Darcy & Elizabeth,
Copyright © 2006 by Linda Berdoll
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Cover photo © Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Darcy & Elizabeth : at home at Pemberley / Linda Berdoll.
1. Darcy, Fitzwilliam (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Bennet, Elizabeth (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 3. Married people—Fiction. 4. England—Fiction. 5. Domestic fiction. I. Title: Darcy and Elizabeth. II. Title.
Chapter 1. New Pleasures Proved
Chapter 2. Mr. Darcy’s Dilemma
Chapter 3. Intrusion into the Master’s Bedchamber
Chapter 4. The Master of Pemberley Is Displeased
Chapter 5. Seduction of the Willing
Chapter 6. What Lengths Love Knows
Chapter 7. Connubial Contemplation
Chapter 8. Denial and Dedication
Chapter 9. Mr. Darcy Loves Miss Bennet
Chapter 10. Lady Catherine’s Pique
Chapter 11. A Horse of a Different Colour
Chapter 12. The Private Struggle of Mr. Darcy
Chapter 13. Demise and Consent
Chapter 14. Mrs. Darcy Is Receiving
Chapter 15. Lady Catherine’s Story
Chapter 16. Nuptials to Plan
Chapter 17. Georgiana
Chapter 18. History of a Row
Chapter 19. Mercy Twice Blessed
Chapter 20. Enough Is Enough
Chapter 21. The Inquiring Mind of Mrs. Darcy
Chapter 22. Wickham, Alive and on Queer Street Once Again
Chapter 23. What Ails Miss de Bourgh
Chapter 24. Bingley’s Betrayal
Chapter 25. The Hapless History of Lady Anne
Chapter 26. The Pangs of Love Run Deep
Chapter 27. The Road to Restoration
Chapter 28. Bliss Restored
Chapter 29. Lydia, Scandalised Once Again
Chapter 30. Wickham’s Waterloo
Chapter 31. Love Has Its Fashion
Chapter 32. Waif
Chapter 33. The Weir
Chapter 34. Wedding at Pemberley
Chapter 35. Hoodwinked, But Not Hornswoggled
Chapter 36. The Road to Perdition Is Paved with Feathers
Chapter 37. Love Sings for Jane
Chapter 38. Basking in Love’s Tepid Arms
Chapter 39. The Colonel Fitzwilliams Meet Lord Beecher
Chapter 40. Bath
Chapter 41. Life as It Is
Chapter 42. To Bathe or Not to Bathe
Chapter 43. A Blow to the Unused Heart
Chapter 44. Mrs. Darcy’s Horse
Chapter 45. The Pleasure of His Company
Chapter 46. How Low Is Bottom?
Chapter 47. For the Love of London
Chapter 48. The Spoils of War
Chapter 49. The All-Knowing Mother
Chapter 50. The Indecisive Confinement of Mrs. Col. Fitzwilliam
Chapter 51. Lydia Takes on as Maid a Character Familiar to Our Story
Chapter 52. Re-acquaintance
Chapter 53. Brighton Charms
Chapter 54. Quittance
Chapter 55 A Season Ignored
Chapter 56. Mrs. Darcy’s Duty
Chapter 57. A Momentous Event at Rosings
Chapter 58. Lady Millhouse Interjects
Chapter 59. Required: One Husband—Must Wear Regimentals and Have an Open Mind
Chapter 60. The Painting
Chapter 61. Sally Frances, One Step Closer to the Truth
Chapter 62. Old Dogs, Old Tricks
Chapter 63. Happiness Is Two Warm Puppies
Chapter 64. Mrs. Bennet Rides Again
Chapter 65. Goddess of Discord, Goddess of the Hunt
Chapter 66. Footsteps Retraced
Chapter 67. What the Gods Have in Store
Chapter 68. Headlong Passions
Chapter 69. Love’s Labours
Chapter 70. The Gathering
Chapter 71. The Proposition
Chapter 72. Sweet Sorrow
Chapter 73. Clandestine Tête-à-tête
Chapter 74. The Vicar’s Widow
Chapter 75. Motherless Child
Chapter 76. The Talent of the Dead
Chapter 77. The Cunning and the Taken
Chapter 78. While the Cat’s Away
Chapter 79. How Far the Fall
Chapter 80. Fortune Favours the Fools
Chapter 81. Angels Avenge
Chapter 82. The Divine Duel
Chapter 83. A Turn or Two
Chapter 84. The Piper’s Wages
Chapter 85. Wherefore, Mr. Darcy
Chapter 86. Bonjour, Juliette
Chapter 87. Second Verse, Not as the First
Chapter 88. Near Miss
Chapter 89. Two Times Crossed, Once Found
Chapter 90. What the Cobbles Know
Chapter 91. Designs Most Fowl
Chapter 92. The Convalescence
Chapter 93. The Wicked and the Just
Chapter 94. What Went Before
Chapter 95. A Rescue of Sorts
Chapter 96. The Sweetest Thing
Chapter 97. Homeward
About the Author
Sister, Cohort, Friend
Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove,
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
The inestimable Jane Austen had penned only six books when she died in 1817 at age forty-one. Pride and Prejudice, her third work, was published in 1813 and has been judged by many to be the finest novel in the English language. The story of the courtship of the beautiful and spirited Elizabeth Bennet and the handsome but haughty Mr. Darcy is as brilliant as it is brief.
