Breakfast With Georgiana.doc
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Breakfast With Georgiana
It was late on a warm summer's morning when Fitzwilliam Darcy joined his sister and her governess for breakfast. He apologized for his tardiness, but
offered no explanation as he sat down to table.
Mrs. Annesley, Georgiana's companion, smiled politely at the master and said
"Good morning to you sir. I trust you slept well?"
"Eh? Oh. Thank you. I slept… I slept… well," he said quietly, avoiding Mrs. Annesley's gaze lest she detect evidence of the untruthfulness of this reply. He had slept but little owing to another of the nightmares that had plagued him so often in recent months. He did not notice as Georgiana looked up from her
plate and raised her eyebrows in surprise at his response.
Mrs. Annesley finished her tea and smiled encouragingly at Georgiana. "Well, I shall be off to complete my errands now. I will be gone for only a short time. Then I shall be ready for tomorrow's journey to Pemberley. Promise me you will practice your piano-forte after breakfast, my dear." She patted Georgiana
affectionately on the hand as she left table.
Georgiana nodded her agreement and said "Yes, Mrs. Annesley. I shall."
Darcy scarcely heard the exchange between Mrs. Annesley and Georgiana, but offered politely, "Thank you, Mrs. Annesley," as she departed the room. Then he returned to dully studying the swirling pattern of the cream in his tea.
"Fitzwilliam?" said Georgiana timidly.
Darcy looked up quickly from his reflections. He focused on his sister's concerned face and replied, "Is something troubling you, dearest?" with true concern. That he might neglect his sister in any way gave him pause. Her wry
smile at his question puzzled him.
"Actually, I wish to inquire about you and your troubles, brother." She held up a hand to silence his protest and continued on awkwardly. "Please do not deny
that something is affecting you. I am not so much of a child as…"
"Georgiana, this sounds very much like a lecture of some sort," laughed Darcy.
"I am perfectly well. There is nothing wrong with me. Do not concern yourself." He endeavored as best he could to redirect Georgiana from this line
In part, he truly did not wish her to worry for him. To his way of thinking she should be able to view him as someone she could always turn to for strength and support, not the other way around. Furthermore, he had no desire to tell her the cause of his melancholy. Thus, the frustration of her expression and
her next words to him came as a great shock.
"Please do not trifle with me so. I am able to see how things are with you. If in truth nothing troubles you and all is well as you would have me believe, then why do you suffer nightmares nearly every night? Why do you cry out in your
sleep? Who is this Elizabeth you cry out for?"
Georgiana had gone white from fear. Her love and concern for him was such, however, that she felt she had no other option but to open this discussion. She
lay her hands flat on the table to conceal their trembling.
He flinched visibly at the name 'Elizabeth.' He pushed back his chair, moving
quickly from the table to stand by the window, endeavoring to look at anything but his sister's face. Georgiana followed and placed a tentative hand
on his arm. Through his own tangled emotions he felt her fear and the
trembling of her fingers.
She glimpsed the pain in his eyes as he pulled her to him in a protective
embrace. She returned his embrace and then gently pulled away, saying
quietly, "Please do not turn from me. Allow me to help you."
He closed his eyes and sighed. Then he led her back to the table to her seat. He
sat down and drank his entire cup of tea in one quick motion.
"I appreciate your kind intent," he said resolutely. He looked at her lovingly. "I am sorry to cause you concern, Georgiana, but I… It is that you are as a child to me. I do not mean to offend you by saying this. It is only that, as such, I cannot imagine laying my burdens on you. Can you not understand that?"
Georgiana's cheeks colored and she looked down at the table. "I understand that my behavior has at times given you reason to doubt me. I know that my blind trust of certain persons has given you reason to doubt my judgment." As
she was no longer looking at her brother, Georgiana did not see Darcy's confusion at her words. "But, Fitzwilliam, I am becoming more aware and more discerning. I see your distress. I do not know if there is anything that I
can do to offer you relief. But I wish to…"
Finally comprehending her meaning, Darcy interrupted her anxiously. "Dearest, do not go on so. Please do not think that Wickham's deceit has made me think less of you. I know very well of what deception that man is capable- only too well. I only mean that you are eleven years my junior and I have been cast into the role of guardian, almost father, to you. I, therefore, do not confide my distresses and concerns to you. It is not meant unkindly in any fashion.
