How To Mend A Broken Heart
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It was a bright, crisp early November morn that found Caroline Bingley sitting in her private chambers. It was ten o’clock in the morning, and she was still in her night-gown and robe having just finished her breakfast. Sipping her tea, she was perusing the society page of the morning newspaper when she saw it:
Lately married, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, Derbyshire, to Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
The “NOOOOOOOOO!” issued from her mouth was heard on the street below.
The entire Hurst household rushed to her chambers to see what the matter was. Louisa Hurst was the first to arrive and instructed her husband to remain in the hallway until she could discern what had happened. Opening the door to her sister’s chambers, Louisa found Caroline frantically pacing the room chanting, “No, it is not true. No, it is not possible.” Over and over.
“What is not possible?” Louisa calmly inquired.
“THIS!” Caroline threw a wadded piece of newsprint at her sister.
Louisa bent down to pick up the ball of paper. Opening it up, she put it on the table to smooth out the wrinkles before searching for whatever it was that had set her sister on such a tangent. It did not take long to find the offending advertisement.
Shaking her head, Louisa looked at her sister. In an incredulous voice, she asked, “Do you
still believe that he would have married you?”
“Yes! Yes, I do.” Caroline spat. “It is all Charles’s fault and that silly, stupid wife of his.”
“Caroline, might I mention that yesterday Georgiana was your dearest sister,” Louisa remarked.
“Well not any more, she and Eliza Bennet were too friendly last season. She must have condoned the match and talked our brother out of doing his duty to Mr. Darcy,” Caroline responded.
“And just what is Charles’ duty to Mr. Darcy?” asked Louisa.
“The same as Mr. Darcy did for him with Jane Bennet – separating him from an unscrupulous woman.”
Louisa was appalled at her sister’s view of things. Hoping to set her straight, she advised, “Sister, you had best forget about all this and concentrate on finding a gentleman who is willing to marry you.”
Caroline scowled at her sister.
Shrugging her shoulders, Louisa turned and left Caroline to her tantrum. Opening the door, she found Mr. Hurst waiting for her in the hallway.
“What was all that about?” He nodded to the door she had just come through.
“It seems that Mr. Darcy has married Elizabeth Bennet. Caroline did not take the news graciously.”
Mr. Hurst laughed and continued laughing as he walked away while Mrs. Hurst hurriedly went to pen a warning note to her brother.
Caroline Bingley stood on her brother’s doorstep outraged. She had been denied entry with the excuse that Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were indisposed and were not receiving callers. As she tried to explain that she had urgent business with her brother, the door was unceremoniously closed in her face. Lifting her head and straightening her shoulders, she descended the steps with as much dignity as she could muster and calmly walked down the sidewalk.
However, she only walked as far as the alleyway between the Bingley house and house next door. There she slipped down the passageway to a little used door that was usually unlocked during the daytime for the servants to come and go. Making sure the coast was clear, she entered the house. Stealthily she went to Charles’s study, not finding him there she proceeded to his apartments. Since he was a late riser, she concluded he might still be abed. Scanning his bed chamber and not seeing him, she went to check his dressing room. Not there, either. Thinking a moment, she decided that he and Georgiana must be in her sitting room. Not wanting to risk detection, she decided to use the connecting doors.
When she opened the door from his dressing room into the mistress’s chambers, she was met with the view of her brother’s bare behind rapidly going up and down. She was about to call out to him when he arched his back and cried, “YES!” before collapsing on the bed.
“Charles?” Caroline questioned. She watched his body stiffen as he rose up on his arms.
Looking over his shoulder at her, he bellowed, “CAROLINE, GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE NOW!”
She was shocked at her brother’s language, but she was determined to have her say, “Charles, I must speak with you immediately. It is quite urgent.”
Charles Bingley’s patience with his sister had reached its limits. In a voice meant to intimidate the most stubborn mule, he yelled, “GET OUT NOW!”
“NO!” she screeched and stamped her foot. She had come here to have her say and nothing would deter her. “I have come to find out why you have betrayed me yet again.”
