“Remember not to stay out too long in the sun!” Mrs. Bennet’s loud voice nearly prompted Elizabeth to cover her ears with her hands; but such a gesture would surely make her mother mad and delay her departure. Instead, she dashed towards the back of Longbourn, eager to escape further lecture from her mother.
The sun shone bright; the air breathed freshly and she had a new poem she found from her father’s library to pursue. Life couldn’t be better for eighteen-year-old Elizabeth, except for her mother’s insistence on her practicing the art of attracting a husband every day. Today it was painting. Why would she sit down rigidly like a dead fish and draw a tree when she could embrace the wind, the sun, the wood and the stream.
She skipped along the narrow lane, meandered through the valleys and looked for the perfect spot for reading. She would leave the last half hour to draw something to satisfy her mother’s demand. But right this moment, Elizabeth was determined to enjoy nature with her eyes.
When she finally came upon a fine oak tree about a mile deep in the valleys, her hair was wild and her dress dusty. A sudden movement at the base of the oak tree caught her eyes. She stopped.
“Urgh!” The loud cry of a girl startled Elizabeth.
“Urghhhhhhh!” Another high pitched scream pierced through the quiet of nature. Elizabeth ran to the source of distress and saw a little girl trying to pull free from some tree stumps entangling her right foot. She had long blond hair, very fair complexion and the most angelic feature, even though the tears and frustration made her truly human.
“Oh, dear, are you hurt?” Elizabeth sat by the little girl’s side and touched her shoulder.
The little girl didn’t say anything but nodded.
“Naughty tree!” Elizabeth swatted the root and pretended to be angry with it. The little girl stopped crying, turned her head, stared at Elizabeth and giggled.She had wonderful smooth voice.
Elizabeth smiled and pulled at the offending tree stumps. “You are very pretty, when you laugh. Remember, don’t cry; not too often anyway.” She murmured as she gently pulled the little girl’s her ankle from the root.
The little girl squirmed and “ah” during the whole time. Elizabeth wondered if the blond little angel had problem with speech. That would be a cruel fate indeed. But ever since Elizabeth grew older, she understood more about the world and that it could be unfair and difficult. Men and women had to deal best with what God bestowed them.
After Elizabeth had freed the girl, she could see that the little angel didn’t have any major injury. The little girl’s leg was grazed and a bit swollen. Elizabeth took out her handkerchief and wiped away the dirt and blood on the girl’s ankle. The little girl didn’t attempt to stand. Her ankle might be too painful to have weight put on it. Elizabeth thought about what she could to do help the girl back home.
“How old are you?”
The little girl didn’t reply still, but after a pause, she raised five chubby fingers.
“You are five?” Elizabeth smiled encouragingly.
The girl nodded again.
“Five!” Elizabeth repeated and nodded at the girl. She raised her hand and clapped it against the girl’s. “Hi, five!”
The girl giggled more and imitated the sound, shakily. “Ive.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. The little girl could speak! “You are very clever, my dear.”
The girl looked confused at Elizabeth’s words. Elizabeth raised her hand and clapped with the girl again. “Five!”
The girl repeated; this time with more confidence. “Five!”
“Yes!” Elizabeth pumped her fist to the air, happy that she helped the girl speak correctly.
“Yesssssss.” The girl imitated. Her chubby hand raised, nearly hitting Elizabeth’s jaw in the process. Elizabeth dropped backward and rolled on the grass, laughing loud.
The girl burst out laughing, lowered by Elizabeth’s side and wrapped her hands around Elizabeth’s waist. Elizabeth touched the little girl’s nose and said, “clever.”
Elizabeth nodded encouragingly and repeated, “Clever.”
In such manner, Elizabeth taught the girl count from one to ten and some other basic words. She didn’t know how much the girl would remember. Elizabeth thought that the girl might have heard those words before or had been taught how to speak them for she learned real quickly.
When Elizabeth took the poem out from her reticule, leafing through the pages to decide what to read to the girl, her little student found the paper, pen and paint Mrs. Bennet insisted Elizabeth to carry with her to practice.
“Do you like to draw?”
The little girl looked baffled, didn’t nod or shake her head.
Pondering at the girl’s response, Elizabeth set up the paint, drew a little pink flower by the tree on the paper. She frowned at the effort. The flower looked like cow shit; only lighter in colour.
The little girl shook her head at Elizabeth’s dismal attempt.
“Well, I told mama I am no artist.”
“Mama!” The little girl’s face lit up and she spoke clearly.
“Yes, mama. Where is your mother?”
The little girl pointed her finger casually to the west and then grabbed the pen abandoned by Elizabeth and started drawing.
Elizabeth frowned. That direction sat the little cottage belonging to the Pulvis Lodge. She had heard her mother said that it had been let by a woman recently. But none of the neighbour had seen the new tenant as she kept to herself. Mrs. Hill though had seen the maid in the market.
When Elizabeth was debating if it was too far for her to carry the little girl to the cottage, she caught sight of the picture the little girl was drawing and gasped. It was the most amazing true likeness of the pink flower. How could the little girl draw so fast, and in such truthful detail?
“Amazing!” Elizabeth murmured.
Elizabeth wrapped her hands around the girl’s shoulders and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “You are amazing!”
The little girl smiled.
Suddenly the sound of stomping footsteps startled the two of them.
“Where did you run off to, Georgiana!” A very handsome woman cried out. Her face was twisted with worries and anger. “You..
Before Elizabeth could defend Georgiana, the little girl stood up, as if not hurt at the ankle at all and flew to the woman. Georgiana wrapped her hands around the woman’s legs and said, “Mama, amazing!”
The woman stopped mid sentence with mouth gaped open. She looked down at her daughter, up to stare at Elizabeth and fainted.
“Oh!” Elizabeth rushed to catch the lady and put her gently by the base of the oak tree. “I am destined to be a rescuer today.” She patted the woman’s cheeks but Georgiana’s mother didn’t respond.
“Mama, mama!” Georgiana’s cries finally got through to the woman. Her eyes blinked open and she burst into tears.
“Madam, please,” Elizabeth said. “Please do not cry. You will scare your daughter. Georgiana, isn’t she?”
The woman nodded, amid sobs and sighs. “I am so…happy.”
“Appy,” Georgiana repeated.
“Happy,” Elizabeth corrected the little girl and folded her handkerchief to the clean side and gave to Georgiana’s mother.
