Mel's JAFF Stories

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Pemberley Quaking chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5

“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?” Mr Bennet asked.

“I said that the marriage could not be annulled as it has been consummated.” Elizabeth said with a matter of fact tone.  She had never lied to her father before, but she was not prepared to accept his behavior.  After all she had dealt with the past days, she was not going to be treated like a child.

Darcy was surprised by his wife’s statement.  He had not thought her prepared to make such a claim, especially since they had not spoken of intimacies, let alone had physical contact, other than chaste embraces and hand holding in support.  But she was obviously not pleased with her father, and was making a stand.  He would stand beside her, as she had him.

“My wife speaks the truth.  Our marriage has been consummated. If you make any attempt to have it annulled, I will fight you with everything I have.  And I will not tolerate your treating my wife as if she were a small child.  If you had been here, you would have witnessed the true Mistress of Pemberley, as she took charge of the situation with which we were faced.”

“I do not believe you.  My daughter would never behave in such a manner.” Mr Bennet was furious.

“I am no longer your little girl, Papa.  I am Mrs Darcy, wife of Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, in Derbyshire.  As such, I am Mistress of Pemberley and his home in Town.  It is natural that the Mistress of Pemberley would consummate her marriage to the Master.” Elizabeth said as she attempted to stand.  Realizing what she was doing, Darcy wrapped his arm around her waist to hold her up, keeping her from standing on her injured foot.

“I demand proof.” Mr Bennet spat his words.  “The physician, I insist he examine my daughter for proof.”

“THOMAS.” Mrs Gardiner was shocked.  “How could you ask your daughter to submit to such an invasion of her person?  Why do you not believe them?  It is natural that a newly married man bed his wife.”

“You stay out of this, Helen.  You and your father have done enough damage to my family.” Mr Bennet’s fury was growing.

“That is enough, Thomas.  I will not have you attacking my wife and father in law.  They made the best decision they could at a difficult time.  You cannot seriously be considering having a man examine your daughter’s most private person to confirm that she is no longer pure.”

“I most certainly can.  Where is the physician?  I want this done immediately.  Once I prove that my daughter’s virtue is still in tack, I will be taking her and her sister back home.”

“I am afraid that Mr Grant had to leave the estate.” Came the voice of Lord Matlock as he entered the door of the sitting room.  Mr Bennet had not closed the door fully when he entered the room, and the door was slightly ajar when Lord and Lady Matlock came down the hall.  Hearing Mr Bennet’s demands, Lady Matlock left her husband, to have Mr Grant go into hiding for the time being.

“And why would the physician leave his patients?” Mr Bennet asked sarcastically.  “And just who are you?”

“The physician was called to tend Sir Jasper at the next estate.  And, as you asked so politely, I am Henry Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Matlock.  Fitzwilliam Darcy is my nephew.  That makes your daughter my niece.” Lord Matlock stood his full height and used his authority in his voice.

“I care not who you are.  We will await the return of the physician before I prove that I am correct.  Then I will take my daughter home and have this sham of a marriage annulled.  And I will remain here, in this sitting room, to make certain that your nephew does not come to my daughter’s bed to ruin her.”

“Very well, Mr Bennet.  I have no argument with you.” Darcy stated, feeling his wife stiffen.  “I insist that my wife retire early, as she has had a long day, caring for others.  She is to take some of the medicine Mr Grant gave her to assist her in sleeping, as the pain in her foot can keep her from sleeping comfortably.”

Mr Bennet nodded his head, allowing Darcy to aid Elizabeth into her bedchamber, as the elder gentleman watched carefully.  Darcy picked up a bottle from Elizabeth’s nightstand, and after handing the bottle to Mr Bennet to confirm the presence of laudanum in the mixture, measured out a spoonful of the liquid. His back was towards his father in law, blocking the man’s view of his daughter.  Darcy pretended to feed the potion to Elizabeth, only he poured the contents of the spoon on the bedding behind his wife.  He leaned in and placed a kiss on her forehead.  Whispering, he said “I will come for you in a few hours.  Have no fear.”  Louder, Darcy stated. “Rest well, my dear.  I will see you in the morning.”

~~ ** ~~

Elizabeth heard a sound coming from her bedchamber wall.  She was surprised to see the wall open quietly and her husband stepped through the opening.  He placed a finger to his lips to silence her.  Moving to her bed, Darcy scooped her into his arms and carried her through the opening.  He took her through a short opening between the walls, and through another hidden door into his own bedchamber.

After placing her on his bed, Darcy climbed in beside her.

“I must speak with you, Elizabeth.  You do not have to do anything you do not wish.  I will not force you.  But your words to your father, do you truly wish to remain here, as my wife?  Do you not wish to return to your family?”

“William, this past week has brought me greater understanding of you and your family.  It was not the way I had always dreamed of marrying, but I cannot complain about the man to which I am married.  We will continue to learn about each other, and grow together.  I wish for you to make me your wife, completely.  Please, William, make me yours, in body and in spirit.”

Searching his wife’s eyes, he found the confirmation he needed of her desire for their union.  Without further pleading, Fitzwilliam Darcy took his wife as his, giving and receiving the blessings one finds in the marriage bed.

Just before the sun began to rise, Darcy returned his wife to her bedchamber, kissing her soundly before returning to his own rooms, blissfully satiated in the experience he had shared with her.

~~ ** ~~

The sun was peaking over the hillside when Mr Bennet woke with a start.  He was surprised at his ability to find any rest, as furious as he was with the situation.  Mr Bennet had been of the mind that his beloved daughter would be pleased to find a way to return home to her family, a way to escape the marriage she had been forced into.  For her to turn her back on him, on her family, Mr Bennet was appalled.

What Mr Bennet did not count on was the loyalty of the Darcy staff.  When Mrs Reynolds brought Mr Bennet coffee in his daughter’s sitting room, he was unaware that she had dosed it with a little laudanum and chamomile, aiding the distressed gentleman to sleep.  Mrs Reynolds was well aware of the hidden passages which ran between her Master’s and Mistress’ rooms, and she was certain they would be utilizing the passages that night.

As Mr Bennet woke, Mrs Reynolds returned with a pot of fresh coffee.  “Good morning, Sir.  I thought you might like something to start your day.  There will be a tray of food coming up shortly, as I doubted you would wish to go downstairs to partake.”

“Thank you, Mrs…”

“Reynolds, Sir.  Mrs Reynolds.  I have been the housekeeper for sixteen years now.  It is a privilege to serve your daughter.  She is an amazing young lady, and she has been accepted and is already cherished by everyone who is here at Pemberley.”

“My daughter is not a lady, she is a girl.  I appreciate your kind words, but everyone needs to realize how young Lizzy is in years.  My eldest is only eighteen, how can people expect her younger sister to be a lady, let alone the Mistress of such a large home?  It is ridiculous.” Mr Bennet declared.

“Mrs Reynolds, good morning.  I was told that Mrs Darcy was in need of my services.  I pray she has not suffered in my absence.” Mr Grant stated as he entered the room, well advised on the situation.

“No, she has not suffered.” The housekeeper replied.  “This is Mrs Darcy’s father, Mr Bennet.  He was the one requesting your services.  Mr Bennet, this is Mr Grant, our physician.”

“About time.  I had hoped to remove my daughter from here hours ago.”

Mr Grant feigned a lack of understanding.  “Why would you remove your daughter from here?  She has been well tended, and everyone cares for her deeply.”

“Why do you not understand?  My daughter is a child.  She is too young to be a wife, and the Mistress of this estate.  All of you act as if she were of age, that she is well equipped to be married and all that entails.”

“And what does your daughter have to say in the matter?”

Mr Bennet’s anger was growing at the memory of the night before.  “My daughter claims that the marriage cannot be annulled, as it has been consummated.  I do not believe my daughter, as I am certain that she is still as virtuous as when she left my home to journey here with her aunt.  This is why I have asked for you.  I demand you examine my daughter.  I wish for proof that my daughter is still pure, so an annulment can be applied for to release my daughter from this foolishness.”

“Mr Bennet, I must say that I am appalled at your request.  Examining a lady’s most private parts to prove to her father whether she is a virgin or not goes against all my ethics.  It is a violation of her privacy.  If there was an injury to her…person, of course I would examine her, to determine the best course of treatment.  But to soothe your emotions is not reasonable.”

“I demand you do so, Mr Grant, or I will take my daughter to Town, where I am certain I will be able to find a physician who will assist me in this matter.” Mr Bennet said, filled with anger at the man before him.

“Might I make a suggestion that might aid us in this matter?  My niece is the local midwife.  She has been trained by my sister, the previous midwife, and myself.  My niece, Mrs Jacobs, would be able to examine your daughter, if Mrs Darcy is willing.”  Mr Grant suggested.

“My daughter is willing.  And I insist my eldest daughter, Jane, be present when the examination is done.  My Jane is too honest to lie to me, and there will be no deception.”

“Very well, I will send for Mrs Jacobs.”  Mr Grant stepped from the room, asking one of the footmen to send his niece to him.

