I smile slightly when I see her blush, as it is becoming clear that she is not as indifferent to me as she thinks herself to be.
"Nephew, what is it that you tell Miss Bennet so secretly? I wish to know."
I sigh and reply "it is nothing aunt, I was merely making observations about the garden." Now leave me alone!
I wish I could ask her if her feelings have changed but it is far too early, as I proposed only a few weeks ago.
I am saddened by the fact that we are to part, as I have enjoyed being in her presence.
"Miss Elizabeth, are you planning to return to Hertfordshire soon?"
"Yes, I leave in a few days' time. You are to return to London are you not?"
"I will meet Bingley there for a few days and then journey on to my estate in Derbyshire."
"Please convey my regards to Mr Bingley if you should see him."
"I will. Forgive me; I must ready myself for the journey."
"Goodbye Mr Darcy."
The rest of the evening passed smoothly, and in the morning, the sounds of a carriage could be heard along the lane adjoining Rosings to Hunsford.
A few days later, Elizabeth also left Kent, and journeyed to Longbourne.
I feel a great weight lifting off me as we ride away in the carriage. I do not speak to Richard although I know that he wishes to discuss our visit.
As we near Pemberley, I begin to relax. This journey has taken all day, and I feel so tired and cramped. I glance at Richard and notice that he is in the same situation as me.
At last the carriage draws to a halt, allowing me to stretch my legs, something that has been long overdue. I hurry inside,ahead of Richard. I go into my room and shut the door. A little while later, I am aware of someone knocking on the door.
"Brother? Are you in there?" I hear through the door.
Georgie. How could I have been so selfish that I forgot my dear sister?
"Yes, Georgie. I am in my room, please come in." I invite.
The door opens and Georgiana enters. She is growing into a beautiful young woman, with golden hair floating down her back.
She notices that I am sitting in relative darkness, not having opened the curtains to let in the sun that is slowly setting.
"Brother,are you alright?" she asks, concerned etched in her features, and evident in her voice.
"Yes, of course I am. I am simply tired." I lie, hating myself for doing so but not seeing any other option.
"Brother, I am not the child I once was, please tell me what is paining you so." Georgiana urges, the care and warmth evident in her tone of voice.
"Oh Georgie, you are growing up. I will tell you now, but please be assured that I am ashamed of my behaviour and am in no need of a lecture for it." I warn.
"It can not be as bad as all that, surely. You are extremely good and kind to me."
"Alright, well..." I start, but become overwhelmed by the emotions coursing through my body. With a deep breath to settle my emotions, I continue.
"When I was in Kent, visiting aunt as I usually do at this time of year, I met an acquaintance that I had made in Hertfordshire. It was a female acquaintance," I glance at Georgiana to make sure that she is fully comprehending the situation. "Needless to say, I was less than pleasant to her the first evening that I met her, which was at a ball. After that ball we did not spend much time together, as there was no occasion to, however Bingley was convinced that he was in love with Elizabeth's- I mean Miss Elizabeth's- sister, a Miss Bennet. She was kind, as was Miss Elizabeth, however I failed to understand this fully at the time as I missed you greatly and was not paying due attention to my surroundings.
When I arrived at aunt's house, I found that she had visitors. Miss Elizabeth was one of them, as she was staying with her friend at the parsonage. During the time I was in Kent, we saw each other frequently. One day, I found her alone and so poured out my heart to her." At this point I paused because the next part of the tale gives me great pain to relate to my beloved sister.
"So she accepted? What happened?" Georgiana pressed.
"No, Georgie, she did not accept, in fact she vehemently refused." I say, sadness etched in all of my features and laced in my voice.
"Oh, Fitz. I am so sorry. You still love her do you not?"
"Of course, how could I stop?" I say, clutching my head in my hands.
"Is it likely that you will ever see her again?"
"No, not when she said that I was the last man in the world that she could be prevailed upon to marry."
"Fitz, is this true?" Poor Georgiana said, sadness that her brother could behave so cruelly to someone he professed to love.
