How To Mend A Broken Heart
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The day of the presentation of Miss Georgiana Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet at the Court of St. James had arrived. Both ladies heaved a sigh of relief after they had made it through the ceremony without committing any major faux pas.
Afterwards there was a reception at
Mr. Darcy stood in the company of Mrs. Wagstaff, General Fitzwilliam, and Lord Matlock near the entrance awaiting the arrival of the Dowager Lady Matlock, Miss Bennet, Lady Matlock, and Miss Darcy. The group was soon joined by Mr. Bingley and Miss Bingley.
Miss Caroline Bingley was still in hopes of securing Mr. Darcy as she stood looking at Mrs. Wagstaff with disdain in her eyes and an insincere smile on her face. Lately she had been asking around to her numerous acquaintances about Mrs. Wagstaff and the gossip about that lady had given Caroline some hope that all might not be lost where Mr. Darcy was concerned.
Miss Bingley may have been a maiden, but she was not innocent of the ways of the ton when it came to sexual intrigues, and it seemed that Mrs. Wagstaff had a few whispers attendant on her behavior prior to securing Mr. Darcy. Caroline wondered if Mr. Darcy had heard them when she was struck with horror at the thought that Mrs. Wagstaff may have already allowed him to compromise her. Knowing Mr. Darcy to be an honorable and upright man, he may have felt it his duty to make an honest woman of her. Caroline had to admit that if she had ever been in the situation to be compromised by Mr. Darcy, she would have jumped at the chance, maiden or not. But Caroline soon came to the conclusion that if those rumors of Mrs. Wagstaff were true, maybe…well, she would keep close tabs on Mrs. Wagstaff, and if Mr. Darcy heard those rumors, then Caroline would make sure that she would be available to him for comfort and support.
Also, on Miss Bingley’s agenda this day was to begin promoting the match between her brother and Miss Darcy. Regardless of whether she would be able to secure Mr. Darcy, she was determined to maintain a connection to the Darcys and Charles’ marriage to Miss Darcy would certainly strengthen that connection.
Looking at her brother, she was happy to see that his good cheer had returned. He is much more pliable when he is in good spirits than the sad and moping man he had been these past few years. She had been concerned for him after he heard that Jane Bennet had married, and his disappearance for a few days after that news was announced had alarmed her exceedingly. When Charles had not been forthcoming about his whereabouts, she feared the worse. But Caroline ceased her questioning when she noticed her brother had returned to his old easy-going and amiable self, thus she let the matter drop.
Virginia Wagstaff stood by Mr. Darcy’s side with her hand resting in the crook of his elbow. Today marked the end of the hustle and bustle of getting Miss Darcy ready for her presentation. She had hardly seen Mr. Darcy since the night their engagement was announced. She had called on Georgiana several times in hopes of having some private time with her betrothed in order to discuss their wedding and other items she had on her mind, but he had always been out or busy with some urgent business matter.
With the whirl of social events to come, she hoped that they could begin planning for their nuptials soon. A June wedding, early June, was her preferred choice. If she was to insure that date, she needed to get busy. Her first order of business was to seduce her future husband prior to the marriage ceremony to make sure his attendance at the altar was mandatory. Mr. Darcy was known as an honorable man, and if he had compromised her in any way, then her marriage to such a wealthy gentleman would be secured. Mrs. Wagstaff was reasonably well off as she had her modest dowry of fifteen thousand pounds and control of her son’s trust which was seven thousand pounds per annum. But that was her problem; she had expensive tastes and craved a lavish lifestyle. Her control of her son’s fortune was limited and she could not live as she wished to live. Thus, when her mourning period was over, she did everything in her power to gain Mr. Darcy’s notice in order to make certain those monies would be available to her.
The fact that Mr. Darcy was a handsome, well-built man only sweetened the pot. Mrs. Wagstaff found she quite enjoyed a man warming her bed linens and found she could not make it through her mourning period without a few discreet liaisons. But she had found out from her friend, Lady Julia, that Mr. Darcy preferred to pay for his gratification and that he would not offer marriage to someone from whom he could receive those services for free. Therefore, a celibate life she had led until Mr. Darcy had proposed. Since that time she had left him subtle hints as to her being agreeable to forge ahead with their marriage without waiting for the formal ceremony. But those hints had been ignored; now was the time to step up her efforts.
Sir William Lucas of Lucas Lodge near Meryton
in Hertfordshire, and his son-in-law, Mr. William Collins of Longbourn, were
enjoying the bountiful table set out for the reception at St. James in honor of
those who had been presented at Court.
