Continuing Tales

Inevitable Change

A Pride & Prejudice Story
by acuppajava

Part 6 of 21

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Inevitable Change

The morning after the wedding, Georgiana Darcy sat at the massive oak dining table, still groggy from the night's revels, surrounded by a score of papers covered in names. Her eyes flitted from one list to another, and back to the first list again, sighing deeply. She breathed an audible sigh of relief when Miss Elizabeth appeared in the doorway, her hair curled in tight ringlets about her pretty face.

"Ah, Elizabeth," Georgiana exclaimed. "Thank goodness. What a bother this is! You must help me assemble the guest list for my birthday celebration." Georgiana's birthday was fast approaching, only a month away. Georgiana's birthday ball would mark the end of a successful season. Although she'd not yet received a marriage proposal, she had been received by the best of bachelors as a graceful, accomplished young lady – with a great fortune to match. It would not be long before one of her acquaintances would be included in the lady's regular calls. However, only Georgiana would decide – when she felt ready. At the moment, she was not confident of her ability to make any decision.

"See , Elizabeth – I am working off of the list from my brother's wedding. There are so many Darcys and Fitzwilliams and DeBourghs – they should all be included – I cannot cut any of them out."

"You are correct, Georgiana – you must lean toward family first – but I have a most pertinent question for you…" Elizabeth leaned forward, over Georgiana's shoulder. "Will there be a suitable number of men for the dancing?"

Georgiana laughed, but then became serious. "Elizabeth, I should like to speak to you about the matter of dancing. I would like to include a waltz in the sets. I know that it is sometimes considered improper…"

Elizabeth smiled. "Indecent, I think you mean…I have read in the Palladium the opinions of Lady Rocelle on the matter."

"Yes, but – Elizabeth, I have a confession. I have played some of the music on the pianoforte - it is so – sweeping! So…invigorating!"

Elizabeth went to the sideboard and filled her plate. "Georgiana, I do not find anything quite so enjoyable as a lively dance. But the concern here is the – physicality of the dance. Women would be required to be – handled – in certain ways."

A small frown crossed Georgiana's temple. "Elizabeth, I think you are mistaken. Not mistaken, but perhaps not experienced…oh, do let me show you!" At Elizabeth's slightly shocked expression, she shrugged and added, "I admit I asked my dance master to display some of the steps to me." Elizabeth rolled her eyes, then smiled.

Georgiana had proven to be a delightful companion to Elizabeth. She felt very close to her, as close as if she were her own little sister. Having grown up in a house filled with females, it was an easy chore to bond with the young lady; however, what Elizabeth did not foresee was how compatible they were. Georgiana had a lively, somewhat impetuous streak in her. Her dance master no doubt fell under Georgiana's spell – there was little anyone wouldn't do for her, considering her pleasant, upbeat nature.

"Come, we'll practice in the hall." She pulled Elizabeth with both hands away from the breakfast table, and into the entryway of the dining room. "The rhythm is rather like the waves at the ocean." Georgiana took Elizabeth's hand and tapped on her palm – 1,2,3,1,2,3 – while counting aloud.

"Miss Georgiana, you forget I have not been to the ocean since I was a girl – Georgiana, what are you doing?" Elizabeth giggled.

"Put your arm here, at my shoulder, and hold my other hand. I am going to place my hand at your waist, like so – and now we just move together – 1,2,3,1,2,3…"

"1,2,3,1,2,3…" Elizabeth murmured, but she had a hard time following the pattern of her feet with Georgiana's. "Oh, sorry – I've stepped on you!"

"It's all right – it just takes some getting used to. You almost have to dance on your tiptoes, it is such a quick step. And once you become more adept, you can learn to twirl and dip!"

Elizabeth burst into laughter. "Twirl and dip – are we creating a new hairstyle instead of executing a dance? Ooo- sorry, I've stepped on you again!" And the pair both began laughing uncontrollably.

Darcy had decided after a hot bath, a good breakfast and some physical activity would help settle his restlessness and clear his head after the wedding ball – he would go to the club and practice fencing – with Bingley, if he were up for it. He then remembered Bingley had taken his new bride to a country inn to celebrate their nuptials and "to initiate her to matrimonial intimacies" as Charles had put it. Darcy wondered how Charles and Jane had spent the evening. Surely the demure Jane Bennet would not have presented herself as enthusiastically as Caroline had come to him. Darcy wondered what sweet ecstasies Bingley discovered last night – hid away from the world with his one true love.

With thoughts of a most decidedly indelicate nature, Darcy just then turned the corner from the hall to enter the dining room, and stopped abruptly at the sight of Georgiana's and Elizabeth's mirth. Georgiana saw him and ran to him. "William, you are just the remedy we need – wait, why ever are you here? I thought you would be with Miss Bing- I mean, Mrs. Darcy."

