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Chapter 7


It was late in the afternoon, and Darcy was seated at his desk in his study staring out the window trying to determine how the bliss of becoming betrothed had faded into the feeling that he had made a mistake.  Maybe it was because he and Virginia Wagstaff had already had their first argument.  He passed his hand over his face as he thought about their latest encounter and how he felt about it.

It all started when he had gone by her house to collect her so they could call at Matlock House and relate their happy news.  His sister, Georgiana, had been staying with Lord and Lady Matlock, Edward and Julia Fitzwilliam, during his absence.  Virginia had no immediate family in town, but she wanted to inform her dearest friend, Julia, the current Lady Matlock, of the impending nuptials.

They had not even settled into the carriage before Virginia brought up the subject of their wedding date.  She had proposed the end of April which was barely six weeks away.  When he informed her that was not possible and suggested a late summer wedding at Pemberley, she leaned forward so that he had a clear view down the bodice of her gown.

He was so transfixed on her breasts unbound and moving with the motion of the carriage that he paid no attention to her arguments to his suggestions.  He thought he caught a glimpse of the areole of her nipple.  Then he remembered a time when he surreptitiously gazed down on the bosom of Elizabeth’s gown as she poured him tea and the vision of that memory brought a stiffening to his manhood.  His pleasant revelry, however, was interrupted by Virginia’s hand on his knee.

Embarrassed by his inattention, he shyly asked her to repeat her question as he watched her hand slide up his thigh, getting dangerously close to his arousal.  Placing his hand atop hers to stop its progress, he informed her that a date before the end of the season was not possible as he needed to be available to escort Georgiana around town.

Darcy could see by the glint in her eye that her attention was focused on the decided bulge in his breeches and when she did not reply, he assumed she did not hear him.  A little fissure of anger coursed through him.  She was trying to use physical seduction to have her way with him which infuriated him. 

Darcy crumpled a half-written letter and tossed it into the burning fire, listing to it crackle and hiss as it burned when a memory of a forgotten conversation he had had with her late husband several years ago came to mind.  They had been enjoying a brandy in a quiet corner of White’s and discussing his cousin, Edward, and his acquisition of a mistress.  Apparently Julia was having trouble meeting his needs as she was always with child, so she agreed that maybe he needed a mistress for those times when she was simply not available to satisfy him.  Lemuel Wagstaff informed him that would never be the case for him as he could hardly keep up with his wife’s needs.  At that point, Darcy felt such envy to have a wife with such a passionate nature.  Now, he no longer felt that envy, only concern that he would not be able to have intimate relations with his future wife without dredging up a memory of the only woman he loved or would ever love.  He did not love Virginia. He never would, but the fact that he sat in the carriage with his member hard and throbbing because of a memory of a lost love did not bode well for his future marital felicity, even though the view he had of his present fiancée’s bosom had helped in obtaining his arousal.

Thinking that they had yet to reveal to anyone their engagement, he was sorely tempted to unbutton his trousers and seek her reaction to his fully erect state.  If she winced, there was still time to call it all off.  But propriety and honor stayed him.  Besides, he thought she would probably want to try it on for size, based on her late husband’s comments.

Instead, he removed her hand from his thigh and gently pushing her back into an upright posture.  He had had to take several deep breaths to compose himself.  Once he was sure everything was back to normal, he promised to consider a June wedding date, but anything before that time was simply not possible.  He felt guilty not conceding to his future wife’s wishes but not guilty enough to acquiesce.  The fact that she had exposed herself to him in such a way was meant to seduce him, but it did not.  It took a long ago memory of someone else to bring about his erection.  This did not portend well to future relations with Mrs. Wagstaff.  Had he become so conditioned that he would not allow himself to become aroused without the means to remedy the occasion or was it something else?  Did he need the extra time to be able to re-condition himself to become aroused for his future wife without thoughts of Elizabeth?  He had felt Mrs. Wagstaff’s effect on him before his trip, but those times were not as strong as when he thought of Elizabeth.  He needed to move on with his life. As he watched a young pair of sparrows building a nest in the large oak just outside his window, he asked himself. …Why was this becoming so complicated? The birds and the bees have no such inhibitions…why do I? How hard could it be? He shook his head and examined his thoughts.