As he was preparing to return to the sitting room, he saw Darcy coming from his chambers.  “Good morning, Mr Darcy.  Are you joining us?”

The smile on Darcy’s lips spoke volumes of the previous night’s activities in Darcy’s bedchamber.  “Yes, I will accompany you into my wife’s sitting room.  I wish to learn what is happening.”

“Mr Bennet and I have just agreed to Mrs Darcy being examined by my niece, Mrs Jacobs, as she is a midwife.  Miss Bennet will be in the room with her sister.  That is, if your wife is agreeable.”

Darcy nodded his head.  He was pleased with Mr Grant’s suggestion.  “I am certain that she will be, as she wishes to have the matter handled as quickly as possible, so we can move forward with our married life.”

Darcy knocked on his wife’s door.  Hearing her musical voice sang out for him to enter.  “Good morning, my dear.  Mr Grant and your father have come to an agreement on the situation of an examination.  Mr Grant’s niece, Mrs Jacobs, is the local midwife.  Mr Grant felt you would prefer this to his doing the examination.  And your father wishes for Miss Bennet to be in the room when the examination is done.”

“I am fine with those arrangements.” Elizabeth said, her eyes sparkling with joy from the nighttime activities she had shared with her husband.

~~ ** ~~

Mrs Jacobs arrived at the sitting room a half hour later, and was shown into Elizabeth’s bedchamber.  Jane was already sitting at her sister’s side, embarrassed at her father’s insistence in her being present in the room.

“Mrs Darcy, it is an honor to meet you, though I wish it was under better circumstances.” Mrs Jacobs stated.

“I hold nothing against you, Mrs Jacobs.  Besides, it is my hope that in the years to come, you and I will be accustomed to such examinations, only for more joyous reasons.”  Elizabeth smiled.

“I look forward to the next generation of Darcys at Pemberley.” The midwife replied.  She prepared for the examination, explaining everything to the sisters.  Everything was done and over in minutes, and the woman smiled.  “I have some salve which might be soothing, Mrs Darcy.  Many young ladies find the first few weeks of marriage, especially to a man who is as…well built… as your husband, may find a little soreness that the salve will ease.”

“Thank you.  I was planning to speak with Mrs Reynolds on the matter, but we have been so busy with all those who have been injured and displaced.”

“As you said, hopefully we will have many occasions to meet again in the future.  I look forward to tending you during any confinements.”  Mrs Jacobs said as she prepared for Mr Bennet’s inquisition.  Once Elizabeth had been made ready, she nodded to the midwife.

Mrs Jacobs opened the door into the sitting room, allowing the men to enter the bedchamber.  Mr Bennet stood near the bed, looking from Jane to Elizabeth.

“Mrs Jacobs, what is your determination?” He asked.

“Mrs Darcy has had her virtue taken, and I have given her a salve for any discomfort being a new bride may cause her.  Mistress, if you have any questions or any difficulties, please feel free to send for me.”  Mrs Jacobs then left the room, as did Mr Grant.

Mr Bennet’s fury boiled over.  “You are no longer my daughter.  How dare you disgrace me in such a manner?  You would ruin your sisters and our family in your wanton behavior, and I will not have it touch us any further.  I disown you, Elizabeth.  Your name will be removed from the family records and it will be as if you never existed.  Come, Jane, we are leaving immediately.  I will not have you tainted by your sister’s behavior.”

“Thomas, think about what you are saying.” Mr Gardiner said, as he had just entered the room.  “You cannot believe that Elizabeth has had relations with any other man, or before her marriage.  It is not wanton to have relations with one’s spouse.  Elizabeth’s marriage can do nothing but be positive for your family, as the Darcy family is an old and well established name amongst the ton, not to mention his family including the Earl of Matlock.”

Mr Bennet turned his anger on his brother in law.  “You are no longer welcome in my family.  You are to come with Jane and myself to retrieve your children, then I insist you never darken my door again.  It is your wife and her father who have wrought this situation, ruining my family, taking my daughter from me forever.  I cannot forgive you or your family.  We will be leaving within the hour, so have your belongings ready.”

Mr Gardiner was shocked at his brother in law’s behavior.  He would never have thought it possible for the Master of Longbourn to behave such, especially to his most cherished daughter.  “Very well.  I will inform my wife.”

“She is not making the journey with us.  I will not have that woman anywhere near my family.  You are the only one allowed to come with us and collect your children.  Or I will have your children sent in a hired carriage with a maid.   Your decision.”  Mr Bennet turned and marched from the room.

“Mr Gardiner, you are welcome to return here with your children.” Darcy stated.  “Your family will always be welcomed here, at Pemberley.”

Tears were streaming down Elizabeth’s cheeks as Jane attempted to console her.  “Jane, you had best prepare to leave with Papa.  If you do not, he might consider you beneath his notice, and also disown you.”

“Lizzy, I cannot believe this is happening.  I will do all that I can to keep in contact with you.  I am certain that Charlotte Lucas will assist me, you can write to her and enclose letters to me.”

“I do not wish for you to be banished from our home, Jane.  Give our sisters my love.  And know you will always be welcome in my home, and in my life, once you are established away from Papa and not in any danger.” Elizabeth said, holding her sister in a tight embrace.

“I will see that your belongings are gathered and given to Uncle Gardiner to bring to you.”

“Only if it will not anger Papa.  Do not provoke him any further.”

Jane then ran from the room, unsure if she would ever again see her beloved sister and best friend.

Darcy took Jane’s vacated seat, next to his wife.  He wrapped her in his arms, wishing to take away her pain.  “Are you certain you have made the right choice?  I do not wish to take you from your family.”

“I took vows to honor and respect you, to love you, until death do us part.  Though it was a surprise at the time, I have come to appreciate you and do not wish to go back on my decision.  I do not regret my choice to marry you, or to share your bed.  I regret my father’s anger, especially towards my aunt and uncle, and towards you.  Why does he not see the truth?  I am not his baby girl anymore.  I am now a young lady, married, and taking care of my family and home.”

“Do not fret for me, Elizabeth.  I will do whatever you wish, even if it means having to give you up, for your happiness means more to me than my own.”

“I am going nowhere, William.  You are stuck with me.”

Darcy placed a kiss on the top of her head, as he squeezed her in his embrace.  “I am truly blessed.”

~~ ** ~~

Mrs Gardiner gave her eldest niece a farewell kiss on the cheek.  “Remember that we will always love you, Jane.  No matter what happens with your father, you will always be in our hearts.”

“I will miss you so much, Aunt Helen.  This is not fair.  I cannot understand Papa’s behavior.  Lizzy is married.  It is natural for her to share her husband’s bed, is it not?” Jane pleaded for understanding.

“It is natural.  Your father feels betrayed, and does not see Lizzy as growing up.  In his eyes, she will always be his little girl.  Though she is young in years, she is old enough to be married, and she is far beyond her years when it comes to maturity.  In a few years, when you are married and away from your father’s home, you will be able to resume contact with your sister.  Keep prayers in your heart for Lizzy, as I am certain she will do so for you.”

“Jane, it is time to leave.” Mr Bennet stated as he entered the foyer.  “Come now.”

Mrs Gardiner released her niece and stepped away from her.  “Take care, Jane.  We will always love you.”

~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~

 

Chapter 6

A year had gone by since Mr Bennet abandoned his second daughter in Derbyshire, swearing that she was no longer his daughter.  So much had happened in the time.

The day after the Bennets and Mr Gardiner left for Longbourn, another problem arrived on the doorstep of Pemberley, in the form of George Wickham.

Wickham was the son of the former Pemberley steward, a good man who had been a loyal and devoted servant of the previous Mr Darcy.  Gerald Darcy had been Wickham’s godfather, and as a sign of respect for the elder Mr Wickham, paid for a gentleman’s education for the son.  George Wickham attended school and the university alongside Fitzwilliam Darcy, as the boys had been friends in their youth.  It did not take long for Fitzwilliam Darcy to realize that his childhood friend was not the same person, the older he got.  But Fitzwilliam did not wish for his father to learn the truth of Wickham’s behavior, the debts to shopkeepers, the debts from gaming, and, especially, the womanizing.  Fitzwilliam covered many of the debts from his own funds, allowing his father to believe Wickham to be much like his late father, who died when Wickham was seventeen.

Knowing that his godfather had planned to leave him something in his will, Wickham headed towards Pemberley as soon as he could, after learning of Gerald Darcy’s death.  Unfortunately for Wickham, he had little funds for traveling and was in Cornwall, assisting in a scam with one of the men he had met while at university.  As the scam had not been completed, he had not received his portion of the hoped for income.  But he knew he had to make his way to Pemberley, so he could claim his wealth, which he was certain his godfather left him.

“Master William, you have a visitor.  Mr George Wickham.” One of the footmen announced at Darcy’s study door.

Darcy was prepared for the visit, as he knew his father had left Wickham a gift.  And he was aware that Wickham would not be pleased.  “Wickham, I have expected you.”

“It took me some time to reach here, as I was in the south.  With my limited income…well, it took some time.”

“You have come for your inheritance, I assume.”