As remarkable a writer as she was, Miss Austen wrote only of what a respectable unmarried woman in Regency society would be privy to. Therefore, Pride and Prejudice concludes with the nuptials. Regrettably, in ending her story upon the very cusp of what undoubtedly would be a marriage of unrivalled passion, she has gifted many of her readers with an unfortunate
This hunger has spawned a prolificacy of sequels—most attempting to replicate the original in restraint, if not wit. Readers of sequels seem to fall into two categories—those who are longing to learn what Darcy might have whispered into Lizzy’s ear in their nuptial chamber, and those who fall into a swoon at the notion of such heresy.
If you, dear reader, happen to fall into the latter category, we offer this caution before you read further: Hang on to your bonnet, you’re in for a bumpy ride.
As our story recommences, all should be bliss within the Darcy household. At long last, Lizzy has birthed an heir and Darcy is again by her side. Motherhood, however, has not only rendered her busy and distracted, childbirth itself has left her temporarily “indisposed.” Although Darcy’s heart aches for what his Lizzy has endured, it is not the throbbing of his heart that is most troubling to his serenity—it is the palpable pain in his loins…
New Pleasures Proved
To all the world, the month of June in the Year of Our Lord 1815 would come to be known as the season of Waterloo. To the members of the Darcy household, it would be called that, but not remembered as such. Far too many other events of greater personal importance to them had transpired to remember it so simply.
Although France was the conquered, England paid a harsh price for its victory. The county of Derbyshire was not immune to that heavy toll. So vast were the repercussions, they were felt even within the usually impenetrable walls of Pemberley. Lives were lost, marriages brought about, and babies born all in the space of a few months.
Having weathered these many woes within the bosom of her very own family, Elizabeth Darcy felt exquisitely compensated by the two babes nestled in her arms. Indeed, that her husband had survived war, quarantine, brigands, and pestilence and returned to her whole was all she desired. What wiles he employed and whose auspices he availed himself of as he trekked through the battlefields and drawing-rooms of France to accomplish his mission of rescuing his sister was of no importance to her. Of even less concern was that the emissary he chose to send word to her of his progress was a woman with whom he had once shared uncommon intimacy. Indeed, when at last he had returned to his wife’s waiting arms, all question of his connection with that beautiful woman was forgot. At least at first, but not for long.
Of even less importance was whether George Wickham was actually dead and buried or gallivanting about the Continent.
Whilst Wickham’s fate remained unknown, there were other vexations. What with Mrs. Darcy labouring to withstand a growing curiosity (approaching to eclipse the Alps in dimension) as to just what went on between her husband and his fetching French emissary, and Mr. Darcy labouring with equal vigour to withstand a desire for his nursing wife aroused to a similar degree, a dance of uncommon peculiarity commenced.
It extended well into the next year.
Mr. Darcy’s Dilemma
In the year ’15, Fitzwilliam Darcy was five years more than thirty. Yet, save for a smattering of grey begging to invade his side-whiskers, neither his figure nor his bearing had been influenced unfavourably by time or its toll. He was still a tall, handsome-featured man of good leg. However, his impressive aspect had recently begun to be worried by a single fault.
The imposing manner he had struggled with such resolve to vanquish in order to win Elizabeth Bennet’s hand had resurfaced with a vengeance. Indeed, never was a chin more imperious, the turn of a countenance more proud. It was as if he once again stood, with all arrogance and disdain, at that country ball in Meryton absolutely refusing to dance. Granted, this supercilious turn was little noticed by those outside his immediate circle. He had always been reticent, but while he had once used a shield of arrogance to defend his social discomfort, this was an unease of a different sort.
On a fine day in autumn, decorum forced Mr. Darcy to engage in polite discourse with a gathering of neighbours. As was his habit, he stood transfixed as if a fastidiously tailored statue, with both hands in graceful repose behind an extraordinarily straight back. As Master of Pemberley Hall and a generous portion of Derbyshire County, his lack of a title was rendered irrelevant to those who kept account of such matters. His attitude rarely altered upon these public occasions. He presented himself by resting his weight on one foot, the other slightly foremost. Although in this posture his highly polished boots were seen to great advantage, it was not an air—it was a statement of eminence.
