How To Mend A Broken Heart
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After receiving Lady Suzan’s good wishes and promising to return later in the day, Darcy boarded his carriage for his trip back to Darcy House. On entering the house, he was informed that Miss Darcy and Mr. Bingley were awaiting him in the Green Parlour.
Opening the door to the parlour, Darcy was astonished to see his sister and his friend with their arms wrapped around each other and in a passionate kiss. He smiled until he saw Mr. Bingley’s hands were resting underneath her arms as his thumbs caressed the underside of her breasts. Just how far have they gone in this engagement of theirs? He thought.
It took him several times to clear his throat before the couple realized that they were not alone. They immediately broke apart with a red-faced Bingley sheepishly averting his eyes after being caught groping his friend’s sister.
It was, however, his sister’s response that amazed Mr. Darcy; she seemed annoyed at him for the interruption and even more shocking was the fact that she did not seem to mind the liberties that Bingley took with her, and it appeared she actually was encouraging such behavior. What has Bingley done to my sister?
As the three of them stood looking at each other, it was Georgiana who broke the silence, “Fitzwilliam, finally, you are here.”
With a stern look on his face, he said, “Yes. Though it appears I should have been here sooner.”
Georgia gave him a pointed look. “If you had not been so preoccupied with Mrs. Wagstaff these past few weeks then this would have been settled long ago and there would be no reason for you to be so shocked.”
Both Bingley and Darcy cried, “Georgiana!” at that remark.
“Well, it is the truth. That is why the news Charles has brought about your engagement has been such a relief,” she said in a more quiet voice.
Bingley sensed that things were going off track and was anxious that all be settled so there was not a delay in his wedding to Georgiana, he voiced, “Darcy!”
Darcy stared at his sister in disbelief that she had stood up for herself in such a way. He realized that Georgiana had grown up and was not a little girl, although her attitude was quite shocking for a young lady known for her shyness. Where did this boldness come from? He was not sure whether he should be happy about this change in his sister or alarmed by it. Therefore, it took Charles calling his name again to return his attention back to the couple.
When Darcy turned his gaze to him, Bingley said, “Shall we retire to your study? I have the revised papers here.” He indicated a satchel resting on a table.
Bursting with happiness, Darcy could no longer contain his secret. Grinning from ear to ear, Darcy announced, “This morning I was able to secure Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s hand in marriage.” With a more somber mien, he added, “For obvious reasons, I request that you keep this news to yourselves.”
Facing shocked looks on Georgiana and Bingley’s faces, Darcy said, “It is a long story that I will not go into at the present. But I assure you that I will relate it to you later.”
After realizing that Elizabeth was going to be her sister, Georgiana lunged at Darcy and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Oh! Fitzwilliam, I am so happy for you.” She kissed his cheek.
Bingley shook Darcy’s hand and offered his congratulations.
As Georgiana settled down, she stated, “When will you wed? It cannot be soon as you just broke your engagement with Mrs. Wagstaff.”
“We will be married within the month, six weeks at the latest,” Darcy stated.
Georgiana’s and Charles’s shock at such a declaration was quite evident and Georgiana was first to respond, “So soon! Will not that cause a scandal larger than your broken engagement?”
“Fear not,” Darcy calmly said, “The week after your wedding, Elizabeth and Lady Suzan will accompany me to Pemberley. You and Bingley will follow a week after on the ruse of a wedding trip. Once you arrive at Pemberley then Elizabeth and I will wed in the chapel there.”
Bingley and Georgiana looked at each other before Bingley turned back to Darcy and asked, “I take it Louisa and Caroline will not be invited to Pemberley this summer?”
Georgiana laughed and then cried, “Of course not!”
Looking at her brother, she added, “Do you want Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst attending your secret wedding?” she smirked.
Darcy and Bingley looked at each other with a touch of fear apparent on their faces. Bingley turned to Georgiana and responded, “My dear, I believe the destination of our wedding trip is to be a secret as well.”
Georgiana looked at her fiancé in confusion before turning her gaze back to her brother. Then realizing the implication of having her new sisters-in-law knowing that they were to be away to Pemberley, she recognized the truth in Bingley’s response and nodded.
