Christmas at Pemberley
I thought I'd use my blog today to post a Christmas extract from Mr Darcy's Diary.
One of the things I liked most about writing Darcy's Diary was the opportunity it gave me to explore the life of Lizzy and Darcy beyond the confines of Pride and Prejudice. In the last chapter of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen hints at the Christmas house party that took place at Pemberley following the marriage, and I decided to write my version of events. I loved imagining how all my favourite characters would interact.
Saturday 20th December
Elizabeth and I rode out with Jane and Bingley this morning to see a property some ten miles from Pemberley. It is a fine house, with good views. We looked around, and Jane and Bingley were much taken with it.
‘If we find nothing better, I think we will buy it,’ said Bingley.
‘I do believe you are learning caution,’ I said to Bingley. ‘A year ago you would have taken it straight away.’
‘Impossible for me to do so now,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘If I have learnt anything from you, Darcy, it is that I must not take a house without first enquiring about the chimneys!’
‘I reprimanded Bingley for not asking any sensible questions when he took Netherfield,’ I explained, when Elizabeth looked mystified.
‘It is a good thing he did not ask too much,’ said Elizabeth, ‘or else we might never have met.’
We rode back to the house, where we found Mrs Bennet deep in conversation with Mrs Reynolds, ascertaining how much the curtains had cost, and what were the exact dimensions of the ballroom.
Anne was in the drawing-room with Mrs Gardiner, and their laughter reached us as we entered the room. Anne is looking much better than formerly. There is an animation about her that was wholly missing when she was confined with Lady Catherine, and, I own, when she thought she would have to marry me.
‘Did you like the house?’ asked Mrs Gardiner.
‘Yes, very much,’ said Jane. ‘It is a little smaller than Netherfield, but it is still a good size house.’
‘Smaller than Netherfield?’ asked Mrs Bennet, coming into the room. ‘That will never do.’
‘But it is an easy distance from Pemberley,’ said Jane.
‘To be sure, that is in its favour. Then I might visit you both at once. I can stay with Lizzy first and then, dear Jane, I can stay with you. It is a long journey into Derbyshire to visit one daughter, but an easy distance to visit two. I dare say I shall be here all the time.’
‘I thought the park was rather small,’ said Bingley, with a glance at Jane.
‘And the attics were poor,’ she said.
‘Oh, if the attics are poor I should not contemplate it,’ said Mrs Bennet. ‘You had much better stay at Netherfield.’
Monday 22nd December
Possible spoilers - don't read on if you don't want to know what happens to Anne de Bourgh in Darcy's Diary
It was a wet day today. After dinner, Lady Catherine retired early. Kitty and Lydia were engaged in trimming bonnets, and Mrs Bennet was telling Kitty that when she was married she must make sure she had a house as fine as Pemberley. Mr Gardiner and Mr Bennet were playing chess, whilst Mrs Gardiner was looking through a book of engravings.
‘Would anyone care for a game of billiards?’ asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
‘Darcy and I will play with you,’ said Elizabeth. ‘Anne, will you join us?’
Anne agreed, and the four of us went to the billiard room. We had hardly entered it, however, when Elizabeth excused herself on account of a headache, and asked me to help her back to the drawing-room.
As the door of the billiard room closed behind us, her headache seemed to disappear.
‘I think Fitzwilliam and Anne will do better without us,’ she said.
I looked at her in surprise.
‘He needs only a little encouragement to realize that he is in love with her.’
‘Fitzwilliam and Anne?’
‘I think they would suit well. Her eyes follow him whenever he is in the room, and she can scarcely talk about another subject without somehow mentioning him. For his part, he has always been fond of her, and it would be a suitable match as well as a love match. He needs to marry an heiress, and Anne is to inherit Rosings and a considerable fortune besides.’
I was even more surprised.
‘How do you know he needs to marry an heiress?’
‘He told me so.’
‘When did he do that?’
‘At Rosings, when we were all there together last Easter. I suspect it was to put me on my guard, and warn me that I must not expect an offer from him.’
‘What arrogant men we are! Both of us thinking you wanted an offer from us!’
‘Perhaps I did want one from the Colonel,’ she teased me.
‘My love, I warn you that I am a jealous husband. I will ban my cousin from Pemberley unless you tell me this minute that you did not want an offer from him,’ I teased her back.
‘Very well, I did not. But Anne, I think, does.’
‘It might not be a bad thing,’ I said. ‘In fact, the more I think of it, the more I am pleased with it.’
‘Lady Catherine, too, will be pleased.’
‘So you are encouraging it to please Lady Catherine?’ I asked her innocently.
‘Mr Darcy, you are becoming as impertinent as your wife!’ she said.
‘But I am not so sure Lady Catherine will approve,’ I said thoughtfully.
‘She cannot complain about his birth.’
‘Perhaps not, but he is a younger son, and impoverished,’ I reminded her.
‘But Anne’s fortune is big enough for two.’
‘My cousin has no house.’
‘He will live at Rosings,’ she said.
‘Sending Lady Catherine to the dower house.’
‘Whereas, if you had married Anne, she would have been the mistress of Pemberley,
and Lady Catherine would have continued to be the mistress of Rosings.’
We both of us imagined how Lady Catherine would react when she learnt that she would have to move to the dower house.
‘Do you think Anne will find the courage to stand up to her mother?’ I asked.
‘It will be interesting to see,’ said Lizzy.
If you'd like to read more extracts from Darcy's Diary, you can find them on my website.
Or come back to the blog, as I'll be putting up another extract before Christmas.