The Writer's Block
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The Writer's Block
Teatime with Austen
My Dearest Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan
Topic: My Dearest Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan (Read 2457 times)
Happily ever after comes true
My Dearest Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan
August 22, 2011, 10:23:41 PM »
My third novel in The Darcy Saga sequel series to
Pride & Prejudice
opens with a prologue written by one of my favorite characters, Dr. George Darcy, wherein he recounts some of the events from
Loving Mr. Darcy
from his point of view and in his humorous voice. Here, however, I am sharing a large portion of the first chapter. In
Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam receive a succession of letters from family that update them on the events occurring beyond Pemberley.
I hope you enjoy. More can be read on my website -
- along with information on all of my novels.
Chapter 1 - Correspondence
The sun had long since set. The full moon cast a pale bluish glow over the carpet and furnishings near the widely open windows of the Darcys’ spacious private sitting room. It was far too warm on this late August evening to have a fire lit, but several oil lamps and candles illuminated the area near the empty fireplace. Darcy, as always, refused to grope in darkness or strain his or his wife’s eyes while they read.
They reclined on the chaise, Lizzy nestled between her husband’s legs with her back pressed into his bare chest. Peaceful silence surrounded them as they attended to the stack of correspondence that had accumulated during their journey south. Darcy, especially, was still working his way through the pile that seemed to grow rather than diminish as business-related items were continually added to the top.
Tonight he eschewed any business letters, choosing to read a lengthy missive from his sister while absently toying with a lock of his wife’s hair. Lizzy smiled and lightly stroked her husband’s cloth-covered thigh as she read a letter from her sister Jane that had arrived that day.
* ~ * ~ *
My Dearest Lizzy,
My heart nearly stopped as you related your trauma with the bandits! Oh, dearest sister, how absolutely awful an experience! I am trembling yet at the horror of it and the thankfulness in your recovery. How proud of Mr. Darcy you must be! Charles was not at all surprised. I recall him telling me once that Mr. Darcy was an excellent marksman. Of course I am quite certain he never anticipated his dear friend utilizing his skills so. Has Papa written you? Undoubtedly he shall relate the episode in an amusing manner, but Mama was quite taken by your mishap. Her nervous attack was of stupendous proportions. She has been abed for two days, despite your and Mr. Darcy’s assurances that all was well. Papa retreated to his library as usual, appearing only to halt the mournful letter she had penned to you! Therefore you shall necessarily be required to affect commiseration when next you write to Mama.
Thank you for relating your excursion abroad the Derbyshire countryside. What a marvelous idea! I must share this tidbit of humor: Charles was reading Mr. Darcy’s letter as I was reading yours when suddenly he snorted in disgust. I inquired as to his concern and he recalled Mr. Darcy boring him nearly to death while in France with the endless tours of old castles and ruins. I chuckled so, dear Lizzy, as your letter expressed such joy over the adventures! Of course, I can empathize with my husband as such diversions are not appealing to me; however, I am cognizant of how you adore them, so was thrilled you two embarked on the endeavor.
If you have received a letter from Papa, then you know he accepted the news of Charles and me relocating with serenity. I know he is saddened, and perhaps he has communicated his distress to you; nonetheless, he understands and has given us his blessing. Mama, shockingly, was in hysterics. Oh Lizzy, it was awful! She wailed and moaned, lamenting how all her daughters have deserted her and she would never be able to kiss her grandchildren. Poor Charles was frantic. Papa took her in hand, but it was terrible. I must confess, as horrendous as your crisis, it did succeed in deflecting Mama’s anxiety from me! Hopefully for both our sakes, Mary will proffer a blessed announcement forthwith to further avert Mama’s absorption and cheer her spirits.
As for Charles and me, we are proceeding as planned. I do believe Charles would have packed up and departed within the week, but I have given him pause. It is a difficult move for me, Lizzy dear. You know that change is not embraced as easily by me as you. While we were yet in Derbyshire, my enthusiasm was as profound as Charles’s. Now that I am home, Hertfordshire continually draws me in with all her lures and homey comforts. Yet oddly I find that with each passing day the sense of belonging, especially at Netherfield, ebbs. Charles speaks of Hasberry daily, and I am beginning to long for the charms of the house. Mostly, of course, my heart yearns to please my husband. I am so proud of his spirit and zeal as well as the serious maturity he displays in regard to this new undertaking.