Wickham smiled.  “Yes, indeed.  Your father told me he had planned to leave something for me.”

“He did.  According to his will, he left you one thousand pounds, and the living at Kympton, when it becomes available and if you are willing to take orders.” Darcy said, watching the changes in Wickham’s expression.

Though he was appalled, Wickham did not wish to anger Darcy.  He finally talked Darcy into giving him an additional three thousand pounds, as he signed papers giving up any future claims to the living.  Once the papers were signed, the funds given to Wickham, the man was on his way.  Darcy prayed he would never be forced to deal with the man again.

~~ ** ~~

In the year, Lambton had been rebuilt.  It was agreed that Darcy would pay for the materials to rebuild, and each of the recipients of his kindness would repay the loan at one pound per annum.  Those who had lost so much, and had had no hopes of ever being able to rebuild, were amazed at the generosity of the Darcys, and the kindness in not asking for high repayment amounts.

Though the rebuilding of the neighborhood was expensive to the Darcys, the young couple knew that they were doing what was best for the people of their community.  What good would it be to have no businesses nearby?  What good was not having services that were necessary to Pemberley?  Elizabeth had declared her pride in her husband’s efforts, knowing he did not charge the full amount of the rebuilding to the people.

As each building was constructed and each business reopened, the Darcys were invited in participating in a small celebration.  Darcy did not feel comfortable being put on a pedestal in public, as he was truly a shy man.  But with his wife at his side, he was able to manage.

~~ ** ~~

The tenant homes were all rebuilt, no matter what damage had been done to them.  Elizabeth had stated that it would make the tenants realize the dedication Pemberley had to its people.  Of course, Darcy agreed with his wife, as most of the cottages were aged and in need of major repairs.  It was simpler and cheaper to begin anew on each of them.

A school was built for the children of the neighborhood, and an orphanage was constructed.  Elizabeth was well known in the area for her compassion and caring, and she was loved by all who knew her.

~~ ** ~~

In the year, the Darcys welcomed their first child.  A handsome and healthy son, with his father’s blue eyes and dark hair.  The infant was sweet natured, giving his parents very little concern.  He was born nine months after his parents’ wedding, and was the center of his parents’ world.  In keeping with his own parents’ fashion of naming, the boy was given his mother’s maiden name as a given name.  Bennet Gerald William Darcy, heir of Pemberley, was a blessing for the future of the estate.

Georgiana was thrilled to be an aunt, and she loved playing with Ben.  She would hold the babe on her lap as she played the pianoforte, watching his smile as she sang softly to him.

Lord and Lady Matlock had become substitute grandparents to the young Darcy, doting on him whenever they could.  With neither of her sons married, Lady Matlock was thrilled to play the role of grandmother, preparing for the day her sons gifted her with their own children.  Having been close to Lady Anne, Rebecca Fitzwilliam felt confident her late sister in law would approve of her behavior.

Richard had been sent to France, as fighting had continued, growing worse in some areas.  They had received word that he was recently promoted to Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, for gallantry in the face of the enemy.  Though the family was proud of Richard’s promotion, they all would have preferred his safe return to them.

Geoffrey was seeing Lady Margaret Farnsworth, and it was believed that they would soon be engaged.  This thrilled Lady Matlock, as she had no daughters of her own to spoil.

The family was to gather in Town for the holidays, followed by Elizabeth’s first Season in London’s ton. Many were curious to learn more of the young lady who had won the heart of one of the most sought after young men in England, and most of the ladies were willing to disgrace the current Mrs Darcy, in retaliation for their being denied the prize.  But it was well known that Elizabeth was under the protection of Lady Matlock, and none of the young ladies wished to infuriate the likes of her.

The only member of Darcy’s family who did not approve of his marriage was his mother’s elder sister, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Lady Catherine had long desired her daughter, Anne, to be the next Mrs Darcy, and it infuriated the grand lady that some country nobody was able capture stealing the coveted position.  Anne de Bourgh had no desire to marry her cousin, but that had never mattered to her mother.

~~ ** ~~

Over the year, many things had changed at Longbourn.  Mr Bennet had taken to withdrawing even more than usual from his family, taking all his meals in his study, and imbibing large quantities of brandy.  He rarely left the house, having his steward run the estate, though the man did so poorly.  And Mr Bennet refused to speak with anyone more than a request for food or drink, or to make a demand of his family.

When he and Jane returned from Pemberley the previous year, he was in such a state that he shouted his demands to his wife and children.  Jane had begged the housekeeper, Mrs Hill, to quickly pack Elizabeth’s belongings and give them to Mr Gardiner, along with the belongings of his children, hoping her father did not attempt to stop this and have all of Elizabeth’s treasures thrown away.

As Mr Gardiner awaited the trunks with his children’s belongings to be packed, Mr Bennet ranted on his view that no one in the family was to have any communications with Elizabeth, or the Gardiner family, ever again.  Mrs Bennet was upset, as her brother and sister in law were dear to her.

“Where is Lizzy?  What is happening?” Mrs Bennet begged of her husband.

“Your daughter has ruined us.  She is dead to us, as if she never existed.  I will have her removed from all records, and she is never to be spoken of in this house again.”

“Ruined?  How are we ruined?”

“She is no longer pure.  She is married to some young man to whom she has given her virtue, with no respect to her family.”

“Lizzy is married?  To whom is she married?”

“It matters not.  She is a child, pretending to be an adult, and willingly given herself to some scoundrel who took advantage.  They did not ask my approval, and now, with her wanton behavior, the marriage cannot be annulled.   If we do not distance ourselves from her, our children will be ruined, and will never be respected in society.  I will not have my family destroyed by a harlot.  Your sister in law’s father gave his approval for the marriage, knowing she was just a child.  I cannot forgive the Gardiners or her father for what they have wrought.”

“But Thomas, Lizzy is not a child.  She is young, but only a year younger than I was when we became engaged.”

“Engaged. With your father’s approval.  Done properly, in the eyes of God, not behind the backs of all who loved you.  And we were engaged until you turned eighteen.  But everything was done properly, with the blessings of our parents and God.  Not like this.  I cannot forgive that girl.  And you will have no contact with her or the Gardiners ever again.  Do you understand me?”  Mr Bennet was filled with fury.

Mrs Bennet knew she was on dangerous ground, and decided to take the safe road.  “Very well, Thomas.  If you deem it to be so, I will obey.”

Only Mrs Bennet had gone behind her husband’s back to learn more of her second born daughter’s situation.  In the village of Meryton, two miles from Longbourn, lived Mrs Bennet’s sister, Amelia Phillips. Through her sister, Mrs Bennet was able to trade letters with Elizabeth and the Gardiners.

It was in the letters that Mrs Bennet learned the truth of the situation.  Her daughter was married to one of the richest men in all of England, had married after the earthquake had left her in a compromised situation, and had not consummated the marriage until she was pushed by her father’s insistence that the marriage be annulled. By the time Mrs Bennet learned all there was of her daughter’s marriage and the circumstances behind its rapidness, Elizabeth had just discovered she was with child.  Mrs Bennet’s heart was broken at the thought of never being able to see her first grandchild, especially a child who would be heir to a vast fortune and was great grandchild of an earl.  How she longed to tell all of their neighbors of her delight, but if she did, how would her husband behave when he learned the news?  Would he forbid her to speak with her sister as well as her brother?

During the year, a man took the lease of Netherfield Park, the neighboring estate to Longbourn.  Mr Andrew Bingley brought his son, Charles, and Charles’ two elder sisters, Louisa and Caroline, to learn about life as landed gentry.  Mr Bingley had been a successful business man, making a fortune in the fabric mills.  Though their roots were in trade, Mr Bingley wished for his children to be accepted in higher society.  Charles had gone to school with young men of the gentry, and the sisters had attended the best seminaries possible.  Now, Mr Bingley was looking to purchase an estate.

When he learned about Netherfield, he was impressed with the condition of the estate.  Mr Bingley thought it would be wiser to lease an estate first, then decide on purchasing.  And Netherfield was within an easy distance to London, making the journey simple enough for his daughters and son to enjoy a bit of society.

At an assembly, shortly after the Bingley family arrived in the neighborhood, Charles met Miss Jane Bennet. His father laughed, watching his son make a fool of himself as the young man could hardly find the words to speak.  After dancing two sets with Jane, Charles informed his father that Miss Bennet was an angel.

Caroline Bingley was not pleased with the move to the uncivilized country, as she described the neighborhood.  She wished to be attending parties and balls, rubbing elbows with the elite that Society had to offer.  Her sister, Louisa, was engaged to marry a young man who was heir to his father’s estate, which was the size of Netherfield.  Louisa was pleased with her choice for a husband, as Gilbert Hurst was a kind and caring man.  Her only problem was her sister’s constant interfering in Louisa’s plans for the future.  In Caroline’s view, Hurst was not a good choice, and would not promote their family to those she wished to impress.

