“How is the carriage? Is it to your liking?” Elizabeth smiled and squeezed Mr. Darcy’s hand.
“Yes it is. This is the most comfortable ride I have ever had in a carriage. Including the carriage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.” Mr. Darcy frowned as he looked at his wife.
“When did you ride in my aunt’s carriage? “
“Lady Catherine’s carriage took us to the closest town when Maria Lucas and I left the Collins.” Mr. Darcy nodded and looked away. Elizabeth stared at him. “Does it bother you that your aunt is in Bedlam?” Mr. Darcy turned back to Elizabeth.
“To tell you the truth, it does. I still cannot believe that she would have done something like that. She had always prided herself on her outstanding morals. I am worried that it was not done on purpose but perhaps a mistake.” Elizabeth squeezed her husband’s hand again. It may be shocking to her husband, but she would not put anything past Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Elizabeth said nothing though as she did not know what to say to comfort Fitzwilliam that also would not give her away that his aunt in Bedlam did not bother her in the slightest.
The carriage began to slow as they arrived at another town. Mr. Darcy had horses stabled on his common routes so that he had good fast horses available at all times. The carriage was comfortable, the horses fast and Elizabeth did not mind traveling at all with Fitzwilliam. However, it was still a long trip and she hated to be sitting down cooped up inside unable to get out and do things. “How much longer before we reach the townhouse?”
They were to spend the night in London at the Darcy townhouse before they continued on north to Pemberley. It was such a long distance that once they were in Pemberley they would not leave for a while. “This is the last change before we reach London. It depends on the traffic but it will take some time to travel through London to the townhouse. We will have a late supper when we arrive as my staff knows to expect us late.”
Elizabeth smiled and refrained herself from pinching her arm. This was all the most astonishing fairy tale. That Mr. Darcy still cared for her and married her despite now being the brother-in-law of the man he most disliked, George Wickham. Elizabeth could only imagine it would be a few days before she would receive a letter from Lydia asking for money. Even though Lydia was her sister, she did not feel any sympathy for her in the slightest. Lydia had rebuffed all instruction and appeals for her to behave better. No, Lydia made the choice to run off with Wickham with her eyes open.
The last part of their ride to London passed quickly with Georgiana in the coach. She was so excited to finally have a sister. Georgiana was full of energy and talked the most Elizabeth had ever heard. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth shared smiles as Georgiana continued on about how excited she was to show Elizabeth all of Pemberley especially the flower garden she had planted herself. “I cannot wait to see it, Georgiana. And what season of garden is this? Will we see it’s wonders in Spring, Summer or Fall?” Georgiana smiled and clapped her hands.
“That is the best delight of all! I have flowers for all seasons. It is garden of wondrous delights year round.” Georgiana then proceeded to list the names of the flowers and shrubs that would provide color throughout all the seasons, even winter with bright red berries.
Elizabeth smiled at her new sister-in-law, so thankful that though she was of a younger age she was much more mature then Lydia was. She could see a great friendship forming between herself and her sister-in-law in no time at all. As Georgiana then proceeded to talk about the latest song she was learning on the pianoforte, she was interrupted by her brother. “Excuse me dear sister, I am very happy for your excitement to show Elizabeth all of Pemberley and your latest accomplishments, but I would like to have some time with her as well.”
Mr. Darcy smiled at his sister who then blushed. “I am so sorry. I did not mean-” Elizabeth reached over and squeezed Georgiana’s hand.
“Do not worry, dear sister. I know you are very excited to have someone other than your brother now. And I am very excited to have a new sister. Your brother is right though, I should probably spare some time for him. Do not you think?” Elizabeth ended with laughter as she turned her head to Mr. Darcy who was sitting next to her on the bench.
He gave Elizabeth one of his small smiles but the gleam in his eyes had Elizabeth blushing. She did not mind that Fitzwilliam was still shy about showing emotion. She knew she would have to work on him regarding that and she was certainly up to the challenge.
It was quite late by the time they reached the Darcy townhouse in London. As with Pemberley, the townhouse was in a very desirous location. The townhouse was also appointed with rich rugs, furnishings and paintings though it was not gaudy and like his aunt’s Rosings Park. Elizabeth shook her head still not quite believing Lady Catherine had purposely poisoned her to get her out of the way. Thankfully Miss de Bourgh had not shown any signs of being upset that she had not married Darcy herself. Elizabeth certainly did not want to have to worry about another poisoning in the future.
Though it was late, the servants lined up in the entryway greeting their master and the new mistress. The new Mrs. Darcy did not have any commands or changes for the townhouse at the moment. All she wanted was a light repast, a bath and then bed. Though she could forgo the bath if it was too much trouble, as she knew how late it was.
“Oh no, Mrs. Darcy. That is what we are here for. We will have a bath for you ready as soon as you are done with the repast Cook has prepared.” The housekeeper curtsied and began directing the maids and footmen. Elizabeth glanced at Darcy who smiled at her and raised his eyebrows. He then held his arm out directing her to enter the dining room first where footmen were bringing in what the housekeeper had called a light repast but to Elizabeth it looked more like a very nice meal.
“I am astonished that your cook was able to have this ready and still at the perfect temperature when we arrived. How were they able to know the exact time we would arrive?” Elizabeth knew of the difficulties of planning meals so that everything was taken to the table at exactly the correct time. This was thanks to her mother’s discussions with the Longbourn cook. Elizabeth was never actually involved in those discussions, though anyone in the house could not help but overhear the discussions.