Caroline has returned to London, abiding with the Hursts for the present, although I do believe she plans to holiday in Essex with a friend next month. As you and I were discussing, Caroline continues to puzzle me. Over time the worst of her disdain for me has vanished and she actually appears pleased for Charles and me in our obvious felicity. However, try as I might, we cannot establish a sisterly relationship or a particularly friendly one. I know you shrug her attitude away, Lizzy, believing me silly for fretting so, yet I persist in wishing it otherwise. The oddest part is how her personality vacillates. She spoke of her trip to Essex with a queer expression. She almost appeared dreamy and her eyes softened. Then it was as if she caught herself and rapidly followed with a snippy comment about the dreariness of Meryton. I do wish I could laugh at her as you do. Oh well, she is gone now and peace reigns.
Lizzy, I am pleased that your pregnancy progresses without complications. The nursery as you describe it sounds beautiful. Who would have thought to have clouds painted on a blue ceiling and a pastel landscape over one wall? I confess I have difficulty envisioning the scene. How ingenious of the decorator to suggest such a masterpiece! You did not, however, mention horses grazing upon the painted grasses. Charles and I immediately noted the omission and mutually decided it was an oversight on your part as assuredly Mr. Darcy would insist on horses! I am pleased to hear of the cuckoo clock finding a home where your child will grow amid the sweet music as we all did. I believe I shall have to hint of the same when the time comes for Charles and me. The lace curtains are a perfect touch. You amaze me, dearest sister, in your sudden embracing of domesticity. Knitting and sewing! Astounding! The needlepoint pillows and pictures I can comprehend, as you have ever adored embroidery, but making your own curtains? I truly must see it with mine own eyes to fully believe. I told Mama, but she thought me jesting. Perhaps the concept of babies brings out one’s creativity as Caroline did complete the quilt. I must say, it is a skillfully wrought item and beautiful. You will love it.
Charles has finished his missive to Mr. Darcy, so I shall close for now. You absolutely cannot tell Mama or Papa, but I am so very thrilled that we shall be close, Lizzy. I miss you so very much and want our children to grow dear to each other. Before I finish I must thank you for your timely advice at our last private chat. You were right in all aspects and the results are as you presupposed. We truly are the most fortunate of women in our marriages, are we not, dear sister? If only all could be so blessed. Imagine how wonderful the world would then be? I love you, Lizzy, and yearn for your companionship. Take care on your journey to the seacoast.
* ~ * ~ *
Lizzy was smiling broadly and chuckling as she refolded Jane’s correspondence. “What does your sister have to say which so amused you, beloved?” Darcy asked, his voice rumbling over Lizzy’s back.
“Have you read the letter from Charles yet?” she asked, turning her head to peer up into Darcy’s face as he shook his head negative. “Apparently he related with disgust the reminiscences of your journey to France. You were not exaggerating as to his feelings on museums and ruins.”
Darcy chuckled. “I could almost generate some pity if it were not for his avengement.”
“You never did tell me the story of your waltz experiences.”
“I suppose I can now see humor in the situation. Knowing the dance has benefited me most delightfully in the present, thus easing the painful memory.” He paused to stroke her cheek and lean forward for a tasty kiss.
“You were saying?” Lizzy interrupted in a throaty whisper.
“I was saying?” he repeated, brushing her lips with insistence, but she withdrew with a giggle.
“About the waltz, William. You were going to tell me the story.”
He sighed theatrically. “Very well then, but do not forget where we were, my lover.” She solemnly nodded, eyes twinkling. “As I told you, I first danced the waltz in Vienna. When I was twenty-five, I traveled to Austria to visit my Aunt Mary. The waltz is quite popular there, and before I hardly knew what was happening, my cousins were grasping my hands and propelling me onto the floor of their music room. You need not imagine anything untoward, love. They are all quite older than me and married.” Lizzy harrumphed and Darcy grinned.
He resumed, “They considered it a hideous lapse in my education to only know the stilted dances of the English. The Austrians are looser and prefer lively, intimate dances such as the tarantella, lavolta, courante, and galliard. I shall confess that I actually enjoyed myself and, risking the label of arrogant, I learned quickly and was quite excellent! As you now are aware, I do find dancing pleasant, provided I am familiar and comfortable with my partner.” He kissed her nose, stroking along her neck. “In Vienna I reluctantly was induced to dance a few times at the balls we attended, although I refused other than my aunt or cousins. They thought that was hysterical and teased me mercilessly.”
