Pride, Prejudice & New Adventures Vol. 4
Pride & Peace:
A Pride & Prejudice Reimagining
by Ney Mitch
Colonel Fitzwilliam has arrived home a war hero, and with the aim to marry his beloved, Kitty Bennet. However, he is immediately met with an obstacle between his brother, Henry Fitzwilliam, who feels betrayed since he was in love with Kitty himself. Determined to have their happiness fulfilled, Kitty and the Colonel continue on the path to matrimony, willing to overcome all obstacles.
Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are beginning to build a family now that Elizabeth is with child and they wish to let nothing hinder their peace and domestic tranquility. Yet family shall always be family, and Lydia Bennet has fled from Newcastle, going back to Longbourn to take refuge from her abusive husband, Mr. Wickham. Follow the fourth installment of the series and discover the next chapter of the Darcys, Bingleys, and Fitzwilliams as they undergo the most fascinating of their adventures.
Release Date: June 29, 2020
Genre: Historical | Regency
Conflicts on the Rise
It's a theory, not universally accepted, that family bonds are the most fragile of all. Whether the ties be temporarily strained or permanently severed, they are not unbreakable, even though we all would so wish to believe it otherwise.
This knowledge, this awareness at how familial wounds could hurt the most, made me apprehensive, and I was not alone in my fears.
For there we all were, Mr. Darcy, Jane, Georgiana, Mr. Bingley, Miriam, Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam, Acton, Kitty, Henry, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and I in the sitting room. Richard had just finished announcing his proposal to Kitty to our company, and Henry's response was even more chilling than we had anticipated.
There Henry was, a man in between the purgatory that was heartbreak and the hell that was from feeling betrayed, and therefore what were his feelings but one of revenge, I assumed. Of bitterness from feeling ill-used. Despite the obvious fact that Kitty had never done anything to entice him, Richard had never initially known about his brother's infatuation, nor did Henry ever make his intentions toward Kitty known to anyone. Our awareness was through implication, no more.
Yet turning from Darcy and staring at Henry as he looked on his brother, anger flashing across his eyes, I secretly concurred with Darcy: it now was just beginning.
Lady Fitzwilliam, moving silently and approaching her eldest son as if he were a cornered beast that would pounce at any moment, said quietly, “Henry, son, please, you must calm yourself.”
“Calm myself?” Henry growled, turning to her. “Mother do not let your favoritism for Richard—”
“Enough!” Lord Fitzwilliam shouted, standing up. Henry Fitzwilliam silenced himself, but his quietness was still bubbling with rage. “Henry, your brother is getting married. Congratulate him.”
“I will not—”
Henry looked down as if he were a petulant child while Lord Fitzwilliam turned to his second son. “Richard, is this the path you truly wish to take?”
“Yes, it is,” Richard replied firmly.
“And yet, are you certain? This is not the best match for you.”
“I beg your pardon?” Kitty stood up, offended. “And what of me is not suitable?”
“What indeed?” Richard asked. “That is my future wife, Father, therefore respect is something you will offer her and moderation of your cheek, I beg you.”
“On the contrary, Richard,” Kitty exclaimed, spirited. “I am curious.” She turned toward her future father-in-law. “Lord Fitzwilliam, since honesty is your preference, tell me, what makes me an unsuitable match for your heroic son?”
“Kitty,” Darcy began, yet he was interrupted by Lord Fitzwilliam.
“Your family lacks the economy that my son needs to—”
“Money, or lack thereof, should not be the sole purpose behind matrimony,” Kitty argued. “And if you read the book that is attached to the religion that you presume to believe in, then you would know that it is very much the opposite. And the pursuit of wealth itself was considered to be a hindrance often.”
“Do not question our society.”
“Lord Fitzwilliam,” his wife interrupted. “Desist in this.”
“I question and oppose anything that will stand in the way of me wedding your son,” Kitty stated, “even if that is you, sir.”
“You—you cannot say anything in your defense. You draw in both my sons and then turned from the first you enticed with your arts and allurements, then choose another, which leads to the basest and most vile of all actions and I am sorry for it.”
“Indeed, you have used me ill!” Henry bellowed.