Please, see that."
Georgiana looked into his eyes and shook her head, brow furrowed. "Fitzwilliam, you isolate yourself. You create reasons for not confiding in me. Yet it is my belief that you also create reasons for not confiding in others. Have you shared your present troubles with anyone? Or, do you choose to hold them completely to yourself? How do you intend to overcome such melancholy when you hold yourself from those who would help you?" With
this last she reached out and took his hand between her two.
Darcy looked from their hands into her pleading eyes and sighed again. "You are correct that I have isolated myself. You are more right than you know," he
Encouraged, Georgiana asked, "What of Mr. Bingley? What of the Colonel? You spend much time with them. Perhaps, if you cannot confide in me you
could speak with one of them."
Darcy grimaced and shook his head in dissent. "No. I cannot. I fear that my abominable pride is as great as ever. It prevents me from seeking consolation
in any quarter."
"Abominable pride? Truly you are hard upon yourself. You must not be so.
Please, Brother, trust in me," Georgiana implored.
Darcy gave her hand a gentle squeeze and sat back in his chair. He stared off
into space, trying to decide what to say next. He began slowly. "I make mention of pride. Georgiana, I never knew how much pride and arrogance I was capable of until this past twelvemonth. I never knew just how improper my pride was. In truth, I never knew myself. Then last fall I finally met someone who made me see how abominably I have behaved. I always thought that my behavior with my particular acquaintance and my actions with my tenants and servants was enough. I failed to see that there was so much more.
And then I met her." He paused, thoughtfully.
"Elizabeth?" questioned Georgiana, her voice a whisper.
"Miss Elizabeth Bennet is one of the loveliest women I have ever been fortunate enough to meet. She is in possession of keen wit and a lively spirit. She is at ease among society, yet also expands her mind through a great deal of reading. I have never had such pleasure as I experienced in listening to her play and sing..." his expression softened as he looked dreamily back into his
Georgiana was surprised that she had not recognized before that her brother had fallen in love. How she should like to meet this Miss Bennet! To elicit such praise from her brother a woman would have to be special indeed.
Darcy recovered himself and continued, "Yet over time I felt a strong
impropriety to my growing attachment for her. She is of, I felt, lower connection and fortune than our family. Moreover, there was a question of improper behavior among some of her family. She and her elder sister alone display a sense of propriety. I sought to separate myself from my attachment to her and... well... However, in April when I met her while visiting Rosings Park I made my feelings for her known. It was then that I discovered how she had come to view me, how much she had learned to hate me... and then that I learned to know what I truly have been. I have over time learned to admit the
justice of her observations of me."
"Hate you? Her observations of you? I can not think so happily as you seem to of anyone who could speak to give you pain," said Georgiana with some anger
at the thought of how her brother must have felt.
He smiled at her fondly. "No, dearest. Do not think ill of her for that. I should only hope that you would follow her example and cast down any man who acted thus to you. I asked for explanation of her feelings. I demanded it, really.
I was angry and I spoke to her in a manner which caused her to speak plainly in return. I insulted her and all her family and I acted abominably. As she so aptly noted, I behaved in a manner unbefitting a gentleman." Georgiana started at these words. "In all the months since that day I have not only suffered from her refusal. I have also suffered from the knowledge of my character and the impropriety of my own behavior. To find that I have been a selfish being all my life… I confess that is hard." With this last he fell silent, staring straight
ahead with the reflective gaze Georgiana had seen on his face so often of late.
Reflecting on all he had shared she began to understand his melancholy at last. That a woman would refuse him startled her not a little. The depth of his pain and remorse stunned her. She was at a loss as to what to say, but offered, "Brother, you are the best of men. Surely you are too hard on yourself. I have
seen many times how kind you are to others."
Darcy smiled tightly and said, "Georgiana, I was not so kind as I should have been to people before my eyes were opened. I have endeavored to benefit from the knowledge of my ill conduct. I am endeavoring to make changes and to become the man I ought always to have been. Let me share this with you, dearest. You will be as you ought when you put effort into the assistance of others, regardless of deriving any other benefit from the relationship. Please spare me the pain of thinking that you might ever behave as badly as I have."