"I would never tell you this unless it was the truth."
"I think I will ask Richard about it, you have been through enough pain. Maybe you could tell me about this Miss Elizabeth later?"
"Of course Georgie. You would have loved her."
Georgiana shortly exits the room,no doubt to seek out Richard to hear more of the tale.
I sit in silence, reconciling myself to the fact that she will have nothing more to do with me.
Once week later...
Mrs Reynolds hurried out to me whilst I was tending to my horse in the stables that a man and two women have come to tour the house. She tells me that Georgiana agreed to let them through, and that they are in the vast gardens should I wish to greet them. Why should I wish to greet uninvited visitors to my home? I wonder.
Despite this, I hurry out to the gardens as a thought strikes me that it could be Elizabeth. Why would it be Elizabeth? Your mind is playing tricks on you, you lovesick fool. Forget about her. I furiously push these thoughts out of my head as I round a corner of the gardens and catch sight of a beautiful young woman. Elizabeth! I wait as she turns at the sound of approaching footsteps, and I am greeted with the sight that I have been dreaming of for a long time- Elizabeth is here, in the gardens of Pemberley.
"Miss Elizabeth!" I call, just loud enough to gain her attention.
"Mr Darcy, I was told that you were out." She replies.
"I was, I was out riding this morning." I reply, smiling shyly as I never expected my dreams to come true.
"I am sorry, I should be leaving. My aunt and uncle will be wondering where I am." She says, her eyes darting around.
"May I escort you?" I ask.
She loops her arm around my proffered one.
"Miss Elizabeth, my sister has expressed a wish to meet you, if it is at all convenient for you, at some point in you stay in Derbyshire." I say, thinking that Georgiana would indeed enjoy the company of Miss Elizabeth, even though she did not directly tell me so. Her curiousity about the woman that had captured my attention was enough of a hint.
"Forgive me, Mr Darcy. We are to move on to the next town on our tour tomorrow. Please convey my regrets to Miss Darcy." She says, with something that sounds like regret in her voice.
"There you are Lizzy!" a woman a little in the distance calls out.
"Aunt, I am sorry. My curiosity was overwhelming me, and I needed to explore." She says with a smile.
"Who is this nice gentleman that you have brought with you?" a man, I presume is the uncle, asks smilingly.
"Forgive me, Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, this is Mr Darcy. Mr Darcy, this is my aunt and uncle." she introduces.
"The Mr Darcy of this great estate?" her aunt asks.
"Indeed madam. this is my home, and i hope that you have found some enjoyment in its grounds."
"Of course sir." she responds.
"Aunt, Mr Darcy has told me that his sister expressed a wish to meet me. I had to decline, as we move on to Matlock tomorrow."
"Lizzy, we could make the stay here in Lambton longer if you wished to meet this young lady." Miss Elizabeth's aunt responds, clearly confused at the refusal of such an offer.
"Thank you aunt. Mr Darcy, it appears that I am able to meet your sister after all." she says with a small smile.
"Would dinner tomorrow night be acceptable to you?" I ask, hoping that the answer will be yes.
"Thank you sir, we have no engagements for tomorrow." Miss Elizabeth says.
"Until tomorrow then." I say as I bow and excuse myself to tell Georgiana the good news.
What is the meaning of this? Why does his sister want to meet the woman that refused her brother?
I am so confused. Thoughts race through my mind in quick succession, looking for answers to the questions, but finding none.
"Lizzy, that was the same man that you told us of before we came?" aunt asks, clearly curious about Mr Darcy.
"Yes, aunt. That is the same man that I told you about." I confirm.
"He acted nothing like the way that you described. Perhaps he did not act that way at all?" she asks, as we are handed into the carriage by uncle.
"Aunt, I did not tell you this earlier, but he," I pause for a moment before continuing, "Mr Darcy proposed to me whilst I was in Kent."
"Did he?" uncle joined in.
"Yes, he did. It was done in a most ungentlemanly way that no sane woman would have accepted."
