Author's Note: Thank you so much to all my readers for going on the journey of this story with me! I thoroughly enjoyed writing it and loved hearing feedback from you. I would love to hear your comments on how you liked this story! As of now I have several ideas floating around in my mind for new stories but no concrete plans.
God bless and stay safe!
The wedding of Darcy's eldest child was a happy affair as well as bittersweet. His little girl would no longer be under his protection. Miss Violet Darcy was twenty years old, but her father still remembered holding her in his arms right after Elizabeth had given birth. He had been worried that his thirty-two-year-old wife would struggle in the travail, but the labour had been easy, and little Miss Darcy had been pushed into the world in a matter of a half an hour. The births of his other three children had seemed just as easy, although he had not been in the room, so he only had her word to go by.
Ned Darcy, the heir of Pemberley, had just returned from school for the summer holidays. At age eighteen, he was already learning the duties and responsibilities of becoming the master of such a great estate. The two youngest children, Master Josiah Darcy, age fifteen, and Miss Juliet Darcy, age twelve, raced each other to the front doors to welcome their brother from Northmore Hall.
Hugh Hampton, the Earl of Northmore, stepped down out of the carriage, and at once gave his younger siblings a big hug. Having come of age four years ago, he had been more than ready to take over management of his late father's estate, for his papa had given him so much tutelage and guidance over the years that he had become just as good a master as his dead father and living papa could wish.
"Have Georgiana and Sarah arrived yet?" Hugh asked.
"They got here an hour ago," proclaimed Juliet. "You are very late, Hugh!"
"I am sorry, sweetling. I had some business to take care of," he said.
"Never mind that. Come inside!" Josiah exclaimed, pulling his eldest brother by the sleeve toward the door.
Hugh laughed and followed him.
When he entered Pemberley's main drawing room, he found his family all sitting or standing together, talking and laughing. Everyone greeted him warmly. "I am so glad to see you, Hugh," said Elizabeth, giving him a hug. Then Violet was behind her.
"Congratulations, Violet," he said. "I hope this young man is worthy of you."
Violet rolled her eyes. "Edgar is older than you are, Hugh." But she smiled. "I am glad you were able to make it in time."
Hugh embraced his papa in a one-armed hug. "Indeed, if you were not here for your sister's wedding, I was afraid your mother would have gone to get you herself!" Darcy teased.
Then Hugh greeted a blond man about Darcy's age with a friendly handshake. "Nice to see you, Bingley," he said. "Where is Georgiana?"
"Nice you see you too, Hugh. She is up in the nursery putting the children down for a nap."
"And where are Sarah and Richard?"
"They are up in the nursery too," Elizabeth said. "You know how those sisters love each other. Nothing must do but that they come out the same year, get married the same year, have children the same year." She rolled her eyes in a teasing manner. "It seems as if they plan all these things."
Richard Fitzwilliam had, ten years ago, finally called in his great favour to his cousin. He was in love with Darcy's step-daughter Sarah, and she was in love in him, and they wanted permission to marry. Darcy had been worried about the thirteen-year age difference; but given the fact that Bingley had been courting Georgiana at the time, he could not really say no. Because of the amount of Sarah's large dowry, Richard had been able to resign his commission. Now they had three children, while Georgiana and Bingley had two.
Darcy had been worried, when Bingley began to court Georgiana, about the influence of Miss Bingley over her brother; but Charles had shown himself to be strong in the face of her manipulations. As time passed, Caroline had become more and more unstable; until, finally, the year after Charles married Georgiana, she had stabbed and almost killed the daughter of an earl in a fit of jealous rage. They had had the matter hushed up, so as not to bring scandal to the Bingley name; but Charles had had her put into a private asylum. Mrs. Hurst apparently visited her from time to time, but none of the rest of the family had anything to do with her.
Of George Wickham's fate, Darcy was not certain. Wickham had tried to extract money from Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam several times over the years, always unsuccessfully; until finally Darcy heard a rumour that he had been shot and killed in a duel with a husband he had cuckolded. In any case, he no longer bothered the Darcy family.
Finally free from her mother's tyranny, Anne de Bourgh married the kind physician who had cared for her for years. After her marriage, Anne had surprised Elizabeth by giving her a hug, and telling her how happy she was that Elizabeth had married her cousin. "For he always frightened me," she said laughingly. "He is far too serious."
Lady Catherine lived for fifteen years in the small Scottish estate owned by her brother, complaining constantly of her ill-treatment, and sending never-ending letters to Lord Matlock demanding to be allowed back into Rosings. Finally, she died of an apoplexy. No one mourned her passing.
All of Elizabeth's sisters and their families were to arrive the next day in preparation for the wedding, and Lord and Lady Matlock of course were coming; but Mr. and Mrs. Bennet had both passed away in the last few years, and so they would not see their granddaughter married. Still, Pemberley was about to be bustling and full to the brim with happy family members once again.
Elizabeth and Darcy had hosted her sisters' families and her parents on more than one Christmas or summer over the years, either at Northmore or Pemberley. Darcy was glad that he had found such a loving and welcoming family, after losing both his parents at such a young age. He and Georgiana had been truly blessed when they had found Elizabeth, Sarah, Hugh, and Chester at the park that day.
Chester had lived to a ripe old age, spoiled and pampered by all the family. He passed away at age sixteen, at which time Darcy's younger children demanded a puppy. Pets had been a staple in the Darcy household ever since.
Mr. Edgar Guest, Violet Darcy's soon-to-be-husband, had been a friend of the family for years. He had been two grades ahead at school with Hugh, and had known Violet since she was a child. He had not had romantic feelings for her, however, until Violet had turned nineteen, and Edgar suddenly began to see her as something more than the annoying little sprite that followed him and her brother around. He had not seen her for two years at that time, and when he finally met her again, Violet had seemingly transformed into a mature and beautiful young woman. Violet herself had loved Edgar for years, and was glad to have her regard finally returned. Darcy was sorry to be losing his daughter, but he knew deep down that he was not really losing her; Edgar, who had lost his parents at a young age, was close enough to the family to be almost a Darcy himself, and his estate was close to Pemberley.
All in all, Darcy counted his blessings; and he thanked God every day that He had provided for him and Georgiana such a loving family, and given them comfort in the midst of their grief.