The statement of societal eminence was overt, but with this stance came an additional announcement—one quite explicit. For from those tall boot-tops up-welled a pair of legs bearing the unmistakable muscularity particular to one who devoted a good many hours to riding his horse. Moreover, his fashionable moleskin breeches bore an unambiguous bulge which did not originate (unlike those of many fashionable young bloods) from a carefully wadded shirt-tail. Given all that and the casual grace with which Mr. Darcy moved, there could be absolutely no supposition that concurrent to holding the offices of wealth and leisure was Mr. Darcy any part of a fop.
The only visible evidence of the horrors he had encountered upon his bold excursion to rescue his sister the summer past were those silver threads infiltrating his side-whiskers. (Behind the backs of hands, a few cynics suggested that embarking upon such a venture alone rather than sending his men was proof that Mr. Darcy was simply barking mad.) But it was of little importance to him that his actions were believed to be in any way heroic. Indeed, he would have cared not at all had he heard the twittering, but as it was, Mr. Darcy’s ears heard little. They were recovering yet from a near-miss by a blunderbuss. As a man whose fortune was exceeded only by his pride, this loss of hearing was a closely guarded confidence.
Herein, providence did bestow some fortune. This, because for the whole of his life Mr. Darcy had been understood to regard idle conversation with undue wariness. When forced to converse, he often did so in monosyllables. It was said that he would but utter a word when he could not safely escape with a nod. A nod, offered with a soupçon of cunning, said volumes—particularly when one heard little of the conversation.
Waterloo and its aftermath still hung heavily in the thoughts of the entire population of the land. In the months thereafter, little else occupied general discourse. Indeed, although absolute facts were spare, gossip was rampant surrounding Mr. Darcy’s mysterious pursuit across the Channel particularly, and his family’s activities in general, during those months.
All of this prattle was not unbeknownst to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. That was the true impetus for them to endure society’s demands to see and be seen in the difficult months that followed Darcy’s return. They knew it was mandatory not to surrender to the urge to close ranks. The death of Elizabeth’s father granted them at least a year’s reprieve, but they dared not take it. That would have been a capitulation. In their absence from society every rumour that abounded would have been repeated and exaggerated. The trip from scuttlebutt to outright scandal was but a short leap. With every fibre of their beings Mr. and Mrs. Darcy abhorred this pretence of normalcy, but defence of the Darcy name demanded it. With all that, upon the occasion of such a gathering as the one they hosted that day, it was not in any way regarded as a party.
Regardless of the occasion, it was Darcy’s habit to claim a place upon his lawn overlooking a particularly pretty prospect. It was only one of the many in his rather estimable estate, but it served a specific duty. Darcy was only able to tolerate the toadying by looking beyond the genuflection of kith and kin and taking in the view. The neighbours, who competed for audience before him exhibiting an adequate level of sycophancy believed compulsory towards a man of his station, were menfolk. Mrs. Darcy kept the ladies at bay with the proffering of ices and exhibiting the considerable charms of their younglings beneath the vine-covered loggia that adorned Pemberley’s east wing. From amidst the male enclave came the predictable masculine talk—crop
Yet another sense beyond the auditory Darcy protected by claiming that view. He protected his sight as well. For thus engaged, he kept his gaze from alighting upon his beloved wife. The very sight of her had always soothed not only his manners, but his soul. Of late, that device had been little employed. He was quite unaware that this failure allowed his guests to note that his temper was far less amenable since his return. And that fanned further speculation. Although it would have been a great disappointment to the scandal-mongers, his appearance of being somewhat out of spirits was nothing as dramatic as having “been to the wars.”
It was quite true; in company he was often out of temper of late. However life-altering the throes of war had been, those memories did not ignite his pique. It sprung from a far less noble origin—the one ruled not by his heart, but a place a bit south and, for men at least, an often more influential region—his aching loins.
Hence, as the gentlemen of Derbyshire bobbed and weaved in deference to him as only free-born Englishmen could, little did they suppose that beneath that wall of hauteur, their dignified host struggled to kennel a most undignified hunger.
Intrusion into the Master’s Bedchamber
In the year ’15, life was forever altered in the Darcy household—and not just within the hallowed halls that traversed Pemberley’s two-hundred-odd rooms. Much to the master’s qualified displeasure, an alteration also bechanced the master’s bedchamber.
From the beginning of their life together, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy defied convention and took their sleep together. The master’s bedchamber and the mistress’s bedchamber had always been one and the same. Hence, when it came time to receive her newborns, Elizabeth believed it only fitting that she do so in the same bed in which they had been conceived. Although that decision was made in his absence, initially Mr. Darcy saw no reason for alarm. As time wore on and his sleep was disturbed and his nerves a bit frayed, he still held firm to that judgement. If it was a choice between Mrs. Darcy and two little ones in his bed or no Mrs. Darcy in his bed at all, he saw little to argue. Hence, it was without audible complaint that he withstood the continued intrusion of two red-faced, interminably squalling infants as they took his rightful place in his adored wife’s embrace.