She accepted it and wiped away the tears.
“Thank…you…sorry I gave you a scare.” The woman apologised.
“That is fine, madam. I am certain you are worried about Georgiana. She was caught by a root and I found her here, not sure if I am strong enough to carry her all the way to the cottage.”
“You know that we are from the cottage?”
“Georgiana pointed that her mama is from there. I am Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn.”
“Georgi,” the little girl murmured.
Tears welled in the woman’s eyes again. “Sorry…to be so…teary. I am just amazed on hearing Georgiana speak her first words.”
Elizabeth patted the woman’s shoulder. “She is very clever. See the picture she drew.”
The woman looked at the picture. “Amazing!”
“Amazing,” Georgiana smiled and repeated.
Elizabeth looked at the dazed woman. “Perhaps I should accompany Georgiana and you back to the cottage.”
The woman stood up, still forgot to introduce herself and picked up her daughter. “Are you sure you should carry her?” Elizabeth asked. “You have just fainted.”
“I am fine, Miss Bennet. I am stronger than you think. Now what is my manner? My name is Anne. Mrs. Anne Williams. Would you care to join Georgiana and I for tea?”
“Yes, tea!” Georgiana pumped her fist up the air. Her mother looked at her with wide eyes.
Lizzy blushed and smiled. “Sorry, Mrs. Williams. I taught her to do that. Not very ladylike. I am afraid.”
“No, Miss Bennet, may I call you Elizabeth? You can call me Anne. I am so grateful to you, for making Georgiana speak. I have been in despair in the last six months.”
Throughout tea, Elizabeth found Mrs. Williams pensive. But as Georgiana continued to play with and learn from Elizabeth, the frown on Mrs. Williams’s face loosened.
In the next two months, Elizabeth visited the Williams whenever she could, sometimes with Jane, sometimes with Mary; but a lot of time, she came alone. She taught Georgiana speak, count and read in a fun way. Sometimes she would find books to read to Georgiana. When the little girl became bored with learning, she would draw; pictures after pictures, the most wonderful likeness of nature, of trees, flowers, birds, clouds. Georgiana’s quiet perseverance to detail also made Elizabeth gradually more interested in painting. Mrs. Williams and the maid would busy with their sewing while they looked on the younger pair, if the latter stayed indoor.
One day, when Georgiana was drawing her mother, Elizabeth asked the questions she always wanted to ask, since the day she knew the Williams. “Mrs. Williams, why are you so sad?”
Mrs. Williams stopped working on the embroidery and forced a smile. “No, I am not sad.”
“I know you are. The frown on your forehead is always there. And you seldom smile when you are not looking at Georgiana. Can I help you? I know I am only eight and ten but I am quite grown now. Mother said I could have been married and have three children already. Surely if you share your worries with someone, you will feel less sad.”
Anne put down the embroidery and held Elizabeth’s hand. “You are such a wonderful person, Lizzy.”
“I am not so sure, especially if you speak to my mother!” She arched her eyebrows.
Mrs. Williams smiled and then sighed heavily. “I am afraid for Georgiana.”
Elizabeth nodded. “You are worried that people will treat her like a simpleton because she is only starting to learn to speak? But she has progressed so much for the past two months. She shall be quite normal soon.”
“All thanks to you. But her father…,” Anne stopped, as tears welled in her eyes.
“Her father is…,” Elizabeth squeezed Mrs. Williams’s hand and encouraged her to continue.
“I heard…George talking to my sister,” a single tear slide down her face. “They were… planning to put Georgiana…in a bedlam.”
Elizabeth gasped. She was appalled! How could someone be so cruel? And to such a beautiful angel like Georgiana? But the way Mrs. Williams’s eyes deepened when she talked about her husband told Elizabeth that Georgiana’s mother still loved her husband very much. Could Mrs. Williams wrong? Elizabeth decided not to condemn the man yet. After all, part of Georgiana came from her father. Such a sweet tempered girl like Georgiana surely would not have a horrible father.
“Can you tell me more about this? How did you hear about it?”
Mrs. Williams clenched her hands tight. “It was so painful. I didn’t want to think about it.”
“I just want to understand. Mr. Williams must be a good person. Otherwise you would not have loved him.”
Anne wiped away the tears and stared at Elizabeth. “You are…right. George…is a great person. He loves his estate, his…family, tenants and staff. But…”
Elizabeth stood and brought a cup of tea for Mrs. Williams, and encouraged her to continue.
“But by the time Georgiana was two years old and still unable to speak, George got angry, frustrated at her and everything.”
Elizabeth sat by Mrs. Williams’s side and held her hand again. The older woman gazed out of the windows, to a distance past. “Georgiana’s three years old birthday came and went. George hired nearly every doctor and master from England to look into Georgiana. Every month a different doctor, a different herb, a different technique, a different routine. They poked and probed, spilling all sort of bad tidings about Georgiana, making her grim, sullen and overwhelmed. When Georgiana was four, my…caring husband no long cared. He did not visit his daughter, did not talk to or play with her. He spent all his time with Fitzw, Fitz, my son.”
“Georgiana has a brother?”
“Yes, Fitz…is 15 years older than Georgiana.”
“Fitz!” The name startled Georgiana. She repeated and ran to embrace her mother.
Mrs. Williams nodded at her daughter and ruffled her daughter’s hair. “Yes, Fitz. Do you remember? Fitz is…your brother.” She swallowed hard as she stared at the innocent face of her daughter.
“Fitz is my brother.” Georgiana had made much progress in her speech recently. She no longer merely repeated after people. She could construct correct sentences all on her own. After stating the fact, Georgiana ran back to continue drawing.
“What happened then?” Elizabeth reminded Mrs. Williams.
“Two months before Georgiana turned five. It was Fitz…s birthday,” Mrs. Williams continued, “My sister Catherine came to visit.” She breathed heavily.
“Was she unkind to Georgiana?”
Mrs. Williams’s hands clenched. “My maid Molly told me one day, when I was away with the tenants, Catherine…summoned Georgiana and tried to teach her speak, like she was the best teacher in the world.” Mrs. Williams suppressed the sobs. “But of course, Catherine’s condescending voice and manner…frightened my daughter. Georgiana clamped up and ran from her. My maid told me Catherine grabbed Georgiana…smacked her on the head and locked her inside…a cupboard for quarter of an hour.”
