My Dearest Mr Darcy

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Certainly Mother was of this view, when it came to Mr Bingley's arrival at Netherfield. At that time, oddly, she did not espouse the same necessity in her estimation of you.

How things have changed. Notwithstanding your fierce, proud, unbending, indeed, dare I mention it, odious demeanour; Mother now talks of cooking you a magnificent ragoût, rather than a fricassée when next you demean yourself to bestow your noble presence on Longbourn. This indubitably has been occasioned now that she has seen Pemberley, when she visited during your fortuitous absence in London. How clever you were to choose this period of her visit to be summonsed to business in London.

Aunt and Uncle Gardiner were pleased to assist me in their entertainment here without your august presence, upon the condition that we invite them again, when you are in residence again.

Every man so possessed of a fortune is also the rightful property of some one or other of the neighbourhood daughters. This means it is 'Jane's amiable Mr Bingley', 'Kitty's worthy Mr Grant', 'Lydia's estimable Mr Wickham', 'Lizzy's distant Mr Darcy' and 'Charlotte's virtuous Mr Collins'

Ah, Mr Collins! He and Charlotte are each day carving their praiseworthy path through the world, as is 'the young Olive Branch' as Father calls their son, John. Mr Collins claims the child exhibits every virtue known in a young boy, not least his entitlement to the heirloom of Longbourn, entailed on Father's much anticipated death to Mr Collins and thereafter to the young 'Olive Branch. Father's health fortunately continues to defy this entailment. He caught several large fish while staying here with Mother. He claims to be "The Compleat Angler" and publicly more regretted your absence than Mother did. She is still overawed by you.

Mr Collins, you may be pleased to learn, has enquired, through the person of Charlotte, as to whether you have any plans to provide an heir to Pemberley.

I think I preferred the virtuous Mr Collins, when he was condescending, rather than his fulsome affection and solicitude for our well being.

Charlotte is, of course, always a warm and loving friend and benevolently tolerant of Mr Collins' obvious virtue.

Jane and Mr Bingley are more than sublimely happy. I had thought there was no greater happiness that they could exhibit, than at their wedding, but as hoped, there is now an heir to the Bingley fortune and Estate. Jane is delivered of a seven pound nine ounce boy - George Augustus Henry Bingley. Mother and son are radiant and healthy, respectively. Mr Bingley, who has scarcely stopped smiling since he and Jane were wed, has an even broader smile.

You, naturally, are to be cast in the role of Godfather to the handsome young heir. However Jane, for reasons of domestic harmony, has sought Miss Bingley to be Godmother of the First Born Bingley. I fear very much this Godparent relationship with you may excite wagging tongues. Charlotte tells me that Miss Bingley explained at some length to Lady Catherine De Bourgh that your affections for me were only excited, once she had emphatically rejected your persistent and ardent amours. For reasons of Lady Catherine's ambitions for Miss de Bourgh, vis à vis your much sought- after person, this revelation certainly did NOT please Lady Catherine at all, an outcome which had been utterly unforseen by Miss Bingley.

You may recall that Lady Catherine de Bourgh, displeased is a formidable character indeed. Her displeasure, I seem to recall, rather excited in you a passion for me. I hope this passion remains somewhat unrequited, if Mr Collins' recommendations for an heir to Pemberley are to be fulfilled.

I long for your return.

My gratitude and respect for your goodness continues to grow. I hope my impertinence in this letter will be interpreted by you as 'liveliness of mind' and thus admired. For I know only too well you can so easily withstand my beauty and my uncivil manners

My thanking you, as I still do, for your kindness to Lydia occasioned your declaration to me of your continuing love. Thus I feel emboldened enough to mention that Lydia also is with child, again. The Wickham finances are now in a more parlous state than usual. Mother even suggested you might, again, consider Wickham for the Pemberley living. I explained to her that this switch from Army to the Cloth is absolutely without precedent and thus impossible. Otherwise it might cause an uprising among the worthy shopkeepers and others in the Pemberley neighbourhood, who remember only too well the debts he left, when he fled, which you so kindly expunged.

However the thought of Wickham sharing the cloth with the ever worthy Mr Collins almost induces me to plead with you to reconsider such a posting, if it were not so blasphemous.

Kitty and Mr Grant are very happy, although 'he is not as rich as either Bingley or Darcy', which is now Mother's newly acquired minimum benchmark for her daughters. Jane and I fear that Kitty and Father, both for their separate reasons, are disappointed that he is not a Redcoat in the Militia. In any event, they are both in love and he is a good man. He is steady where Kitty is flighty, as indeed is the case with you and me.

Oh Mr Darcy, when are you going to finish you business up in town and return to your native Derbyshire and your lonely wife?

Colonel Fitzwilliam has discovered that his ward, Georgiana, is coming out of her shell and shows my bad influence by becoming almost cheerfully impudent to his high office and he responds like a man in love. You were so clever to perceive this match as well made.

So Mr Darcy, you are now in possession of all the news of Hertfordshire, Kent and Derbyshire, which is fit to be put in a letter. Please write back by return of the post, or better, return. Much as I enjoy laughing at the daily trials and tribulations, laughing with you is my joy.

Your humble and obedient wife


PS Mary has become a novelist! She has discovered a skill of stringing platitudes together and introducing pert but poor young gentlewomen to proud and disdainful young men of fortune, whom the reader from page one, realizes are destined to marry, but who suffer vicissitudes of a horrendous nature, until at last fortuitous coincidence causes the scales to drop from their eyes and love blooms eternal. Bizarre as it may seem, she actually has found a publisher and her first novel entitled Disdain and Delicacy is to be published next month in London and Bath.

I fear Mother will now never find a swain worthy of Mary's genius.