English Literature

Old Friends and New Fancies: an imaginary sequel to the novels of Jane Austen by Sybil G. Brinton

Chapter I
There is one characteristic which may be safely said to belong to nearly all happily-married couples—that of desiring to see equally happy marriages among their young friends; and in some cases, where their wishes are strong and circumstances seem favourable to the exertion of their own efforts, they may even embark upon the perilous but delightful course of helping those persons whose minds are as yet not made up, to form a decision respecting this important crisis in life, and this done, to assist in clearing the way in order that this decision may forthwith be acted upon.
Some good intentions of this kind, arising out of a very sincere affection for both the persons concerned, and a real anxiety about the future of the younger and dearer of the two, had actuated Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in promoting an engagement between Georgiana Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Georgiana was then twenty, and had lived entirely with her brother during the three and a half years of his married life. Reserved, shy, without self-reliance, and slow to form new attachments, she had been accustomed to look upon the Colonel as, after her brother, her eldest and best friend, a feeling which the disparity of their ages served to strengthen. She had therefore accepted the fact of their new relations with a kind of timid pleasure, only imploring Elizabeth that nothing need be said about marriage for some time to come.
“Elizabeth, when I am married, shall I have to go and stay at Rosings without you?” she had asked; and on being assured that such might be the terrible consequences of matrimony, she had manifested a strong inclination not to look beyond the present, but to enjoy for some time longer the love and protection she had always met with as an inmate of her brother’s house.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh had thought it necessary to go through the form of expressing displeasure at the whole proceeding, in consequence of Darcy’s omission to ask her advice in the disposal of his sister’s hand, but in reality she so thoroughly approved of the match between her nephew and niece that she forgot her chagrin, and talked everywhere of her satisfaction in at last seeing a prospect of a member of the Darcy family being united to one who was in every respect worthy of the position.
Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were seated in the library at Pemberley one April morning when the engagement was about six months old. Their two children, a handsome boy of two, and a baby girl of a few months, had just been taken upstairs after the merry games with their parents to which this hour was usually devoted, and Elizabeth was arranging with her husband the plans for the day.
“What has become of Georgiana and Fitzwilliam?” inquired Darcy. “I understand they were going to ride together; but they both said they would prefer to put it off till twelve o’clock, when I could go with them.”
“They have been walking on the terrace, but Georgiana has gone in now,” replied Elizabeth, glancing out of the window. She returned to her husband’s side, and, sitting down, began to speak with great earnestness. “Do you think that they are really happy in their engagement? I have been watching them closely for some days, and I am convinced that Georgiana, at all events, is not.”
Mr. Darcy’s manner expressed surprise and incredulity. “What fancy is this you have taken into your head, Elizabeth? No, certainly no such idea had ever crossed my own mind. You must be mistaken.”
“I do not think so,” said Elizabeth. “Their relation to one another has not, since he has been staying here this time, its former ease and naturalness, and I have noticed other indications as well, which make me think that freedom would bring them mutual relief.” “I am sorry for what you say, Elizabeth,” said Darcy gravely; “but it is possible you lay too much stress on what may be merely a passing mood. When we first consented to the engagement …



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