The inquiring reader must, I fear, be informed that this humble offering cannot be understood without some knowledge of Miss Jane Austen's classic novel, Pride & Prejudice.
If you have not read that novel, why are you wasting time with my work? Pride & Prejudice is not just a romance; it is the romance in the English language. On the Literotica five star scale, it scores two hundred ... at least. Go read it forthwith! It's available online, if you so desire.
If reading gently paced early 19th century prose, even of the very highest quality, is not an attractive prospect to you, you may wish to watch the magnificent film adaptation starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. The Bollywood adaptation of the classic, Bride & Prejudice, is great fun too, with dancing that Miss Austen herself, who delighted in the pastime, would doubtless enjoy. The Keira Knightley version is Jane Austen lite. Another, rather different film, loosely based on an episode in Jane Austen's life, that you may enjoy is Becoming Jane Austen.
If you find anything witty or well written in this tale, it is probably stolen from Miss Austen. The story will also be gently paced. To quote Jane Austen herself from the preface to an unpublished and, for that matter, undiscovered novel, though there is some sex here, "this is not a stroke story."
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single young woman in possession of a good offer of marriage must be in want of instruction. It was the universal opinion of the four and twenty families of the neighbourhood who visited at Longbourn, that the two eldest Bennet daughters had received very good offers of marriage indeed. It was whispered in every corner of every ball, assembly or dinner, without fear of contradiction, that these offers were beyond any reasonable expectations for the sisters, who could anticipate, at most, a hundred a year from their father upon his death, as a consequence of the inconvenient fact that their father's estate was entailed upon a distant cousin, Mr. Collins, presently Rector of Rosings, in Kent.
If this were true for Miss Jane Bennet, first alike in seniority and in beauty, now the betrothed of Mr, Bingley, with five thousand a year, how much more was it true for Elizabeth, the second daughter of the family. She had been so fortunate as win the affection of Mr. Darcy, he of the reputation for pride and disagreeableness of disposition, but also, it was well known, the command of an income of ten thousand a year. The last characteristic, thought Elizabeth, outworked the former two in procuring approval of her match, even before the neighbours came to know the true sweetness and generosity of character of Mr. Darcy.
For a second daughter of a gentleman of middling fortune to become mistress of so notable and extensive an estate as Mr. Darcy's house and park at Pemberley, was a marvel to be canvassed in amazement by the gentlemen of the neighbourhood and with envy by the mothers of young women of marriageable age, or even those who might be counted as that age in their maternal imaginations. Still, both the elder Miss Bennets, were held in such esteem, Jane for her sweetness and good nature, Elizabeth for her charm and lively wit, that the envy was but little voiced and the instruction flowed with goodwill from every lady of a certain age among their acquaintance.
So it was that their Aunt Phillips directed her nieces in the correct management of parlour maids and the proper method of dismissal of the same, should they prove dilatory in their duties. Mrs. Goulding of Haye Park offered advice on a French manner of serving any delicate white fish in a sauce certain to make guests suppose they were dining upon lobster. Elizabeth was of the opinion that to discipline parlour maids in her future life would be to trespass upon the responsibilities of the housekeeper of Pemberley, of whose abilities Mr. Darcy spoke so highly. She was also quite sure that, as the wife of Mr. Darcy, surely the wealthiest private gentleman in Derbyshire, she need not present imitation lobster at her table but could afford the delicacies themselves, always supposing that they were in season.
While these offerings were received with courtesy by the sisters, they were more deeply touched by the gifts of the poor of Longbourn. Old Mrs. Brockthwaite, widow of the baker of the village, presented each of the sisters with a crockery pot of preserve of quince, together with a receipt of instruction in how to prepare that delicacy. So excellent was the preserve that Elizabeth thought it might be proper to pass on the receipt even to so august a person as the housekeeper of Pemberley.
The sisters had visited the widow regularly in the last winter season, supplying her with little delicacies from the table at Longbourn to ease her sufferings from rheumatism. Elizabeth was humbled by the remembrance that she had visited so frequently largely out of duty and a desire to keep company with her sister, whose care for the poor sprang from more admirable qualities.
