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Chapter 16

On the evening of the day after Miss Darcy and Miss Bennet’s presentation at the Court of St. James Palace, there was to be a ball at Matlock house hosted by the Earl and Countess of Matlock to honor their cousin, Miss Georgiana Darcy.

During the planning of the ball, a small argument had ensued between the Dowager Lady Matlock and the current Lady Matlock.  It seems that when Lord Matlock was to introduce Miss Darcy to Society at the beginning of the ball, Lady Suzan insisted that Miss Bennet also be introduced.  Lady Julia stated that this ball was to honor Miss Darcy not Miss Bennet.  Miss Darcy stated that she would be very pleased to share the honor with Miss Bennet.  Miss Bennet wished for no such honor and would be content to sit in the shadows thereby leaving the Lady Matlocks to the argument.

Lord Matlock, always looking for an opportunity to exhibit his role as head of the family, settled the debate by announcing that he would introduce Miss Darcy at the beginning of the ball to ensure that she had first chance at all the eager young gentleman who would be in attendance.  At the beginning of the supper, he would announce Miss Bennet.  While this settled the issue between the two Lady Matlocks, Miss Darcy was disappointed as she had hoped to have Miss Bennet take some of the attention away from her.  Miss Bennet was upset at having to be introduced at all.

The day of the ball was a beehive of activity at Crandall House, Darcy House, and Matlock House as their inhabitants were busy preparing for the evening.  Therefore, it was not noticed that two very disappointed gentlemen callers were turned away from Crandall House.  The anguish of the callers was even greater when it was learned that Miss Bennet was to be honored that evening and the gentlemen had not received an invitation to the festivities.  Both gentlemen were incredulous that their names had been left off the list of attendees as one was the cousin of Miss Bennet and the other was a dear family friend of the Bennets.


Georgiana Darcy stood nervously next to Elizabeth Bennet as they awaited the arrival of the guests.

Elizabeth, are you nervous?” she asked her friend.

“Yes, a little.  I do not know any of these people.  You have the advantage of at least knowing some of them,” Elizabeth replied.

“But you are always at ease with people, even with people you do not know.  I find myself tongue-tied and afraid of saying the wrong thing,” Georgiana explained.

Taking Georgiana’s hand, Elizabeth responded, “My dear Georgiana, you are a beautiful young lady.  You will be greatly admired, and I think if you look closely, most of the gentlemen tonight will also be tongue-tied as they will be in awe at the sight of you before them,” Elizabeth consoled, smiling at her friend.

Darcy walked up at that moment, and having heard the last statement, agreed, “Yes, Georgie, Miss Bennet is correct.  You should not be shy; the gentlemen here tonight will be the ones nervous when it comes to talking to you.”

Georgiana blushed at the compliments and hoped everything would go well.

“May I claim the first dance with my sister?” Darcy asked.

Grinning broadly, she handed her dance card to her brother.  At least, she would have one dance tonight.

“Miss Darcy, you will be the most beautiful lady at the ball tonight,” Mr. Bingley proclaimed as he joined their little party.  And then, turning to Elizabeth, he said, “And Miss Bennet, you will be, as well.  It is a conundrum to decide who is the loveliest.”

Miss Darcy and Miss Bennet both blushed as they curtsied to Mr. Bingley.

After bowing to both the ladies, Mr. Bingley turned to Miss Darcy and asked, “Since I see that Darcy has claimed your first set, Miss Darcy, may I have the pleasure of claiming the supper dance?”

Beaming, Georgiana handed Mr. Bingley her dance card. “It would be my pleasure, Mr. Bingley.”

Darcy was happy Bingley was paying special attention to his sister for two reasons.  First, he knew Georgiana to be anxious about this evening and with Bingley being such a close family friend he would be able to put her somewhat at ease.  Second, Bingley could begin his courtship.  Bingley had changed over the past fortnight.  He had lost his moroseness over the loss of Jane Bennet and appeared to be his old self again.  He was happy to see his old friend back.

Elizabeth mused as she watched Mr. Bingley and Georgiana.  She thought that they would be a good match.  She had been surprised to learn that they had not been intended for each other as Miss Bingley had written in that fateful letter to Jane when the Netherland party had left the neighborhood after that eventful autumn over three and a half years ago.  She and Mr. Darcy had talked about that time when she had asked him about why their party had left so abruptly during one of their recent walks.

Mr. Darcy had explained his reasoning for trying to separate Mr. Bingley and her sister, Jane.  While he had misunderstood Jane’s responses to Mr. Bingley, she could understand his logic.  He did profess guilt at being so presumptuous as to assume another’s feelings.  She informed him that she was no longer angry about it as her family’s downfall would have probably prevented the match anyway.  Assuring Mr. Darcy that all was forgiven on that account, she had gone on to tell him about Jane and Mr. Nash and how happy they were in their quiet life filled with being useful to others.  She also related that in a recent letter Jane had announced that they were expecting a child in the autumn and how excited she was to become a doting aunt.