They had read in the papers that a Miss Elizabeth Bennet was to be
presented by Lady Matlock and were curious as to the identity of this
person. Though they both knew it could
not be the same Elizabeth Bennet that they knew, their curiosity had gotten the
best of them. The fact that they were
running out of things to do and places to go during their stay in
Sir William was always desirous of showing off his standing
in the grand scheme of things, and Mr. Collins, a new gentleman landowner, was
eager to gain consequence for his good fortune.
Both men were thus easily persuaded into this sojourn to
But who had persuaded them and why did they need to be persuaded? The answer is simple. It was Mr. Collins’ wife, Charlotte, who just happened to be the daughter of Sir William. Mrs. Collins had recently delivered their first child, Miss Catherine Collins, into the world. But Mr. Collins was eager to sire a male heir to keep the entailed Longbourn within the Collins family. Mrs. Collins had put him off as long as she could until one night she woke to find a slightly tipsy Mr. Collins in her bed demanding his rights as a husband.
Mrs. Collins informed her husband that she was not yet
strong enough to resume her marital duties, but Mr. Collins had informed her
that he had spoken with the midwife and she saw no reason that Mrs. Collins
should not be healed from her recent child birth; after all, it had been six
months ago. Charlotte Collins looked
disgustedly at her husband and realized that she had to submit. Unfortunately, her ordeal was worse than she
could have imagined. With the bountiful
table at Longbourn and the lack of exercise by not having to trot to
After awhile, Mr. Collins began to panic at not being able
to secure a male heir.
It was at this point that a desperate
Elizabeth and Lady Suzan had just entered the reception hall behind Lady Julia and Miss Darcy. Immediately Elizabeth began to look about to find the location of the family party. With Mr. Darcy’s height, the task was easy. She could not help the wide smile on her face when he had caught sight of her and smiled his welcome.
Also witnessing the arrival of Miss Bennet to the reception
was her cousin, Mr. Collins. However,
his face was not graced with a smile on viewing Elizabeth Bennet; in fact, a
look of horror overtook his facial expressions.
What is a nobody like her doing at
this auspicious occasion? She has no
right to mingle with the crème de la crème of
As Elizabeth and Lady Suzan tried to make their way through
“Cousin Elizabeth!” an unmistakable, nasal voice cried.
She froze. She knew that voice well as it belonged to Mr. Collins, the last man, next to Mr. Wickham, that she ever wished to encounter. Without acknowledging her cousin, she tried to wrest free of his grasp. But he held firm.
“Cousin Elizabeth, what are you doing here? You should not be here,” Mr. Collins said in a low angry voice.
Realizing that she could not escape, she turned and glared at her cousin.
In a low hissing voice, Mr. Collins admonished
Lady Suzan, having realized that Miss Bennet was no longer
by her side, turned back to see a man accosting
Mr. Darcy had been watching Miss Bennet’s progress to their little group. When he saw Mr. Collins grab her arm, without delay he began to fight his way through the throng to rescue her with General Fitzwilliam hot on his heels.
Startled that this lady knew him, he looked up and realized
that it was none other than Lady Matlock, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s sister-in-law. Still clutching
By this time Mr. Darcy, General Fitzwilliam, and Sir William Lucas had joined the ladies and Mr. Collins.
Sir William was agog when he was able to understand that Miss Bennet, the Miss Bennet he had known, was the one who had been presented at court by the Dowager Lady Matlock.
Mr. Darcy was incensed that Mr. Collins had the audacity to even touch Miss Bennet, spat out, “Mr. Collins, please remove your hand from Miss Bennet’s arm.”
Mr. Collins, seeing Lady Catherine’s nephews, executed a deep bow to both gentlemen, “Mr. Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, what a delight it is to see you again.”
“It is General Fitzwilliam,” the General smirked.
“Yes, General, General Fitzwilliam, His Majesty is blessed to have such a fine gentleman as yourself to lead his armies.” Mr. Collins bowed again.
Turning his attention to Mr. Darcy, Mr. Collins bowed and offered, “Mr. Darcy, I understand that you are engaged to be married, sir. May I wish you joy?”
Darcy gave Mr. Collins an icy stare before pronouncing, “Collins, remove your hand from Miss Bennet instantly.”
Mr. Collins, realizing that Mr. Darcy might not recognize the need to remove his cousin, Elizabeth, from such an assembly, leaned in to Mr. Darcy and said in a low voice, “Mr. Darcy, you should know that Miss Elizabeth is not fit to be at such an illustrious reception. You see, sir…”
Darcy stepped between Mr. Collins and Elizabeth so that Mr. Collins had to release her arm. In a low growl, he said, “Mr. Collins, Miss Bennet has every right to be here as she is one of the honorees. May I ask what right you have to be here? You, a man who has treated his relations in such an unchristian manner!”
For once in his life, Mr. Collins was speechless. His complexion took on an ashen hue as the full weight of his actions fell upon him.
