by Alexa Adams
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Once all the guests had arrived, Mr. Darcy retreated to his study for a respite. Pemberley had never looked so well, even better than he ever remembered it appearing in his childhood, when his parents had entertained on a similar scale. He used to watch the magnificently attired guests arrive, in all the splendor the last century afforded, from behind the banister on the landing of the third floor, his eyes bedazzled by brocades, jewels, and towering wigs. If Elizabeth could read his thoughts, she would surely comment on felicity of being able to accommodate at least ten more couples on the floor, ladies’ dresses taking up far less space these days. He smiled at her imagined jest and began to relax. The profusion of compliments supplied by the ball attendees had entirely overwhelmed him, causing him to seek this asylum. He felt their approbation to be highly misguided and heartily wished they would direct it to the proper quarter, leaving him to smile in agreement rather than having to thank them for their erroneous approval. It was not he who was responsible for the magnificent spectacle of candles and flowers (the quantity of which had nearly decimated his hothouse), nor he who should be congratulated on the acquisition of such a magnificent wife. All was Elizabeth’s doing. Had she not broken through his reserve, he would be neither married nor hosting this extravagant occasion. She was the one deserving of praise. He had done nothing but be sensible of her greatness.
His reverie was disrupted by the door opening and the sound of ruffling silks swooshing into his sanctuary. “Darcy!” demanded his imperious aunt. “What do you think you are doing, abandoning Elizabeth in such a fashion! The musicians cannot be kept in check much longer, and we cannot begin the dancing without you!”
“Yes, Aunt Catherine. I will come at once. I am afraid I was somewhat overcome by the sheer numbers of guests - you know how I detest a crowd, especially when I am its focus - and needed a moment to collect myself before braving more scrutiny.”
“Well, you have had more than a moment to indulge such foolishness, and now it is time for you to make your reappearance. Besides, do not be so ridiculous as to suppose it is you who are the center of attention. Elizabeth is a triumph, no little thanks to my direction, and you are yesterday’s news.”
He smiled at his aunt, again sharing a private laugh at what Elizabeth would say in response to such a declaration. Certainly, Lady Catherine’s advice had been profuse, and the new Mrs. Darcy had accepted it with all the appearance of graciousness, but he knew she needed no such assistance. She had the planning of the ball in hand from the moment she suggested it, having already thoroughly interrogated Mrs. Reynolds on what such an event would entail. When Lady Catherine stepped forward as advisor, Darcy had been amazed at his wife’s skill in allowing her to feel she was completely in charge of the affair, all while secretly managing the arrangements herself. Every day in her company reinforced the fact that Darcy had married an incomparable woman.
He offered Lady Catherine his arm, and the two swept gracefully into the ball room. There he immediately spotted Elizabeth, surrounded by a medley of admirers, laughing comfortably at what were surely outlandish compliments. For a fleeting moment, a rush of jealousy compelled him to step forward and intervene, but then he caught her eye, containing the twinkle he knew existed only for him, and he held himself at bay.
Georgiana, the picture of youth in her snowy white muslin, stepped up to her brother and aunt, the rush of excitement clearly visible in her glowing countenance. Kitty was close behind her, equally blooming in her new blue gown, a color Mr. Darcy had once complimented her on and a perpetual favorite ever since. “Well sisters,” he greeted them warmly, “how is that I find two such visions of loveliness unaccompanied by a crowd of smitten young gentlemen?”
Kitty blushed, but Georgiana reprimanded him with a tap of her fan upon his arm, “Because Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Bennet have been sure to inform every man in attendance, be he age twenty or eighty, that we are to dance with none but members of the family. They make quite the formidable team, I assure you, the Colonel all intimidation in his uniform, and Mr. Bennet’s eyes glaring with the zeal of an avenging father. If one did not know him, you would be sure to think he spent his days with a his gun across his lap, rather than a favorite book.”