"Oh dear. I hope I have not made you uncomfortable by suggesting that you accept the invitation to meet his sister." aunt apologies.
"No, I am exceedingly confused at his behaviour, though."
The next evening...
I am excessively nervous, as I do not know what to expect once we arrive at Pemberley. I wear the nicest dress that I brought with me, as I do not want to appear under-dressed in such a grand house. You are trying to impress Mr Darcy. No, I just want to look my best. My mind is at war.
As I alight the carriage to leave for Pemberley, I am nervous about the evening ahead. what will his sister be like?
Finally we reach the gates of Pemberley. The carriage glides through the gates and then glides to the front steps of the great house. With my uncle's help, I descend from the carriage. I am awed by the beauty of the great house, with its torches lighted along the driveway and torches glowing just inside the entrance, shadows flickering on the walls.
A butler joins us and escorts us into the house. We pass the threshold of the house and we pass many rooms, all elegantly furnished however it is tastefully furnished at the same time.
At last we reach a doorway that is closed. Music is floating clearly through the air, beautifully played. This is the door that the butler opens and we are ushered in.
At the pianoforte sits a girl that can be no older than 16, with beautiful long blonde hair. Next to her stands a tall man, most likely Mr Darcy. The girl stops playing as we are announced into the room. She stands up and walks over to us. Mr Darcy follows and introduces us to his elegant sister.
"Mr and Mrs Gardiner, Miss Elizabeth, may I introduce to you my sister Miss Georgiana." Mr Darcy states as he bows to us.
"Miss Elizabeth, it is indeed an honour to meet you."Georgiana replies, seeming to look extremely happy at making my acquaintance.
"Miss Georgiana, I have long expressed a wish to meet you." I respond.
Mr Darcy then ushers for us to sit on the lounges surrounding the pianoforte.
She sits next to my sister, talking quietly. I am happy that both of the women I love are enjoying each other's company.
I smile to myself as she laughs at something that Georgiana says.
"Mr Gardiner, do you care for fishing?" I ask, trying to be a good host, as I am aware that I have been silent up to this point.
"Indeed sir. If I have the chance to!" Mr Gardiner happily replies.
"Would you join me tomorrow down at the lake? Perhaps after tea?" I ask, curious about this relative of Miss Elizabeth's, as I heard that they came from trade but do not act as if they do. This makes me somewhat ashamed of my prejudice against these people who seem charming and gently bred- like Elizabeth.
"I would sir. The ladies have much to discuss, I am sure." Mr Gardiner says.
I smile. I notice that Elizabeth is watching me, curious as to my reaction to her relations.
Later that night...
"Sir, the dinner is prepared."
"Thank you, we will be there in a moment." I reply.
I notice Mr and Mrs Gardiner prepare themselves to join the dinner party in the dining hall.
I offer my arm to Georgiana as usual, as this is what I am comfortable with. Georgiana looks at me, silently communicating to me that as a gentleman I should escort Elizabeth to the dining hall as well. With a deep breath, I offer my other arm to Elizabeth. For a moment, I am uneasy as to whether she will accept or not.
She grasps my arm with a smile at Georgie. I smile and lead both ladies to the dining hall.
The dining hall is large with a long table running the length of it. It is generally lit with candles.
For the dinner tonight, I allowed Georgiana to make the seating arrangements. She smiles as I lead her to her customary seat on my right. It is a very mischievous smile. What have you done now Georgie?
I lead Elizabeth to her seat, however her seating location in relation to my own is unusual. Georgiana has placed her on my left hand side. Thank you Georgie. I will have to think of some way to punish you later!
Miss Elizabeth smiles at me as I return to my seat. I try to avoid looking at her and instead try to convey my emotions to Georgiana. She, however chooses to ignore me.
I am anxious as a host as I have to initiate the conversation for the evening. I think of a topic to start discussing with either my sister or Miss Elizabeth, however I notice that they are engrossed in a conversation of their own.
Both of the ladies laugh, prompting me to look quizzically at Georgiana, however it is Miss Elizabeth that responds to my facial expression.
