"Dear man, I'm troubled."

Darcy looked up from where he sat writing business letters. He smiled in spite of himself. When he saw Mrs Darcy a smile tended to appear spontaneously on his face. They'd been married more than a month, and he still couldn't help it.

"It must be terribly serious to trouble you, Elizabeth."

"It is; terribly. Dearest, every man that I have ever seen married puts on weight in the first month of his marriage. I had decided that it was something to do with being happier than heretofore. But you have lost weight, and not only that, but you look a great deal paler than you did a month ago. Are you unhappy?"

He gazed at her stupidly for a moment, wondering if anyone loved by that woman could be unhappy. Then he collected himself. "No, Elizabeth, I'm not; I've simply been…"

"Busy? Ill? Tired? Under the weather? Yes, I know. But none of that is an excuse for missing your dinner."


She smiled. "As I suspected. The bell rang twenty minutes ago and Georgiana and I have been waiting for you. I thought you must be out-of-doors, but here I find you sitting here in plain earshot of the bell, writing letters as calmly as you please."

"Forgive me, I…"

"Well, never mind. Come on." She took his hand and bent over to kiss his forehead. "And, darling, you know that I trust you to tell me if anything is…if you're unhappy or unwell for any reason, conjugal or otherwise."

"I assure you, I am perfectly well. Please don't worry about me."

This wasn't fooling her. She knew there was something wrong, and she kept darting half-amused, half-puzzled glances at him as they walked to the dining room, though she chattered lightly on comfortable topics. He'd always known he would have to tell her, but he hoped it would be over first.

He worried about her all the time. When she wasn't with him, he worried about wild animals, deep holes, drowning, falling rocks, kidnapping, getting lost. When she was with him, he worried that she was cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable, discontent. If she looked pale, he worried about faintness; if she blushed, he worried about fever. He supposed it wasn't fair to expect her not to worry about him in the same way.