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Miss Darcy's New


"Were you, my dearest, satisfied with Miss Wetherspoon?" Elizabeth Darcy asked her bridegroom as he came strolling into her study at Pemberley. He and the prospective companion for Miss Georgiana Darcy had been closeted in his library for almost an hour. This convinced Elizabeth that Miss Wetherspoon must be a most determined talker, for though the Darcys had been married but two days, Elizabeth perfectly understood her husband's deficit of language.

He came to stand beside the desk where his bride was penning a letter and brushed a kiss upon her cheek. Her pen stilled, her lashes lowered. All her coherent thoughts departed whenever her dear Darcy demonstrated his tender affections. She gloried in the knowledge that their love had transformed her formerly stiff Mr. Darcy.

"I took the liberty of engaging the lady for Georgiana's companion," said he.

Elizabeth whirled to face him. "I pray you did not make so hasty a decision just because we are scheduled to be in Dover by week's end. I am perfectly willing to put off our wedding trip until you are perfectly satisfied with a candidate to replace Mrs. Annesley. Italy will be there whenever it is convenient for us to see it." Elizabeth kept to herself her opinion that no one would be capable of filling the exceedingly competent Mrs. Annesley's shoes.

"I flatter myself that the young woman will do very well."

A slowly unfurling smile brightened Elizabeth's face. "How very agreeable! See, my darling, just yesterday you were sunk in despair because Mrs. Annesley must leave your service."

He grimaced. "Wretched timing, her sister dying and leaving all those motherless nieces and nephews to Mrs. Annesley's care."

"But all's well that ends well. Was Miss Wetherspoon as genteel as my Aunt Gardner recommends?"

He nodded. "Her manners could not be improved upon, and she appears to be possessed of uncommon understanding."

"Which, I will own, is a bit astonishing, given that her father is said to be a fool."

"Actually, Mr. Wetherspoon—who is sometimes most cruelly referred to as Mr. Wetherfool—was a noted scholar at Oxford. His misfortunes derive from his propensity to invest in unsound schemes which promise unreasonably large dividends."

Her Aunt Gardner had acquainted Elizabeth with the failure of Mr. Wetherspoon's sugar plantation which resulted in the loss of their home in Bloomsbury, a loss that left homeless his ten unmarried children of varying ages. Aunt Gardner had explained that as the second eldest of the children (though, at five and twenty, she was no longer a child), Miss Lucy Wetherspoon was accustomed to looking after the needs of her younger siblings, and she was in possession of more sense than her father.

It then occurred to Elizabeth to inquire upon the lady's appearance. "I suppose that since she is unwed at five and twenty, she must be exceedingly plain."

Dear Mr. Darcy hesitated a moment before answering. "I daresay my judgment is faulty, but I believe her to be tolerably good looking. In fact, I wondered what could account for her failure to attract a husband."

As critical as her husband was, Elizabeth determined that Miss Wetherspoon must be very handsome to produce such a description. "Do you know, I recall my aunt mentioning Miss Wetherspoon's misfortune in matrimony. She was jilted."

"Then perhaps she is not a competent judge of character."

Elizabeth thought of women like her dear friend Charlotte who had not the luxury of wedding where love blossomed but wedding where a lone proposal was extended. Many a woman viewed a loveless marriage as superior to the life of an old maid. How grateful she was that she'd had the courage to court spinsterhood rather than leap at her first proposal of marriage. "We need only hope she can protect dearest Georgiana from fortune hunters." She set down her pen. "Do you know, my dearest love, that since Charlotte has expressed an interest in seeing Pemberley, I believe I'll have her come for a brief stay whilst we are from England. I can persuade her that I need her assurances Miss Darcy is in good hands with Miss Wetherspoon, but in reality I shall spare you the necessity of playing host to Charlotte's odious husband."

Darcy regarded his wife with devilishly sparkling eyes. "How well my wife understands me. An excellent plan! I have also taken the liberty of requesting Lord Fane to look in upon Georgiana. Be assured I will not give Miss Wetherspoon sole responsibility over my sister while we are out of the country. Lord Fane said that upon his return from London next month, he will call on her nearly every day during our absence."

She eyed him from beneath lowered brows. "I declare, Mr. Darcy, you mean for Georgiana to capture his heart!"

"I have always thought they would suit well."

"Then he's younger than you?"

"No. He's four years older than I. He's two and thirty."

"You do not think she would prefer someone closer to her own age? Two and thirty is twice her age!"

"It's good for the wife to look up to her husband."

Elizabeth took that for an invitation to move from her chair and fit herself to her husband—which necessitated her gazing up into his most beloved face. "Indeed it is, my love."


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