“Very good. I am glad to know that both men perform their duties so convincingly.”
“It will provide Lydia some comfort, I think,” offered Kitty, “to know she has not missed a dance with anyone other than our relations. She was so determined to turn the heads of all the young men!”
Darcy adopted a stern expression, “Which is precisely why, my dear Kitty, your sister in not in attendance.”
Georgiana giggled, “I do not think she will find it much comfort at all. Her anger upon being told by Elizabeth that she must remain in her quarters was quite fearsome.”
“Elizabeth was quite right to do so. The girl is incorrigible. Never have I seen such forward manners in so young a lady. You may be sure I told her so, and that she dared not put on one of her displays of temper for my sake, of that you may be certain.”
“I am sure she found it perfectly quelling, Aunt Catherine,“said Georgiana, giggling behind her fan at the memory of Lydia shock at being reprimanded so severely. Lady Catherine raised her haughty chin in gratification, convinced she had taught the young lady a lesson in comportment she would not soon forget.
It was at this juncture that Mrs. Bennet bustled forward, practically bursting with her own excitement, as blatantly apparent as the young ladies’. “Oh, Mr. Darcy! Is it not spectacular! Never have I seen such a grand event!”
“Indeed, madam,” he replied. “Your daughter has outdone herself. This evening will be the talk of Derbyshire for years to come.”
“I am sure it must be! And is my Lizzy not a vision? Those diamonds must have cost you a small fortune, Mr. Darcy!”
“Not at all. They have been in the family for generations.”
“Of course they have! But that gown she wears! Who would have thought that my Lizzy would turn so elegant?”
Seeing her nephew begin to quaver under such scrutiny from his mother-in-law, and just when she had taken pains to make him comfortable, Lady Catherine intervened. “Mrs. Bennet,” she said in a voice of perfect condescension, well-known to quail the worst tendencies of the exuberant lady before her, “have you met my dear friend, Lady Ashington? I think you will find you have much in common. Miss Bennet, I will present you as well. Come along! Darcy, it is time you sought Elizabeth’s hand.” With that she swept his entourage away, a parting roll of the eyes from Georgiana expressing exactly what she thought of Lady Ashington, whom she had known all her life to be a small minded woman of infinite gossip. Darcy had to admire his aunt’s perspicacity. His neighbor and mother-in-law were sure to become lifelong friends.
“Excuse me, sir, but have you a partner for the first dance?”
Darcy turned around to behold the beauty before him, indescribably radient in a green silk gown and a multitude of diamonds. “Is it not customary for the gentleman to seek the lady’s hand, my good woman?
“You must think me shockingly forward, kind sir, but I am afraid there in not another man in the room to tempt me. In such a predicament, can you blame me for seeking to secure my fate?”
“No blame ever attends you, Elizabeth. Your every action is perfection.”
“Such flattery! I have had my fair share of it already this evening, husband. From you, let me have truth, not gallantry.”
“But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence, madame. You shall hear nothing but facts from me.”
“Then I fear you must be blind to reality, for in no way do I merit perfection.”
“Shall you list your supposed faults in turn, so that I may dispute their existence?”
“Oh no! I am not so foolish as to subject myself to such treatment! With perfection I will just have to contend.”
While engaged in their familiar banter, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy had taken their places at the front of the set, the former completely oblivious to the eyes of his guests, as Elizabeth’s attention left him with no room for outside considerations. It was with an air of relaxed confidence that her took his wife’s hand and signalled the musicians to commence, unconsciously displaying to the residents of Derbyshire a side of himself none had ever before believed to exist. Gone was the hauteur that had so long marked his every gesture. Happiness now dominated his aspect, and the assembled guests smiled to each other in approval. Such contentment in the master of Pemberley would ensure the prosperity of the entire county.
Darcy post created for Pemberley Ball by Alexa Adams
© 2010. All rights reserved.
by Alexa Adams
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by Alexa Adams
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