Darcy's brow furrowed slightly, taken aback by his sister's reference to his new wife. "I've been informed she has left early for calls this morning – her sister, Mrs. Hurst, was looking forward to receiving her first call after…the ceremony." Darcy's eyes remained downcast during the exchange, but he chanced a look upon Elizabeth's blushing face, still colored with the excitement the girls had shared together.

"Brother, we are so glad you are here! Would you please come with us to the music room?" Startled, Elizabeth looked first to Georgiana then to Darcy.

"Oh, Georgiana, I am certain Mr. Darcy would much rather prefer eating his breakfast in peace," she quickly stated.

"I would really rather not, Georgiana…" Darcy simultaneously interjected. He was cursing himself for not sending for a tray to his room, and now he'd run into her, after all these months of carefully timing his comings and goings. To see her, today, just hours after his nuptials, after he and Caroline…his mouth went dry.

"Come now, both of you," and Georgiana took each by the hand, leading them across to the where her pianoforte stood. She skipped to the bench and opened the instrument. "William, you know the waltz, surely? Surely you've danced it in Vienna?"

Darcy looked from his sister to Miss Elizabeth, who was now standing before him, her head bent. "I - …" he swallowed, "I have had the opportunity."

"Then you must dance it with Elizabeth, so she can see how lovely it is!" Georgiana struck up a light air in the ¾ time of the waltz, and looked expectantly at the pair.

Elizabeth's feelings of shame and regret rose within her. "I don't think Mr. Darcy wishes to dance with me, Georgiana."

"Pff – he's your brother now, isn't he – it would be as if I were dancing with him! Go on, William – won't you take her hand?"

Darcy's quick mind had been dulled by the shock of being so close to Elizabeth, for the first time in months. He could catch the scent of lemon verbena on her hair, as she remained before him, not looking up. It was out of the question, to dance with her, especially the waltz, even with Georgiana's cajoling. He would not, he could not – he bowed, with the intention of leaving the room post-haste, but then hesitated. It was simply a dance, a dance between two friends, nearly a sister and brother – why not dance?

"Your hand, Miss Bennet, if I may?" He held his hand forward, and Elizabeth gazed at it in some wonderment. Even if it happened months ago, she still carried the guilt and confusion she felt about her irrational, passionate reaction to his kisses. She raised her eyes to him, fearing what she would read in his face. Would his gaze show that he saw a wanton woman in front of him – a woman of loose morals?

No, she saw no judgment in his eyes – only a softness, perhaps a sadness. Hypnotized by his deep gaze, she raised her arm and placed her small hand in his, and he murmured, "I shall place my hand upon your waist, now, Miss Bennet. I hope it is alright."

She swallowed and nodded, afraid to say anything. His fingers rested lightly upon her side below her corset, just barely pressing. "Now, you must put your other hand upon my shoulder – that's it." Darcy could feel her breathing lightly as he pulled her slightly closer. I should not have left her in that study, thought Darcy. I should've taken her then and there, and damned the consequences. I should have run away with her to Gretna Green or France or America or anywhere – just to be with her.

Georgiana segued into the tune, and Darcy led Elizabeth about the floor. Their movement gradually became more fluid as the dance went on, and Darcy swept Elizabeth around the edges of the parlor. Elizabeth found herself clinging to Darcy's strong shoulder, afraid she would be flung off in the twirling, twisting movement of the dance. The song concluded and the partners both had to stop to collect themselves before disengaging with a bow and curtsey. Panting slightly, Elizabeth said, "Thank you, Mr. Darcy. You are a fine teacher." She bestowed upon him a dazzling smile.

"Thank you , Miss Elizabeth. It was… a pleasure." Elizabeth looked up at him questioningly, not certain if she took his meaning plainly.

At that moment, a servant came to the door, bearing a posted letter on a silver tray. "Excuse me, sir – it's a letter for Miss Bennet."

"A letter for me? Why, surely my sister Jane would not have written so early on her honeymoon – look, it's postmarked from India! It was sent to Longbourn originally."

Georgiana rose from the pianoforte to get a closer look. "The Rev. Collins must've put the correct address – oh, dear – the seal has been opened!"

"Hmmm….Rev. Collins indeed," muttered Elizabeth. "Oh, but please excuse me, I should like very much to read it, from whoever it's from – from India! I can hardly imagine!" Sitting herself upon a chair, she removed the thick packet of papers from the envelope, and perused its contents. "Oh, there is a note attached from my friend – from Mrs. Collins. She is the one who redirected it properly; she says she is amazed by the contents and wishes my good fortune."

"Oh, but tell us who the real letter is from!" insisted Georgiana. Darcy gave his sister a warning look, as if to say, it is none of our business, but he himself could not avert his eyes.

"It is a letter from a sea captain – Captain Danbury." She read silently for an instance. "Oh my lord - Lydia!"

Inevitable Change

A Pride & Prejudice Story
by acuppajava

Part 6 of 21

<< Previous     Home     Next >>