When Mr. Bingley had called on her, Elizabeth had sensed that he might have regretted not going back for Jane but had resigned himself to what fate had bestowed upon him and Jane.  He expressed his joy that Jane had found happiness in life.  Elizabeth had been worried about Mr. Bingley’s reaction when she had announced at the engagement party for Mr. Darcy and Mrs. Wagstaff the news that Jane had married, but he seemed now to have made peace with that revelation.

She startled as she was recalled from her thoughts by Mr. Bingley asking, “Miss Bennet, if you are not engaged for the first set, might I have the pleasure in partnering you?”

“I am sorry, Mr. Bingley, but General Fitzwilliam has requested that honor,” she said.

“Then maybe the second set?” he asked.

Smiling, she replied, “It would be my pleasure, sir.”

Darcy, knowing that he was committed to dancing certain dances with Georgiana and Mrs. Wagstaff, was determined to have at least a dance or two with Elizabeth and wasted no time in ensuring he was on her dance card, “Miss Bennet, since you are have been claimed for the first two dances, would you give me the great pleasure and accept my request for the third set?”

Holding her dance card to her bosom, Elizabeth smiled at him and said, “Mr. Darcy, I am all astonishment!  I was under that impression that you disliked the art. While I would be pleased to accept your request, I would not wish to force you to do something beyond your inclination.”  Looking him in the eye, she smiled with an eyebrow arched and a twinkle in her eye, challenging him to defend himself.

Ah! Here is the Elizabeth I love so well.  Giving me those opinions we both know she does not possess.  Let us just play this out and see where it goes.  He thought.  “Miss Bennet, it is not dancing that disinclines me to the activity but my partner in the dance.  I am very amenable to dancing with the right partner.  I believe I have proved that to you before. I remember us having shared a dance, and I distinctly recall that none of our toes were stepped upon,” he replied, smiling.

“Yes, I believe you to be correct.  But if I remember correctly, the conversation that was had during that particular dance was in definite need of improvement.  Have you improved your conversational skills, Mr. Darcy?” she queried.

“I would hope so, Miss Bennet, but I believe you will need to accept my request for a dance to find out the truth,” he laughed.  He loved bantering with Elizabeth.  Her good natured teasing was a sign to him that he was now in her favor and that was what he wanted most.

“How can I not accept with such an incentive as seeing the taciturn Mr. Darcy verbose?” she grinned as she handed him her dance card.

Grinning, he put his name by the third set and also one later on.  So what if I dance with her twice, who would know or care?  Ah, but he knew who would care, and yet he did it anyway.  While most of the ton could care less about his dance partners as he was officially off the marriage market, he did have a fiancée who would definitely question his motives but tonight he was prepared to deal with Mrs. Wagstaff if she questioned those motives.  After all, he was just seeing that his aunt’s friend was welcomed into their circle of society.


Virginia Wagstaff had spent most of her time since her engagement was announced helping her friend, Lady Julia prepare for Georgiana Darcy’s presentation and the ball to introduce Miss Darcy to London Society.  But both ladies had found some time to begin planning the upcoming nuptials of Mrs. Wagstaff and Mr. Darcy.  Now with Miss Darcy’s needs seen to, Mrs. Wagstaff was ready to focus her attention on her own wedding and tonight she planned to do just that.

Over the past few weeks, she had hardly seen or heard from Mr. Darcy.  His elusiveness was becoming tiresome as she needed him to agree to a date so wedding plans could go forward.  If Mrs. Wagstaff did not know better, she would have sworn he was avoiding her.  But tonight that would not be the case as this would be their first major public appearance as an engaged couple.  She was anticipating all the envious looks and catty remarks that would be generated at her good fortune of securing such an illustrious husband.  She was in quite the gloating mood tonight.

In addition to showing off her new status, she had plans for some private time with her intended.  They had wedding plans to discuss as well as other things of a more intimate nature.  With plans for securing Mr. Darcy for the supper dance, she was hoping to forego supper for some time alone with him in the guest suite she had been using upstairs. 

Anticipation of getting into Mr. Darcy’s breeches, both literally and figuratively had made her giddy.  After the wedding, she would dip into his deep pockets, but tonight she was more interested in what those tight breeches of his would contain once she had aroused his passions.  Virginia Wagstaff was quite attuned to her affect on the male sex.  She gauged her allurements by a gentleman’s crotch and the larger the bulge the more interested she was.  Fitzwilliam Darcy’s had exceeded her expectations and now she was ready to bask in the delights her prize would offer. 