Charles let out a deep sign and looked apologetically at his wife. Georgiana gave him a slight nod. He then reached down and pulled the covers up to hide their nakedness. Plumping up some pillows, he helped his wife sit up as she clutched the sheets to her chin. He, then, made himself comfortable, before crossing his arms over his chest.
“Very well, Caroline, how have I betrayed you?” he asked in a clipped tone.
“Why did you let Mr. Darcy make such a huge mistake by marrying that gold-digging trollop, Eliza Bennet?” she responded as she placed her arms across her chest, mimicking his gesture.
Charles glanced at Georgiana with a look that suggested she might want to respond.
Georgiana sat up straight and replied, “Mrs. Darcy is not a gold-digging trollop but a dear friend and sister.”
“But I am your sister, too,” Caroline whined. “How could you let your brother ruin his life by connecting himself to that piece of self-serving baggage? This would never have happened if you had invited me to Pemberley this past summer as we had planned.”
A steely glint appeared in Georgiana’s eyes as she reacted to that provocation, “First of all, Elizabeth is a sweet, kind, and amazing woman who loves my brother dearly. Secondly, my brother would not have noticed you at all if you had come to Pemberley because he was and is so besotted with his wife.”
“HA!” Caroline exclaimed, showing her disbelief in such rubbish.
“Caroline, my brother has been in love with Elizabeth for years. He was heartbroken when she refused his first proposal.”
Caroline looked at her sister-in-law incredulously.
“It is true. Ask Charles.” Georgiana looked at her husband who just nodded.
“Fitzwilliam was broken-hearted when Elizabeth refused him. It took almost a year just to get the courage to go look for her to show her that he was a better man because of her. By then, the Bennets had lost Longbourn and he did not know where she had gone. He spent two years looking for her; he thought she was lost to him forever. When she turned up in his life again, he did everything he could think of to get her to change her mind about him.”
Shaking her head, Caroline retorted, “No, that is not true. He was engaged to Mrs. Wagstaff then.”
Georgiana continued on, “Yes, he was, but it did not stop him from trying to win Elizabeth’s good opinion because he loved her that much. Fitzwilliam would have married Mrs. Wagstaff because he is an honorable man, but he would have been as miserable with Mrs. Wagstaff just as he would be miserable if he had married you. He loves Elizabeth and will love her forever. Caroline, you never had a chance to win his affections. He only put up with your fawning and groveling because you were Charles’s sister. He never would have offered for you.”
“You are wrong. He would have married me if he had a chance,” Caroline cried.
Charles spoke up, “Darcy had plenty of chances, Caroline. He simply was not interested. I know he wanted to tell you to leave him alone, but he endured your presence for my sake. I have counseled you that he was not interested, but you would never listen.”
Caroline was getting distraught. They were not seeing her side. So she attempted one last point, “Why would Mr. Darcy want a wife who lacks fashion or style, who has virtually no accomplishments, and who does not know or understand the workings of the ton?”
Charles and Georgiana looked at each and rolled their eyes. Charles nodded his head toward Georgiana, indicating for her to respond.
In what she hoped was a kind voice, Georgiana attempted to explain her brother. “Because he does not need or want those things. He wants a kind, caring, and loving wife. A wife who will challenge his intellect and keep him focused on what is the right thing to do for all the problems he has to deal with. He wants someone who is sympathetic to him, his family, and all those who depend on him for their livelihood. He wants a partner in life not just an ornament for his arm.”
Caroline shook her head, not believing Georgiana’s words.
Becoming exasperated with her sister-in-law, the tone of Georgiana’s voice hardened as she continued, “He does not want to have his wealth spent on elaborate gowns or bonnets or jewels. He likes to see women dressed simply but elegantly. He loves Pemberley just as it is and does not want to see it redecorated into an ostentatious pile of stone like Rosings Park. He prefers small gatherings of close friends rather than being dragged to large events just because it is the place to be seen.”
“That is not true!” Caroline exclaimed.