"Forgive me Mr Darcy. It was not my intention to attract your attention to our discussion." she says,making me even more curious as to the nature of their discussion.
"All is well, Miss Elizabeth. May I ask you what has amused you so?"
"You may. I was merely imagining a younger boy falling from a tree after he was looking for his cousin. His facial expression would have been an amusing one I am sure."
"Oh, really? Pray tell, who was this young boy that you mentioned?" I ask, already knowing the answer.
"Why Mr Darcy, it was you." she says laughingly.
I glare at Georgiana, who has the good grace to look a little bit guilty for her actions. I cannot remain angry with her for long, as she is my sister.
I smile at Miss Elizabeth to allow her to see that I am not truly angry with her or my sister.
The rest of the dinner passes smoothly. Once the last course has been removed, the guests retire to the music room to enjoy the soft playing of Georgiana Darcy. Her playing allowed the other guests to speak amongst themselves if they chose. The guests were seated in the following arrangement: Elizabeth was conversing with her aunt, and her uncle was conversing amiably with Mr Darcy.
"Mr Gardiner, you will come tomorrow, will you not?" I ask, anxiously hoping that he will say yes as it will give me another opportunity to see Elizabeth again.
"Of course Mr Darcy!" he replies amiably.
I smile and walk to the window to remain in control of the emotions surfacing. I cannot believe that she is in my home. She looks as if she has always been here and should never leave.
Once I am in control of my emotions, I walk to the pianoforte to stand next to Georgiana, hoping that this will distract me from looking at Elizabeth too often, as it could be seen as inappropriate.
Georgiana smiles at me reassuringly, and silently tells me to converse with the guests again. I comply with her silent request.
"Miss Elizabeth." Darcy, what are you doing?
"Yes, Mr Darcy?" she replies curiously.
"I...I was hoping...that you would, um perhaps come tomorrow with your uncle...to keep Georgiana company, as she has been having an enjoyable evening with you." I say, cursing myself for my sudden inability to speak.
She smiles before replying "of course I shall come. I have enjoyed conversing with your sister and would enjoy the opportunity to do again."
I am so relieved. I walk back to Georgiana, suddenly painfully shy around our guests. She smiles up at me, congratulating my effort to converse and happy that I have invited her new friend to visit again tomorrow.
Before long, the evening drew to a close. The guests were happy about their arrangements for the morrow, as it meant that their farewell would not be for long, something Mr Darcy was extremely happy about.
"Until tomorrow, Miss Elizabeth." I say, bowing over her hand, as is appropriate.
"Until then, Mr Darcy." She smiles.
"Miss Darcy, I have enjoyed our conversation and hope to enjoy more on the morrow." she says to my sister.
"Of course, Miss Elizabeth." she replies with a smile.
The civilities were made to Mr and Mrs Gardiner, with promises to come the next day.
The night was beautiful, as was the company, especially Mr Darcy's sister Miss Darcy or Miss Georgiana as I have come to know her as. She seems sweet if a bit reserved, much like her brother. Lizzy, you are foolish for thinking in this way! You hate the man! Or at least you did.
I am silent on the way back to the inn despite repeated efforts to engage me in conversation. My mind is at war. I have come to realise that Mr Darcy is a quiet gentleman who is rather private, but clearly shows affection for those he cares about. I will have to wait for tomorrow to see how he behaves, as he was reserved when inviting me to spend the day with his sister.
The next day dawned, and the weather was pleasant much to the joy of Elizabeth who relished the opportunity to be outdoors and wondered if there would be a chance to see the magnificent gardens of Pemberley later that day. At the same time, however, she was anxious about seeing Mr Darcy again.
Ensconced within the walls of Pemberley, Mr Darcy was feeling very anxious about the day's events as he knew that it would be even more difficult to keep his feelings in check if he happened to see Elizabeth again, which was likely as she was spending the day with his sister. No longer able to sit still at the dining table with Georgiana, he took to pacing the room.