Georgiana smiled kindly at her brother. "If you truly feel that you behaved
badly I shall try to believe you," she said lightly. Then more seriously, "Perhaps an opportunity will present itself for you to show Miss Bennet the
changes you have made. Perhaps she might be persuaded…"
"I doubt I shall ever see Miss Bennet again," he replied bleakly. " Though I might wish to have a chance to at least show her that I am not without ALL proper feeling. I do not believe I will ever have that opportunity. No, no. I
shall overcome this. I am truly sorry to give you worry. Do not concern
yourself further. Please."
Georgiana slowly nodded her assent. "As you wish, Fitzwilliam."
"Thank you. Truly, I appreciate your concern. You are growing up--- more than I realized," he said, gently touching her cheek. "Your kindness does me good. Please be patient with me. I have learned much of myself these months."
"I will be patient so long as you are not over hard on yourself," she replied. "I am glad we go to Pemberley. I look forward to the time together. Perhaps
being home will do you good."
"I hope so," he replied somewhat doubtfully. "I go today, you know. I have business with my steward and would be done with it before you and the rest of the party arrive there tomorrow. Now, the morning is passing. You should practice your piano-forte as you promised. I hope to hear you play for our
company this week."
Georgiana looked startled at the idea of performing before company, but hesitantly nodded her assent, eyes wide. She kissed her brother's cheek and
impulsively gave him a quick hug before leaving the room.
The Journey Home to Pemberley
Continued from Breakfast With Georgiana
Georgiana Darcy seemed all pleasantness and politeness, but in truth she desperately longed to see Pemberley coming into view. Not only was she desirous to see her brother, but she was also eager for the carriage ride to be over. Mrs. Annesley was pleasant company, as always, but Georgiana had
never been able to feel comfortable with Miss Bingley.
Mr. Bingley rode his horse alongside the two carriages. Mr. and Mrs. Hurst rode in one carriage while Miss Bingley, at her insistence, rode in the other carriage with Georgiana and Mrs. Annesley. Mrs. Annesley was content to quietly admire the scenery. Miss Bingley, however, found no difficulty in filling any silence with the sound of her opinions on everything under the sun. Accustomed to quiet and solitude as Georgiana was, the constant chatter wore
on her patience.
She was also quite preoccupied by a conversation she had had with her brother the previous day. They had talked of his altered disposition over the past several months and the reasons for it. Georgiana loved her brother very much. It was very difficult to accept his belief that he had behaved badly, but he assured her that he had earned every bit of the pain he had suffered in recent months. She was at a loss for ways to help him from his despair. She hoped that being at Pemberley would restore him. His happiness was of the utmost
importance to her.
Miss Bingley began prattling once again, "It is so pleasant to be settled in a home. I do hope that Charles will find a new estate soon. If he would only accept an eligible purchase of Netherfield, we could also have family retreats at our home out of town." Mrs. Annesley smiled politely in reply. Miss
Bingley stirred restlessly, hoping that Georgiana would respond to her
attempts at conversation.
To Miss Bingley's satisfaction, Georgiana's interest was piqued by the reference to Netherfield. "Is that Mr. Bingley's house in Hertfordshire?" she
"Yes. It is nothing to Pemberley, but is a fair prospect," replied Miss Bingley with a smug smile. She was very pleased to at last draw Georgiana into conversation with her. Now she would be able to tell Mr. Darcy how well they
were getting on!
"I wonder, then, that you would wish for it to be sold. It seems to me that Mr. Bingley has talked of his time in that neighborhood with great fondness,"
"Oh, no! You must be mistaken," replied Miss Bingley. "I am certain that Charles was only being polite. You know how kind he always is. And, of course, he can never bear to talk of unpleasantness. He is exceedingly good
humored." Miss Bingley always praised her brother to Georgiana.
"Were there objections to the neighborhood?" asked Georgiana.
Miss Bingley raised her eyebrow and smirked. "I would not wish to seem unkind, dear Georgiana. It is only that one must maintain certain standards
when it comes to society. That society, if you could really even dignify Hertfordshire with the term, is quite without fashion. I do not recall meeting even one young lady you could consider accomplished," she said in a very superior tone. Miss Bingley leaned forward as though taking Georgiana into her confidence, "Indeed, none of the Hertfordshire ladies could please your brother. He suffered greatly in such confining society. Poor Darcy!" Miss
Bingley's cruel laugh burst forth.
