Following his death, the former Georgiana Darcy reflects on her brother and his love.
Lady Whitfield sat staring out of the parlor window of her childhood home. Her eye caught the frame above the small writing desk there, and she smiled. It was a pencil sketch that she had made for him, of the lady who had captured his heart enough to tame it.
He had been teased mercilessly for admiring the lady's fine eyes, but Lady Whitfield had seen it, too. The full, expressive eyes of that lady had not been easily captured on paper, but her efforts had been worth his reaction.
When he first took the package from her, he had an inquisitive brotherly smile on his face. He always seemed to have that smile when she spoke to him at that age, up until that day. That was the day he stopped looking at her as a child, and started seeing her as the maturing young lady she was.
He had pulled the colorful paper away from the glass with that smile, but as soon as the paper was gone and he saw what she had done for him, his smile wavered and his eyes filled with tears. Lady Whitfield had never seen his eyes tear up. The sight made her want to cry herself. He stared at the picture she had made for him for a long while, and touched it with the most tender expression in his eyes. He said nothing but embraced her tightly, and then removed to his study. She dared not disturb him, so she sat down to read, an uneasy feeling taking over in her stomach. An hour later, he came back, his expression much more soft than it had been in past weeks, much less agitated. He said only that he had to go to Hertfordshire, and left the house.
In less than two weeks he returned the happiest of men. He had come to her again, in this very parlor, smiling as he closed the door behind him. He took her hands, looked into her eyes, and told her the happy news. He had thanked her for making him realize what he might have given up.
Now the pencil sketch was yellowed, and the young lady in it had since passed on. She remembered the day it happened. He had been by her side all night, talking to her, telling her she could not leave him, until just after noon, on that cold April day, she squeezed his hand one last time and smiled, told him that they would be together again soon, and slipped away from him.
Lady Whitfield thought he would die of a broken heart. For days he would see no one, not even his four children. All were grown by that time and had given him grandchildren, but no one could bring him out of his depression. Lady Whitfield had known he would take her death hard, if she died before he, and his weeks in solitude were taking their toll on him. He became pale, always tired-looking, and crabby. He would only be seen at supper, and for the rest of the time, he was removed to his study.
This time, though, Lady Whitfield did dare to disturb him. She went to the parlor, removed the yellowed sketch from the wall above the desk, and knocked on the door to the study. When he refused to respond, she called the butler to unlock the room. He stood, clearly agitated, and glared at his sister. She merely handed him the frame. He turned it over, giving her a softer look, and saw what she had handed him. The reaction was quite the same. His features softened, and his eyes filled with tears. He said nothing but embraced her tightly, but this time, his tears flowed freely down his cheeks. His young grandson walked by, and inquired as to why his Grandpapa was crying. The aging man bent down to pick up the lad, and showed him the picture in his hands. He began talking of his love, the boy's grandmother, and soon all of his children and grandchildren had gathered around him to listen as well.
Now, two years later, he was with her again. It had happened that night in his sleep. As Lady Whitfield lay next to her husband, visiting in a room very near her brother's, she swore she heard his wife's voice tell him cheekily that she was tired of waiting. When he wasn't at the breakfast table before she was in the morning, she knew.
She sat, rocking in the parlor, staring at the pencil sketch. It didn't bring the level of comfort to her that it had to her brother, but it was comfort nonetheless in the form of wonderful memories. She rose, taking the sketch down off the wall. She ran her hand over it and smiled at the work she had done some forty years ago as Georgiana Darcy, a shy young girl who only wanted her dear brother to be happy, for he had done so much for her. As Lady Whitfield she mounted the stairs with the frame under her arm to tuck it away in her brother's trunk, to take its place amongst the family heirlooms.
(c) 2008 J. H. Thompson