Mrs. Williams nodded. “I had the most terrible row with Catherine and demanded that she left Pem, I meant our estate, immediately. I was so angry I felt sick that afternoon, not seeing her leave.”
“She did not leave?”
“No. I woke up early the next day and went to check on Georgiana. A few minutes later, I heard George and Catherine outside the nursery. Catherine said Georgiana…her…illness will be an embarrassment for Fitz and the Dar…the family. No one with connection and fortune will want to associate with the brother of an imbecile. What if Georgiana’s…defects can be passed down for generations. It is...imperative…of utmost importance and urgency, haha,” Mrs. William laughed bitterly. “That Georgiana be sent to a…bedlam. Catherine suggested one in Kent, under her patronage. She said George should put an arrangement in now, to betroth Fitz to her daughter, Anne, which is ironically named after me. Fitz will not be rejected by the world and they can unite our two great fortunes. In a few years time, no one will ever think Fitz has a sister or that…this diseased…imbecile has ever born to our family.” Mrs. William broke down in tears.
Elizabeth gritted her teeth, feeling for the unjustice Georgiana faced in her earlier life. She wrapped her arms around Mrs. Williams and murmured. “And what did Mr. Williams say?”
Mrs. Williams raised her voice, full of pain and anger. “He laughed, so loud. He said, what a wonderful plan it was and he was sure Catherine would want it done immediately.” She drew in more deep breathes and hurried with the narrative of event: “Of course my sister laughed as well and agreed. I couldn’t listen to them anymore. I picked up Georgiana immediately and left via the servant’s door. I have to protect her. I cannot let them put her in these horrible institutions. She is such a sweet innocent girl. She will wither away very soon. I went to my room and told Molly that I had to leave with Georgiana immediately. I grabbed whatever money and jewellery that I had in the room. I intended to walk to Lambton but Molly would not allow me. Molly had been with me for over 15 years then. She is very loyal. She got the whole story out of me and sprung into action. She arranged for us to leave with a hire carriage from the servant entry. Then we changed so many coaches and stayed in so many different inns that I lost count. If it was not for Molly, I would not have known what to do to cover our track. She helped me rent one place after another, until we settle here. She takes care of everything, cooking, cleaning. She is trained as a lady’s maid but she does not mind all that these new chores; all because she believes in Georgiana; that her place is not in a bedlam, no matter what. Why George cannot love her as she is? She is his daughter too! She has his eyes and mouth. Even if Georgiana cannot speak, does that mean that she is an imbecile? Even if she was an imbecile, we have all the money, rooms, why can we not bring her up in the caring environment of our home!” Mrs. Williams’s voice was pitched high and Elizabeth regretted to bring up the subject, causing her such pain.
“Mama please, do not be sad,” Georgiana had ran back to her mother side, rubbing her face against her mother’s waist. “Be happy, mama. I drew you Fitz. Please do not be sad.”
Mrs. Williams’s cries turned to sobs and she stared at the picture that Georgiana had just drawn. Elizabeth stared at it. Fitz was a very handsome young man with noble mien, broad shoulders and stately feature. Anne cried out, “Fitz looks so much like George when he was young. My George, why are you so cruel? I want to see Fitzwilliam. I want to take Georgiana home.”
“Mrs. Williams!” Molly rushed in from the back of the cottage to her mistress side and took her to bed. Elizabeth felt dreadful, to ask Mrs. Williams about the past, making her so distraught.
She hugged Georgiana, who had tears in her eyes too. “Did I draw Fitzwilliam bad?”
“No, you drew him beautifully. Your brother is very handsome.”
“Yes, Fitzwilliam is handsome.”
Elizabeth knew that Mrs. Williams was using another name so that her husband could not find her and take Georgiana away. But Mrs. Williams seemed to miss her son so much. Elizabeth thought for a moment. She would find a way to help the mother and son see each other, without Mr. Williams knowing it. “Why did you call your brother Fitzwilliam?”
“He is Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. Of course, Lambton! Mrs. Williams wanted to walk to Lambton at first. Elizabeth’s aunt Mrs. Gardiner came from Lambton. Mrs. Gardiner had mentioned the great estate near there, Pemberley and the Darcys.
“And you are Georgiana Darcy.”
Georgiana nodded proudly. “I’m Georgiana Darcy.”
Elizabeth praised Georgiana for her drawing again. After that day, she did not ask Mrs. Darcy to talk about her past but she had been thinking of how to get her reunite with her son. The solution came another month later.
Mrs. Gardiner was with child and not in her usual healthy self. Mr. Gardiner requested Elizabeth to come to stay in London to help the other children for a month. While Elizabeth was sad to leave Mrs. Darcy and Georgiana for a while, she thought that it would be a great opportunity to find the younger Mr. Darcy and ascertain if he was on his father’s side or not.
Elizabeth thought about asking Molly where the Darcys townhouse was. She was sure they must have a townhouse in London as Aunt Maddie said that the Darcys had a lot of properties. However she did not want Mrs. Darcy to worry about being found by her husband. Therefore she decided that she would ask the coach station after she settled into the Gardiner’s household later on.
Fitzwilliam Darcy let out a loud sigh. Another day was marked off. Another day was gone without any news about his mother and little sister. It had been almost 10 months since they disappeared from Pemberley.
His father was frantic with worries. He was angry with the servants for not knowing the whereabouts of their mistress. And he was furious with Lady Catherine. He could not believe that with all the money in the world, an army of servants and many aides he hired, he could not find his wife, young daughter and the maid. As days past into weeks, and weeks past into months, Mr. George Darcy was a shell of his former self. His frame was thinner, his eyes hollow and his hair all white. He no longer took care of Pemberley, leaving all the decisions to Fitzwilliam. He traversed all over England at the slightest hint of the sighting of Mrs. Darcy and Georgiana. Finally he made himself sick and was now confined to bed with a heavy case of cold.
Darcy was worried that if there was no news soon, his father would not have the will to live any more. He himself became very grim and frustrated as well. First, with Lady Catherine’s posteriors idea of formalising an engagement with her daughter. Anne de Bourgh was sickly, blank and uninspiring and not his ideal for a wife. Second, once Darcy moved to London to be near the source of the search, he was sick of the fawning mothers or sisters of his school friends. They used every excuse to visit Darcy House or tried to get him to attend social function. Some even tried to compromise him at his home to get him to marry them.
