A Lie Universally Hidden(116)

By: Anngela Schroeder

Mrs. Bennet, in all her joy of her daughter’s fortunate alliances, was ill-prepared when her most unappealing daughter, Mary, caught the eye of the future earl of Bristlewhite at Georgiana’s coming-out ball the following season. Apparently, the plain young man had a propensity for the church but was doomed to the earldom as the firstborn son. Mrs. Bennet collapsed from a case of nerves and never awoke, forcing Mary to wait three months for her own wedding.

Mary and her earl shunned London society, and six months into their marriage he renounced his succession to his younger brother, and Mary and her husband lived out their days in a parsonage in Hunsford, where he was the rector for one Anne Fitzwilliam of Rosings.

Mr. Bennet grieved the loss of his wife for several months before marrying a woman fifteen years his junior, who immediately produced a son, thus breaking the entail to Mr. Collins.

Mr. Collins, who the reader has still never met, became so distraught over the loss of Lady Catherine’s patronage at Rosings and his future stewardship over Longbourn from the birth of the Bennet heir, boarded a ship for the New World, hoping to bring salvation to people seeking his wisdom and guidance. After a year, Charlotte returned alone, Mr. Collins having suffered the fate of attempting to convince a tribe of Iroquois that he was the mouthpiece of God. All that remained was a locket with his hair and a rosy-cheek child, who grew in friendship with young Christopher Bennet.

Kitty and Georgiana had a joint “coming-out” ball; both later made excellent matches, Georgiana to the nephew of the future Duke of Wellington, and Kitty to a humbled, young man who had a small estate named Ashby Park. Yes, that Ashby Park!

Lydia grew in wisdom, learning much from her father and new mother. She never married, choosing instead to help raise her brother, the words of Wickham having seared deeply into her soul.

What about our villains? Lady Catherine was sentenced to the dowager house upon her daughter’s return from her wedding tour. Although Anne had extended an olive branch by naming her daughter Moira Catherine, Lady Catherine’s pursuit to legally remove her granddaughter’s first name was the final stroke which severed their relationship.

Wickham’s life ended in debtor’s prison, as the father of a girl he ruined purchased most of his debts from London proprietors, both reputable and not. Wickham was buried at Potter’s Field outside of London.

Miss Bingley had little choice in her future after her counsel from Lady Matlock to take an extended holiday. Further, her public flirtation toward Bertram Knight the evening of Darcy and Anne’s ball sealed her fate. Bertram was more than happy to inherit a fiery woman whom he kept at his parent’s Irish estate, as he sold the property closest to Pemberley to raise funds to cover his father’s mismanagement. Once Caroline was removed from the pandering of the ton, she began to enjoy the life of a woman both challenged and adored by her husband. She produced eight children in nine years and lived a long and healthy life, only returning to London society twice in her lifetime for the weddings of her brother’s children.

And once again, one might wonder, would a courtship wrought with such consternation allow the Darcys of Pemberley to be truly happy? If anyone found it odd that the once fastidious master would choose a young woman with no dowry or connections who would rather wander the grounds of his ancestral estate than participate in a London season, it was never mentioned. Or maybe it was, yet the happy couple paid it no mind. They were much too busy enjoying the succession of snowstorms which afforded them the solitude they desired while ensconced in their hunting lodge each year upon the anniversary of their marriage, nibbling on lemon biscuits and devouring the words of Wordsworth. When the embers in the hearth had died, and no wood was to be had, they created a warmth of their own to rival a Guy Fawkes celebration. There was no longer a need for guarded feelings or unspoken avowals; their marriage was one founded on love, whose story and example would endure for generations to come.

And what, might you ask, became of the two objects which caused our dear couple such consternation in their lifetime? Both the watch and the letter from Darcy’s mother were framed and displayed on the mantle. He had a new watch now to keep the time—an etching of Pemberley on the front and an amended inscription inside:

To my beloved, William, on our wedding. I am forever yours, Elizabeth