Virginia has a beautiful body, and, evidently, the willingness to make any man desire her.  Have I not been stirred by her voluptuous body in the past few months?  Maybe not to a full erection, but definitely there was some stiffness.  Now, that things are settled between us, I should be able to give my urges free reign.  If that be the case, then why do I not feel that attraction?  Is her sudden display of forwardness so off putting that it has doused my desire?  I have spent so much time in the past rebuffing ladies who used their allurements to tempt me.  Is this another behavior that I need to change in order to enjoy intimate relations with my future wife?  She has always been pleasing without being cloying; she has let her feelings and thoughts be known but never before in such a forward manner.  Is she not the woman I think she is?  Are my concerns for this match actually rational or excuses for the fact that I have yet to mend my broken heart over Elizabeth?  With the Season upon us, maybe what I need to do is spend more time with Virginia to erase the memory of Elizabeth Bennet.  Time will tell!

After they arrived at Matlock house and greetings were issued and received, Virginia Wagstaff and Fitzwilliam Darcy announced their intentions to be wed.  While congratulations were being offered, he could not help but notice that his sister was less that enthused by the news. This only added to his worries that maybe he had been too impetuous.  He decided he would speak to his sister about any misgivings she may have once they returned to Darcy House later.

As they made ready to leave, Darcy perceived Virginia seemed upset that Georgiana was joining them.  What did she expect?  That I was going to return to her house and take her to bed?  I have not seen my sister in four weeks.  Since I have been home, I have spent more time with her than Georgiana. 

A tentative knock on the study door roused him from his reflections. He glanced up and called out, “Come!”

The door opened and in walked his sister.  Rising from his chair, he strode the distance to pull her into his embrace. “Georgiana, it so good to see you home again.  I have missed you so.”  At Matlock House, they had hardly had time to acknowledge each other for the twitter about his engagement.

“I have missed you as well, William,” she replied, genuinely glad to be with her brother after so long apart.

“Come sit down and tell me all your news.”  He led her to the chairs in front of the fire so they could easily talk.

Before she sat, she handed him a note.

Taking the paper from her hand, he looked up and asked, “What is this?”

“It is an invitation to call at Crandall House.  Aunt Suzan writes that Richard has returned and both are desirous to see us.”

He looked confused. “Lady Suzan is at Crandall House?  Last I heard from Richard, he was about to be shipped off to join Wellington.”

“Well, I did not learn of her being in town until she had been here two weeks.  Whatever her reasons, Lady Julia is not pleased, and Edward has not been around much to ask.  I wanted to go visit Lady Suzan, but Lady Julia said we were too busy, and that if Lady Suzan wanted to see us, she should come calling.  But Aunt Suzan did send me a note that she was well, and that when you returned, we would see each other.”

Darcy just shook his head at Lady Julia’s treatment of her mother-in-law and then responded, “Of course, we will go to Crandall House immediately after breakfast in the morning.  Though I am most anxious as to why Richard is in London.  And it does seem strange for Lady Suzan to be here, as well.”

“I, like you, thought Richard was bound for the continent from his last letter.  Though, I have not heard from him in over a month.  All I was able to gather from Lady Julia was that Aunt Suzan was here about some matter concerning Lady Webberley’s cousin.”

“Hmmm!” was his response.

Glancing over to his desk, piled high with letters and papers, she nodded to it and said, “I am sure there is an explanation to all these mysteries sitting on your desk.”

He laughed and replied, “By the time I would find them, it will be time to leave to go to Crandall House.”

They shared a laugh.  They were happy to be together again after so long apart.

“Georgiana, what did you think of my news today?” he asked, hoping he had just imagined her unease earlier.

“If she makes you happy, then I am happy,” shyly she answered.

“You are not pleased with my choice,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“William, it is not that.  I was just surprised.  Mrs. Wagstaff does not seem the type of lady you would choose as a wife,” she timidly replied.

Furrowing his brow, he asked, “How so?”