With Pemberley in disarray, his father ill and the search for his mother fruitless, Darcy had no time for this talk about marriage. He wanted to bury his head in the pillow and waited for a miracle to occur. But, every day, gritting his teeth, he woke up, worked tireless to keep Pemberley run smoothly from London, made sure his father take his medicine and eat, meet with the ex-bow street runners about the search and ensure them chase up every lead.
He had never felt so tired before. He did not understand why his mother left with Georgiana but he suspected it had something to do with Lady Catherine. His father had tried to kick her out of Pemberley the day when Lady Anne had gone missing. When Lady Catherine would not leave, George Darcy left himself to follow news that his wife had gone to Scotland. It took Darcy nearly a week to make Lady Catherine leave Pemberley. Since then, his father and he had refused to answer her letters or allow her to stay in the townhouse.
Darcy dragged his tired feet to the morning room and made himself eat something. He retired to the study to handle the correspondence. After a quarter of an hour, Mrs. Wallis, the housekeeper, knocked on the door.
“What is it, Mrs. Wallis?”
The housekeeper wrung her hands. “I am not sure if I should bring this to your attention, sir.”
Her nervous attitude piqued Darcy’s interest. She had been the housekeeper in London for over 10 years. He had not seen her like this before. “Whatever is in your mind, please do not hesitate to let me know. I may not have as much experience as father. I am certain I will try my best to decide the best course of actions.”
Mrs. Wallis nodded and drew in a deep breath. “I understand from Mrs. Reynolds that Lady Anne and Miss Darcy have been missing from Pemberley for some time.”
Darcy’s lips thinned. His father had been adamant that no one outside of the family, except those involved in the search, knew of the disappearance of his wife and daughter. He did not want the authority involved or give out any reward. He did not want Mrs. Darcy and Georgiana to be in any danger. He would rather conduct the search through his trusted source. Of course, Darcy understood that servants talked. But after his father had threatened anyone in Pemberley assisting with Lady Anne’s disappearance or who covered for it to be punished, Darcy thought this would not be talked about. Darcy was not sure if his father’s decision was wise but he did not tolerate servants’ gossips either. But to have the two most senior of the servants, the two long serving housekeepers to be talking about this, Darcy either had to accept that they did it with good intention or dismissed them. He would not like to dismiss the two most trusted servants in the Darcy family, especially in such a time. He nodded his head curtly and said, “Yes, pray continue.”
Mrs. Wallis sighed with relief. “This morning three servants, one male and two female, from the Gardiner’s warehouse. They delivered some natural ointment, herbs and wine. I could see that one of the women was no servant, despite she dressed as such. She had been chatting with the maids when I came upon them. I caught the tail of the conversation. She seemed to be asking if you are engaged to Miss de Bourgh.”
Darcy frowned with disgust. Another fortune hunter!
“She promptly left afterwards but I have questioned the maids in detail. The young woman didn’t say how she knows about the Darcy family, Miss de Bourgh. But the maid is sure that the young woman is very concern if sir, you are a dutiful son.”
“A dutiful son?” Darcy’s frown deepened. When Mrs. Wallis first started the explanation, he thought the woman in disguise was a servant of some scheming society mothers. She was sent here to see how Fitzwilliam Darcy could be captured. But why would anyone want to know if he was a good son?
“Yes. The young woman also commented on a lot of men milling around in the servants quarter and that they looked like bow street runners.”
Darcy sat up straight. “What is her name?”
“She didn’t say but the maid heard the Gardiner male servant calling her Miss Lizzy.”
“Where is the Gardiner’s warehouse?”
“Cheapside. We have been using their imports for many years. Mrs. Gardiner, the owner’s wife, was from Lambton originally.”
Darcy jumped up from this desk and said, “thank you for bringing this to my attention.” Could his mother be hiding away with a merchant’s wife who had roots from Lambton? He would investigate it immediately!
He was about to ask for the carriage but stopped himself. He did not know why his mother stayed away. By visiting the Gardiner’s household without an introduction, he could have spooked his mother. What if she ran away somewhere else?
After pacing for a little while, he came up with a plan of action. Darcy talked to Mrs. Wallis again and obtained more detail description of Miss Lizzy and the exact address of the warehouse. He called for the carriage, but to another part of the city where he heard would have the merchandise he needed to spy on this Miss Lizzy.
Two hours later, Darcy pretended to walk casually along Gracechurch Street but his heart was pumping and his palm moist. He had waited outside the Gardiner’s warehouse for some times but didn’t see anyone coming in and out of the premises who fitted the description of this mysterious Miss Lizzy. He was getting frustrated when he overhead a man servant talking about Gardiner’s niece helping out with some deliveries this morning to Mayfair. He then followed one of the men to a neat townhouse at Gracechurch Street. Judging by the size and outlook of the townhouse, Mr. Gardiner’s business had to be very successful.
He stood from a corner of the street about 50 yards away from the townhouse, hoping to catch a glimpse of any sign of Miss Lizzy, his mother or Georgiana. After almost an hour wait, Darcy finally spied a young woman coming out of the townhouse with two little girls. His heart nearly stopped, thinking one of them could be Georgiana. But they had darker hair, nothing like his sister’s blond hair and fair complexion.
The trio walked along Gracechurch Street in high spirit, laughing and joking around. Darcy followed them in a discreet distance, admiring their joyful rapport. His heart ached for such happiness. He wished his mother would be found, his father recovered soon and little Georgiana would laugh more. His eyes focused on the light and pleasing form of the woman who likely could be Miss Lizzy. She radiated cheerfulness and wittiness. The skipping of her steps lightened Darcy’s mood. Unconsciously, he walked closer to trio than he had realized.
Suddenly the group in front turned a corner in quick steps. Darcy increased his pace to follow, afraid of losing sight of them. When he came round the corner, he was faced with a very angry Miss Lizzy with a hair pin in her hand and the two little girls peeling out from behind her.
“What do you want?” Her cheek flustered and her eyes were on fire.
Darcy was lost for word for a second. He thought about admitting to following them and asking her to tell him about his mother. But he was afraid that it would harm his chance of getting to Mrs. Darcy. So he stuck to his original plan of imitating his friend. He grinned, with an effort, and bowed low, nearly knocking off the red hair wig he had bought as his disguise.
“Miss, I mean you no harm. I was meeting a business associate in the area and when I came upon you three ladies, I am enchanted. I am David Bingley of Grosvenor Square. Delighted to make your acquaintance.”