Placing her hand on Charles’ arm, she smiled at him as she declared, “Mr. Bingley, I love surprises. I know whatever destination you have chosen will meet with my delight.”
The next day two ladies clad in mourning clothes along with
a gentleman exited the rear of Crandall House and made their way to the stable
house where a non-descript carriage awaited them. After the trio boarded the
carriage, the occupants were transported through the alleyways of
On arriving at their destination, they disembarked from the carriage and the younger of the two ladies walked through the grave markers until she found the one with the initials LB carved on it. The other two remained with the carriage as the young lady knelt before the marker and began to weep.
“Darcy, what did your father ever see in that worthless excuse for a human being?” Lady Suzan asked as she watched Elizabeth mourn her sister.
“I guess he felt he owed it to old Mr. Wickham to look out after his son. Though I feel it is my fault that George was left to go about harming others,” Darcy replied.
“Nonsense, you are not responsible for the unconscionable acts of that miscreant.”
“Aunt, I could have informed my father of Wickham’s behavior, but I chose not to do so. My pride stopped me from doing anything to him after he tried to elope with Georgiana. I knew he spread his vitriol about me and did nothing to contradict it. I feel the full weight of his actions toward Lydia Bennet.”
“No, you cannot blame yourself. You did what was right at the time,” she said. Then turning and touching his arm, she continued, “You are not planning to go after him, are you?”
Looking down at his aunt, Darcy said, “Not as such.
“Then what have you planned?” she asked.
“Well, Fitzwilliam has a friend in the Militia that will keep an eye out for Wickham and inform us if he is ever caught. I have employed some trusted people to make quiet inquiries about our friend’s whereabouts. If he is ever located, Richard and I have made plans on how to deal with him so that he is not allowed to harm anyone ever again.”
“What do you plan to do?” she asked alarmed.
“We plan to see him rot in hell.”
Mrs. Hurst hurried into her brother’s townhouse, asking the butler to direct her to her sister. Establishing that Caroline was in her apartments, Louisa Hurst quickly made her way up the stairs to the family wing. Arriving in her sister’s rooms, she was astonished to see clothing covering every available surface.
“Caroline, whatever are you doing?” Louisa queried.
“Louisa, finally! I need your help in deciding what to pack.” Caroline exclaimed.
“Pack! Charles is not getting married for a week. You have plenty of time to pack up what you will need to stay at my house for the short time you will be there,” Louisa said as she looked at her sister confused at all the fuss.
“No, Louisa. I am trying to decide what to take to Pemberley. OH!! I hope there is time to have some new gowns made. These will simply not do,” she cried, holding out two gowns, “they are almost out of style.”
“So you already know?” Louisa felt the disappointment of not being able to share what she just learned from her husband.
Caroline smiled at her sister. “If you referring to the fact that Mr. Darcy is no longer engaged, then, yes, I am already privy to that little tidbit. When Mrs. Redmond left thirty minutes ago, I hurried up here to take stock of what I have to console Mr. Darcy in his time of loss.” A knowing smile appeared on Caroline’s face before she narrowed eyes and asked, “How did you find out?”
“Mr. Hurst told me. Apparently he was there…” Louisa stopped, realizing she had said too much. How was she to inform her maiden sister of what her husband had related to her about the circumstances of Mrs. Wagstaff causing the break in her engagement to Mr. Darcy.
Caroline’s eyes were as large as saucers. “He saw it happen!” she exclaimed. “Louisa, you must tell me all!”
“Mr. Hurst did not see anything of the kind. He was at his club when our brother came in with Mr. Darcy, Lord Matlock, and General Fitzwilliam. Apparently it had just happened.”
“Charles, our brother, was there when it happened?” Caroline’s fury at her brother for not informing her of such momentous news was not mitigated by the fact she had not seen him since the morning before.
“Yes, evidently. I thought he was to spend the evening with Mr. Darcy?” Louisa inquired.
“He was. You do not think she came to his house and broke the engagement in front of his friends, do you?” Caroline smiled at her good fortune at having Mr. Darcy free to marry her now.