She considered what power for good would lie within her situation as Mistress of Pemberley and resolved that a disinterested and active care for the poor would stand among her duties behind only her responsibility to Mr. Darcy and the care of any children with whom they might be blessed.
So the season of engagement passed on for Elizabeth with general satisfaction. She strove always, and with tolerable success, to keep Mr. Darcy to herself or to her more presentable connections. She was pleased that her father was coming gradually to know and value Mr. Darcy as he ought and that her mother was so awed by his wealth and his height that she was at least quiet, if never sensible, in his presence.
Elizabeth acknowledged to herself, if to no one else, however, that she was indeed wanting further information and instruction in areas which none of the ladies of the surrounding country seemed able or willing to discuss. In the first place, she was anxious to know more of the person and history of the man she was about to marry. One could be engaged, she came to realize with surprise, knowing very little of the gentleman with whom one would share a future, not to mention the matrimonial bed.
It occurred to her, to consider but one small example of this lack, that she had become engaged without even knowing the full Christian names of her betrothed. She knew she must call him by those names in that place where N takes M for better or for worse, but she did not know what she would say. Elizabeth feared that this was but one area of ignorance in which she required enlightenment.
As it happened, the matter was resolved with extraordinarily little trouble on her part. One day as she and Mr. Darcy were walking towards Oakmount, he himself raised the matter.
"My dearest Elizabeth, I have noted that though I address you by your Christian name, you still call me Mr. Darcy. From long use, it has not so very formal an air, but it would please me if you could do otherwise in our private moments."
"Shall I call you 'Mr. D.' in imitation of the elegant terseness of the Rector's wife at Hartfield, where dwells my cousin Emma?" teased Elizabeth.
"Pray do not!" exclaimed Mr. Darcy in amused astonishment.
With a more serious air Elizabeth continued, "Your kind letter of explanation that you wrote me at Rosings..."
"Oh, do not mention it, I pray you. I am convinced that it was written in dreadful bitterness of spirit and, as I have told you, I recall it only with abhorrence."
"It is precious to me as a token of your generosity of spirit to a foolish and prejudiced girl. But it was signed, as I remember, 'Fitzwilliam Darcy.' If I were to address you as 'Fitzwilliam, ' I should think I was speaking to your cousin, 'the dear Colonel, ' as your aunt calls him."
"That is indeed a problem. Fitzwilliam is the name my mother used, as a constant reminder of her noble connections, but my full name is Thomas Henry Fitzwilliam Darcy. My excellent father, when alone with me, would call me Tom. It has a very loving ring in my ears from those memories. Can you not use that name in private moments?"
Mr. Darcy's eyes darkened with some strong emotion, even as he spoke, and he seized her hand. Elizabeth thought he was about to embrace her and perhaps even to salute her with his lips, when a ploughman driving his brace of oxen came in sight. Mr. Darcy stepped away from her and the pair continued on their walk.
Elizabeth wondered whether it would have been required of her, as a young woman of character, to repel her beloved's advances, had he pressed them, or whether such tokens of love were permitted between those shortly to be wed. When she examined her feelings, Elizabeth, asked herself if she would have wished to repel them or even if she would have been able to do so, whatever the proprieties might be.
In any case, deeply touched by these signs of the depth of his affection, she promised to think on these things. As they continued with their walk, she found herself experiencing those pleasant yet disturbing sensations of moisture between her legs which had been occurring with such marked frequency since her engagement to Mr. Darcy. She had noticed that these feelings seemed connected to any particular manifestation of Mr. Darcy's care for her and she supposed that they had something to do with anticipation of full marital closeness.
The thought of full marital closeness raised the other matter of concern for Elizabeth. Of those intimate duties which pertain to the matrimonial bed Elizabeth knew very little and longed to know more. She knew not where to turn for that instruction, however.
.... There is more of this story ...