“Kitty is not to blame.” I stood up and faced the pair. “And if you had any common sense, then you would be aware of this. Yet you lack it, when you need confess to yourself, is it your heart that is wounded or your pride? Kitty never flirted with you or gave you any encouragement. Whatever you felt, that was within you, and you alone.”
“Precisely,” Darcy said, venomous. “Henry, you and Kitty only spoke little. Does it not occur to you just how foolish it was for you to believe she should wait for you to make some form of gesture towards her? I was present, Henry, as so many of us were. What did Kitty do but speak to you, for she was now your family, in an attempt to reach you from a congenial standpoint?”
“Do not pretend yourself an idiot, Darcy,” Henry answered. “Though you can be pig-headed often, and more importantly, do not think to take me for a fool as well. Implication was everything.” Henry turned his attention back to Kitty. “I paid attention to you. I clearly favored you.”
“Speaking to me twice,” Kitty countered, “and then not doing so for weeks upon end is your way of affection and courtship? You expected me to wait and pine away here at Pemberly, fixating on you. And Richard, when we fell in love, was not even aware of your feelings for me, for that is how little you made anyone aware of the depth of the feelings. Even if I were to think on your potential affection, how was I not to regard it as a fleeting emotion? Something made of air, yet no substance?”
“Richard may not have been aware before, yet he is now,” Henry spat. “However, your awareness and lack of delicacy and sensitivity has shown that the woman I admired for so long has been a creature of my imagination. You are a stranger to me and are a villain of the worst kind.”
“How dare you say anything against her—” Richard began.
“That is enough!” Darcy bellowed with so much force that all became quiet. “Henry, you will repent every word that you have said in offense against my sister-in-law, Kitty.”
“You defend a bond forged through marriage, and blood that is inferior to ours as well, over your cousin who is related to you?” Henry asked.
Lady Fitzwilliam, in a burst of emotion, slapped Henry.
Surprised at her action, and not due to her hit causing him any actual pain, Henry faltered.
“Son,” she whispered, just as much taken aback by her own action as he was, “you cannot say these things, for you break my heart in doing so.”
“And you break mine,” Henry retorted, “in choosing Richard, as you always did.”
Henry rushed out of the house and strode to the stables, where he found his spare horse being tended to.
A couple of minutes later, we all saw him riding down the road, away from Pemberly, whipping his horse into running faster. Distance was clearly all he sought, and freedom from us.
After the sounds of his horse's hooves were no longer heard, we all turned to each other.
Lady Fitzwilliam stared at the hand that she had used to slap Henry, looked up at us, and then out of embarrassment, she rushed out of the room.
“Mrs. Reynolds!” We heard her cry. “Please bring me my pelisse.”
Knowing that all one could do was retreat, Lord Fitzwilliam straightened his jacket and began to leave.
“Uncle!” Darcy called, his voice cold. His uncle stopped but did not turn around, his back facing us.
“Remember that I will always care for you,” Darcy continued, “yet until you learn to regret all that you have said to incriminate Kitty for following her own innocent and infallible guide in matters of the heart, I am not proud of you.”
Lord Fitzwilliam's shoulders stiffened, and then he left the room, following his wife as they proceeded to exit the house and wait for their carriage to be drawn.
“What do we do?” Jane asked, at a loss. “Should we see their carriage off?”
“Believe me,” Richard said, “it will be the last thing that they would want.” Richard kissed Kitty's hand. “Wait for me, for even if I have caused discord, they will not turn me away, nor can I turn from them fully.”
“I understand. They are, after all, your parents.”
Richard left and Kitty moved toward the window. She watched as Richard approached his parents and Lord Fitzwilliam helped his wife into the carriage. Words were spoken, yet they were soft and not a heated debate.
Richard watched as their carriage left, stood there, and waited till it disappeared into the distance before he re-entered and joined us.
* * *
The rest of the day was spent in tense company. None of us knew if it were wiser to confront the situation, or to avoid discussion of it altogether. Thinking it wiser and more of ease to Kitty if we did not speak on the matter, we turned our topic of discussion toward conversations of their upcoming wedding, and they all wished to see the nursery that we had prepared for our child.