Lizzy laughed. “Ah, the poor broken hearts extend all across Europe. Those woeful Austrian ladies with their sad faces moping despondently about the ballroom.”
Darcy reddened but snorted. “Unlikely, Elizabeth.” Lizzy smiled, again amused at how innocent and obtuse he was in regards to his attributes and allure. “Anyway, two years later Bingley and I were in Paris at a soiree hosted by the Comte and Comtesse Petain. I did not wish to attend, not surprisingly, but Bingley adores such entertainments and despite his allusions to the contrary, I was perceptive to his annoyance and remorseful for dragging him along on my adventures. During dinner the conversation turned to the ball and the anticipation for the waltz. Bingley, sweet, seemingly scrupulous Bingley, manipulated the topic masterfully. Within minutes the entire table accounted me a veritable waltz virtuoso, and I was slated to dance with five ladies, three of whom were the Comte’s excessively homely daughters!”
Lizzy was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. Darcy shuddered in memory but then laughed as well. “He completely blindsided me. I do confess it was rather inspired maneuvering, and his goal of humiliating me worked brilliantly.”
“Did you trip or forget the steps?”
“Very amusing, Mrs. Darcy. No, I did not. I was graceful and flawless.” He grinned. “So elegant and debonair that I believe it is fortunate we departed the next day as I may have caused the entire assemblage to fall madly in love with me.”
He meant to elicit further laughter, but she smiled into his eyes instead and caressed his cheek. “Yes, I am sure they did. A host of broken hearts once again.” She pulled him down for a deep kiss, Darcy happily complying. The spell was broken when he reached to embrace her waist and Georgiana’s letter, still clutched in his left hand, crumpled against the swell of her belly.
“Oh dear!” he exclaimed, “I should finish this before mutilating it.”
“What does she have to say?”
“You must read it, dearest. Of course, it is addressed to you as well. She is having a marvelous trip. When she dispatched this, they were at Aunt Madeline’s brother’s home in Rhayader. I believe they have probably moved on from there to Aberystwyth by now, but she says the mansion is enormous with all sorts of secret passageways, unused wings, a bell tower, and supposedly a ghost from the twelfth century. Listen: ‘Suzette,’—one of the cousins—‘declares with firm belief that the ghost is a woman who died from a suspicious fall from the bell tower. She swears, brother, that she has seen her gliding about the north wing with flowing robes of white and a sad face. I asked why all ghosts are required to wear white. Is it a metaphysical law of some sort? Suzette did not find my cheekiness amusing. Needless to say, I have not seen this ghost, although despite my skepticism, I do not intend to wander the empty corridors in the dead of night—this being, naturally, according to those laws previously mentioned, the only time the ghost will appear!’”
Chuckling, Darcy paused. Lizzy read ahead to the following paragraph, asking, “Who is this Lord Gruffudd that she mentions horseback riding with?”
Darcy frowned. “A Welshman who lives in the vicinity and is obviously close friends with Mr. Dawes, Madeline’s brother. That is the fourth time she has noted his presence involved in some activity partaken. Why would she remark about an old neighbor?”
“Perhaps he is not old. You came into your inheritance young, as do others sadly. Maybe she is smitten. Did you read this? ‘Lord Gruffudd is nearly as excellent a rider as you, dear brother. You always told me that a person born in the saddle is instantly recognized. Lord Gruffudd has such a demeanor. It was an entertaining ride about the moor with all in high spirits despite the drizzling mist as Lord Gruffudd’s wit and humor is enlivening.’ Sounds like a wee crush to me!”
Lizzy giggled, glancing to Darcy. Her laughter froze at the thunderous expression on his face. His eyes skimmed over the remaining two pages, counting Lord Gruffudd’s name five more times ere her best wishes and signature. Lizzy opened her mouth to ask what was wrong, but the words failed when Darcy abruptly launched from the chaise as if sprung. Her jaw clamped shut from the sudden jolt as she fell into the space vacated by his absent body, sprawled into a bizarre angle.
Darcy commenced pacing as if caged, muttering, and clenching his fists. As typical when deeply disturbed or perplexed, he ended by a far window, staring sightlessly. Lizzy struggled up from the chaise, approaching him cautiously. “William, whatever is the matter?”