“My father implemented a system here at the townhouse. When the carriage is seen coming down the driveway a rope is pulled in the stables that rings a bell in the kitchen. Cook then knows to warm up whatever food she has ready. The cold food is of course no problem at all.”
“Your father was a very enterprising man. How was he able to construct the bell from the stables to the kitchen?” Mr. Darcy swallowed a mouthful of soup and answered.
“He had the help of several of the staff. I must admit that we all thought he was a bit daft when he first implemented it, but when we arrived home to warm food the first time, we all praised him for his genius.” Elizabeth smiled at Mr. Darcy knowing that it had to be hard for him to have lost his parent’s at a young age. She reached over and squeezed his hand. Then she went back to focus on her own warm soup. They had cold meats, cheese and crackers, warm soup, fruit and were assured there was even pudding.
“Please express my thanks to Cook for such a delicious fine meal. I do not wish to give insult, but I am quite full and could not eat another bite. I will love to taste her pie tomorrow though.” The footmen nodded and said that he would be sure to inform Cook.
Elizabeth looked over at Mr. Darcy who was still eating. He had a sandwich along with this bowl of soup. She glanced over at Georgiana to see that she too was finished and sitting at the table nodding off. Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip and glanced at Mr. Darcy again. At home she would just ask to be excused but here at the Darcy townhouse where she was mistress? She had not the faintest idea of what to do.
“Please share my thanks to Cook as well. This was a delicious welcome meal and she did a wonderful job.” Mr. Darcy stood up and then paused looking at Elizabeth. Seeing his wide-eyed look and also knowing her own confusion at exactly what to do, Elizabeth burst out laughing. Which startled Georgiana awake with a jerk and a scream. Which caused Elizabeth to laugh even harder. Mr. Darcy started chuckling when several footmen, the housekeeper, Mr. Darcy’s valet and Cook burst in the dining room.
Mr. Darcy recovered first as he had not broken out into gales of laughter unlike his wife. “You will have to pardon us. I believe the exhaustion and events of the day has gotten to us.” Elizabeth, now embarrassed at all the servants staring at her, covered her face with her hands. “Oh yes, please. I am so embarrassed.”
“Oh no, Mrs. Darcy, we are just very thankful. We heard the loud noise and scream and were not sure what to think.” Elizabeth glanced at Georgiana who had her hand over her mouth holding back laughter. Elizabeth closed her eyes and moved her hands further over her face trying to keep herself from laughing again. It was up to Mr. Darcy to take charge of the situation.
“Thank you for coming to our quick aid. You may clear the table.” Elizabeth took that as a sign that they could now leave. She stood up, quickly averting her face from the servants so she would not bust out laughing at their expressions. She also avoided Mr. Darcy’s countenance as she was not sure whether he would be amused with her or not. He crooked his elbow which Elizabeth wrapped her arm around and Georgiana held onto Mr. Darcy’s other arm. Together they exited the dining room and walked up the wide staircase to the next floor.
“I am sorry, Fitzwilliam. I do not know what came over me.” Elizabeth had to stop there as she was fighting back another laugh.
“I apologize too, brother. I fell asleep at the table. Please excuse me.”
“I must admit that it was the most unusual ending to a meal I have ever encountered. What set it off, Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth turned to Mr. Darcy. This was the first time he had ever said her first name without a ‘miss’ in front of it. She was overcome with emotion that she was walking upstairs to where the bedchambers were while also having to explain her behavior at the first meal they shared at the Darcy townhouse. “I am sorry, Fitzwilliam.” He turned to her with a smile on his lips at the use of his first name. “I had finished eating and was sitting there wondering what the proper thing to do was, when I saw you stand up and then pause probably wondering the same thing. I could not help but laugh. I am quite sure it is due to my exhaustion. Please forgive me, I am not normally like that.”
“You are forgiven. I like hearing the sound of your laughter.” Mr. and Mrs. Darcy shared a private look on the landing.
“I will bid you good night, brother and sister.” Elizabeth hugged Georgiana with a tight squeeze. Georgiana then went into her bedchamber which was the closest one to the staircase. Mr. Darcy continued walking with Elizabeth towards the far end of the hall where his bedchamber was. Elizabeth tried to calm her breathing and nerves. She had never listened to gossip or stories, so she was not quite sure of what happened during the wedding night. She had seen animals about the countryside, so she knew somewhat of what was to be expected.
Mr. Darcy stopped before reaching the end of the hallway. “This is the bedchamber of the mistress of the house. I know that you are tired and have had a long day so I will leave you here.” Darcy gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and went into his bedchamber leaving Elizabeth standing in the hall. Elizabeth did not know whether to feel relief or disappointment, but she did feel rejected.
“Mrs. Darcy, your bath is ready in your bedchamber and I can wash you if you like.” Elizabeth turned suddenly, not aware that there had been a maid standing next to them in the hall. She had been concentrating on nothing during their walk than Mr. Darcy next to her and her growing fears as they got closer to his bedchamber.
“Thank you. I will need help undressing but I can wash myself. I will let you know when I am done with my bath.” The maid curtsied and opened the door to Elizabeth’s bedchamber. Elizabeth walked in, still not sure how she felt about being alone on her wedding night.