You may be wondering now that Letters is completely posted what is the next project you will be seeing from me. The story is entitled Patience is a Virtue. The tale begins at Hunsford, the night that Darcy goes to the parsonage intending to propose to Elizabeth. Unbeknownst to him, his aunt has been watching him very carefully and is afraid she knows the purpose of his absense. She races to the parsonage and arrives just as Darcy is about to propose. Here is a bit of what happens next.
“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feeling will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Elizabeth was shocked. She started to speak and then stopped, unable to answer him. He must have found this enough encouragement and began again.
“As my wife, you…”
What he would have said was lost, as Lady Catherine deBourgh entered the room unannounced. The door hit the wall with a loud thud such was the force it was pushed aside in her haste.
“Stop this at once, Fitzwilliam. You cannot ask this girl to marry you, you are engaged to Anne.”
Elizabeth, shocked as she was by the intrusion, did not miss the note of desperation in the woman’s voice.
“No, Aunt, I am not. I have never offered for Anne nor is there any arranged marriage that I know of, nor papers binding me to your daughter.”
“Your mother and I planned the union.”
“But my father did not. I am my own man, free to marry wherever and whomever I want. If I choose Miss Bennet, then there is nothing you can say or do to stop me.”
Lady Catherine turned to Elizabeth. “Have you accepted him?”
“Lady Catherine!” Darcy interjected. “This is highly improper! You shall not interfere in what is to be the happiest day of my life.”
“Have you accepted him?” she persisted. Elizabeth would have answered, but again Darcy spoke.
“You have not given her the chance.” The great lady relaxed a little.
“Then it is not too late. Miss Bennet, how can you aspire to such a position so decidedly above yourself? You will be censored and scorned.”
“I will not allow you to be treated poorly, Elizabeth. As my wife you will be under my protection, as will your family.”
“Miss Bennet, society will laugh at you, despite my nephew’s promises. He is intended for my daughter. She will not discredit him.”
“Enough, Aunt. I will marry Miss Bennet and there is nothing you can say or do to stop it.”
Elizabeth had watched the two of them go back and forth, not believing she was in such a situation. She wanted to tell Lady Catherine she could have Darcy for a son, that she did not want him, but then he had come so spiritedly to her and her family’s defense. She was not willing to accept him, but a part of her did not want to give the old dragon the satisfaction of having her way yet again. Before she could think of a reply, the older woman spoke.
“You cannot marry her, Fitzwilliam. I need you to marry Anne. She…”
There was something peculiar in her voice and Elizabeth and Darcy both looked at her. What they saw shocked them both. She looked defeated.
Lady Catherine swallowed thickly, “Anne is dying and if you do not marry her, I will lose everything when her cousin inherits.”
After some further conversation, along with Lady Catherine offering to give Elizabeth her dowry is she would agree to wait to marry Darcy after Anne dies…
Elizabeth did not think it was such a little thing. She needed to know more of Mr. Darcy.
“Would you have married Miss deBourgh if you had not met me?”
“But would you, if you had learned that this information about her health?”
“Yes, I believe so. I take my family duties very seriously. But I will not abandon you now that I have offered my troth.”
Elizabeth thought at that moment that it spoke well of him. She made her decision. It was the only sensible one to make.
“I think you should marry your cousin and protect Lady Catherine. My mother has long worried about her future once my father is gone. She has just enough from her marriage settlements to survive, but it will not be anywhere near the manner to which she has grown accustomed.”
Lady Catherine almost collapsed with relief. “I will send word to my solicitor in the morning to make the necessary changes to my will to name you as my heir.”
“That is unnecessary.”
“I gave you my promise, Miss Bennet, just as my nephew did.” Elizabeth thought she sounded offended. “My word is just as good as his. I only ask that you do not tell Anne of our agreement. Do not weigh down her conscience in what time she has left on this earth. You will have my nephew soon enough.”
Elizabeth nodded her head numbly. Had she just agreed to marry Mr. Darcy?
Apparently she had.
That should whet your appetite. I don’t expect to be far enough along to begin posting this until after the new year. This is not going to be a light and fluffy story. I will be writing about watching a person slowly die, something I have experienced myself, dealing with the aftermath of physical violence, and learning to go on with life after having your heart broken. Do not fear, only the first of these will happen to Elizabeth but she will be affected by the other two as her family is involved.