company. Although he had inherited his father’s shy, reserved disposition and dislike of the social round in town, in many other respects his cousin strongly resembled his mother, having a strong sense of his social position and being jealous of his ancestry and the possession of his great estate.

“Perhaps it would have been as useful if Sir Lewis could have bequeathed Anne better health rather than so large a fortune, for she was a sickly child from the beginning,” said Fitzwilliam. “But you must excuse me, for I must make preparations for when we leave tomorrow.”

* * *

Darcy returned to sit at the table where he had been writing a letter to Georgiana.

His sister, more than ten years his junior, had been left on their father’s death five years earlier to the guardianship of himself and his cousin Fitzwilliam. Although she was happiest when in Derbyshire, since their bereavement Georgiana had lived mainly in London, so that she might have access to the best of tutors, and be instructed in music and dancing prior to her being presented at court.

She was now some fifteen years of age, and had lately left school. Darcy had recently employed a Mrs. Younge as his sister’s companion, who had been recommended by an acquaintance of his uncle, the Earl ___, for whom she had occupied a similar post. At the suggestion of Mrs. Younge, who knew the place well, she and Georgiana were shortly to travel from Darcy’s house in London to Ramsgate, to take the sea air for a few weeks.

They were to break their journey at Rosings, the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, who was several years’ younger than Darcy. He himself had recently spent a few days with Fitzwilliam there on his annual visit, but with little enjoyment from the company of his aunt and cousin.

On Lady Catherine’s insistence, Georgiana and Mrs. Younge were to be accompanied on their journey through Kent by a pair of manservants, in addition to the coachman and his assistant, as outriders alongside the chaise.

He took up the letter that he had most recently received from his sister.

I know, my dear brother, that you wish us to visit my aunt on our journey. I confess that lately I find her manner rather severe for my taste, and her strictures on my accomplishments compared to those of Anne rather dispiriting.

Here he paused.

His recollection was that, despite the little time she spent in society, their cousin’s health had not enabled her to acquire many accomplishments, save a very proper disdain for inferior companions and a rather constant concern for her own indispositions.

Certainly, any talents Anne might possess were far inferior to those of his sister, although Georgiana was several years younger. However, he was aware that his aunt considered those accomplishments that her daughter lacked would be well within her abilities, should her health ever permit her to acquire them.

“Mrs. Younge tells me that there will be company enough for me in Ramsgate—someone whom we know well from Derbyshire. 

I will write to you in London once we have arrived.

Your loving sister,


Darcy wondered who the someone from Derbyshire could be, as he was not aware of any friend who might be in Kent at present. For a moment, he thought to add to his reply, to mention that he might have time from his business in town to join them for a few days.

However, that was not certain, so he left his letter as it was.

* * *

The family at Pemberley was well respected in the neighbourhood and, although properly conscious of his position as one of the wealthiest men in the country, the late Mr. George Darcy had been a conscientious employer and benevolent to the poor. Fitzwilliam Darcy had continued his father’s habit of giving charity to the deserving without seeking to have it known, as well as Mr. George Darcy’s interest in the fine library at Pemberley.

It was during one of his rare visits to London to consult his attorney that George Darcy had met his wife, Lady Anne, daughter of the late Earl ___, in her first season. Her family had considered a marriage to the owner of one of the richest estates in the country eminently suitable for their younger daughter.

George and Lady Anne Darcy had had little in common with their sister in Kent, save considerable wealth and position. However, they were both aware of their family responsibilities. Although Mr. George Darcy had rarely made the journey when he visited town, Lady Anne had been to Rosings regularly.

Before his mother’s premature demise, when his sister Georgiana was but a small child, Darcy had gone with them both to stay with Lady Catherine several times a year. Lady Anne’s death had been a severe blow to him, leaving him with no close confidant but his cousin Fitzwilliam. Since that unhappy event, Darcy had reduced his attendance on his aunt to one annual visit, and usually went to stay in Kent in the Spring, a few weeks after Easter.

When the weather was inclement, there was little entertainment at Rosings, and Lady Catherine could be a demanding companion. For that reason, Darcy often asked Fitzwilliam to go with him, to provide some relief to his aunt’s strictures, and offer more congenial company.

Lady Catherine’s opportunities to travel to Pemberley were restricted by her daughter Anne’s ill-health and the distance to Derbyshire from Kent. She did, however, make regular visits to the spa at Bath in the hope of improving her daughter’s condition, staying with an elderly relative who had a spacious house just off Laura Place.

Wherever she was, she took it upon herself to supervise her nephew and niece from a distance, by writing regularly to advise them on their conduct, their choice of companions, and the limited number of families with whom it was proper for them to associate.

From her most recent communications, Darcy understood that Lady Catherine considered the time was approaching when he should consider marriage. She had hinted strongly that she had one particular lady in mind, that she and her sister had agreed many years ago that this marriage should be made within the family, and to her daughter Anne.

To this idea he was indifferent. At six years and twenty, Darcy was in no hurry to marry.

On leaving the university, Darcy had very soon discovered that young ladies of consequence and of marriageable age were more than happy to be in his company, and that their mothers did their best to entice him to accept social invitations and to put their daughters in his way.

He, however, disliked the season and as far as he could avoided attendance at the social functions in London. He was equally disinclined to attend formal balls and dances at home in Derbyshire, or elsewhere in the country where his friends resided. In any case, he had yet to meet any young woman who took his interest.

He doubted that he would be as fortunate as his father, in finding in his marriage both a person of equal social position (a paramount consideration), and whom he could also regard with the affection that had so manifestly subsisted between his parents. That combination was, as Darcy had noted too often, unlikely to be attained by most people of his own status and fortune.

However, he did agree with his aunt, Lady Catherine, that his future wife must above all be from a family of background and repute equal to his own, as one of the richest men of consequence in the country.


After luncheon, the two young men walked through the house. The sight of a miniature on the wall prompted Fitzwilliam to ask Darcy a question.

“I am surprised that you keep an image of that gentleman. I thought that your fears about his disposition had proved to be justified?”

“Yes,” replied Darcy, “but this room has been left as it was when my father died, in respect for his memory.

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