No, to Caroline Bingley, there was only one man she could think of as a husband for herself.  There were two main problems with her choice…he was already married, and, even before he married, he had made it clear that he had no desire to marry Caroline Bingley.  The young man was her brother’s best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

The Bingley family had spent a month at Pemberley, just prior to the Bingleys moving to Netherfield in September.  Darcy was able to explain aspects of running an estate to Mr Bingley, taking the man out on Pemberley’s land, showing him what needed to be done.  Seeing all the new that had been built and the respect that Darcy’s tenants and staff had for the Master and the Mistress of Pemberley, Mr Bingley wished to be similar in his way of running an estate.

Caroline Bingley had made it clear that she had no use of Elizabeth Darcy, and she clung to Darcy whenever she could.  Mr Bingley spoke with his daughter several times about her behavior, yet nothing seemed to make a difference with her.  The night before the Bingleys left for Netherfield, the dinner conversation was uncomfortable.

“Mrs Darcy, are you to be presented in the coming Season?” Caroline asked.

“The plans are for my presentation in April.” Elizabeth replied.

“And who is sponsoring you?  Will it be your relations or your husband’s?”

“My husband will be presenting me, though Lord and Lady Matlock have given their support in everything.  Lady Matlock has also seen to my acceptance to Almack.”

Caroline fumed, as she had been denied admittance to Almack.  Taking a sip of her wine, she continued on her plans to discredit the young lady.  “It is a shame that your family did not see to your presentation when you came out…as my father saw fit to do for our family.  Oh, but you did not have a coming out, did you?  You were so young when you took the position of Mistress of Pemberley.”

“Miss Caroline, my wife did not take anything.  She was given her rightful place, as my wife should have.  My father’s dying wish was to see us married, as he approved of Elizabeth completely.”

“And Mrs Darcy, where is your father’s estate?  I have never heard anyone mention anything about your family.”  Caroline wished to point out that Elizabeth seemed to be a nobody, especially in comparison to herself.

“My father’s estate is south of here.  We have not seen them since shortly after our wedding.” Elizabeth stated, attempting to keep the truth from the woman who infuriated her so completely.

“But where south?  You have never said.”

“Miss Caroline, you have no need to know more of my wife’s family.  It is highly unlikely you would ever meet them, and I am certain you can understand that there was a disagreement which has divided the family.  I would prefer if you would change the subject, as I do not wish for my wife to be uncomfortable.” Darcy stated, giving Caroline a scorching glare.

“How sad, a disagreement.  So they have yet to meet their grandson?  I would have thought any parent would be overjoyed to meet their grandchild.  Father, you have often stated you cannot wait to be a grandfather.”

“Caroline, you have said enough on the subject.  If you cannot think of something else to discuss, you should spend the rest of the meal in silence.” Mr Bingley declared to his daughter.

Caroline was not ready to give up the discussion.  “I was only stating how sad it was that Mrs Darcy’s parents were not pleased with their grandson.  I know you would be thrilled, and doting on the child as soon as he was born.  The disagreement must be something terrible, to keep her family from such a blessed event.”

“ENOUGH!” Darcy’s voice boomed throughout the room.  “It is a private matter, not one on which for you to speculate or speak.  If you cannot keep your opinions to yourself, I suggest that a tray can be sent to your rooms.”

Blushing, Caroline was frustrated that her attempts to discredit Elizabeth had only succeeded in making Darcy furious.  But she knew there was something to discover in Elizabeth Darcy’s past, and she was determined to learn just what the secret was.

~~ ** ~~

Mrs Gardiner was overjoyed to receive news that her beloved niece and her family had arrived at Darcy House in London.  It was the first time Elizabeth had been to her husband’s family townhouse, and she was nervous.  Mrs Gardiner and Lady Matlock had made plans to take their niece shopping for new clothes and accessories.  Since the earthquake, Elizabeth put more into the rebuilding of their neighborhood, and then her confinement, rather than purchase a new wardrobe.

In one of her recent letters to Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth wrote that her husband teasingly thanked her for the funds she had saved him by waiting to purchase her new wardrobe, as giving birth to their son had changed her body into quite a womanly figure, and she would never have been able to fit her expanded curves into the gowns she wore before her marriage.  It pleased Mrs Gardiner that her niece had found a loving man, a man who cherished Elizabeth completely, and respected the young lady she was.

“Edward, Lizzy sent word.  They have arrived at Darcy House.  We are invited to dine with them tomorrow evening.  Lord and Lady Matlock will be there, as will Geoffrey Fitzwilliam.”

“It will be a pleasure to see them again.  And our little nephew, the children have been talking of nothing else since they learned that the Darcys were coming to Town.” Mr Gardiner chuckled.  “With Christmas just around the corner, I am certain that you ladies have many days of shopping planned.”

“Of course.  Our niece never has properly purchased a trousseau, so it is about time.  And, from what she writes, Mr Darcy is pleased with what motherhood has done for Elizabeth’s figure.”

Mr Gardiner shook his head.  “Lizzy is like my own daughter, Helen, do not tell me of her husband’s preferences for her figure.”

Mrs Gardiner laughed openly.  “Lizzy will soon be eighteen, my dear husband.  She has been married over a year now, and given birth.  But you still think of her as the sixteen year old who went to Lambton with me last year.”

“No, I realize she is growing up.  I just do not wish to know of a young man appreciating our girl’s figure, as I appreciate yours.”  Mr Gardiner scooped his wife into his arms, placing a kiss on her lips.

~~ ** ~~

Elizabeth Darcy had received a letter from her Aunt Phillips, and was reading it in her study, when her husband entered the room.  “Elizabeth, is all prepared for dinner tonight?”

“As far as I know, Mrs Brooks has everything under control.  She is just as efficient as Mrs Reynolds is at Pemberley, so I have no doubts.” Elizabeth looked at Darcy, wondering why he was asking.

“It is early enough in the day, so I thought you might like a walk in Hyde Park.  Since we live right across the street, we will be able to take a stroll and return with plenty of time to rest before our guests arrive.”

“Shall we take our son or Georgiana?”

Darcy smiled.  “You are kind to think of them, but I think we should go alone, just the two of us.  We rarely have time alone, and it would be pleasant.”

“Very well, William.  I will gather my bonnet and coat, and meet you in the foyer in a few moments.” Elizabeth said, leaving the letter on the top of her desk.

The couple walked along the paths of the park, stopping to watch the ducks at the pond, stealing kisses behind the bushes growing along the paths.  Though they had been married for a year, it was a year of learning about each other while managing all the repairs of the neighborhood.  It did not give them a chance to take a wedding trip, as neither would abandon their duties to those relying on them.  Even after Ben was born, Darcy had a difficult time keeping his wife in bed, as Mr Grant had insisted.  Elizabeth was a small built lady, while Ben was a large babe, which had taxed her strength.  Only threats that her husband would literally tie her to the bed could keep her in compliance.

The two had caused many smiles from their families in the year of their marriage.  Seeing Darcy smile more, his dimples visible frequently, his ease with those around him, made the Fitzwilliam family and Georgiana happy, as he had been a shy, reserved young man.  Though they had started out as acquaintances, thrown together during a tragedy, Elizabeth and Darcy had become the dearest of friends, followed by falling in love.

Elizabeth’s relations were pleased to see her husband respect her intelligence, realizing that she was not a foolish girl, as her father had decided, but a lady who could manage the tasks placed before her.  At first, Mrs Gardiner worried that Elizabeth being Mistress of Pemberley would be far too much for the young lady to contend with.  But the weeks went by, after the earthquake, and it was clear to Helen Gardiner that Elizabeth was born to be Mrs Darcy of Pemberley.

As they walked, they heard someone call out their names from behind them.  Turning, they saw Charles Bingley walking quickly towards them.  “Darcy, I did not know you were in Town.  Mrs Darcy, you look beautiful, as always.”

“Bingley, it is a pleasure to see you.  I thought you were staying at your father’s estate.  What brings you to Town?”

“Father had papers he needed brought to the solicitor, and I wished to do some shopping for the holidays, so I volunteered.  I will return there tomorrow, as I do not wish to leave the angel I am courting, as she is such a jewel.”

The faraway look on Bingley’s face made the couple laughed.  “And what is the name of your angel, Bingley?” Darcy asked.

“Jane…is that not a fitting name for an angel?”

“Jane is an angelic name, as my elder sister is named Jane, and she could be described as an angel.  So, you are courting.  This is serious then?”

“Well, it is difficult.  I have the approval of her mother, but her father refuses to speak with anyone.  He hides away in his bookroom, and, to be honest, I have yet to meet him.”

Elizabeth felt pity for the young man.  “How terrible for you.  Is there another male in the family who can give you permission?  What will happen if you decide to wed this young lady?”

“I am not certain, but it is a sad situation.  I will speak with her uncle when I return to the estate.  He might be able to intercede on my behalf.  And Father stated he would attempt to speak with the gentleman.  My poor Jane has suffered from her father’s neglect of the family and home.”

“From the sounds of situation, the family is in a terrible state.  I will keep a prayer that it is easily dealt with and you will be able to find happiness with your angel.” Darcy said, shaking hands with his friend, as they made their farewells.Chapter 5

“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?” Mr Bennet asked.