Miss Bingley's unkind superiority rankled against Georgiana's forbearance. "I am very surprised to hear you say that. I was certain that he had indicated otherwise," she replied, simultaneously curious to see Miss Bingley's reaction
and surprised at her own daring. Mrs. Annesley looked at Georgiana in
Miss Bingley also looked surprised, briefly taken aback, and then thoughtful. "Well, there were a few tolerable girls. The eldest Miss Bennet was sweet," she said cautiously once she was certain that her brother was out of hearing. "And one of her sisters had many pert opinions that did seem to amuse Mr.
Darcy for a time. But I know that he really found the people there quite tiresome. He was most eager for us to return to town. There was no one of that neighborhood worthy of his attention," she said, smiling frostily at Georgiana. "Why even the most famous of the Hertfordshire beauties have uncles in trade!" She laughed meanly at this last as though she had said the wittiest
thing in the world.
Miss Bingley suddenly broke off her laughter as she noticed that Georgiana would not join in with her. Seeing her distaste, Miss Bingley attempted to turn the discussion more to Georgiana's liking. "I suppose you might think I am being too hard. But indeed, the situation of the Hertfordshire families was nothing compared to the lack of propriety displayed by several persons at the local assemblies. That was what gave us all concern. Several of the girls chased after officers and men of fortune as would men after sport. I would not shock you, Georgiana, but one neighborhood mother set her daughter after poor Charles in a most distasteful fashion. Of course his heart could not be touched, as it is most agreeably engaged elsewhere already." With this, Miss Bingley smiled and patted Georgiana's hand. "Our time in Hertfordshire was most unpleasant. Can you not see why we might wish to remove ourselves
from such society?"
Georgiana blushed as she comprehended Miss Bingley's implication of the relationship between her and Charles. Miss Bingley's schemes to push the two of them together became more obvious all the time. She cast a wide-eyed gaze
at him. He smiled pleasantly in greeting to her.
Of course Georgiana regarded Mr. Bingley with affection. He was a nice man
and a good friend to her brother. Usually he had the most engaging and optimistic disposition, though he had seemed somewhat out of sorts of late. But she really saw Mr. Bingley in the light of a friend, not a lover. Though her
experience in matters of the heart was slight, she did feel that she knew
enough of desire to know when she did not feel it.
She wished to change the subject before Miss Bingley became any more direct in her implications. "I suppose if it was like that… did any of those people…
did they… pursue my brother?" she asked. She was curious to see how Miss Bingley's account of the time spent in Hertfordshire further compared to that
her brother had given.
"Why, of course they did, Georgiana. What woman could not but be interested in him? Fortunately, your brother is quite adept at turning away people who
seek him for his position and fortune."
Georgiana smiled wryly at Miss Bingley's assertion. Since her stupid affair with Mr. Wickham the previous year, Georgiana had been most attentive to her brother's methods of avoiding the attentions of fortune hunters. His interactions with Miss Bingley had provided her with much instruction.
Miss Bingley interpreted Georgiana's smile as an approval of her opinions. She continued with brittle laughter, "Do not give too much credit to the
Hertfordshire ladies, my dear. Darcy was quite severe upon them."
This last gave Georgiana discomfort. Fitzwilliam, himself, had described his behavior in Hertfordshire as abominable. Miss Bingley's evident pleasure at his behavior there confirmed his assessment. His resulting regret and self-recrimination might have some foundation, then. And if that was true, then
how must he have behaved at Hunsford?
"You mentioned that he seemed entertained by the 'pert opinions' of one lady, however. Whatever did you mean?" she asked with an apparent innocence
designed to hide her intense curiosity.
Miss Bingley's countenance darkened. "There was a young lady who became ill while visiting us at Netherfield. Of course, we invited the poor dear to stay until she was well enough to return home. One of her younger sisters, a most ill-bred and independent young woman, came to Netherfield to wait on her. Charles, in his usual way, kindly insisted that the younger sister stay with us as well. Mr. Darcy seemed for a time to regard her strange behavior as amusing. He would engage in odd discussions with her, almost disputes, over the strangest things. It was a great relief to us all when the Bennet sisters left
Netherfield at last."
