene developing. If that should happen, well, it will not be good. I fear the man’s life could be in a dangerous predicament.”
“We will see to his needs, though I am certain that the constable will wish to speak with him. As he is a criminal, he faces charges of kidnapping. I have already spoken to the footmen to keep watch over the pair, and I sent your message to your partner to come take charge of my sister’s removal to Kent. I just received word from your partner that he will be here within the hour with a carriage to take Catherine to the asylum. He will also bring more laudanum, so you can keep her sedated through the journey.”
“Good, good. Michaels is a good man, and he will see that all care is taken. And that will allow me to check in on the man, did you say his name is Wickham?”
“Yes, George Wickham.” Lord Matlock replied.
“That name sounds familiar. He would not happen to be from Derbyshire?”
“Yes, he grew up on the Darcy estate. His father was the steward for my brother in law.”
Mr Ashcroft nodded his head. “Well, small world. If I am correct, he is the young man who seduced my niece, leaving her with child. Fortunately, she lost the child, and has since married a good man. Though it makes me grateful. He will never be able to leave another girl with his seed.”
“Unfortunately, he has left more than one young lady in such a state. But, as you said, he will never be able to do so again.”
~~ ** ~~
It was decided that Lady Catherine would be sedated before her journey, and her brother felt that it was wisest for her to not know where she was going, for she would have refused to take the laudanum. Anthony volunteered to make the trip with his aunt, so that he would be the one to inform her ladyship of her new home. Richard chuckled. “If William were not already preoccupied with his bride, I am sure he would have enjoyed being the one to tell Aunt Catherine of the decision to have her committed to the asylum. Make sure that you inform the old bat that William and his wife send their best regards to her.”
Anthony laughed. “I am surprised that you did not wish to join me, Brother. We could have a merry time at Aunt Catherine’s expense.”
“No, I had enough fun watching her being pulled from that hole, covered in mud, her hair disheveled and sticking out all over from mud drying in it. She looked like something out of our childhood nightmares. I wish I had been good at sketching, as it was a sight that screamed to be captured for eternity.”
“Not fair, when I saw her, she had a blanket covering her hair.” Anthony exclaimed. “I would have loved to have seen such a sight.”
“You boys are incorrigible.” Lady Matlock stated, as she attempted to contain her own mirth. The sight of her sister in law when the blanket had been removed had brought Lady Matlock chuckles when she thought of it.
~~ ** ~~
While all the excitement was happening at Matlock House, the newlyweds were finally at Darcy House, in the sitting room which connected the Master and Mistress chambers. Darcy had his arms surrounding his wife’s petite frame, holding her to his body, as she sat on his lap.
“Though I feared for your safety, I must admit that what happened today has made me smile. My daring wife, you are so gifted.”
“I could have done more, though I did not wish to be completely obvious. It would have been awkward if I had made things fly across the room.”
Darcy laughed. “Indeed. How did you make them forget what they were doing when they tried to strike you?”
“Smoky quartz repels negativity. Their intentions were negative, so all I needed to do was to amplify the repelling quality. When it works, it causes people to lose the negative thought and action they were intending. That is why I have it placed throughout the shop and our family home. I plan to place some around here, if you approve.”
“Seeing it in action, I more than approve, my love. It is quite impressive, as are you. How did you make the floorboards come loose?”
Elizabeth’s expression became one of extreme pride. “That is part of my magic. I have been able to move wood and metal objects since I was a little girl. The older I grew, the stronger the ability. It was simply watching where Mr Wickham and your aunt stepped, and removing the nails while pulling the board upward at the opposite end from where they placed their foot. For me, it was quite simple.”
“I must admit, I loved watching Wickham fall as he did. For all that he has done, all the young ladies he has ruined; the injury to his person was a perfect restitution.” Darcy laughed, placing feather light kisses on her hair. “I would have loved to see Lady Catherine when she came out of the hole. She has always held her appearance with high regards, so being covered in muck would have been a delight.”
“Should we make our way to Matlock House? I do not wish to place all the problems on everyone else.” Elizabeth asked, though she prayed her husband disapproved of such a notion.
“No, my uncle and cousin have everything under control. I am certain that, if we were needed, we would have received word from them. I wish to remain here, with my bride, loving her as she deserves to be loved.” He said as he carefully began unbuttoning the back of her gown.
“And your bride looks forward to loving you as you deserve, Mr Darcy.”
Their lips met, and, slowly at first, their passion began to grow. It was not long before Mrs Elizabeth Darcy had been divested of her gown and undergarments, and was placed on the bed of her husband. She would be loved thoroughly that night, over and over, giving just as much as she was given. By the following morning, the couple were exhausted from the countless hours of lovemaking they had enjoyed.