“I said that the marriage could not be annulled as it has been consummated.” Elizabeth said with a matter of fact tone.  She had never lied to her father before, but she was not prepared to accept his behavior.  After all she had dealt with the past days, she was not going to be treated like a child.

Darcy was surprised by his wife’s statement.  He had not thought her prepared to make such a claim, especially since they had not spoken of intimacies, let alone had physical contact, other than chaste embraces and hand holding in support.  But she was obviously not pleased with her father, and was making a stand.  He would stand beside her, as she had him.

“My wife speaks the truth.  Our marriage has been consummated. If you make any attempt to have it annulled, I will fight you with everything I have.  And I will not tolerate your treating my wife as if she were a small child.  If you had been here, you would have witnessed the true Mistress of Pemberley, as she took charge of the situation with which we were faced.”

“I do not believe you.  My daughter would never behave in such a manner.” Mr Bennet was furious.

“I am no longer your little girl, Papa.  I am Mrs Darcy, wife of Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, in Derbyshire.  As such, I am Mistress of Pemberley and his home in Town.  It is natural that the Mistress of Pemberley would consummate her marriage to the Master.” Elizabeth said as she attempted to stand.  Realizing what she was doing, Darcy wrapped his arm around her waist to hold her up, keeping her from standing on her injured foot.

“I demand proof.” Mr Bennet spat his words.  “The physician, I insist he examine my daughter for proof.”

“THOMAS.” Mrs Gardiner was shocked.  “How could you ask your daughter to submit to such an invasion of her person?  Why do you not believe them?  It is natural that a newly married man bed his wife.”

“You stay out of this, Helen.  You and your father have done enough damage to my family.” Mr Bennet’s fury was growing.

“That is enough, Thomas.  I will not have you attacking my wife and father in law.  They made the best decision they could at a difficult time.  You cannot seriously be considering having a man examine your daughter’s most private person to confirm that she is no longer pure.”

“I most certainly can.  Where is the physician?  I want this done immediately.  Once I prove that my daughter’s virtue is still in tack, I will be taking her and her sister back home.”

“I am afraid that Mr Grant had to leave the estate.” Came the voice of Lord Matlock as he entered the door of the sitting room.  Mr Bennet had not closed the door fully when he entered the room, and the door was slightly ajar when Lord and Lady Matlock came down the hall.  Hearing Mr Bennet’s demands, Lady Matlock left her husband, to have Mr Grant go into hiding for the time being.

“And why would the physician leave his patients?” Mr Bennet asked sarcastically.  “And just who are you?”

“The physician was called to tend Sir Jasper at the next estate.  And, as you asked so politely, I am Henry Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Matlock.  Fitzwilliam Darcy is my nephew.  That makes your daughter my niece.” Lord Matlock stood his full height and used his authority in his voice.

“I care not who you are.  We will await the return of the physician before I prove that I am correct.  Then I will take my daughter home and have this sham of a marriage annulled.  And I will remain here, in this sitting room, to make certain that your nephew does not come to my daughter’s bed to ruin her.”

“Very well, Mr Bennet.  I have no argument with you.” Darcy stated, feeling his wife stiffen.  “I insist that my wife retire early, as she has had a long day, caring for others.  She is to take some of the medicine Mr Grant gave her to assist her in sleeping, as the pain in her foot can keep her from sleeping comfortably.”

Mr Bennet nodded his head, allowing Darcy to aid Elizabeth into her bedchamber, as the elder gentleman watched carefully.  Darcy picked up a bottle from Elizabeth’s nightstand, and after handing the bottle to Mr Bennet to confirm the presence of laudanum in the mixture, measured out a spoonful of the liquid. His back was towards his father in law, blocking the man’s view of his daughter.  Darcy pretended to feed the potion to Elizabeth, only he poured the contents of the spoon on the bedding behind his wife.  He leaned in and placed a kiss on her forehead.  Whispering, he said “I will come for you in a few hours.  Have no fear.”  Louder, Darcy stated. “Rest well, my dear.  I will see you in the morning.”

~~ ** ~~

Elizabeth heard a sound coming from her bedchamber wall.  She was surprised to see the wall open quietly and her husband stepped through the opening.  He placed a finger to his lips to silence her.  Moving to her bed, Darcy scooped her into his arms and carried her through the opening.  He took her through a short opening between the walls, and through another hidden door into his own bedchamber.

After placing her on his bed, Darcy climbed in beside her.

“I must speak with you, Elizabeth.  You do not have to do anything you do not wish.  I will not force you.  But your words to your father, do you truly wish to remain here, as my wife?  Do you not wish to return to your family?”

“William, this past week has brought me greater understanding of you and your family.  It was not the way I had always dreamed of marrying, but I cannot complain about the man to which I am married.  We will continue to learn about each other, and grow together.  I wish for you to make me your wife, completely.  Please, William, make me yours, in body and in spirit.”

Searching his wife’s eyes, he found the confirmation he needed of her desire for their union.  Without further pleading, Fitzwilliam Darcy took his wife as his, giving and receiving the blessings one finds in the marriage bed.

Just before the sun began to rise, Darcy returned his wife to her bedchamber, kissing her soundly before returning to his own rooms, blissfully satiated in the experience he had shared with her.

~~ ** ~~

The sun was peaking over the hillside when Mr Bennet woke with a start.  He was surprised at his ability to find any rest, as furious as he was with the situation.  Mr Bennet had been of the mind that his beloved daughter would be pleased to find a way to return home to her family, a way to escape the marriage she had been forced into.  For her to turn her back on him, on her family, Mr Bennet was appalled.

What Mr Bennet did not count on was the loyalty of the Darcy staff.  When Mrs Reynolds brought Mr Bennet coffee in his daughter’s sitting room, he was unaware that she had dosed it with a little laudanum and chamomile, aiding the distressed gentleman to sleep.  Mrs Reynolds was well aware of the hidden passages which ran between her Master’s and Mistress’ rooms, and she was certain they would be utilizing the passages that night.

As Mr Bennet woke, Mrs Reynolds returned with a pot of fresh coffee.  “Good morning, Sir.  I thought you might like something to start your day.  There will be a tray of food coming up shortly, as I doubted you would wish to go downstairs to partake.”

“Thank you, Mrs…”

“Reynolds, Sir.  Mrs Reynolds.  I have been the housekeeper for sixteen years now.  It is a privilege to serve your daughter.  She is an amazing young lady, and she has been accepted and is already cherished by everyone who is here at Pemberley.”

“My daughter is not a lady, she is a girl.  I appreciate your kind words, but everyone needs to realize how young Lizzy is in years.  My eldest is only eighteen, how can people expect her younger sister to be a lady, let alone the Mistress of such a large home?  It is ridiculous.” Mr Bennet declared.

“Mrs Reynolds, good morning.  I was told that Mrs Darcy was in need of my services.  I pray she has not suffered in my absence.” Mr Grant stated as he entered the room, well advised on the situation.

“No, she has not suffered.” The housekeeper replied.  “This is Mrs Darcy’s father, Mr Bennet.  He was the one requesting your services.  Mr Bennet, this is Mr Grant, our physician.”

“About time.  I had hoped to remove my daughter from here hours ago.”

Mr Grant feigned a lack of understanding.  “Why would you remove your daughter from here?  She has been well tended, and everyone cares for her deeply.”

“Why do you not understand?  My daughter is a child.  She is too young to be a wife, and the Mistress of this estate.  All of you act as if she were of age, that she is well equipped to be married and all that entails.”

“And what does your daughter have to say in the matter?”

Mr Bennet’s anger was growing at the memory of the night before.  “My daughter claims that the marriage cannot be annulled, as it has been consummated.  I do not believe my daughter, as I am certain that she is still as virtuous as when she left my home to journey here with her aunt.  This is why I have asked for you.  I demand you examine my daughter.  I wish for proof that my daughter is still pure, so an annulment can be applied for to release my daughter from this foolishness.”

“Mr Bennet, I must say that I am appalled at your request.  Examining a lady’s most private parts to prove to her father whether she is a virgin or not goes against all my ethics.  It is a violation of her privacy.  If there was an injury to her…person, of course I would examine her, to determine the best course of treatment.  But to soothe your emotions is not reasonable.”

“I demand you do so, Mr Grant, or I will take my daughter to Town, where I am certain I will be able to find a physician who will assist me in this matter.” Mr Bennet said, filled with anger at the man before him.

“Might I make a suggestion that might aid us in this matter?  My niece is the local midwife.  She has been trained by my sister, the previous midwife, and myself.  My niece, Mrs Jacobs, would be able to examine your daughter, if Mrs Darcy is willing.”  Mr Grant suggested.

“My daughter is willing.  And I insist my eldest daughter, Jane, be present when the examination is done.  My Jane is too honest to lie to me, and there will be no deception.”

“Very well, I will send for Mrs Jacobs.”  Mr Grant stepped from the room, asking one of the footmen to send his niece to him.

As he was preparing to return to the sitting room, he saw Darcy coming from his chambers.  “Good morning, Mr Darcy.  Are you joining us?”