Seeing that his son-in-law had endangered his chances of advancement into society, Sir William took his Mr. Collins by the arm and led him to the nearest door.
Looking at Mr. Darcy and then to her arm, she said, “No, sir, but I thank you. I will be fine.”
Lady Suzan said, “Wait here,
“Thank you, Lady Suzan, but it will be fine,”
“Nonsense, my dear, I will be back directly,” responded Lady Suzan. Turning to her son, she commanded, “Richard!”
General Fitzwilliam obediently accompanied his mother in search of a shawl for Miss Bennet.
“Mr. Darcy, I will be fine here. You should get back to your sister and Mrs. Wagstaff,” she said as she gave him a weak smile. She did not want him to leave her, but she could not allow him to disregard the other two ladies.
“Miss Bennet, if you are to know only one thing about me, I hope it is that I look out of those for whom I care most about,” he stated.
Without raising her eyes to his, she said, “Yes, Mr. Darcy, I do know that about you and am most appreciative of your assistance today.”
As Darcy crouched before her, he disclosed at bit more than
he should have, “Oh!
Quickly she looked at him. He had called her by her given name. She closed her eyes and imagined him embracing her, soothing her dispirit. As he took her hands in his, her body temperature rose and she wanted his body pressed against hers, his lips kissing hers, his beautiful hands caressing her body. Unconsciously she wetted her lips as an expression of what she wanted him to do and locked her eyes with his to let him see her need.
As Darcy’s eyes met hers, he sensed her desire to have him near, and he completely forgot himself and his surroundings as he started to lean forward to kiss her lips all the while struggling from wrapping his arms around her and protecting her from all the Mr. Collinses of the world; letting her know that it would be him, and him alone, that would always be there to protect her.
Both felt the disappointment of losing that one intimate moment.
Lady Suzan helped
“Yes, my Lady.” He offered his arm to Elizabeth. “Miss Bennet?”
As Darcy rose to follow them, he was halted by his aunt’s hand on his arm, “Darcy!”
Turning to Lady Suzan, he queried, “Yes, Aunt?”
She responded, “Be careful with Miss Bennet for her sake as well as your own.”
He just nodded as he accompanied his Aunt back to the
reception. His mood was buoyant as he
realized that maybe Elizabeth Bennet could have the same deep passionate
feelings toward him that he had towards her.
His happiness at having an intimate moment with
On the carriage ride back to their hotel found a dejected Mr. Collins slumped on the bench and Sir William peering out the window.
When his father-in-law, Sir William, asked for his company in enjoying the Season in London, Mr. Collins was beside himself with glee. Ever since the move to Longbourn, he felt he was being shunned by the neighborhood, as well as the citizens of Meryton. His wife, Charlotte, being a native daughter, was welcomed, but he was not. He just did not understand why. On his previous visits to the vicinity, prior to his marriage to Miss Charlotte Lucas, he had noted how respected the Bennets were; after all, Longbourn was one of the larger estates in the area. He felt he, as the new Master, should be granted the same deference as his predecessor, but that was not the case. This trip to Town was his chance to show the community how important he was now. He hoped to return home as the center of attention, with everyone clamoring for his stories of the bon ton and the illustrious persons he met. Then he would have the respect he felt was due him from his neighbors.
Now he was depressed by the incident at St. James Palace. Accosting one of the honored guests, even if it was his cousin, was not how he wanted to be remembered. He was thankful to Sir William for his aid in getting them away from there before any damage was done to his reputation as a gentleman. How did I not know that Cousin Elizabeth was the one being presented today? I thought she was there to get back at me for removing her and her family from Longbourn. It would be like that impertinent little chit to spite me in front of such prominent personages. She must have used my connection to Lady Catherine de Bourgh to get in the good graces of Lady Matlock. The gall of her!
“Lady Webberley!” Sir William exclaimed.
Confused, Mr. Collins looked at his father-in-law, “Lady Webberley?”
“Yes, that is the cousin that the older Bennet girls used to go visit. Could not for the life of me remember her name!” Sir William exclaimed.
How had I not known about the Bennet’s connection to Lord Webberley? Mr. Collins thought. If he had known that piece of intelligence, he would have secured another Bennet girl when Elizabeth persisted in refusing his suit. With Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Lady Webberley as connections, he would have been assured a place at Court in his own right and not as a guest of someone else. After all, he was a gentleman now and had his own estate. Mr. Collins felt all the unfairness of life.
Now that his cousin had been presented at court and was under the patronage of Lady Matlock, Mr. Collins felt the need to re-establish his connection with the Bennets as it would only aid him in society. He wondered how long he should wait to call on his cousin, Elizabeth. Will tomorrow morning be too soon?
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