The face of the supposed Miss Lizzy’s turned a shade redder. Her eyes widened at Darcy’s flirty manner. But after a second, a frown adorned her face. “This is most improper. I demand that you desist following us.”
“I am sorry to alarm you, miss” Darcy turned the grin to smile, not wanting to alarm her too much. “I am a man of character.” He bowed again, slightly less low this time and straightened his waistcoat as he had seen Bingley did many times when his friend chatted up pretty ladies. “Perhaps I can persuade you three lovely ladies to have a cup of chocolate with me at the shop we just past. Surely in such a public place, you shall feel most assured.”
“Do not treat me as a simpleton,” she retorted. The sparks in her eyes fired up and Darcy was mesmerized and wished to stare at her forever.
She continued: “I have heard vile stories of scoundrels like you, luring young girls to coffee shops and forcing them to disreputable establishments afterwards. Now go or I shall scream.”
“But Lizzy, I want chocolate,” the younger girl, of similar age as Georgiana pulled Lizzy’s dress.
Darcy was glad of the confirmation, that this young woman was really Miss Lizzy. But his charm did not seem to work on her. His clothes were still as fine as those he wore as Fitzwilliam Darcy and he did mention he lived in Grosvenor Square. Surely the wealth he displayed could sway her to respond to his irregular greeting? How came he was not be able to charm her into talking to him? She seemed very different from the society ladies he had met most of his adult life.
“Ssh!” Miss Lizzy hushed the little girl softly. Her caring attitude, even in such “dangerous” time made Darcy want to confide in her. He was indecisive and fidgeted his singlet.
“But you…” Miss Lizzy’s cried out suddenly. Then like a flying bird, she jumped towards Darcy and pulled the wig from his head. “…you are Fitz!”
Darcy stepped back involuntarily, startled by Miss Lizzy’s quick action. He brushed back the unruly hair from his forehead. He felt warmth surged onto his face as his disguise was blown. “How did you know my real name?”
“How did you find me?” Miss Lizzy said. She had lowered her “weapon” and was tearing at the red hair wig. “And why did you disguise as another person?”
“Perhaps we should start again. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, Miss…,” He bowed curtly and reverted back to his normal and reserved demeanor.
She hesitated for a second before curtsying. “Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn and these are my two cousins, Grace and Emma Gardiner.”
“Delighted to make your acquaintance, ladies,”
“Lizzy, can we have chocolate now?” The young asked.
“Yes, Miss Bennet and Misses Gardiner, can I invite you to the coffee shop around the corner?”
Elizabeth shook her head. “I think we should talk, at home. It is more private. Emma, we have been gone for quite long. Your mother will be worried.”
“But I want chocolate,” Little Emma pouted.
“Come, Emma, mama said we must listen to Lizzy when we are out with her.” Grace chastised her sister.
Emma’s mouth protruded out more. “I am tired. I can’t walk any more.” She held onto Lizzy’s leg and wanted to sit down on the ground.
“Emma! It’s dirty.” Grace chastised again.
“Perhaps I can be of service,” Darcy bowed to Elizabeth and then crouched down besides Emma. “Miss Emma, may I carry you back to the house?”
“Yes!” Emma suddenly forgot about the chocolate and wrapped her hands around Darcy’s neck.
“Why did your hair turn black now? It was red like the sun just then.” Emma asked, pulling Darcy’s hair to feel whether it was real.
With the wig removed, Darcy returned to his usual self and felt suddenly tongue tied.
“Mr. Darcy is an actor,” Elizabeth said with an arch of her eyebrows. “by study. He is learning to play this Mr. Bingley who is the most outrageous flirt.”
“What is a flirt?” Emma asked.
“Bingley is not that bad.” Darcy smiled.
“Huh, so is he a friend? Should I worry about your character, with a rakish friend such as Mr. Bingley?”
Darcy’s smile widened. He truly needed this, after the terrible past nine months. “I shall introduce Bingley to you one day, Miss Bennet. He is very amiable. I am sure you will like him.”
“Thank you very much,” she said with such a frown in her face that he laughed out loud. It was the first hearty laugh he had for some years, in fact, since his parents had become very strained with each other with regard to Georgiana’s care. He gazed at Elizabeth with admiration, thanking her for remembering what happiness was like.
His passionate stare made her flustered. The rosy hue on her face enhanced the sparkles of her eyes. His heart raced and wanted to know more about her, soon, hopefully after she assisted him find his mother and sister.
With the help of the two Gardiner sisters, Darcy managed to chat with them normally all the way back to the Gardiner’s household.
Darcy shifted in his seat under the scrutiny of Mrs. Gardiner. Elizabeth and he was occupied in maintaining a normal conversation during their walk back that they had not agreed on a story on how he came to know her and returned with her. He darted a glance at Elizabeth and she started with a smile. “Aunt Maddie, Mr. Darcy assisted me when little Emma became tired during our walk. He mentioned coming from Derbyshire, near Lambton, I know that you will be interested to hear some recent news from there.”
Darcy straightened his spine and continued, “Yes, Mrs. Gardiner, Miss Bennet and I talked about Lambton and then to your husband’s business. I discovered that he has been supplying our household for some years. That was why I asked Miss Bennet to introduce me to you and perhaps Mr. Gardiner when he returns.”
“Indeed,” Mrs. Gardiner replied politely. Her eyes darted from Elizabeth to Darcy with curiosity. “It is most pleasing to meet someone from Derbyshire and talk about my childhood home, especially I am instructed by the doctor not to leave the house or do too much,” She then exchanged news with Mr. Darcy about Lambton for a few moments. Not too long, she used the excuse of seeing to the children and left the two young persons in the sitting room.
“Aunt Maddie is suspicious. She will think you are my suitor!” Elizabeth put her hand to her hot cheeks.
Darcy smiled, admiring the flame on her face and the brightness of her eyes. His stare unsettled her further but the bustling of the household brought her back to the matter at hand. She drew in a deep breath and said: “I can guess why you came to spy on us. It is because of my morning visit to your townhouse. But before I can share any news with you, I must ask you a few questions. It is necessary for the safety of someone and I beg you to be truthful.”
He frowned. Why would his mother and sister be in danger? He nodded and appreciated her intelligence in figuring out why he followed her.
“Are you engaged to Miss Anne de Bourgh?”