He did not glance to her, shaking his head brusquely before responding in a flat, icy tone. “I never should have let her go. It is my duty to protect her from such things, and I allowed my selfishness to overrule my reason.”
“I do not understand, dearest. What ‘things’ are you concerned about? She is having a delightful time, and so what if she has an infatuation? She will be eighteen in two weeks. It is rather normal for a girl her age to notice a handsome man, assuming that is even the case here.”
Darcy pivoted her direction, the anger and self-loathing on his face propelling her backward a pace. “Need I remind you how the last infatuation she experienced concluded? Think, Elizabeth! I am aware it was before your time; however, surely you know enough of the details to comprehend why I do not wish for her to suffer such heartache again?”
Lizzy’s anger flared and she placed her hands onto her hips, answering him with equal vigor. “Do not talk to me that way, Mr. Darcy! Georgiana has shared all her emotions of the Ramsgate affair with me, probably to a degree not even shared with you, but that is beside the point. You are being idiotic to equate a few mentions in a letter with the Wickham incident, and you grievously insult both your sister, who is far wiser than you give credit, and your aunt and uncle!”
“That is the least harsh term I could conjure.” She crossed her arms and cocked her head slightly, a tiny smile lifting her lips at the sight of her husband attempting to glower and rage while dressed in naught but his breeches. “What truly bothers you, love? That she may experience a mild heartbreak or that she is admiring a man besides her idolized older brother?”
“That is ridiculous, Elizabeth.” His denial was speedy, but the tone betrayed him. He glanced back out the window, avoiding her eyes, and ran one hand through his hair. “I feel helpless so far from her. What if she needs me? What if he is a scoundrel? What if…? Aach! I shall go insane!” He dropped his hands futilely to his sides.
Lizzy smiled, planting herself squarely in front of him and placing her palms onto his chest. “I think you are worrying for nothing, William. Georgiana will not be leaving us anytime soon, although it shall happen in due course so you must prepare yourself for the eventuality.” He grunted, staring over her head, but he did clasp her waist with both hands. “I promise I shall forever idolize you and need you, my husband. I will even endeavor to do something stupid now and again so you can protect me! That way you shall never feel worthless.” She smiled dazzlingly, Darcy unable to maintain his vexation. With a sigh and faint chuckle he embraced her, deciding with effort to relinquish his fear and trust his uncle and aunt, although he did hastily dispatch a sternly worded response.
* ~ * ~ *
Dear William and Elizabeth,
Greetings from Devon! Yes, I finally made it, warning Estella of my pending arrival a whole five days ere I barged in. Forgive me for not writing sooner, although I have no excuse for having not done so other than my raging irresponsibility. I trust you both adore me, worship the ground I walk upon adequately so as to not require I fabricate false pretexts or humility. In fact, be overjoyed as this will likely be the only correspondence you receive from me! In an attempt to placate, I shall endeavor to make it an extensive one with witticisms and information. Here goes:
The ride was uneventful, as you undoubtedly have heard from Col. Fitzwilliam or Mr. Bingley or Miss de Bourgh, all whom are likely to have written prior to me. We tarried at Netherfield for two days. It has been longer than I can recall since I visited Hertfordshire. Elizabeth, your home Shire is lovely. Like William, Derbyshire will always be dearest to my heart, but the lush farms of Hertfordshire are beautiful. Meryton so reminded me of Lambton that I had the most annoying sensation of déjà vu! We dined with your parents, Elizabeth. I must say again how delightful I find your father! Capital fellow. Quite an impressive library for so small a room. Be prepared, William, as he is chomping at the bit to ramble through Pemberley’s bookshelves. Your mother, Elizabeth, bless her heart, seemed all atwitter by my presence. Odd, as I rarely have such an effect on folks, being so calm and serene of spirit.
Lizzy and Darcy snorted simultaneously at this blatant falsehood.
I did my best to be charming and endearing, and believe I succeeded as she actually smiled and blushed when I said my adieus. I seem to have this effect on women despite my attempts to submerge my natural magnetism. It is a Darcy trait, do you not agree, William?
Only Lizzy snorted at this point, Darcy nudging her in the ribs.