The smile on Darcy’s lips spoke volumes of the previous night’s activities in Darcy’s bedchamber.  “Yes, I will accompany you into my wife’s sitting room.  I wish to learn what is happening.”

“Mr Bennet and I have just agreed to Mrs Darcy being examined by my niece, Mrs Jacobs, as she is a midwife.  Miss Bennet will be in the room with her sister.  That is, if your wife is agreeable.”

Darcy nodded his head.  He was pleased with Mr Grant’s suggestion.  “I am certain that she will be, as she wishes to have the matter handled as quickly as possible, so we can move forward with our married life.”

Darcy knocked on his wife’s door.  Hearing her musical voice sang out for him to enter.  “Good morning, my dear.  Mr Grant and your father have come to an agreement on the situation of an examination.  Mr Grant’s niece, Mrs Jacobs, is the local midwife.  Mr Grant felt you would prefer this to his doing the examination.  And your father wishes for Miss Bennet to be in the room when the examination is done.”

“I am fine with those arrangements.” Elizabeth said, her eyes sparkling with joy from the nighttime activities she had shared with her husband.

~~ ** ~~

Mrs Jacobs arrived at the sitting room a half hour later, and was shown into Elizabeth’s bedchamber.  Jane was already sitting at her sister’s side, embarrassed at her father’s insistence in her being present in the room.

“Mrs Darcy, it is an honor to meet you, though I wish it was under better circumstances.” Mrs Jacobs stated.

“I hold nothing against you, Mrs Jacobs.  Besides, it is my hope that in the years to come, you and I will be accustomed to such examinations, only for more joyous reasons.”  Elizabeth smiled.

“I look forward to the next generation of Darcys at Pemberley.” The midwife replied.  She prepared for the examination, explaining everything to the sisters.  Everything was done and over in minutes, and the woman smiled.  “I have some salve which might be soothing, Mrs Darcy.  Many young ladies find the first few weeks of marriage, especially to a man who is as…well built… as your husband, may find a little soreness that the salve will ease.”

“Thank you.  I was planning to speak with Mrs Reynolds on the matter, but we have been so busy with all those who have been injured and displaced.”

“As you said, hopefully we will have many occasions to meet again in the future.  I look forward to tending you during any confinements.”  Mrs Jacobs said as she prepared for Mr Bennet’s inquisition.  Once Elizabeth had been made ready, she nodded to the midwife.

Mrs Jacobs opened the door into the sitting room, allowing the men to enter the bedchamber.  Mr Bennet stood near the bed, looking from Jane to Elizabeth.

“Mrs Jacobs, what is your determination?” He asked.

“Mrs Darcy has had her virtue taken, and I have given her a salve for any discomfort being a new bride may cause her.  Mistress, if you have any questions or any difficulties, please feel free to send for me.”  Mrs Jacobs then left the room, as did Mr Grant.

Mr Bennet’s fury boiled over.  “You are no longer my daughter.  How dare you disgrace me in such a manner?  You would ruin your sisters and our family in your wanton behavior, and I will not have it touch us any further.  I disown you, Elizabeth.  Your name will be removed from the family records and it will be as if you never existed.  Come, Jane, we are leaving immediately.  I will not have you tainted by your sister’s behavior.”

“Thomas, think about what you are saying.” Mr Gardiner said, as he had just entered the room.  “You cannot believe that Elizabeth has had relations with any other man, or before her marriage.  It is not wanton to have relations with one’s spouse.  Elizabeth’s marriage can do nothing but be positive for your family, as the Darcy family is an old and well established name amongst the ton, not to mention his family including the Earl of Matlock.”

Mr Bennet turned his anger on his brother in law.  “You are no longer welcome in my family.  You are to come with Jane and myself to retrieve your children, then I insist you never darken my door again.  It is your wife and her father who have wrought this situation, ruining my family, taking my daughter from me forever.  I cannot forgive you or your family.  We will be leaving within the hour, so have your belongings ready.”

Mr Gardiner was shocked at his brother in law’s behavior.  He would never have thought it possible for the Master of Longbourn to behave such, especially to his most cherished daughter.  “Very well.  I will inform my wife.”

“She is not making the journey with us.  I will not have that woman anywhere near my family.  You are the only one allowed to come with us and collect your children.  Or I will have your children sent in a hired carriage with a maid.   Your decision.”  Mr Bennet turned and marched from the room.

“Mr Gardiner, you are welcome to return here with your children.” Darcy stated.  “Your family will always be welcomed here, at Pemberley.”

Tears were streaming down Elizabeth’s cheeks as Jane attempted to console her.  “Jane, you had best prepare to leave with Papa.  If you do not, he might consider you beneath his notice, and also disown you.”

“Lizzy, I cannot believe this is happening.  I will do all that I can to keep in contact with you.  I am certain that Charlotte Lucas will assist me, you can write to her and enclose letters to me.”

“I do not wish for you to be banished from our home, Jane.  Give our sisters my love.  And know you will always be welcome in my home, and in my life, once you are established away from Papa and not in any danger.” Elizabeth said, holding her sister in a tight embrace.

“I will see that your belongings are gathered and given to Uncle Gardiner to bring to you.”

“Only if it will not anger Papa.  Do not provoke him any further.”

Jane then ran from the room, unsure if she would ever again see her beloved sister and best friend.

Darcy took Jane’s vacated seat, next to his wife.  He wrapped her in his arms, wishing to take away her pain.  “Are you certain you have made the right choice?  I do not wish to take you from your family.”

“I took vows to honor and respect you, to love you, until death do us part.  Though it was a surprise at the time, I have come to appreciate you and do not wish to go back on my decision.  I do not regret my choice to marry you, or to share your bed.  I regret my father’s anger, especially towards my aunt and uncle, and towards you.  Why does he not see the truth?  I am not his baby girl anymore.  I am now a young lady, married, and taking care of my family and home.”

“Do not fret for me, Elizabeth.  I will do whatever you wish, even if it means having to give you up, for your happiness means more to me than my own.”

“I am going nowhere, William.  You are stuck with me.”

Darcy placed a kiss on the top of her head, as he squeezed her in his embrace.  “I am truly blessed.”

~~ ** ~~

Mrs Gardiner gave her eldest niece a farewell kiss on the cheek.  “Remember that we will always love you, Jane.  No matter what happens with your father, you will always be in our hearts.”

“I will miss you so much, Aunt Helen.  This is not fair.  I cannot understand Papa’s behavior.  Lizzy is married.  It is natural for her to share her husband’s bed, is it not?” Jane pleaded for understanding.

“It is natural.  Your father feels betrayed, and does not see Lizzy as growing up.  In his eyes, she will always be his little girl.  Though she is young in years, she is old enough to be married, and she is far beyond her years when it comes to maturity.  In a few years, when you are married and away from your father’s home, you will be able to resume contact with your sister.  Keep prayers in your heart for Lizzy, as I am certain she will do so for you.”

“Jane, it is time to leave.” Mr Bennet stated as he entered the foyer.  “Come now.”

Mrs Gardiner released her niece and stepped away from her.  “Take care, Jane.  We will always love you.”

~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~

 

Chapter 6

A year had gone by since Mr Bennet abandoned his second daughter in Derbyshire, swearing that she was no longer his daughter.  So much had happened in the time.

The day after the Bennets and Mr Gardiner left for Longbourn, another problem arrived on the doorstep of Pemberley, in the form of George Wickham.

Wickham was the son of the former Pemberley steward, a good man who had been a loyal and devoted servant of the previous Mr Darcy.  Gerald Darcy had been Wickham’s godfather, and as a sign of respect for the elder Mr Wickham, paid for a gentleman’s education for the son.  George Wickham attended school and the university alongside Fitzwilliam Darcy, as the boys had been friends in their youth.  It did not take long for Fitzwilliam Darcy to realize that his childhood friend was not the same person, the older he got.  But Fitzwilliam did not wish for his father to learn the truth of Wickham’s behavior, the debts to shopkeepers, the debts from gaming, and, especially, the womanizing.  Fitzwilliam covered many of the debts from his own funds, allowing his father to believe Wickham to be much like his late father, who died when Wickham was seventeen.

Knowing that his godfather had planned to leave him something in his will, Wickham headed towards Pemberley as soon as he could, after learning of Gerald Darcy’s death.  Unfortunately for Wickham, he had little funds for traveling and was in Cornwall, assisting in a scam with one of the men he had met while at university.  As the scam had not been completed, he had not received his portion of the hoped for income.  But he knew he had to make his way to Pemberley, so he could claim his wealth, which he was certain his godfather left him.

“Master William, you have a visitor.  Mr George Wickham.” One of the footmen announced at Darcy’s study door.

Darcy was prepared for the visit, as he knew his father had left Wickham a gift.  And he was aware that Wickham would not be pleased.  “Wickham, I have expected you.”

“It took me some time to reach here, as I was in the south.  With my limited income…well, it took some time.”

“You have come for your inheritance, I assume.”

Wickham smiled.  “Yes, indeed.  Your father told me he had planned to leave something for me.”