He raised his eyebrows. How came this become an important issue to mother? Could her disappearance have anything to do with Lady Catherine’s insistence on uniting Pemberley and Rosings. But Lady Catherine had mentioned that for some years. Why would it make such impact on his mother this time? “You are very direct, Miss Bennet.”
“We have no time to lose. Aunt Maddie may come back very soon.”
“No, I am not engaged to Anne, my cousin,” Darcy confirmed with a strong conviction. “and I never will.” He gazed at her with intensity.
She sighed with relief. “What about your father? Will he arrange it for you?”
Darcy wanted to jump to his feet and pace around the room. He reasoned better when he was pacing. But he didn’t want to let his eyes stray from Elizabeth right now so he stayed in his seat. “Are you suggesting that my mother disappears because Lady Catherine and Father threaten to arrange a marriage for me? It does not make sense at all. Father detests my Aunt’s muddling.”
“Catherine is a Lady?” Elizabeth paled as she murmured. He saw her bite her lips and knew she wanted to tell him more but was afraid that she would reveal too much. He decided to confide in her. His mother and Georgiana’s safety and in fact the future of the Darcys family could be in this young lady’s hands. She displayed an air of openness, honesty and trustworthiness. And she was a caring person. He was certain she would help him. “Miss Bennet, my father and I do not work with Lady Catherine against my mother. In fact he demanded Lady Catherine leave Pemberley immediately on the day mother and Georgiana disappeared. Whatever misunderstanding there is between mother and father, my father loves her very much. As you noticed in our townhouse, there are some former bow street runners there. They are hired by father. He has been looking for her every since nine months ago when she disappeared.”
“I know it is all a misunderstanding!” Elizabeth exclaimed. Then she calmed herself. “But what about Georgiana?”
Darcy considered Elizabeth’s expression. How could she accuse him of being prejudice against Georgiana? He raised his voice involuntarily. “Of course I love Georgiana very much. She is my wonderful sister, no matter what her situation is.”
“I am not referring to you, sir!” Her eyes flashed with anger.
His indignation immediately deflated. “I am sorry, Miss Bennet. I am very protective of Georgiana. Anyone who is prejudiced against her has to answer to me.”
“That is very good to know.”
“You meant…you mean my father?”
“How could mother believe…,” Darcy paused and thought for a moment. “I understand now. For the last year, father has distanced himself from Georgiana. Mother thought that father does not love her and Georgiana anymore? But that is not true. Father is at his wit ends. He told me he can see that mother is not happy and he wants to find a cure for Georgiana, rather than just helps mother accept Georgiana’s silence. When no cure was found, he thought it best to keep away from Georgiana so mother will not cry and think that she has failed him, by giving her a silent daughter. He told me very often how it pains him to stay away from Georgiana. He loves Georgiana as much as I do, even if she cannot speak or if she is not bright. But how does Lady Catherine fit into this?”
“You are certain that your father loves Georgiana?”
“What a question!” Darcy raised his voice again. “Of course I am certain. My father confides in me very often in the past years.”
Elizabeth’s eyes sparked brightly, with fury. “The question is because Mrs. Darcy overheard her husband agreed to Lady Catherine to send Georgiana to bedlam!”
“What!” Darcy exclaimed.
Mrs. Gardiner chose this minute to re-appear. She looked at the heightened expression of the two young persons. “Ah, should I get more tea?”
Darcy jumped to his feet. His expression serious. “Mrs. Gardiner, thank you for giving your niece and I some time in private to discuss a matter most urgent. I think you have guessed that I do not just come here because I came upon her requiring assistance to help Miss Emma. It concerns a matter most delicate and Miss Bennet is the key. May I ask for a few more minutes in private with her?”
“This is highly irregular…”
“Aunt, I shall tell you all after I resolve this with Mr. Darcy. Please it concerns two persons’ future.”
Mrs. Gardiner raised her eyebrows. Elizabeth’s face turned bright red as she thought about the faux pas. She clarified quickly. “No, I am not referring to Mr. Darcy and myself. It concerns two beautiful persons I have known recently. They could be in danger.”
Mrs. Gardiner saw the pleading expression on her niece’s face and the serious mien of Mr. Darcy. She trusted them both and agreed to their requests. “I will stand outside the room.”
Once she had left, Darcy sighed heavily, paced and continued. “Miss Bennet, I can reassure you that Father will do no such thing. He will never send Georgiana to bedlam. He loves Georgiana and will fight anyone who tries to harm her in such a way. No wonder he demanded Lady Catherine leave Pemberley immediately on that day.”
Elizabeth commented: “If you can get the truth out of him regarding the conversation he had with Lady Catherine outside Georgiana’s room the day Mrs. Darcy ran away and be certain that he would not do any harm to Georgiana, I shall be happy to arrange for him and you to come for them. I have only known your mother for three months but she rarely smiles and has been very dejected.”
Darcy’s heart broke. Both his parents led a miserable existence for the past nine months, all because of Lady Catherine’s cruel suggestion. “Father and I have been sorrowful too.”
He stood before Elizabeth, held her hands and bowed to her. “Thank you, Miss Bennet for believing that this is all a misunderstanding and coming to verify the matter. If I can reunite mother and Georgiana and father, I shall forever in your debt.” His voice was deep and low. He stared at her with passion. He could feel the warmth of her hands and the softness of her skin. He then raised her right hand and bestowed a kiss on it. “If my father is not too sick, can he and I visit your aunt and uncle tonight to discuss the matter further? I am sure father would not mind revealing the whole business to your relatives, seeing they can help the course of the reunion.”
Elizabeth smiled at him brightly.
What a beautiful sight! His breathe caught. He was captivated, by her caring, intelligent and daring nature; her fiery temper, teasing smile and fine eyes. She was so different from the society ladies who usually cared about nothing but fashions or wealth. In his young heart, Darcy knew that he had found his woman. He decided then and there that he would ask for permission to court her, soon.
Elizabeth fidgeted on her seat.
Dinner was over and they had all retired to her uncle’s study to discuss about Mrs. Darcy. She thought about Fitz’s handsome person. (She still thought of young Mr. Darcy as Fitz because of how Georgiana called him). He had lost some weight and become thinner than in the picture Georgiana had drawn. Old Mr. Darcy was in a bad shape, he needed the assistance of his son to descend the carriage and judging by the clothes he wore, Elizabeth could see that he had lost a lot of weight as well.