“She is so amiable and enjoys being around people.  You are quiet and reserved in large groups.  She mentioned wanting to live in London year round.  You prefer to live at Pemberley.  While I understood that she preferred you over other gentlemen, I had just assumed your response to her was as it is to Miss Bingley.  After all, Mrs. Wagstaff is a close friend to Lady Julia just as you are a close friend to Mr. Bingley.  William, Mrs. Wagstaff has spent a great deal of time helping Lady Julia prepare me for my coming out.  She has intimated that you and she were to marry, but I just thought it was her wishful thinking, as it is with so many ladies in regards to you.  I never imagined that you had any special inclination toward her other than her connection to Lord and Lady Matlock.”

Astonished at his young sister’s perception of Virginia Wagstaff, he felt embarrassed that he had let his admiration of a pretty face and a heaving bosom lead him to go against his better sense or his rational thought.  His only excuse was that he had not been able to partake in the pleasures of a woman’s flesh since he met Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and that had caused his defenses against fortune hunting females to crumble.  My previous admiration of Virginia Wagstaff must also have played a role my overlooking those signs in a woman. There is no honorable way to extricate myself from this engagement now, so I might as well make the best of it and the marriage.  Virginia and I have known each for quite awhile, maybe Georgiana just does not know her as well as I do.

Nodding his head, Darcy responded, “Do not worry, Georgie; it is not as bad as you believe.”  I can only hope it will not be worse.

She looked at him skeptically and then went on to ask after the other item she wished to discuss with him, “William, since you are not marrying for connections or monetary gain, does that mean I do not have to marry for such?”

With a stern look, he said, “Georgiana, all I want is for you to find someone that you care about and cares about you and will provide you a comfortable life free from want or need.  Why would you ask such a question?”

“Lady Julia says that I should consider nothing short of a Duke or an Earl and that whomever I choose must not be in financial need of my dowry. They have a made a list of gentlemen that I must show a preference to in hopes to entice them to pay me court.”

“They?  Who is they?” he exclaimed.

“Lady Julia and Mrs. Wagstaff!  I am not sure I can do what they request in securing a suitor.”

Darcy was not happy with her answer, nor was he happy with Lady Julia and Mrs. Wagstaff and their advice.  Oh! How he wished his aunt, Lady Suzan, had been available to guide Georgiana so she would not have been left in the care of the arrogant and self-important Lady Julia.  Hearing that his future wife had engaged in instructing his sister in such nonsense only added to his unease about this engagement. 

Looking beseechingly at his sister, he stated, “Georgiana, my dear sweet girl, you do not need to do anything you are not comfortable with.  I am so sorry that I have not been here to help you these last few weeks.  As Lady Suzan was not available, Lady Julia agreed to sponsor you, and I thought she would guide you in a more appropriate way.  But as to whom you wish to have pay court to you, I can definitely guide you in that area.  This will be your first season; you do not have to find a husband now if there are none to your liking.  You should enjoy yourself and not worry about what Lady Julia or Mrs. Wagstaff expects.”

“Thank you, dear brother; I do not believe I have it in me to marry an Earl or a Duke.  I cannot see myself hosting lavish balls and dinner parties.  All I want is a husband who is gentle and caring and will be satisfied living a quiet life.”  Relieved at his support, she could not help a tear from escaping down her cheek.

Rising from his chair, Darcy went to his sister.  Taking her hands in his, he pulled to her feet and into his embrace.  Whispering in her hair, he softly said, “If that is what you want, dear sister, then that is what you will have, be it this year or next year or the year after; however long it takes until you find the gentleman that fulfills your expectations and dreams.”

Pulling back from her, he smiled and said, “I believe it will be far easier to find a suitor to meet your standards than it will be to find one that meets Lady Julia’s, especially one that I would approve of most wholeheartedly.”

The next morning dawned a lovely spring day so instead of riding in the carriage the short distance to Crandall House, Mr. and Miss Darcy opted to walk.

Upon reaching Crandall House, brother and sister were shown into the drawing room to be greeted by their aunt and cousin.  Once they were seated, Darcy announced his engagement and Lady Suzan and General Fitzwilliam offered their congratulations. 