Leaving Hertfordshire we leisurely drove to Kent. Miss de Bourgh did not strike me as being too anxious to return home. She continues to thrive, her color improving daily, even the trip not upsetting her health. Raja is thrilled. I do hope you have no qualms as to the nature of the relationship between him and your cousin, William? I know how dear she is to you. I shall confess that initially I was concerned as it is not an unusual phenomenon for patients to become enamored with their physicians. Happens to me all the time! Ha!! Seriously, as the weeks progressed, I have realized that Raul’s feelings are genuine. Thus, my greatest concern was that Miss Anne’s feelings may not be reciprocal and that my dear friend would be hurt. I no longer entertain this notion, as I have seen the affection between the two.
Now here is the fun part! We arrived at Rosings, Lady Catherine as enchanting as always.
“I cannot imagine my aunt ever being enchanting,” Darcy grunted, Lizzy opting not to respond beyond nodding her head.
Raja and I were ignored. Col. Fitzwilliam and Miss de Bourgh were both embarrassed, bless their souls, by our obvious slighting, but Raja and I found it highly amusing. I do not think either of you grew to know Dr. Penaflor well, but let me assure you, the man has a backbone to rival even you, William. We settled at the inn in Ashford, happy to bide our time for one evening. Raja, however, had a plan with no intention of being waylaid. I do not know all the details, but it was clear to me by this point that he and Miss de Bourgh had reached an agreement of sorts. I know he has not formally proposed. You see, formality and propriety are vitally essential to a man such as Raul Penaflor and nothing short of a proper courtship will do.
Lizzy interrupted to envy the fortunate Anne in enjoying a regular courtship as befits a lady. Darcy replied that courtships are a waste of time, Anne preferring to just get married and skip to the fun part. He grinned salaciously, eyes raking over her body, which raised a blush to her cheeks and halted any further snappy comments.
You two may not quite understand Raja’s circumstance. He was raised in the courts of Madrid and Palencia. His blood is as blue as it gets and his wealth transcends yours, William; radically transcends. I honestly do not know how affluent he is, but I have gathered much and it is extensive. Additionally, his connections are superb. I do not think any of these facts interest Miss de Bourgh in the least, but Lady Catherine is another matter entirely. However, I am getting ahead of myself in the tale.
So, day two: We are invited, by Miss de Bourgh, to dine. She is showing strength beyond merely physical and I do not judge Lady Catherine is wholly pleased by that development. Nonetheless, we arrived for dinner to the sweet charm of Miss Anne, the booming effervescence of Col. Fitzwilliam, who I believe intended to stay around at the risk of court-martial for abandoning his post rather than miss the spectacle
(Darcy laughed aloud, certain that this was about the truth-knowing Richard and his delight in subtly tormenting his aunt.)
and the sour disposition of Lady Catherine. Most delightful dinner engagement I have ever been a part of! Lady Catherine had invited her vicar, Mr. Collins, and his wife. Lovely woman, Mrs. Collins, but more on her later. Her husband, however, I am sure was included on the dinner list as an ally in the anti-foreigner and strange distant relative front.
(Lizzy’s comment on Mr. Collins shall not be repeated here.)
Dinner itself went well enough. The food was marvelous, Raul and Miss Anne made doe eyes at each other throughout, Lady Catherine’s face pruned increasingly, Rev. Collins waxed philosophical on the virtues of chastity and morality, Mrs. Collins and Col. Fitzwilliam and I hid our smiles, and the palpable tension nearly manifested physically. As I said, it was stupendous!
As we rose from the table, Raja requested to speak alone with Lady Catherine. She demurred, pointedly stating that anything he wished to say could be said in front of us all. I tried to have the good grace to look embarrassed, but simply could not muster the emotion. Raja was prepared for any eventuality, so her presumptive hope to unman him failed. Upon arrival in the parlor, he boldly asserted himself, Miss Anne sitting with quiet grace but steady strength. I think I can closely relate the entire conversation:
‘Lady Catherine,’ Dr. Penaflor began, ‘I am sure you are aware that Miss de Bourgh and I have grown friendly over the course of our acquaintance. Although initially my interest was as a physician and strictly professional, I soon realized that my respect and admiration for her as a person had risen. With each passing day I am amazed at the intelligence, kindness, grace, and humor that are only a fragment of the positive attributes that your daughter possesses. I am beyond fortunate to have met her and would appreciate your permission to formally court her with the definitive intention of securing her hand in matrimony when, or if, she deems me worthy of her.’
“Very well done,” Darcy murmured. “Yes,” Lizzy responded, “well thought out as all the right things a girl needs to hear to render an affirmative response to a proposal.” She laughed, patting her husband’s red cheek.