“He did.  According to his will, he left you one thousand pounds, and the living at Kympton, when it becomes available and if you are willing to take orders.” Darcy said, watching the changes in Wickham’s expression.

Though he was appalled, Wickham did not wish to anger Darcy.  He finally talked Darcy into giving him an additional three thousand pounds, as he signed papers giving up any future claims to the living.  Once the papers were signed, the funds given to Wickham, the man was on his way.  Darcy prayed he would never be forced to deal with the man again.

~~ ** ~~

In the year, Lambton had been rebuilt.  It was agreed that Darcy would pay for the materials to rebuild, and each of the recipients of his kindness would repay the loan at one pound per annum.  Those who had lost so much, and had had no hopes of ever being able to rebuild, were amazed at the generosity of the Darcys, and the kindness in not asking for high repayment amounts.

Though the rebuilding of the neighborhood was expensive to the Darcys, the young couple knew that they were doing what was best for the people of their community.  What good would it be to have no businesses nearby?  What good was not having services that were necessary to Pemberley?  Elizabeth had declared her pride in her husband’s efforts, knowing he did not charge the full amount of the rebuilding to the people.

As each building was constructed and each business reopened, the Darcys were invited in participating in a small celebration.  Darcy did not feel comfortable being put on a pedestal in public, as he was truly a shy man.  But with his wife at his side, he was able to manage.

~~ ** ~~

The tenant homes were all rebuilt, no matter what damage had been done to them.  Elizabeth had stated that it would make the tenants realize the dedication Pemberley had to its people.  Of course, Darcy agreed with his wife, as most of the cottages were aged and in need of major repairs.  It was simpler and cheaper to begin anew on each of them.

A school was built for the children of the neighborhood, and an orphanage was constructed.  Elizabeth was well known in the area for her compassion and caring, and she was loved by all who knew her.

~~ ** ~~

In the year, the Darcys welcomed their first child.  A handsome and healthy son, with his father’s blue eyes and dark hair.  The infant was sweet natured, giving his parents very little concern.  He was born nine months after his parents’ wedding, and was the center of his parents’ world.  In keeping with his own parents’ fashion of naming, the boy was given his mother’s maiden name as a given name.  Bennet Gerald William Darcy, heir of Pemberley, was a blessing for the future of the estate.

Georgiana was thrilled to be an aunt, and she loved playing with Ben.  She would hold the babe on her lap as she played the pianoforte, watching his smile as she sang softly to him.

Lord and Lady Matlock had become substitute grandparents to the young Darcy, doting on him whenever they could.  With neither of her sons married, Lady Matlock was thrilled to play the role of grandmother, preparing for the day her sons gifted her with their own children.  Having been close to Lady Anne, Rebecca Fitzwilliam felt confident her late sister in law would approve of her behavior.

Richard had been sent to France, as fighting had continued, growing worse in some areas.  They had received word that he was recently promoted to Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, for gallantry in the face of the enemy.  Though the family was proud of Richard’s promotion, they all would have preferred his safe return to them.

Geoffrey was seeing Lady Margaret Farnsworth, and it was believed that they would soon be engaged.  This thrilled Lady Matlock, as she had no daughters of her own to spoil.

The family was to gather in Town for the holidays, followed by Elizabeth’s first Season in London’s ton. Many were curious to learn more of the young lady who had won the heart of one of the most sought after young men in England, and most of the ladies were willing to disgrace the current Mrs Darcy, in retaliation for their being denied the prize.  But it was well known that Elizabeth was under the protection of Lady Matlock, and none of the young ladies wished to infuriate the likes of her.

The only member of Darcy’s family who did not approve of his marriage was his mother’s elder sister, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Lady Catherine had long desired her daughter, Anne, to be the next Mrs Darcy, and it infuriated the grand lady that some country nobody was able capture stealing the coveted position.  Anne de Bourgh had no desire to marry her cousin, but that had never mattered to her mother.

~~ ** ~~

Over the year, many things had changed at Longbourn.  Mr Bennet had taken to withdrawing even more than usual from his family, taking all his meals in his study, and imbibing large quantities of brandy.  He rarely left the house, having his steward run the estate, though the man did so poorly.  And Mr Bennet refused to speak with anyone more than a request for food or drink, or to make a demand of his family.

When he and Jane returned from Pemberley the previous year, he was in such a state that he shouted his demands to his wife and children.  Jane had begged the housekeeper, Mrs Hill, to quickly pack Elizabeth’s belongings and give them to Mr Gardiner, along with the belongings of his children, hoping her father did not attempt to stop this and have all of Elizabeth’s treasures thrown away.

As Mr Gardiner awaited the trunks with his children’s belongings to be packed, Mr Bennet ranted on his view that no one in the family was to have any communications with Elizabeth, or the Gardiner family, ever again.  Mrs Bennet was upset, as her brother and sister in law were dear to her.

“Where is Lizzy?  What is happening?” Mrs Bennet begged of her husband.

“Your daughter has ruined us.  She is dead to us, as if she never existed.  I will have her removed from all records, and she is never to be spoken of in this house again.”

“Ruined?  How are we ruined?”

“She is no longer pure.  She is married to some young man to whom she has given her virtue, with no respect to her family.”

“Lizzy is married?  To whom is she married?”

“It matters not.  She is a child, pretending to be an adult, and willingly given herself to some scoundrel who took advantage.  They did not ask my approval, and now, with her wanton behavior, the marriage cannot be annulled.   If we do not distance ourselves from her, our children will be ruined, and will never be respected in society.  I will not have my family destroyed by a harlot.  Your sister in law’s father gave his approval for the marriage, knowing she was just a child.  I cannot forgive the Gardiners or her father for what they have wrought.”

“But Thomas, Lizzy is not a child.  She is young, but only a year younger than I was when we became engaged.”

“Engaged. With your father’s approval.  Done properly, in the eyes of God, not behind the backs of all who loved you.  And we were engaged until you turned eighteen.  But everything was done properly, with the blessings of our parents and God.  Not like this.  I cannot forgive that girl.  And you will have no contact with her or the Gardiners ever again.  Do you understand me?”  Mr Bennet was filled with fury.

Mrs Bennet knew she was on dangerous ground, and decided to take the safe road.  “Very well, Thomas.  If you deem it to be so, I will obey.”

Only Mrs Bennet had gone behind her husband’s back to learn more of her second born daughter’s situation.  In the village of Meryton, two miles from Longbourn, lived Mrs Bennet’s sister, Amelia Phillips. Through her sister, Mrs Bennet was able to trade letters with Elizabeth and the Gardiners.

It was in the letters that Mrs Bennet learned the truth of the situation.  Her daughter was married to one of the richest men in all of England, had married after the earthquake had left her in a compromised situation, and had not consummated the marriage until she was pushed by her father’s insistence that the marriage be annulled. By the time Mrs Bennet learned all there was of her daughter’s marriage and the circumstances behind its rapidness, Elizabeth had just discovered she was with child.  Mrs Bennet’s heart was broken at the thought of never being able to see her first grandchild, especially a child who would be heir to a vast fortune and was great grandchild of an earl.  How she longed to tell all of their neighbors of her delight, but if she did, how would her husband behave when he learned the news?  Would he forbid her to speak with her sister as well as her brother?

During the year, a man took the lease of Netherfield Park, the neighboring estate to Longbourn.  Mr Andrew Bingley brought his son, Charles, and Charles’ two elder sisters, Louisa and Caroline, to learn about life as landed gentry.  Mr Bingley had been a successful business man, making a fortune in the fabric mills.  Though their roots were in trade, Mr Bingley wished for his children to be accepted in higher society.  Charles had gone to school with young men of the gentry, and the sisters had attended the best seminaries possible.  Now, Mr Bingley was looking to purchase an estate.

When he learned about Netherfield, he was impressed with the condition of the estate.  Mr Bingley thought it would be wiser to lease an estate first, then decide on purchasing.  And Netherfield was within an easy distance to London, making the journey simple enough for his daughters and son to enjoy a bit of society.

At an assembly, shortly after the Bingley family arrived in the neighborhood, Charles met Miss Jane Bennet. His father laughed, watching his son make a fool of himself as the young man could hardly find the words to speak.  After dancing two sets with Jane, Charles informed his father that Miss Bennet was an angel.

Caroline Bingley was not pleased with the move to the uncivilized country, as she described the neighborhood.  She wished to be attending parties and balls, rubbing elbows with the elite that Society had to offer.  Her sister, Louisa, was engaged to marry a young man who was heir to his father’s estate, which was the size of Netherfield.  Louisa was pleased with her choice for a husband, as Gilbert Hurst was a kind and caring man.  Her only problem was her sister’s constant interfering in Louisa’s plans for the future.  In Caroline’s view, Hurst was not a good choice, and would not promote their family to those she wished to impress.

No, to Caroline Bingley, there was only one man she could think of as a husband for herself.  There were two main problems with her choice…he was already married, and, even before he married, he had made it clear that he had no desire to marry Caroline Bingley.  The young man was her brother’s best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

The Bingley family had spent a month at Pemberley, just prior to the Bingleys moving to Netherfield in September.  Darcy was able to explain aspects of running an estate to Mr Bingley, taking the man out on Pemberley’s land, showing him what needed to be done.  Seeing all the new that had been built and the respect that Darcy’s tenants and staff had for the Master and the Mistress of Pemberley, Mr Bingley wished to be similar in his way of running an estate.