“I do not know. What did Charles say at breakfast this morning? Did he not mention anything of what happened? I am sure you were inquiring after Mr. Darcy at breakfast since you knew our brother’s whereabouts the night before.”
Caroline frowned. “Evidently our brother did not get in until very late last night and slept in; asking for breakfast to be served on a tray in his rooms. He was gone to Darcy House before I had a chance to talk to him.”
Louisa surveyed her sister’s bed chamber and shrugged. “What are you going to do with all this?” It appeared that every garment Caroline owned was strewn about.
Caroline grinned. “Nothing! Nothing at all. My maid will take care of getting rid of most of it. After all, I will be in need of a new wardrobe for our trip to Pemberley this summer.”
Linking arms with her sister, Caroline asked, “Shall we have our tea now as we plan for a full day of shopping tomorrow?” She led Louisa out the door and down the stairs to the drawing room.
Charles Bingley was giving his hat and gloves to the footman as his sisters descended the stairs.
Seeing that her brother had returned, Caroline called, “Charles, you have returned in time to join Louisa and me for tea.”
“Yes, I have something important to talk to both of you about.”
The three siblings made their way to the drawing room, and Caroline asked the footman to have their tea served.
“We already know about Mr. Darcy’s engagement to Mrs. Wagstaff and that it is disengaged. We also know she was the one responsible,” Caroline responded.
Bingley looked a bit astonished the news had spread so fast. “I am not surprised. How did you find out?”
“Mrs. Redmond visited this afternoon with the news, knowing how intimate we are with Darcys. Mr. Hurst informed Louisa,” Caroline replied.
Bingley smiled to himself. He doubted they knew all the particulars, especially with Caroline’s maiden sensibilities though he was not sure how much Hurst had told Louisa. Lord Matlock had been happy to make the announcement but had been discreet in the details of how it came about. He had simply intimated that Mrs. Wagstaff’s impatience with the length of time until her nuptials with Darcy and had found someone else to marry her sooner. The fact that Sir Arnold Murphy did not seem inclined toward marriage was Mrs. Wagstaff’s problem not theirs.
“With this happening, Darcy has decided to leave for Pemberley several days after my marriage to Miss Darcy. Therefore, I have decided to take my future bride on a wedding trip after all,” Charles proclaimed.
“A wedding trip?” Caroline began to feel uneasy about this announcement.
“Yes, I have a destination worked out. We will be leaving about two weeks after our wedding. In fact,” he turned to Louisa, “I have just left Hurst to gain his approval for Caroline to remain with you through the summer.”
Caroline burst out, “We are not going to Pemberley!!!!”
“No, Caroline. You will not be going to Pemberley this summer but staying with the Hursts.” Bingley could not help the small smile that appeared on his face at that announcement.
“But… B… But… However are we to get to know our new sister better? Being all together at Pemberley was meant to bring our two families closer together,” Caroline cried, disappointment evident in her tone.
“Caroline, you have professed an intimate friendship with dear Georgiana many years now. Do you feel that additional time spent together would change that?” For once Charles was truly enjoying turning the tables on his sister.
Sitting up straighter, Caroline tried a different tack to secure her summer. “But what of Mr. Darcy? He must be devastated by Mrs. Wagstaff’s defection. We must be there for him.”
“If he is devastated, as you say, do you not think he would wish to be away from everyone to lick his wounds and heal? Besides the dowager Lady Matlock will be joining him as well as General Fitzwilliam when he is able. Dovecote is not that far and Lord Matlock will be there for him. He has his family near, he will be fine.”
“But Charles, we will be his family soon. Should we not be there to support him?” Caroline’s desperation was palpable.
“Caroline, I offered and he declined. He feels his problems should not affect Georgiana’s, and my happiness.” Looking at his timepiece, he said, “Look at the time, I must change quickly as I have been invited to Crandall House for dinner.”
“Crandall House!” both Caroline and Louisa exclaimed. If this was to be a family dinner, why had they not also been invited as well?
“Yes, Crandall House.”
“Did you forget to inform us of our invitation?” Louisa asked.
“I do not believe one was issued to you.” With that, he stood and left his two very disappointed sisters.
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