‘That is a wonderful speech, Dr. Penaflor. What assurance can you offer me that any of it is the truth?’
‘Time, Lady Catherine, will prove the truth of my words. I am honorable and a gentleman. I would not state such praise in the presence of a lady without fully meaning it; however, I shall take no offense as you do not know me well. Therefore, time and permission to intrude upon your home is requested so all parties involved can feel certain of the relationship.’
‘Tell me, Dr. Penaflor, as a gentleman claiming to care for my daughter, do you account a mere doctor as adequate to husband the daughter of a lady?’
‘I suppose the answer depends on what you consider an adequate husband. My profession, my lady, is of no import in regards to my love for her, and my desire to ensure her happiness and welfare. That comes from my heart. If you are referring to monetary issues, I assure you I can more than adequately provide for her needs.’
‘What you really mean is that in marrying her you will not have to worry about money!’
‘Mother!’ Miss de Bourgh declared, but Lady Catherine and Dr. Penaflor ignored her.
‘What I mean, Lady Catherine, is precisely what I said. I can more than adequately provide for her needs.’
‘How do you expect to do that on a doctor’s income? I do not know what the status of physicians is in Spain, but in England they barely scrape a living!’
‘Lady Catherine, allow me to make several things perfectly clear for all our sakes. First, I am proud of my chosen profession and will make no apologies for it. I am not a doctor for the financial benefits, although I do not see that aspect as bleakly as you do. Secondly, Miss de Bourgh is a great lady and as such deserves only the best. If I did not think I could provide this, I would not offer, no matter my feelings. You asked if a mere doctor was worthy of your daughter and I would concur that the honest answer in light of English societal mores would be no. My personal opinions of this fact are inconsequential as I have qualification beyond my calling.’
‘What sort of qualification could a vagabond from Spain possibly possess?’
Raul smiled, glancing to Miss de Bourgh and then to me. Here comes the humorous part, but I also know Raja, and he abhors touting his connections. Few know anything beyond that he is a Spaniard. ‘Lady Catherine, my father is Duke Manuel Penaflor Aleman de Vigo. My mother is now the Duchess de Vigo, but was born an Infanta of the royal house.’
He went on for quite a bit, outlining all the various interconnections in his family, none of which I can unravel and remember. All the while Lady Catherine’s face was paling further. Frankly, I drifted off for a spell as I always do when Raja elaborates on his family relationships. I was brought to wakefulness by the blessed sound of utter silence. Now, Elizabeth dear, do not read this next part as I intend to reveal my evil nature, and as you esteem me nearly god-like in your adoration, I would hate to burst your bubble.
Lizzy dissolved into laughter, wiping tears from her eyes as she gasped, “Oh William, I so adore your uncle!” Darcy smiled, offering his handkerchief.
William, your aunt was white as a ghost and stammering inarticulate noises. Col. Fitzwilliam was red as a beet in an attempt to not laugh, Mrs. Collins stared into her lap with magnetic intensity, Rev. Collins was gazing at Raul with pure worship, and Miss de Bourgh was glowing with pride. I am quite certain he could have dropped to one knee and secured her hand on the spot. Anyway, I could not tear my eyes from Lady Catherine. I have rarely known such joy! She was completely at a loss for words, so I bluntly filled the gap.
‘Well, Catherine, seems to me that Dr. Penaflor outranks you. My, my, my. What shall you do? Cannot very well withhold consent to a genuine royal, can you?’ Yes, yes! I enjoyed myself immensely and could only wish with all my being that James were there. Lord, how he disliked Anne’s sister!
Well, there you have it. I know you continued to read, Elizabeth, so can only pray you still love me and want these hands to deliver your baby. Lady Catherine eventually consented to Raul’s courtship and I departed two days later for London, leaving Raja to his pursuits. Have not heard from him since but suppose I shall need to find a new associate. Col. Fitzwilliam accompanied me, and we two bachelors managed to have a bit of fun ere my departure to Devon. Do not worry, William, Mrs. Smyth would not allow me to ransack Darcy House too profoundly. It remains largely intact.
“Better be or there shall be hell to pay,” Darcy murmured with a smile. Lizzy was dazedly imagining the vision of a pestered and flustered Mrs. Smyth with no small amount of pleasure.
