(It Isn't Easy) Being Mrs Darcy
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
An excerpt from Lucy Marin's new novel:
It was done and, Elizabeth had been assured, done for the best. After at first arguing against it, she had accepted the inevitability, and now, as unfathomable as it was, she was Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy. Just that morning, she had married him.
Never again to call myself Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Never again to call Longbourn my home.
The first stage of the journey from Hertfordshire to London passed in awkward silence. Elizabeth attempted two or three times to start a conversation with her new sister, but Georgiana’s replies were perfunctory, and Elizabeth abandoned the task. Mr Darcy said nothing, but scowled each time she spoke, which contributed to her ill mood. His cousin, Viscount Bramwell—Sterling to his family—rode nearby. Elizabeth did not blame him for wishing to be away from them.
Elizabeth’s sense of dread grew with each successive mile they travelled, and increased tenfold when they entered Mayfair. It threatened to overcome her, but somehow she maintained her composure.
It will be well, Lizzy, it will be well. Remember what Aunt Gardiner wrote. He is a good man. I must find a way to believe that.
As uncomfortable, even distressing, as Longbourn had been these last weeks, it was familiar and there were people there she knew and understood and loved. Now she was entering the unknown, and by all indications it was an inhospitable one. Her heart raced each time it seemed they might stop. What would it be like to live among these people who did not care about her and could not exert themselves to even say a friendly word or two?
She vaguely remembered saying goodbye to the viscount, then, just a minute or two later, they reached Darcy House. Once Darcy was out of the carriage, he reached in and said his sister’s name. Georgiana exited and immediately entered the house.
It was her turn. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth placed her hand into her husband’s, stepped down, and entered her new home. She could not affect a joyous demeanour, so she strove to act as she perceived Darcy was—restrained yet dignified.
Only the housekeeper and butler greeted them, and Elizabeth tried not to feel the slight; the entire household should be there to meet their new mistress. Darcy asked about his sister, and Mrs Northmore announced she had gone to her rooms. Elizabeth was taken aback by this very marked piece of rudeness, which was worse than the absent servants.
She said, “I believe she found the journey quite fatiguing.”
“As did we all,” Darcy replied. “Come. I shall show you to your rooms.”
With a firm hand on her elbow, he led her upstairs and to a door. After a simple, “Mrs Darcy,” he left her alone.
Elizabeth and Darcy dined alone that evening. He said nothing for the better part of the meal, and she longed for solitude. There had been more than enough of today; tomorrow she would start on this new life into which she had been forced.
“How did you find your chambers?”
The sound of Darcy’s voice startled Elizabeth. “F-fine. T-thank you.”
“You will wish to make changes. Mrs Northmore can assist you. Your maid?”
“She seems very…fine.”
He gave a curt nod.
Cautiously, Elizabeth asked, “Perhaps you would be so good as to tell me what you expect of the next few weeks.”
“Only the Romsleys and Sterling are in town, fortunately. Lady Romsley will accompany you to some appropriate modistes and warehouses to see that you acquire the items you need. I assume you will wish to…accustom yourself to the house. We shall not be home to callers. As soon as possible, we go to Pemberley.”
After dinner, they spent a short time in a withdrawing room. With nothing to do and no conversation to be had, Elizabeth walked around, studying the features and furnishings. She ran her hand lightly across a mahogany table as her eyes wandered over the paintings that adorned the pea green walls. Her perusal was interrupted by Darcy who spoke in a clipped tone.
“It has been a long day. It is time to retire.”
He escorted her out of the room and to her bedchamber. At the door, he bowed over her hand, and left.
Her new maid, Miss Drewe had laid out a lovely silk gown for Elizabeth to wear and took pains to make her ready to receive her husband. The gown was white and one her mother had insisted on purchasing, despite the rather outrageous cost. As she looked at it, while Drewe undressed her, it morphed into the ugliest, almost terrifying, thing Elizabeth had ever seen. It was only with the greatest of effort that she stopped herself from snatching it up and tossing it into the fire.
But it was August, and too hot for a fire. It could not be destroyed, and this night, this new life as Mrs Darcy, could not be avoided.
Elizabeth did not know if Darcy intended to come to her. It was what was expected on a couple’s wedding night, and it was within his rights to demand she acquiesce. But would he? He was unhappy about the marriage and despised her, as he had shown repeatedly in the six weeks of their acquaintance, but she believed men had strong, natural urges. There was also the important matter of an heir.
She dismissed Drewe as soon as possible and paced, nursing her anxiety. Would he come? Would he not? If he came, how could she bear it? What would she say? What would he say? She stopped every now and then to listen, thinking she heard him approaching her door. Her heart would pound in her chest, deafening her, her breath caught in her throat. When there was no knock and the door remained closed, she would sigh in relief and resume her pacing.
At length, Elizabeth concluded she was safe for the night; she would be spared that particular duty, his disgust for her and their marriage carrying that advantage at least.
As her wedding day came to an end, the reality of it all came crashing down on her. Never
had she felt so alone, so friendless, and so hopeless. After uncounted hours, she collapsed on her bed—more luxurious than any she had ever known—and for the first time since rushing headlong to Georgiana Darcy’s aid in Ramsgate, wept.