Mrs. Gardiner didn’t join the dinner as she was not feeling well again. But she had filled her husband with the odd situation of the meeting of Darcy and Elizabeth and the unusual request for the dinner arrangement. Now Mr. Gardiner sat back and let the visitors to start the subject.
Mr. George Darcy said first: “Mr. Gardiner, thank you for agreeing to the dinner at such short notice, especially in view of your wife’s illness. I hope she is feeling better.”
Mr. Gardiner nodded. “She is indeed feeling better. That is the thing we have to bear for the joy of children.”
“Yes, Mr. Gardiner. I am certain your wife told you about the extraordinary situation regarding Fitzwilliam’s visit here this afternoon. I am sorry to burden you with our private family matter. But I hope a complete honesty on our part will sure reassure you of our intention and will allow you to approve Miss Bennet’s assistance in this matter.”
Mr. Darcy soon explained about the birth of Georgiana, how they discovered she had speech problem when she could not speak at around two years old.
Elizabeth squirmed on the chair, not sure if she should reveal the latest development. But she wanted old Mr. Darcy to love Georgiana as she was, not because she could now speak.
“The error in my way is that I thought I was trying to make Anne less despondent by finding a cure for Georgiana but judging from what Miss Bennet told my son, my wife thought I wanted the cure because I was ashamed of Georgiana. That is not true. I can reassure you, I love my daughter very much, no matter if she is a normal person.” Mr. Darcy spoke to Mr. Gardiner but his eyes focused on Elizabeth, whom he knew must be convinced of his heart or she would not hesitate not to help him reunite with his wife and daughter.
He continued to relay the reasons he stayed away from Georgiana a year earlier and how it made him incredibly heartbroken. “Talking about a misunderstanding in a marriage. This is the biggest blunder of my life. How could I not see that I was hurting Anne by staying away from Georgiana?”
Finally he came to the conversation outside Georgiana’s room. “I laughed so hard not because I was agreeing to Catherine’s horrible idea. I was thinking her obsession with marrying her daughter to Fitzwilliam made her the one that should be committed to bedlam. I said ‘what a wonderful plan and that Catherine must have wanted it done immediately’. But Anne did not hear the rest of the sentence. I told Catherine that ‘she should be registering her own name for bedlam, not Georgiana’s’. That was when I demanded her to leave Pemberley immediately. Amid the chaos of kicking her out of our home, I did not check on Anne or Georgiana until later in the day. By then she was gone and none of the servants noticed. I was so furious with them, threatening to sack many of them. If not for Fitzwilliam calming me, Pemberley would be left without any servants. They were all loyal staff and none of them were at fault, except I.”
With this revelation, Elizabeth told them how she made friends with Georgiana and Mrs. Darcy. She did not reveal that Georgiana is able to speak and draw now. She thought it would be best to leave these for them to discover.
At the end, she said, “I must warn you that we must proceed with cautious as I have not told Mrs. Darcy about my plan to check on her son and try to reunion him with her. If she knows, sir, you are coming and does not understand that you are not on Lady Catherine’s side, she may flee with Georgiana again. But I feel she does not have a lot of money left. She has been doing embroidery and giving them to Molly to sell. Perhaps she may not be able to run away so quickly this time.”
Elizabeth regretted informing the Darcys about the last piece of information. The grieved expression of the father and son made her heartache. She especially felt for Fitz. A simple misunderstanding reduced Mrs. Darcy to employment and robbed Fitz nearly a year of time with his mother.
She continued, “Perhaps I should bring Fitz, I meant young Mr. Darcy back to Hertfordshire first.” Her face turned pink as all three gentlemen looked at her with keen eyes.
In the end, it was agreed that Mr. Gardiner would accompany Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy to leave for the Pulvis Lodge’s cottage in a hire coach early the next morning. Mr. Darcy senior’s carriage would proceed with a slower pace in view of his illness.
An express has been sent to Longbourn to arrange for rooms for the visitors. Mr. Gardiner only said that he would be bringing two business associates who would be interested in leasing Netherfield. The Darcy’s name would be kept under wrap for the moment, in order not to alert Mrs. Darcy.
When the carriage stopped at the main road near the cottage, Elizabeth walked on ahead of the two gentlemen.
Mrs. Darcy answered to Elizabeth’s knock and opened the door. “Lizzy, you are back! You look well…hmm different. Georgiana will be ecstatic to hear that you are come. Come in and I shall make tea. Jane has taken her to…” Mrs. Darcy’s bubbly murmur stopped in mid sentence, as the shadow of a tall gentleman blocked the sun near the door.
“Fitzwilliam…” She gasped.
“Mother!” Darcy rushed to his mother’s side and embraced her tight. “I miss you, so very much.”
“How?” Mrs. Darcy murmured, her hands ruffled his hair and held onto his shoulders. “You are thinner. Have you not been eating?”
Elizabeth interrupted. “Should Uncle and I leave you two for a moment?”
“Lizzy, is it your doing?” Mrs. Darcy smiled. She squeezed Elizabeth hand. “Come in, and tell me how you manage to find my son. And your Uncle too, Mr...” She was two steps into the cottage and intending to invite the guests in and then stopped. “But your father, Fitzwilliam…He knows I am here? I must get Georgiana and Molly, now, this instant. I cannot let him…” Her words tumbled out and she was panting with fear.
“Mother,” Darcy wrapped his arm around his mother again and soothed her. “you have misunderstood father. He would never send Georgiana away. He does not agree with Lady Catherine.”
Mrs. Darcy’s strength seemed to have left her. She almost fainted. Fitzwilliam carried her to rest on a chair.
“George will not send Georgiana away?”
“Yes.” Darcy confirmed.
“But he has not come? He is angry with me, for running away?” Anne’s voice became shaky.
“Father has been ill, since you have disappeared. But he is coming. His coach just takes a bit longer time.”
“Ill? Oh, why did he come at all? I should go to him. He should not travel, if he is not feeling well.”
“The news of finding Georgiana and you is the medicine he needs. Yesterday, He was already better when we had dinner with Miss Bennet at the Gardiners.”
“Mr. Gardiner,” Mrs. Darcy exclaimed. “Where is my manner? Welcome. I should make you some tea.”
“Mrs. Darcy,” Mr. Gardiner said. “Do not worry. Lizzy and I can make some tea.” The two of them then left the Darcys to talk in the privacy of the small palour.
