Epilogue – Loose Ends
It is not to be wondered at that any couple – no matter the depth of affection that exists in the marriage – will find disagreements arising between them; pride, a willingness to compromise and discuss the issues that lie between them will not inhibit the resolution of such differences and prevent erosion of the love and respect each brought to the marriage. Fortunately for Elizabeth and Darcy, the travails and misunderstandings that plagued the early days of their relationship taught this valuable lesson. Theirs remained a love match that deepened and broadened as their family grew and the years passed. Bennet was joined by four brothers over the first fifteen years of the marriage; but the couple had all but despaired of having a daughter – Darcy, in particular, wanted a daughter cast in the image of his wife – until Elizabeth, then in her late thirties, unexpectedly found herself again with child and pleased her husband with the delivery of twin daughters, Jane and Ann. Now nine years of age and virtually identical, they are – in the words of Mr. Bennet – the image of Lizzy with the added advantage of five older brothers to plague – which they do as much as their governess will permit – and the girls, as Mr. Bennet was also wont to observe constituted a just reward to Elizabeth for the vexation that she gave her own mother at a similar age. Elizabeth appeared to take it in stride and was heard one day by her husband to inform her daughters 'what are girls for but to make sport for their brothers and to laugh at them in turn'.
Amos Stovall had returned to England several months after Napoleon abdicated in 1814, his ship laid up in ordinary and his services no longer required by His Majesty's Navy. Not wasting any time, he was in London short days later to join with his wife and son in London. While some business kept them there for a fortnight, they made their way to York as expeditiously as possible with only a short visit to Pemberley on the way. Once established on their estate, they were extremely reluctant to leave and the fact that a daughter – Elizabeth – was born a scant year after Amos' return, encouraged them in that decision. Due to his being rather remote from news of events on the continent, Napoleon's return and ultimate defeat at Waterloo, was over before he could be called back into service and his ship commissioned for duty. The Stovalls were blessed with another three children and lived quite happily in Yorkshire with only occasional visits to visit relatives in the following years - London, in particular, held few attractions and had been visited there but twice – to visit the Gardiners. Shortly after his return, Stovall purchased a cottage in Scarborough and a small schooner which he kept docked there. His summers were frequently spent sailing, an activity which none of his children much enjoyed but which quickly became a favourite pastime of the second youngest Darcy son who, from the age of ten, spent most of the summer months visiting the Stovalls and sailing with his uncle. That he, at the age of fourteen, would join the navy as a midshipman came as a surprise to no one although his mother was less than pleased by the decision.
Catherine and Mary both married; Catherine to a promising young clerk in her Uncle Gardiner's company who, ten years later, had been promoted to a junior partner and were blessed a brood of children; Mary, however, did not marry until almost thirty years of age and her husband, a widower of some ten years her senior, was in possession of a small estate in Lincolnshire and several young children for whom he needed a mother. While conceding it to be a prudent marriage for both, Elizabeth's concerns were not alleviated until she recognized the affections that each held for the other. The friendship that developed between Catherine and Georgiana lasted throughout their lives although it was carried out mostly by correspondence with Georgiana living in the north and Catherine in London.
Lydia and James Simpson raised a large brood of children in Canada and, if neither had the opportunity to visit their homeland again, they did have the pleasure of Elizabeth and Darcy crossing the ocean to visit some fifteen years after their marriage – Elizabeth was heard to aver that sea trips must encourage getting with child, attributing the trip to the birth of her twin daughters. With eight children Lydia's days were full and the Simpson farm was large and prosperous. Most of her sons had made a place for themselves on the farm but their second oldest son not being interested in farming and longing for a city profession travelled to London and eventually found a position in the Gardiner's company. Elizabeth thought that James Simpson had much to do with the gentlemanly behaviour of his sons and the girls, who she feared might resemble their mother in her early years, were indeed lively but very well behaved. If the society they moved in was less refined than London it was not dissimilar to Hertfordshire in most respects.
Charles Bingley waited until Georgiana's eighteenth birthday to request a courtship; however, before Georgiana would accept the courtship offer she felt the necessity to inform Mr. Bingley of the events at Ramsgate involving George Wickham. His response was all that she could have hoped for and her acceptance was joyful and approved, with reservations, by Darcy. The courtship lasted a scant six weeks and his offer of marriage accepted with considerable delight and the couple were married three months later. The marriage was a happy one and blessed with several children. They remained in York in comfortable distance from Pemberley to visit the Darcy's and, as well, the Stovalls with whom they became very close.
Mr. Bennet had retired to Pemberley some twenty years after the Darcys married; too enfeebled to live alone at Longbourn – Mrs. Bennet having succumbed to an illness ten years previous - he availed himself of the Pemberley library and the company of his most cherished daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Collins were established at Longbourn to take care of the estate. The death of Mr. Collins – an ill-advised tour of his farms left him wet and badly chilled by a severe rainstorm, from which a severe fever developed – left Charlotte Collins to raise the heir of Longbourn – Thomas Collins – along with her two daughters. Young Thomas, with help from Darcy and being blessed with his mother's good sense, quickly learned the rudiments of managing an estate. At five and twenty, he actively courted and married the Bingley's middle daughter whom he met while they both were visiting Pemberley.
The Gardiners remained in London until such time as Mr. Gardiner retired from his business, turning it over to his own sons and those of his nieces possessed of a commercial bent. Upon retiring, the Gardiners removed to Lambton where Mrs. Gardiner was able to develop and improve those connections and acquaintances which had been created during her many visits to Pemberley. Proximity to the superb fishing at Pemberley and the ability to enjoy that pastime fully provided no small amount of pleasure to Mr. Gardiner.
Richard and Janet Fitzwilliam settled down in close proximity to Pemberley and each of the two families was much in the company of the other and the cousins were as close as siblings. Richard was able, over a ten year period, to improve the productivity of the estate to more than three thousand pounds per year. He also, as a personal project, began to breed and raise thoroughbred horses, a sideline which gradually developed into the main business of the estate and a source of considerable earnings.
For those less estimable characters, the years treated them as well as may be expected. Lady Catherine de Bourgh never reconciled with the Darcys and the death of her daughter some five years after their marriage only fixed her disdain for Elizabeth even more firmly and none of the representations of her Fitzwilliam relations managed to alter her opinions. As Rosings Park had been inherited by Anne by virtue of her father's will and would pass to the nearest de Bourgh relation if she died childless, her death in 1820 saw the removal of Lady Catherine to the Dower House a circumstance held against Elizabeth for the remainder of Lady Catherine's life.
Some two years after his marriage Darcy received a letter from a Colonel of the Georgia Militia to the effect that George Wickham had died in the Battle of New Orleans – one of the few American casualties in that battle. According to the Colonel he had comported himself well and his death was regretted by his comrades. If Darcy suspected that such regrets may have been fuelled by debts of honour that Wickham had left behind, such suspicions were only spoken to his wife. Lydia's response, upon being informed of Wickham's demise in a letter from Elizabeth, was a succinct 'Good!' and could not be induced to express any other opinion.
Author's Note: I hope this little tale brought you as much enjoyment in reading as I had in writing it. As a first effort i found the experience delightful and a learning experience. My only regret using this site to post a story is that i cannot address individually those comments made by you readers.