Charles’s patience had exceeded its limit and he was ready to put an end to this invasion of their privacy and that of his good friend’s.
When Georgiana began to speak again, he put his hand on her leg to stay her from saying more. Then looking at his sister, he said, “Enough, Caroline! What is done is done and there is no way to change it. You must forget Darcy and find a gentleman who wants to marry you for who you are.”
“NO!” Caroline stamped her foot.
For most of her life, Georgiana Darcy Bingley had been a shy, retiring young lady. She had always avoided confrontations, preferring to agree with someone than to state her own views. In the few short months of her marriage, her husband had encouraged to lose her inhibitions, to have confidence in herself. Therefore, after listening to this mad woman ranting about things she knew nothing about, she sat up, lifted her arm and pointed her forefinger at Caroline and shouted, “OUT!”
“No, this is my home,” Caroline stated defiantly.
Georgiana’s anger at this woman was getting the best of her and she responded in low, determined voice, “It is no longer your home; I am mistress of this house now. I wish you to leave it quietly. If you do not wish to do so quietly, I will see that you are escorted out, forcefully.”
“HA!” Caroline retorted. “What can you do? You are not even dressed.” Caroline planted her feet and crossed her arms over her chest in a defiant pose to indicate that she would not comply with the request.
Charles Bingley had had enough of his silly, obnoxious sister and wanted her gone. And Bing was very excited in witnessing his wife assert her power and was in need of returning to the warm haven that she provided. So without another thought to the circumstances, Charles threw back the bed covers and leaped from the bed.
Caroline seeing her brother’s actions, screamed, “CHARLES!” while turning her back to him. As a maiden, she should not be forced to view a gentleman’s nude form, especially if it was her brother’s.
Charles marched over to his sister and turned her around to face him. Then he lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder and walked to the door while she kicked her legs and pounded his back, yelling “Put me down!”
Reaching the door to the hallway, Charles opened it and tossed Caroline out to land on her rump against the soft carpeting of the hall. Closing and locking the door, Charles leaned his back against the door waiting to see if Caroline would take the hint and leave quietly. While he waited, he watched his wife remove the covers that were hiding her delicious body from his view and step down from the bed. He held out his hand to stay her from approaching him when he heard his sister’s fists banging on the door followed by her shrill voice demanding to be let back in.
Charles waited patiently until he heard boot steps running down the hallway. Once he ascertained that his footmen had subdued Caroline, he unlocked the door and opened it only wide enough to put his face through. “Please escort Miss Bingley from this house. If she will not go willingly, you have my permission to carry her out.”
Caroline looked at her brother’s face with astonishment that he would issue such an order. However, when the two footmen took her arms to escort her toward the stairs, she began a struggle to free herself.
One of the footmen looked at his master and was given a nod of approval. He then bent forward and the other footman lifted Miss Bingley up and over the shoulder of his companion.
As they walked back down the hall with a screaming Caroline, Charles called out, “Please inform all in this household that Miss Bingley is no longer allowed in this house without Mrs. Bingley’s or my say so.”
The unencumbered footman turned and replied, “Yes, sir. At once.”
Shutting the door and locking it, a smiling Charles Bingley turned to find his wife standing before him.
Georgiana smiled up at her husband before lowering her eyes to Bing. With her pointed forefinger, she lightly traced a line down the length of a very aroused Bing before stating, “That was very exciting.”
Enjoying his wife’s attentions, he responded, “It is always exciting when I view my little tigress unsheathing her claws.”
Jumping up and wrapping her arms around her husband’s neck and her legs around his waist, Mrs. Bingley pulled her head back and purred, “And what is my big tiger going to do about it?” before planting a kiss on his mouth that left no doubt in his mind as to her expectations.
A deep “Grrrrrr!” emanated from deep within Charles Bingley as he guided his wife onto his maleness and thus began a wild jungle dance, their third – or was it the fourth? – of the morning. But who really cares? The Bingleys were quite content with their situation.