The family here in Honiton greets you both. They have nothing but praise for Elizabeth, to all of which I wholeheartedly concur, and entreat me to send their congratulations on your blessing. I do pray your child is half as adorable as Cousin Nicole’s two. They have the roundest brown eyes and are simply sweet enough to eat! Naturally they love me and I am having a marvelous time. However, I will return to Pemberley in late September, or sometime in there. I deem it only polite to visit with Mrs. Smyth again for a spell as I am sure she misses me greatly. I do hope all is well with you both. Enjoy your holiday at the seaside. Oh, I nearly forgot! Mrs. Collins’s pregnancy is progressing nicely, not that we spoke of it, naturally, but I could readily discern that all was well. She is a delightful woman. So warm and humorous. She spoke of you, Elizabeth, with tremendous affection. We had no opportunity to speak privately, not that this would have been appropriate, but I wanted you to know her status.
With deepest regard and love to you both,
George, alias Dr. Darcy for you, Elizabeth
* ~ * ~ *
Darcy was grinning as he folded the letter. Glancing into his wife’s dreamy face, he reached to brush the backs of his fingers over a velvet cheek. “Do not fear, love. I am positive our baby shall be the loveliest on the face of the earth.”
Lizzy laughed, turning to kiss his knuckles. “Yes, surely. However, I was lost in the delicious vision of a harried Mrs. Smyth.” She sighed deeply, an evil twinkle in her eyes.
Darcy assumed a stern face, although his eyes twinkled as well. “How unbecoming of you, Elizabeth Darcy. I am aghast.”
Lizzy merely laughed further while Darcy rose to deposit the letter onto his desk. They sat in his study, the late afternoon August sun blazing through the open windows. No breeze was forthcoming and had not been for days upon days, therefore the room was stifling. Lizzy wore the thinnest dress she could find, refusing a petticoat thicker than the sheer muslin one, which meant that her legs did show slightly, but she was tolerably cool. She observed her husband, dressed to the nines although in a light kerseymere, and wondered for the thousandth time how he could appear so comfortable. Not even a sheen of sweat along his brow. Of course, Darcy was perpetually collected and calm.
“I certainly enjoyed your uncle’s version of events over Miss de Bourgh’s,” Lizzy said. “Although the emotion in her letter was so touching.”
“Yes,” Darcy replied from his desk chair where he was rifling through a stack of folded parchment envelopes, “and, if you recall, my dearest, she expressed her wish to forgo the long courtship and hasten to the marriage part.”
“She did not!”
“I beg to differ. Ah! Here it is.” He fluttered the pages with a flourish, smirking at his wife, and then clearing his throat as if preparing to address Parliament. “She writes, and I quote, ‘In the end Mother did consent to allow Dr. Penaflor the right to court me. Oh William! I cannot express my happiness. I must thank you for encouraging me to follow my heart and to trust. I have no doubts regarding my feelings toward Dr. Penaflor and know he feels as strongly. Love at nearly first sight! I never anticipated this happening to me. Honestly I had relinquished all hope of finding love and cannot repress the trepidation that I shall wake to discover it is all a dream. I appreciate Dr. Penaflor’s design to court me properly and comprehend it derives from his esteem; however, I must confess a desire to hasten time. Is this selfish of me, William? My life has altered drastically these past three months, and my joy is nearly complete. Suddenly my wildest wishes are within my grasp, and I am aware that the natural womanly response is to revel in the season of wooing and flirtation. Nonetheless, my greatest urge is to be married to sweet Raul and begin our life together.’”
Lizzy assumed a haughty pout in the face of Darcy’s smug grin. “Very well, Mr. Darcy. I shall admit my error; however, I detect only the yearning to be bonded in matrimony and no allusion to ‘fun’ as you so called it.”
“The fun is implied, love.”
Lizzy laughed and shook her head, turning to another letter waiting on the table. “Shall I read Papa’s letter aloud?”
“It is addressed to you, Elizabeth. You can share with me later if you wish as I must currently attend to this boring albeit necessary business packet from Mr. Daniels.”
Thereafter, in quiet harmony they concentrated on their individual undertakings while ever with an unconscious awareness of the other’s presence.
* ~ * ~ *
More letters follow - from Mr. Bennet, Mary Bennet, and Lydia Wickham - before the first chapter ends. I do hope your interest is piqued. More can be read and learned on my website:
Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 10:26:14 PM by Sharon Lathan
The Writer's Block
Teatime with Austen
My Dearest Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan
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