She had carefully watched him prior to his proposal, but at their engagement dinner, she knew he had what she wanted most.  Holding back a giggle at the memory of sneaking a glance at his midsection as he stood behind that settee looking down her gown, she smiled.  He was positively bursting to get out.  Running her fingers along the length of such a magnificent organ, she had been surprised that he had not soiled himself then and there.  Later, at the dinner table, when she noticed his attention had wandered from her, she had assumed that he needed to gain some control and, therefore, teased him by fondling his private parts.  Though he acted offended by such action, she knew that his erection belied his demeanor.

Searching for Mr. Darcy, Virginia soon found him in the company of Georgiana, Miss Bennet, and Mr. Bingley.  Mr. Bingley! Must he always be around?  Once Fitzwilliam and I are married, I will seek to limit that connection. And Georgiana, she looks like she is encouraging the poor man.  I will have to speak with her about raising expectations that have no chance of coming to fruition. Yes, I will speak to Fitzwilliam soon regarding the Bingleys.

Reaching Darcy, she slipped her hand in the crook of his elbow and cooed, “Fitzwilliam, good evening.”

“Good evening, Mrs. Wagstaff.” Remembering that they were now engaged, he added, “Er…Virginia.”

She gave him her most brilliant smile before turning her attention on his sister, “Georgiana, you look positively beautiful tonight.  You will have all the gentlemen at your feet.”

Georgiana blushed and said in a timid voice, “Good evening, Mrs. Wagstaff.  And thank you.”

Virginia, you must call me Virginia.  After all, we will be sisters soon,” she said as she smiled up at Darcy.

“Yes, Mrs. Wagstaff, er…Virginia,” Georgiana corrected.  She could hardly believe that this woman was going to be her sister, and neither was she ready to concede to the event.

Virginia looked at Miss Bennet and Mr. Bingley a moment before acknowledging their presence, then adopting a less enthusiastic mien, proceeded to notice them.  With a nod, she said, “Miss Bennet, Mr. Bingley.”

“Good evening, Mrs. Wagstaff,” Elizabeth smiled.  She would not let the slight affect her.  Her previous experiences with Miss Bingley had led her to expect such behavior during her stay in London.

Mr. Bingley’s attention was on Miss Darcy, and he only gave a cursory, “Good evening, Mrs. Wagstaff,” without removing his eyes from Georgiana.

“Fitzwilliam, I know you are obliged to dance the first set with dear Georgiana, but I have come to allow you to claim all the dances you wish to dance with me,” Virginia stated.

Darcy nodded and took her dance card.  Writing his name by the second set, he heard her request the supper set and placed his name there as well before he handed the card back to her.

“Will we not dance the last set?” Virginia asked as she glanced at her card.

With a slight frown on his lips, he held out his hand for her dance card.  Upon receiving it, he wrote his name on the requested line and handed it back to her.

“Are you sure you do not wish to claim any more dances?” Virginia was a bit disappointed that he seemed reluctant to dance with her.

“Mrs,…Virginia, you know that I am not much for dancing,” he explained.

Miss Darcy, Miss Bennet, and Mr. Bingley all looked at him strangely as he had professed the opposite opinion earlier with Miss Bennet.

Not noticing the looks from the other members of their little group, Virginia said, “Well, we have the entire season to change your mind.”

With that statement, Lady Julia arrived to ask for Virginia’s help on some detail that needed looking after. Virginia left the little group much to the relief of those remaining.


After the supper dance, Virginia held Mr. Darcy back as the others made their way to the banquet room.

“Fitzwilliam, we have had absolutely no time to discuss our wedding since you proposed.  Instead of going into supper, why do we not go upstairs to my rooms?” she suggested.

“Your rooms?” he asked.

“Yes, there has been so much to do to ready Georgiana and prepare for this ball that Julia has set aside a guest suite here at Matlock House for my use to give us more time to achieve all the details that needed to be attended,” she explained.

“But, Virginia, this is not a good time.  I understand that Miss Bennet is to be announced at supper, and I cannot disappoint Lady Suzan by not being there to lend my support,” he stated, hoping that was sufficient reason not to be put in a situation that he was trying to avoid.  Alone with Virginia was bad enough, but alone in her bed chambers would be a disaster and would raise more questions about his intentions than he was willing to answer at this time.

She wanted to stamp her foot at being thwarted in her plans.  Then she realized that as she would soon be a member of the family and she, too, should show her support despite the fact she could care less about the Dowager or Miss Bennet.  After all, they would be dancing the last dance and then she could sweep him up the stairs and not have to worry about making an appearance after she had gotten what she wanted.  The fact that she would have him sharing her bed through the night held more appeal than a quick romp.

Smiling, she allowed her fiancé to escort her to supper.

After the last dance, she did stamp her foot as she watched Mr. Darcy walk away after he informed her that he needed to escort his sister home expressing that he was tired and would not be returning.





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