However, the same could not be said about Miss Caroline Bingley as she was deposited unceremoniously on the sidewalk in front of her brother’s townhouse still screaming and scaring away any passersby who happen to witness her humiliation.
It was a year after the Darcy’s wedding when General Richard Fitzwilliam announced his engagement to Mrs. Helen Mayberry. Mrs. Mayberry was the widow of Colonel Mayberry, who had been Fitzwilliam’s second-in-command while they were training a cavalry regiment for Wellington. The colonel was to lead the regiment once they reached the continent. But as fate would have it, he lost his life at the Battle of Waterloo.
When word came in to Army Headquarters of the casualties, General Fitzwilliam took it upon himself to extend his condolences to the widow. As the weeks and months went by, he would call on her occasionally to ascertain her well-being and if there was anything that she might require. By the end of her mourning period, General Fitzwilliam and Mrs. Mayberry had developed a deep affection for one another and the general paid her court, culminating in a proposal of marriage.
Lady Suzan found she liked Mrs. Mayberry very much and therefore deeded Crandall House over to her son as a wedding present. Of course, there was a proviso in the deed that she, Lady Matlock, would retain a suite of rooms in the house for her use when she was in London.
Handing over the duties of Mistress of Crandall House to the new Mrs. Fitzwilliam, the Dowager began spending her time with friends at Bath and Brighton. There were also her many visits to the Darcys and the Bingleys, not to mention the time spent with her own sons and their families.
At the age of eighty, Suzan Crandall Fitzwilliam departed this life at Dovecote, the ancestral estate of the Earl of Matlock, where she had reigned as Countess for almost forty years. The end of her life was filled with many happy memories of the time she had spent there with her beloved Jamie.
She was greatly missed by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as her many Darcy and Bingley nieces and nephews. But it was her surrogate daughter, Elizabeth Darcy, who felt her passing most keenly.
While many people did not think much of Mr. Collins, it must be noted as to the effect he had on Longbourn. Mr. Collins was always known as a foolish man, which he proved in a spectacular manner by losing Longbourn.
A few years after his fateful trip to London for the Season, it became evident that he would not sire a male heir or any other children, for that matter. In a desperate attempt to keep Longbourn in the Collins family, he contacted Mrs. Jane Nash requesting to arrange the future marriage between her son, the next in line to the entail, and his lovely daughter, Miss Catherine Collins.
Forgetting about the threat Mr. Darcy had made to him that day at Crandall House, Mr. Collins was quite astonished to find himself, along with his wife and daughters, residing at Lucas Lodge at the beneficence of his father-in-law after being evicted from Longbourn.
Mr. Darcy, upon hearing of Mr. Collins’ attempt at forwarding a match between the very young Miss Collins and even younger Mr. Nash, spent a considerable amount of his wealth breaking the entail. When the transaction was complete, Mr. Darcy had the Collinses evicted and installed the Nash family, along with Mrs. Bennet, at Longbourn. While the new master was not old enough to legally assume such responsibility, Longbourn was put in trust until he came of age. Mr. Darcy hired the best steward he could find to right the mismanagement of the estate that Mr. Collins had inflicted on it. By the time young Mr. Nash was able to assume the role of Master of Longbourn, the estate had been restored to its former prosperity. Mr. Nash, with the aid of his uncle, Mr. Darcy, was able to increase that prosperity for future generations.
While the future Masters of Longbourn did not carry the name of Bennet, they could claim to be direct descendents of Thomas Bennet.
By mid-July, the Bingleys and the Darcys were coaxed, by guilt, out of their respective chambers. Mr. Darcy had promised Mr. Bingley that he would aid in locating a suitable estate for Mr. Bingley and his sister. Before leaving London in the spring, Mr. Darcy had sent out enquiries to several estate agents in Derbyshire and the surrounding counties with the requirements of what was desired.
During the third week of July, Bingley and Darcy had narrowed down the replies to three or four estates that looked promising and they drew up a route for a tour of these estates.
Several days later, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley, along with their wives, boarded a carriage and began their tour. The first stop was Beechwood Abbey. It was but twenty miles from Pemberley and had a current income of two thousand pounds.