About an hour later, Mr. Gardiner went to the main road to greet the Darcy’s coach. Fitzwilliam wanted to go to greet his father, in case he was weakened by the journey but he could see that his mother was visibly trembling and worrying about the reunion with her husband. So he stayed with his mother. He was thankful that Elizabeth kept up the chatter about her visit to London, making the time flew by faster.
When the door of the cottage opened and Mr. Darcy senior entered the room, Mrs. Darcy gasped at the weakened state of her husband. “George, you look like hell!”
Mr. Darcy senior laughed out loud. “Anne, what a greeting!”
Mrs. Darcy blushed. Her husband walked with decisive strides to her side and took her hands. “Anne…” He did not speak and just stared at his wife, committing her feature to his memory again. His thumbs brushed her hands. Then he frowned, on noticing the roughness formed by hard work in the past months. “I am sorry, Anne, for not talking with you openly about Georgiana’s care.”
“You did not agree with Catherine?”
George Darcy shook his head vehemently. “My exact words were: what a wonderful plan and that Catherine must have wanted it done immediately, but she should be registering her own name for bedlam, not Georgiana’s.”
Mrs. Darcy breathed a sigh of relief and laid her head on her husband’s shoulders. “If I had stayed to hear the rest…”
“It is all my fault…” George Darcy said.
Mr. Gardiner, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam decided to leave the couple to their reunion. When they opened the door of the cottage to go to the garden, a whirlwind of shadow burst into the door.
“Mama, big carriage on the road!” Georgiana said at the top of her voice. On seeing the many people in the cottage, she stopped her flight so abruptly that she never stumbled over.
“You speak!” Fitzwilliam marveled.
Georgiana turned to the source of the voice. When she saw her brother, she dashed to his side and jumped up. Darcy picked her up readily.
“Fitz! I miss you, heaps.”
“Georgiana, I miss you too.”
“How?” Mr. Darcy senior said. He stepped a foot forward, wanting to touch his daughter and yet afraid that she would not welcome him.
“Lizzy teaches me,” Georgiana smiled at her father shyly. “Papa, you look awful.”
Everyone in the room laughed out loud. That was when Jane and Molly walked into the cottage.
Elizabeth darted a glance at Fitzwilliam. She was happy that he was not spellbound by her prettier sister. In fact, the young Mr. Darcy continued to sit next to Elizabeth and pay much attention to her, so much so that her heart drummed loudly.
By the time the visitors should be leaving, George Darcy had decided to stay in the cottage with his daughter and wife. Fitzwilliam volunteered to sleep on the floor much to the horror of his mother. But the Darcy men were determined. They did not want to be separated from their family.
Elizabeth felt disappointed that Fitzwilliam would not be staying at Longbourn but also relieved. She would not have to bear the embarrassment in case Mrs. Bennet decided to push the rich gentleman to Jane.
Before she left, Darcy whispered something to his mother and then followed the Longbourn bound party out.
“Mr. Gardiner, can you thank Mrs. Bennet for the effort in preparing the rooms for my father and myself? While we cannot take up her hospitality today, can my family call onto her tomorrow for tea? Also, I would like to ask permission from Mr. Bennet,” he then looked at Elizabeth with such an intensity that she felt her face would burst. “I would like to call on Miss Elizabeth, if she agrees to it.”
“Call on our Lizzy?” Mr. Gardiner smiled with a nod. “Are you a bit too fast, young man? I think my brother Bennet does not like impatient people…”
“Uncle, I am sure father will be happy to receive Fitz…” Elizabeth jumped in to contradict Mr. Gardiner. Then she stopped mid sentence on seeing Jane and Mr. Gardiner’s smiling expression.
“What a couple!” Gardiner laughed. “Both Mr. Darcy and you are so impatient for each other. You have known each other but two days.”
Elizabeth stomped her feet and then ran off to the direction of the carriage.
“Miss Elizabeth,” Darcy called out, already feeling the loss of her presence. “I shall come to call on you, tomorrow.”
“If you can bear my father and uncle’s teasing,” she replied. Her face was bright red and her eyes shone like sunshine.
“For you, Miss Elizabeth, it is worth it.”
The Darcys leased Netherfield for a year in order to allow Georgiana to continue her studies with Elizabeth, as the young girl opened up to Elizabeth most.
Fitzwilliam’s courtship with Elizabeth did not go as smoothly as he would have liked. Firstly he had to journey to Pemberley and London to take care of business while his father recovered his health with his wife by his side in Hertfordshire. Secondly, Mr. Bennet did not take to departing from his favourite daughter lightly. He insisted that the young couple did not marry until Elizabeth turned one and twenty, despite Mrs. Bennet’s regular protest. Mrs. Bennet was afraid that Elizabeth wild and impertinent manner would scare Darcy away, if the courtship dragged on.
Luckily Fitzwilliam’s friends from London and the North brought along many eligible young men to the neighbourhood. Elizabeth did like young Darcy’s best friend Mr. Bingley. He was aimable and in love with Jane, much to Mrs. Bennet’s delight.
Georgiana had full mastry of speech when she turned ten. She was never a talkative person but her paintings were so precise and marvelous that she excelled in recording the animals and plants in England and later in the Continent.
Fitzwilliam helped her published her works for the benefits of scientists and general public. Not only did Georgiana not become an embarrassement to the Darcy name, she became the world famous naturalist, working later with Charles Darwin in several projects. She married to a wealthy gentleman whose estate neighbour Rosings, much to the great lady’s consternation.
The ‘disease’ which Lady Catherine predicted could past down from generations did not occur among the Darcy line, but happened to Lady Catherine’s grandson. Luckily, the Darcys assisted the former Anne de Bourgh in teaching her son to conquer the mastry of speech and the prejudice from Lady Catherine.
Mr. and Mrs. George Darcy lived happily till their old age, having another daughter later on. They retired in their sixties and allowed Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy full rein of Pemberley.
Throughout Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam’s courtship and marriage, a certain red hair wig, still in possession by Elizabeth, provided the couple a lot of laughter and passionate episodes. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s dismal impersonation of Bingley marked the day the couple fell in love with each other and the beginning of their beautiful life together.
As parents, they had their share of tears and heartache but they were never as tested as Mrs. Anne Darcy, who did not hesitate to leave her wealth and position, for the love of her daughter.