A Lucky Man
I am a lucky man. Despite the fact that I have the tendency to state things that are not true ("not handsome enough to tempt me" comes to mind), I have secured the love of my life. Miss Elizabeth Bennet is not what I had thought of when as a young man I thought of my wife - - no connections, no title, a small dowry, but she completes me. Her sense of adventure and fun attracted me as a moth to the proverbial flame. She's not a classic beauty, her elder sister is the classic beauty of the family, but she has such a spark about her, it attracts people to her even more than my friend Charles' personality.
After finding out that Miss Elizabeth had overheard the verbal evidence of my foul mood, I searched her out to apologize. I did the only thing I could think of at the time to make her listen to me, I asked her to dance. I apologized; she listened and placed me on probationary forgiveness. I had to prove myself to be worthy of her full forgiveness, she told me. I am still working on it.
In a brilliant stroke of luck, Miss Jane Bennet became ill while dining with Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. I am not glad that she became ill, but rather glad that her illness brought Miss Elizabeth to Netherfield to nurse her. During their stay, I learned more about my beloved's family. I had known that Mr. Bennet was a widower with 5 daughters. I was not surprised to hear that his wife had died from complications from Miss Lydia's birth. Such a thing was common, unfortunately. My own mother had succumbed to death's arms this way after giving birth to a brother that lived only an hour.
After Mrs. Bennet's death, Mr. Bennet languished. It surprised many how much Mr. Bennet had actually loved his spouse. He hid it well beneath sarcasm and wit, but he suffered. In an effort to do his wife proud, he hired his distant cousin as governess. A strict, exacting woman she had never married and had devoted her life to making the Bennet sisters accomplished. While she still had an uphill battle with the youngest two, who it could be said were silly enough for their age, she had succeeded with the two eldest. The middle daughter was still a puzzle as she was still going thru that painful age of self discovery that sometimes lasts longer than it should.
All of this information Darcy took into stride. He loved Elizabeth and enjoyed the heated debates they held on books, farming, even the weather if they were so inclined. He was not one of those who were intimidated by the mere fact a woman could with just a few sentences, take his train of thought and completely derail it. He smiled as he recalled the early days of their courtship.
Miss Bennet was taken ill after getting caught in a storm on Netherfield's property. Not realizing it was going to rain or that she was not on her own property, she was brought inside when she was found. A note was dispatched to both the Apocathary, Mr. Jones and to Longbourn. Miss Elizabeth came to care for her sister.
It became apparent that Miss Bennet's illness was a serious one. Bingley, not one to worry anyone over anything invited Mr. Bennet to stay the night in case anything happened to Miss Bennet and he was needed. I offered to switch rooms for the night; mine were closer to the rooms the Bennet sisters were using. My valet could live with in inconvince for the night. The offer was accepted. Mr. Bennet was grateful to be so close to his eldest daughters to be able to make sure "his Lizzy" took care of herself as well as she takes care of "sweet Jane".
I, myself, was worried about how much time Miss Elizabeth spent personally nursing her sister. Not knowing if the fever could be passed on, I didn't want my beloved to become sick. My courting of her seemed to be going well, but one cannot court a sick woman. I paced often in my room at night, wondering and hoping that Miss Elizabeth was getting enough rest as well.
The night Mr. Bennet stayed, I moved into the empty guest bedroom. I could not sleep from worry. I had found the love of my life, of that I was sure. She did not agree with me to court my favor, she argued with me, striving to prove her point, even when wrong. Unlike other ladies she dressed to please herself, not adorning herself with excess feathers, lace, or jewelry. Her perfume was sweet and natural, not cloying or unnatural. She was all that was sweet and good, unlike other women of my acquaintance (such as Bingley's sisters - Mrs. Hurst had tried to gain my attention before realizing I wasn't interested and she married Mr. Hurst).
As I thought of my lady love, I heard a door open and close. This noise was followed by swift, silent, footfalls and the opening and closing of another door. I realized the door that had opened first belonged to Miss Bingley and the second door was my former door! Miss Bingley was trying to compromise herself, to my person! I grinned, wickedly, thinking there would be a way to help my beloved's family and to get rid of Miss Bingley for once and for all.
I quickly and quietly went to the study where Bingley was going over business that had been neglected with Miss Bennet being sick. "Perhaps we should wish Mr. Bennet a good night before we retire", I suggested completely ignoring that I had retired earlier. Bingley was willing to please the man he hoped to be his father in law and agreed.
We knocked and upon hearing a noise, entered. Therein we found Miss Bingley wearing a concoction of orange, puce, and yellow green. The front was cut dangerously low, had Miss Bingley a bosom to speak of, it would have fallen out. The back was nonexistent. It was also short; one could almost see her knees, if she moved just a little bit.
Bingley's face was red, Mr. Bennet's white. They both understood the ramifications. Miss Bingley, however, did not. "Mr. Darcy, why is this man", she spat out, "in your room? I came to see if there was anything I could do for you before I retired". She fluttered her eyelashes at me causing one to become almost wholly detached. The effect was not complimentary. The whole situation was not complimentary for her. As Mr. Bennet was still fully dressed, we knew nothing had happened, but honor demanded that they marry.
Miss Bingley's face went an unattractive shade of red when she was informed she would marry Mr. Bennet, not Mr. Darcy. She had hoped to force my hand and honor by compromising herself. It did not work. The wedding, which took place in two weeks (thanks to my knowing the Archbishop) was lacking in frills and decorations. Bingley forbade his sisters to wear black.
Elizabeth and I followed her father to the alter not more than two months later. Being one of the few who knew the reason behind the Bennet/Bingley marriage, I did not allow myself or my bride to stay in Longbourn. I did not want to subject ourselves to anything the new Mrs. Bennet would try.
One happy detail did occur. A year and half after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bennet welcomed their heir, William Thomas Bennet into the world. Our own son, Bennet Charles Darcy was able to witness his uncle's christening (albeit Lizzy claims he was asleep during the event). The entail was broken and Mr. Bennet was able to put into influence many changes with his estate using his bride's dowry. He also was able to enforce economy, investing much of the money for his son and his sisters.
Mrs. Caroline Bennet became the step mother to five daughters and mother to two sons and three daughters. She became a shrill woman trying to push her own daughters to marry well above themselves, but to act within the bounds of decorum. She never allowed herself to forget how her inappropriate action caused her to marry a man of such a small estate.
Lizzy and I married, had three sons and one beautiful daughter with her mothers eyes. We lived happily having many discussions where Lizzy tried to prove her point even if she knew it was wrong. I was always grateful I had heard Mrs. Bennet's door close and her enter my former room, even if she wasn't.