As the carriage approached the manor house, Georgiana and Charles were already impressed with the land and the grounds. After an hour’s tour of the house and a brief tryst in the master’s chambers, Mr. and Mrs. Bingley had found the place where they wanted to spend the rest of their lives. Despite protests from Mr. Darcy but with the encouragement of Mrs. Bingley, Charles Bingley made a purchase offer that was accepted.
They were settled at Beechwood Abbey by Michaelmas, which was fortunate as Georgiana Bingley announced to her husband that they were to expect their first child late next spring. Georgiana was to bear her husband four sons in the first ten years of their marriage.
Overwhelmed by the number of men in her life, Georgiana wished for at least one daughter to keep her company. Charles was only to happy to help in making her wish come true and thus they stepped up their activities to achieve that goal. Five years after her last son was born, Mrs. Georgiana Bingley gave birth to twin daughters to the astonishment and joy of her husband.
Both Georgiana and Charles were loving and doting parents to their children, but Charles was even more so to his two little angels, who were miniature replicas of their mother. So much so that he encouraged his wife to have more. Georgiana Bingley needed no encouragement from her husband to engage in conceiving children. While they tried fervently for more daughters, alas there were no more for the Bingleys, but that did not stop them from trying as they enjoyed the activity so much.
Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were more than partners in bed, they were partners in life. After years of watching her brother run Pemberley, Georgiana had acquired knowledge of estate management. So, along with her husband, they were able to more than double the income of Beechwood Abbey within the first ten years of their residence. Not only did Mrs. Bingley know something about how to run an estate, her common sense and logical view of the world enabled her to advise her husband about business investments, substantially increasing his net worth. After all, they did have six children to see after.
The couple was content to spend the majority of the time at Beechwood Abbey or Pemberley. To maintain their standing in society they would venture to London during the season. Those who expected to still find the timid Miss Darcy were astonished to find that marriage to the amiable Mr. Bingley had matured her into a self-confident woman, who carried herself with grace and poise. No longer was she a shy, young lady easily intimidated; now, she was the one who was intimidating. Along with her sister-in-law, Mrs. Darcy, they were a force to be reckoned with.
But London held no lure for the Bingleys; they much preferred the quiet country life as they watched their children and grandchildren grow along with their Darcy cousins. Beechwood Abbey was where they spent the rest of their days.
As the Bingleys settled in to their new home, the Darcys were traveling to Hertfordshire so Elizabeth could be present for the birth of her first nephew, Ian Thomas Bennet Nash, who would many years later become the Master of Longbourn.
After Jane recovered from childbirth, Elizabeth sat down with her sisters and her mother and told them the true story of what had happened with Lydia. While Jane, Mary, and Kitty sobbed at their youngest sister’s fate, Mrs. Bennet sat quietly contemplating Elizabeth.
After a few minutes, she spoke, “Elizabeth!”
Elizabeth looked her mother in the eye almost challenging her mother to berate her for one more transgression against the family.
But her mother surprised her by saying, “For what you have endured for the sake of this family, I am truly sorry. Lydia’s foolishness is what is to be blamed and has nothing to do with you. You have proven yourself more valuable to this family than we will ever be able to repay. Thank you for you patience and kindness to all of us for I know it is you, and only you, who is responsible for our current comfort.”
Elizabeth sat stunned at her mother’s words but no less grateful for them. With tears running down her face, she stood and went to hug her mother. Planting a kiss on her mother’s cheek, she simply said, “Thank you, mama.”
Minutes later, young Ian interrupted the weeping ladies to make it known that life goes on and he wished to be fed. Mrs. Bennet and her daughters left Jane to tend her son as they each went to find a quiet sanctuary in which to reflect on what they had just been told.
A fortnight after Elizabeth’s revelations, she and her husband departed for Southampton. Mr. Darcy had arranged a surprise wedding trip for her. They were to spend six months touring Portugal, Spain, and the northern Mediterranean coast before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt for a three month cruise on the Nile.
