Happy New Year!! I hope everyone’s holidays were blessed. I am pleased to say that I am looking forward to finishing Twelve Months of Darcy by the end of this month. Which means … You get another excerpt this month. I hope you enjoy it.
Elizabeth leapt to her feet when she heard the knocker and waited anxiously for Hill to appear at the door of the drawing room. A glance at the mantel clock confirmed it was past time for the post to be delivered. She longed to hear from her sister Jane who had accompanied their aunt and uncle back to London. If her prayers had been answered, Jane had been reunited with Mr. Bingley and might even now be engaged.
The door opened and the housekeeper entered with several letters in one hand and one in the other. With a shake of her head, she handed the single missive to Elizabeth before carrying the remainder to Mr. Bennet’s book room. After examining the direction, Elizabeth’s shoulders drooped. It was from Charlotte, not Jane.
Never one to cling to disappointment, Elizabeth settled back into her seat and broke the seal as she wondered what her friend might have to impart.
“I am certain Mama has already told you Mr. Collins and I arrived safely and are settling into married life together. We have established a routine which is welcomed by both of us. I find being mistress of my own home to be the greatest joy imaginable. Though our mothers have sometimes complained about having to keep household books, I must admit I enjoy it immensely. Having a managing hand in my own home may well be the most satisfaction I have yet experienced.
“But I digress. Knowing my mother will share most every word I write, I have not wished to bore you with a repeat of what you have already heard, but now I have news that relates directly to you and I could not wait to put pen to paper. While taking tea with Lady Catherine and her daughter – my husband and I are often asked to join them on occasions when they are without company – Mr. Collins mentioned that my family would be joining us at Easter time. Her Ladyship was pleased to hear this and mentioned her family would be travelling hither at that time also. She went on to explain that her nephews visit her every year at Easter.
“You realize of course what this means, dear Eliza. You and Mr. Darcy will once more be in company.”
Elizabeth lowered the paper and pinched the bridge of her nose. Since October, Charlotte had found great amusement in suggesting Mr. Darcy held certain interests in her. How could it be that she had gone her entire life without meeting the man and now she could not travel without being in company with him again.
“I know you are shaking your head and scolding me, but I am looking forward to watching the interactions between the two of you even if you are not. Allow me this bit of fun, I pray you, to live vicariously through my single friend.”
Shaking her head, Elizabeth giggled at Charlotte’s silliness. For her years and sombre outlook, she sometimes rivalled Kitty and Lydia in her random romanticism.
“Do not fear that you will be forced to see the gentleman frequently when in residence with us. It is my understanding he is to arrive the week of Easter and depart in a fortnight. You will have been in our county more than a fortnight prior and will remain after he is gone. I beg you not to allow this to change your plans as I miss you dearly and would be heartbroken if you refused to attend me. Pray, see the amusement as I have and say you will still join my family when they come to visit me.
“I look forward to your reassurances.
With a sigh, Elizabeth pushed out of her seat and made her way to the escritoire by the window. She took a moment to stare out the window at the dormant winter landscape before settling into the seat and drawing out a fresh sheet of paper. After mending a pen, she considered her words. Finally, she dipped the pen in the ink and began her reply.
“My Dear Charlotte,
“I find your amusement at my impending discomfort odd for a friend, but you have always been such. As you have pointed out, I will have prior and post claim to your company so I suppose I shall be forced to make do during the fortnight of Mr. Darcy’s presence. Your mother has mentioned that even in the bleak winter, you have spoken highly of the surrounding countryside and I hope to find a plethora of lanes, fields, and woods to fill even my need of nature. That is to say, I will not allow Mr. Darcy to rob me of time in your company. As you are well aware, my courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
Elizabeth sat back and read her response. Determining it was precisely what she wanted to say, she set the paper aside. She would finish later, providing bits of news that Lady Lucas might not think interesting to her eldest daughter. Instead, her gaze wandered once more to the scene outside her window as she considered Charlotte’s words. As always, thoughts of Mr. Darcy aggravated and confused her, so she quickly pushed them aside and returned to studying the landscape.
After the demands of December, it seemed as though the world had decided to sleep through January. Or perhaps that was only here in Hertfordshire. Surely Jane and the Gardiners remained active. Town held daily activities no matter the time of year.
Her mind once more on her sister, Elizabeth bit her lip and said a prayer that Jane would find her happiness in the coming year, and sooner rather than later.
As soon as I am certain of the release date, I will announce it. In the meanwhile,
May 2020 bring you blessings and adventures to suit your needs and desires.