Caroline Bingley had made it clear that she had no use of Elizabeth Darcy, and she clung to Darcy whenever she could.  Mr Bingley spoke with his daughter several times about her behavior, yet nothing seemed to make a difference with her.  The night before the Bingleys left for Netherfield, the dinner conversation was uncomfortable.

“Mrs Darcy, are you to be presented in the coming Season?” Caroline asked.

“The plans are for my presentation in April.” Elizabeth replied.

“And who is sponsoring you?  Will it be your relations or your husband’s?”

“My husband will be presenting me, though Lord and Lady Matlock have given their support in everything.  Lady Matlock has also seen to my acceptance to Almack.”

Caroline fumed, as she had been denied admittance to Almack.  Taking a sip of her wine, she continued on her plans to discredit the young lady.  “It is a shame that your family did not see to your presentation when you came out…as my father saw fit to do for our family.  Oh, but you did not have a coming out, did you?  You were so young when you took the position of Mistress of Pemberley.”

“Miss Caroline, my wife did not take anything.  She was given her rightful place, as my wife should have.  My father’s dying wish was to see us married, as he approved of Elizabeth completely.”

“And Mrs Darcy, where is your father’s estate?  I have never heard anyone mention anything about your family.”  Caroline wished to point out that Elizabeth seemed to be a nobody, especially in comparison to herself.

“My father’s estate is south of here.  We have not seen them since shortly after our wedding.” Elizabeth stated, attempting to keep the truth from the woman who infuriated her so completely.

“But where south?  You have never said.”

“Miss Caroline, you have no need to know more of my wife’s family.  It is highly unlikely you would ever meet them, and I am certain you can understand that there was a disagreement which has divided the family.  I would prefer if you would change the subject, as I do not wish for my wife to be uncomfortable.” Darcy stated, giving Caroline a scorching glare.

“How sad, a disagreement.  So they have yet to meet their grandson?  I would have thought any parent would be overjoyed to meet their grandchild.  Father, you have often stated you cannot wait to be a grandfather.”

“Caroline, you have said enough on the subject.  If you cannot think of something else to discuss, you should spend the rest of the meal in silence.” Mr Bingley declared to his daughter.

Caroline was not ready to give up the discussion.  “I was only stating how sad it was that Mrs Darcy’s parents were not pleased with their grandson.  I know you would be thrilled, and doting on the child as soon as he was born.  The disagreement must be something terrible, to keep her family from such a blessed event.”

“ENOUGH!” Darcy’s voice boomed throughout the room.  “It is a private matter, not one on which for you to speculate or speak.  If you cannot keep your opinions to yourself, I suggest that a tray can be sent to your rooms.”

Blushing, Caroline was frustrated that her attempts to discredit Elizabeth had only succeeded in making Darcy furious.  But she knew there was something to discover in Elizabeth Darcy’s past, and she was determined to learn just what the secret was.

~~ ** ~~

Mrs Gardiner was overjoyed to receive news that her beloved niece and her family had arrived at Darcy House in London.  It was the first time Elizabeth had been to her husband’s family townhouse, and she was nervous.  Mrs Gardiner and Lady Matlock had made plans to take their niece shopping for new clothes and accessories.  Since the earthquake, Elizabeth put more into the rebuilding of their neighborhood, and then her confinement, rather than purchase a new wardrobe.

In one of her recent letters to Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth wrote that her husband teasingly thanked her for the funds she had saved him by waiting to purchase her new wardrobe, as giving birth to their son had changed her body into quite a womanly figure, and she would never have been able to fit her expanded curves into the gowns she wore before her marriage.  It pleased Mrs Gardiner that her niece had found a loving man, a man who cherished Elizabeth completely, and respected the young lady she was.

“Edward, Lizzy sent word.  They have arrived at Darcy House.  We are invited to dine with them tomorrow evening.  Lord and Lady Matlock will be there, as will Geoffrey Fitzwilliam.”

“It will be a pleasure to see them again.  And our little nephew, the children have been talking of nothing else since they learned that the Darcys were coming to Town.” Mr Gardiner chuckled.  “With Christmas just around the corner, I am certain that you ladies have many days of shopping planned.”

“Of course.  Our niece never has properly purchased a trousseau, so it is about time.  And, from what she writes, Mr Darcy is pleased with what motherhood has done for Elizabeth’s figure.”

Mr Gardiner shook his head.  “Lizzy is like my own daughter, Helen, do not tell me of her husband’s preferences for her figure.”

Mrs Gardiner laughed openly.  “Lizzy will soon be eighteen, my dear husband.  She has been married over a year now, and given birth.  But you still think of her as the sixteen year old who went to Lambton with me last year.”

“No, I realize she is growing up.  I just do not wish to know of a young man appreciating our girl’s figure, as I appreciate yours.”  Mr Gardiner scooped his wife into his arms, placing a kiss on her lips.

~~ ** ~~

Elizabeth Darcy had received a letter from her Aunt Phillips, and was reading it in her study, when her husband entered the room.  “Elizabeth, is all prepared for dinner tonight?”

“As far as I know, Mrs Brooks has everything under control.  She is just as efficient as Mrs Reynolds is at Pemberley, so I have no doubts.” Elizabeth looked at Darcy, wondering why he was asking.

“It is early enough in the day, so I thought you might like a walk in Hyde Park.  Since we live right across the street, we will be able to take a stroll and return with plenty of time to rest before our guests arrive.”

“Shall we take our son or Georgiana?”

Darcy smiled.  “You are kind to think of them, but I think we should go alone, just the two of us.  We rarely have time alone, and it would be pleasant.”

“Very well, William.  I will gather my bonnet and coat, and meet you in the foyer in a few moments.” Elizabeth said, leaving the letter on the top of her desk.

The couple walked along the paths of the park, stopping to watch the ducks at the pond, stealing kisses behind the bushes growing along the paths.  Though they had been married for a year, it was a year of learning about each other while managing all the repairs of the neighborhood.  It did not give them a chance to take a wedding trip, as neither would abandon their duties to those relying on them.  Even after Ben was born, Darcy had a difficult time keeping his wife in bed, as Mr Grant had insisted.  Elizabeth was a small built lady, while Ben was a large babe, which had taxed her strength.  Only threats that her husband would literally tie her to the bed could keep her in compliance.

The two had caused many smiles from their families in the year of their marriage.  Seeing Darcy smile more, his dimples visible frequently, his ease with those around him, made the Fitzwilliam family and Georgiana happy, as he had been a shy, reserved young man.  Though they had started out as acquaintances, thrown together during a tragedy, Elizabeth and Darcy had become the dearest of friends, followed by falling in love.

Elizabeth’s relations were pleased to see her husband respect her intelligence, realizing that she was not a foolish girl, as her father had decided, but a lady who could manage the tasks placed before her.  At first, Mrs Gardiner worried that Elizabeth being Mistress of Pemberley would be far too much for the young lady to contend with.  But the weeks went by, after the earthquake, and it was clear to Helen Gardiner that Elizabeth was born to be Mrs Darcy of Pemberley.

As they walked, they heard someone call out their names from behind them.  Turning, they saw Charles Bingley walking quickly towards them.  “Darcy, I did not know you were in Town.  Mrs Darcy, you look beautiful, as always.”

“Bingley, it is a pleasure to see you.  I thought you were staying at your father’s estate.  What brings you to Town?”

“Father had papers he needed brought to the solicitor, and I wished to do some shopping for the holidays, so I volunteered.  I will return there tomorrow, as I do not wish to leave the angel I am courting, as she is such a jewel.”

The faraway look on Bingley’s face made the couple laughed.  “And what is the name of your angel, Bingley?” Darcy asked.

“Jane…is that not a fitting name for an angel?”

“Jane is an angelic name, as my elder sister is named Jane, and she could be described as an angel.  So, you are courting.  This is serious then?”

“Well, it is difficult.  I have the approval of her mother, but her father refuses to speak with anyone.  He hides away in his bookroom, and, to be honest, I have yet to meet him.”

Elizabeth felt pity for the young man.  “How terrible for you.  Is there another male in the family who can give you permission?  What will happen if you decide to wed this young lady?”

“I am not certain, but it is a sad situation.  I will speak with her uncle when I return to the estate.  He might be able to intercede on my behalf.  And Father stated he would attempt to speak with the gentleman.  My poor Jane has suffered from her father’s neglect of the family and home.”

“From the sounds of situation, the family is in a terrible state.  I will keep a prayer that it is easily dealt with and you will be able to find happiness with your angel.” Darcy said, shaking hands with his friend, as they made their farewells.

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One thought on “Pemberley Quaking chapters 5 & 6

  1. Loving this story and really pondering how this is going to proceed. Glad to hear that they did fall in love…and have a son. But the Bennets are missing out on so much.

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