Darcy found traveling with his wife to be the most wondrous experience of his life. She had an ear for languages and within a week of arriving in a new country could speak as if she was a native. Her curiosity and inquisitive mind took them down paths most tourists would never tread. At the end of those paths, they always found something interesting, amazing, or just down right humorous. Whether it was the anonymity of being in a foreign country or his wife’s gregarious nature, Mr. Darcy shed his reserve and was always seen smiling or laughing. He thanked his wife by making passionate love to her in the evenings and again in the mornings until she would coax him from their bed for another adventure.
By the time they found themselves in Rome, Elizabeth announced her desire to return to England. Disappointed at first, Darcy became elated when she informed him her request was due to the fact that she wished for their first child to be born on English soil. So home they went and awaited the arrival of Thomas Fitzwilliam Bennet Darcy.
When young Tommy was but one year old, the Darcys headed back to the Mediterranean to embark on the cruise along the Nile to be followed by a three-month tour of Greece. After enjoying the Land of the Pharaohs, they were half-way through their Grecian tour when Elizabeth requested that they return to England where five months later Anne Suzan Frances Darcy was born.
Just after little Anne’s first birthday, the Darcys were packing their trunks for a tour of Germany, the Low Countries, and an extended stay in Paris. While Elizabeth loved traveling, she was apprehensive about embarking on yet another journey lest they conceive another child on foreign soil and have to cut short their stay, her husband persuaded her by saying that they were only crossing the English Channel and would not have far to travel to return back on English soil. After their trek through Germany, Holland, Denmark, and Belgium, they had just settled in Paris when Elizabeth confirmed their third child would be arriving in about six months. Instead of hurrying home, they remained to enjoy Paris for a month before crossing the channel to England. As Elizabeth predicated, Emily Jane Georgiana Darcy appeared five months after their return.
After Emily was a year old, Mrs. Darcy caught her husband eyeing their trunks. When he mentioned something about America, she put her foot down. It was too far to travel while she was with child. Thinking that their fourth child was imminent, he was ecstatic and was willing to concede the trip until she informed him that she was not carrying another child but the fact that each of their three children had been conceived on foreign soil, America was too far to chance her conceiving another. So the couple compromised on a tour of Wales to include Lady Suzan and an extended stay in Ireland. By the time they returned to Pemberley from their visit to the Emerald Isle, it was not long before James Gregory Richard Darcy was born.
They truly wanted their next child conceived on English soil so they packed away their wanderlust and stayed home. That is until they sent twelve-year old James off to school. After twelve years and no other children, they felt it safe to voyage to the Colonies. Off they set sail to Boston in the United States of America. They spent six months traipsing down the Eastern Seaboard of that noble country. Once they reached Savannah, they boarded a ship to The Bahamas. Mr. Darcy did not want to leave anything to chance and had added this side trip to their itinerary. If Mrs. Darcy was with child when they reached the islands, as least the child would be born on English soil.
Her husband had opened the world to her by offering her the gift of travel, not to mention the vast library at Pemberley. He also gave her the freedom and independence to be her own woman while providing the rock to anchor her when she needed security. To repay him, Elizabeth kept copious journals of their travels so they could always look back in fond remembrance to those times. She continued the practice of keeping journals when she was home, writing about her life and her family. Not only did she write in her journals, but she began to write novels based on her experiences and family and friends and people she had met through her travels.
When she presented one of her efforts to her husband, he was proud of how talented she was and asked if he could submit it to a book publisher. Reluctantly she agreed if he promised that she could remain anonymous. Soon the publisher wrote back and asked for more works from the same author, the couple sent in another one. On their next trip to London, they found everyone in a tizzy about a new author. The publisher again wrote for more as he related that the novels literally flew off the shelves when a printing was delivered to a bookseller and they could hardly keep the presses going to meet the demand. And thus, Elizabeth became one of the most admired authoresses of her time.
So it just goes to show that broken hearts can be mended and a wonderful and joyous life will follow.
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