"Elizabeth Bennet argued with him?" inquired Georgiana. She could not recall a time when she had ever seen anyone argue with her brother. The idea gave
her great astonishment.
Miss Bingley nodded in assent. "She spoke to your brother in a most inappropriate, sporting manner. She said that he acted as though he hated everyone in the world and even accused him of excessive pride and I think vanity. I really could not bear her manner at all. Darcy's patience and civility
were far more than she deserved."
Georgiana considered Miss Bingley's statements. Of course any woman who conversed with Fitzwilliam in a familiar manner would aggravate Miss Bingley's jealous dislike. As to the lady's accusations of hating people and
having excessive pride, there must be some mistake. How could anyone speak
so ill of him? He was so kind and generous.
Georgiana then remembered an incident from a few years before, when she had overheard some children speaking of her and saying that she was haughty and mean. She remembered her tears and hurt confusion and how Fitzwilliam had tenderly comforted her. He had explained to her that those children had misunderstood her shyness and discomfort with them. Could the same sort of
thing have happened to him?
Miss Bingley started as she realized what Georgiana had said. "How is it you know the name Elizabeth Bennet?" she asked with apprehension, color rising
in her cheeks.
Georgiana looked at Miss Bingley with surprise, afraid for a moment that she had spoken overmuch. She stammered, "You… you… must have mentioned it,
I am sure."
"Did I?" said Miss Bingley slowly, almost certain that she had not. "Well, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is woman without fashion or any sense of decorum. She is generally uninformed, unsociable by turns, independent, outspoken, and
altogether common. You are most fortunate never to have made her
Georgiana fell silent for the rest of the journey, taken aback by Miss Bingley's vehemence. She knew that Miss Bingley was not a good authority where
Fitzwilliam and any woman were concerned. A lady would have to be intelligent and beautiful, if he was attached to her. Her brother had spoken of Miss Bennet in such terms as assured Georgiana of the lady's wit and charm. She knew that her brother felt that he had done some great wrong to this lady. She also knew that the events of the past year had affected and changed him
If only he could show Miss Bennet how he had changed. If only she could meet this Miss Bennet and tell her of his true character! Whether she feared
this or wished for it more she was unsure. Miss Bennet sounded quite formidable. She was fearful that in the presence of a woman of such liveliness she would shrink in upon herself and be unable to speak at all. Yet at the same time she was determined that should such a meeting take place, she would do everything in her power to speak on her brother's behalf. Georgiana shook herself from her reverie. She was unlikely to meet Elizabeth Bennet. Such
reflections were pointless.
Caroline Bingley turned back from the carriage window and said, "Oh, Pemberley at last! I thought we might never arrive. And look! Your brother
awaits our arrival."
Georgiana looked out the window and waved to her brother. He smiled broadly and waved back. She was surprised at this and wondered what could have affected such a change. The carriage rolled to a stop. Fitzwilliam opened the door to their carriage himself and offered his hand to Georgiana. He looked better to her than he had in months. His eyes glowed with excitement. She waited next to him as he handed Miss Bingley and then Mrs. Annesley
from the carriage.
Miss Bingley seemed stunned by Mr. Darcy's smile. With effort, she spoke a greeting. Mr. Darcy spoke pleasantly in return and then turned and offered his
arm to Georgiana. Miss Bingley stared after them.
Fitzwilliam was unable to contain himself. "Georgiana, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is visiting Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle, very pleasant gentlefolk. They were here at Pemberley when I arrived. We talked and visited pleasantly. We walked together in the gardens. She was lovelier than ever. She agreed that I
might introduce you to her!"
Georgiana laughed as he finished his breathless recitation. He blushed, but looked into her eyes with a lack of reserve that confirmed all of his feelings for Miss Bennet. Delighted at her brother's joy, Georgiana clasped his hand and said, "Let us call on Miss Bennet at once. Perhaps she might be persuaded
to visit Pemberley again, maybe even for dinner tomorrow evening?"
Fitzwilliam kissed his sister's hand and gave her a look of gratitude. As the two walked toward the house Georgiana glanced back, moved to pity for Miss Bingley. For Georgiana knew that if she and her brother had anything to say about the situation, Miss Elizabeth Bennet's fortunate visit to Pemberley
would be the only the first in her own journey home there.
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