"Fitzwilliam Darcy, stop pacing this instant!" I hear Georgiana say. This causes me to stop momentarily mostly due to the shock of my sister ordering me around as I always thought she was quiet.
"I am sorry Georgie, I am just nervous about seeing Elizabeth again." I say with a small smile, trying to show her that I am not angry that she spoke to me in a manner she rarely uses.
"Brother, please sit. It will be alright. She will be here soon, and I am sure that she would be amused at your pacing."She says smiling.
"I...Oh Georgie." I say as I sit next to her. "What would she say if she knew for certain that I am still so in love with her I can think of little else?"
"I am sure she would be amused, that she has been able to make the great, imposing master of Pemberley act like a child." She says smiling, but at seeing my facial expression says "Forgive me for saying such a thing, but it is true."
I smile and try to remain calm for the duration of breakfast.
About an hour later, Mrs Reynolds comes in to announce the arrival of guests.
"A Mr Gardiner, a Mrs Gardiner and a Miss Bennet to see you sir."
After what seems like an eternity, the guests make their way into the drawing room.
I bow to Mrs Gardiner and walk over to Miss Elizabeth.
'Miss Elizabeth, you are in good health?" I say for lack of anything else to say.
"Thank you Mr Darcy, I am well."
Say something else!
I am unable to continue the conversation, so I walk to the window with my stern and imposing facade on my face to mask my true emotions. Only once do I glance at Elizabeth. She seems slightly confused.
For once we were having a somewhat civil conversation. It was awkward, but that did not seem to matter, except that once the topic of my health was exhausted, he left. He seemed to glance at me in displeasure. You were a fool for thinking that he had begun to change. You should not have come today.
"Miss Georgiana, how are you this fine morning?" I say.
"Thank you Miss Elizabeth, I am well." she says before glancing at her brother. She continues "Would you excuse me for a moment, there is something that I wish to speak to my brother about."
Georgiana walked up to her brother and engaged him in a whispered conversation for a few moments before they both walked out of the room to have further privacy from their guests.
I can see that Georgie is somewhat annoyed with me, but I cannot say for what reason. We walk to my study and enter it.
"Fitzwilliam Darcy, you will explain your behaviour towards Miss Elizabeth." she says, becoming angry with me.
"Georgie, please calm yourself. Sit down and I will do my best to explain." I say.
Georgiana becomes calmer, and so I begin to justify my behaviour.
"I...I have been a fool, Georgie. I cannot converse with her anymore. My feelings are so overwhelming, so much so that I cannot find a topic of conversation in which to engage her." I say, trying to control my rising emotions towards the one woman that I cannot have in my life because she does not wish it.
"Oh Brother, I am sorry. I will engage Miss Elizabeth in conversation for the rest of the day, if you wish."
"Thank you Georgie. I wish I could propose to her again, but she would not listen. She would make an ideal sister for you and seeing you converse is only conformation of this." I say, defeated.
True to her word, Georgiana managed to occupy Elizabeth in conversation for much of the day, after Darcy had gone to fish in the lake with her uncle. The ladies managed to entertain each other by playing music on the pianoforte and in general conversation. At last, the gentlemen returned. Conversation ensued for a little while before the guests left once again.
To Mr Darcy, it seemed as though Elizabeth was leaving his life forever as she alighted the carriage to leave Pemberley.
"Oh Georgie! I am so..." I say, as my emotions take over my power of speech, forcing me to sit on the nearest seat.
"Brother, she is kind and good. She does not see that you are the kindest man in the world and treat women with great respect."
"Do not mock me sister, I am nothing of the sort." I say bitterly, recalling the proposal I made to Elizabeth in Kent.
I stalk angrily to my study, the only place that I can receive the solitude that I crave. I hope that one day I may speak with Elizabeth and apologise for my ungentlemanly behaviour towards her today and on the day of the proposal.
Hey guys, sorry for the bad chapter, as I just lost all sense of direction with this chapter, but wanted to update for you all! Hopefully I still have some readers out there... Anyways, hopefully the next chapter will be better!