“Ah, there you are Elizabeth, come in and meet my niece and nephew,” Lady Suzan called out as she stood.

Darcy stood and turned to greet at the newcomer entering into their midst.  When realization of the identity of said newcomer struck him, it was in such a powerful way that he nearly doubled over.  It cannot be Elizabeth.  What is she doing here in my aunt’s drawing room of all places?

Lady Suzan walked over to usher Elizabeth in as Georgiana Darcy rose to her feet.  “Miss Elizabeth Bennet, may I introduce my niece, Miss Georgiana Darcy?”

Both ladies curtsied to each other.

“Darcy, I believe you have already met Miss Bennet,” Lady Suzan said.

Darcy stood frozen in his place, stunned that it was truly his Elizabeth.

Elizabeth offered, “Mr. Darcy, it is a pleasure to see you again.” Performing a polite curtsy to the silent man with a shocked expression on his face, she was confused by his lack of manners.  Does he still despise me so much that he cannot act civilly?

The touch of Miss Darcy’s hand against her brother’s arm drew him out of his stupor.  “Miss Bennet,” was all he could get out.

As everyone seated themselves, Lady Suzan said, “Miss Bennet, my nephew has just informed us that he is to be wed.”

Darcy could not help but feel a touch of anger that Elizabeth should be informed of his latest folly.  And his curt nod in acknowledging her best wishes only added to the tension building in the room.

Tea was brought in and there was a silence while everyone was being served. 

Darcy could do nothing but stare intensely at Elizabeth, and she found herself extremely uncomfortable under the scrutiny. 

Georgiana, hoping to take to the attention from her brother’s peculiar behavior, began a conversation with Elizabeth. 

Lady Suzan and the general were concerned at Darcy’s uncharacteristic manners and Miss Bennet’s obvious discomfiture with them.  Giving her son a look, Lady Suzan silently pleaded with Richard to do something.

General Fitzwilliam stood and announced, “Darcy, how about a game of billiards? We can catch up on all the news. The ladies seemed to want to talk of lace and bonnets and coming out, and I, for one, have heard enough on such topics in the last few days to last me a lifetime.”

Darcy, still staring intently at Miss Bennet, had not heard his cousin.

“Darcy!” The general raised his voice to garner his cousin’s attention.

When no response was forthcoming, Georgiana reached over and touched her brother’s arm to gain his notice.

Hesitantly, Darcy moved his gaze from Miss Bennet to his sister. “Yes, Georgiana.”

“Richard asked if you would like to join him in a game of billiards,” she imparted.

Looking up at his cousin, Darcy responded, “Not at the present time.”  Then he returned his scrutiny to Miss Bennet.

The general walked behind the chair where Darcy was seated and placed his hand on his cousin’s shoulder, giving it a hard squeeze.

Darcy winced at the slight pain and looked up at the general silently asking what was meant by such an action.

“Now would be the perfect time.” The general glared at Darcy.

Sensing that something was not right, Darcy looked at his aunt, who wore a decided scowl.  Then he looked at Georgiana who wore concern on her countenance.  When he looked back at Miss Bennet and saw how ill at ease she seemed, he decided a retreat might be in order.  Rising from his seat, he followed his cousin from the drawing room but not without one last glance at his Elizabeth.

Once in the hallway, Richard Fitzwilliam was bound and determined to find out what was wrong with his cousin. “Darcy, what is the meaning of your behavior in there.”  He nodded back to the door they just exited. 

Darcy looked at him as if he did not know what his cousin was asking about.

“You acted as if Miss Bennet was a danger to us,” the general stated.

Darcy thought, …Danger? Yes, she is a danger…a danger to me.  A very real danger as my love for her has not lessened in the least and the mere sight of her has rendered me speechless and at a loss of where I am.  Having gained some control of his faculties, he asked, “What is Miss Elizabeth Bennet doing in your mother’s drawing room?”

The general smirked, “Just where were you when it was all explained.  I, for one, noticed you in the room, but you evidently did not heed any of the conversation.”  Placing a hand on his cousin’s shoulder, he continued, “Come, I will explain all, again.”






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