Mrs. Reynolds accompanied us there, knowing full well that there was something amiss with the Fitzwilliams’ abrupt departure.
When we entered the nursery, we spoke of every bit of detail that Darcy and I put into the room, and everyone's desire to talk of lighter things was so desperate, that we remained in there for an hour, answering their questions.
We then sat down to a meal where everyone spoke of their own childhoods, from their memories of joyous events to their mishaps.
By the end of the evening, everyone knew each other's vices and sins committed under the excuse of toddler years or being a young adult.
Miriam confessed to bullying her brother mercilessly till she turned twelve years in age and finally grew a conscience. Mr. Bingley confessed to being afraid of the dark and sometimes had to sleep with his parents. Kitty confessed to one time eating a worm. Georgiana admitted to pouring ink in the tea of a girl she despised. Darcy's list was too interminable to pick out one thing in particular, Richard had acknowledged to eating a few leaves, Jane felt remorse of having no good stories to share, and I announced my love for climbing trees.
“Ah,” Darcy responded. “Due to your safety, I am so happy that you ceased that habit.”
“I know you are, dear.” I laughed, not telling the whole truth. “I know that you are.”
I had actually climbed a tree with low branches a couple days ago. For some reason, being six months pregnant did not deter me or my determination. Yet, I figured that if there was one thing that I kept from my husband, then a small matter of my climbing trees was appropriate, for it was of little significance.
The hour soon grew late, and we all retired to bed.
While Darcy helped me undress, we finally found ourselves at liberty to speak on the earlier matters, for intimacy allowed us the freedom.
“Well, that could not have gone any worse.”
Darcy unfastened the buttons of my gown. “I wish to agree with you, yet it actually could have. With the look of rage on my cousin's face, I would not have been surprised if Henry tried to attack Richard.”
“Thank you for defending Kitty.”
“I am heartily ashamed of my family, Elizabeth. To act in such an indecorous and vulgar manner. Your mother, no matter her behavior, had never done anything to match that level of crass and baseness.”
“You were not there when your Aunt Lady Catherine De Bourgh attacked me and declared me unfit to wed you. My mother scared her out of her home. It was delightful.”
He chuckled softly. “I'm sure it was.”
Fitzwilliam helped me get my nightgown on as well and I untied his cravat.
“Yet it still remains,” he continued, “that this is a crisis that has yet to be resolved. Mark my words, Elizabeth. We have not heard the end of this.”
I sat at the dressing table and brushed my hair. “Do you think so? I would have hoped that time and distance would ease Henry's emotional scars. Or at the very least, he would do what most men of his consequence do who find themselves in such a situation.”
“Out of a desire to spite his brother and show his worthiness, he will quickly go out among the ton. He will charm a woman into believing herself ready to accept him, then persuading himself that he is in love with her, even when it is apparent that he is not.”
I replaced my brush and plaited my hair into one long braid. “He then will make a very foolish match, based on the grounds of unrequited love in another corner. Next, Henry would convince himself that he has made the superior match, and that his fiancée bested Kitty as a gentlewoman.” I turned from the mirror.
“However, this action, though causing a temporary relief, will ultimately prove emotionally fatal, for there will only be desperation in the case rather than true affection. After no more than a year, both parties will sink into indifference and Henry would be left envying Richard even more.”
“I can see that you haven't given this too much thought,” Fitzwilliam said in jest.
I gave him a gentle punch to the shoulder. “I have seen it happen before, and Henry is in an interesting state. And that is always the state that begets the fate that I mentioned.”
“It is possible, for Henry's anger is ill-founded, yet he will not see it, for he has told himself that he had been ill-used, because of his wounded pride.”
“Pride...is that the downfall of everything?” I asked.
“I'm afraid that it is, especially in this situation. Henry Fitzwilliam is the first born of the Fitzwilliam family, heir to the estate of Matlock, inheriting the rank of being an Earl, and has never experienced the sensation of loss before. It is not in his nature. And that, mingled with his wounded and misplaced pride will be something felt most acutely.”
“Will he overcome it? Do you think?”
“I hardly know. I love Henry, but we were never close, not in the least. Richard was always the one who knew how to reach out to me and make me comfortable, no matter how bashful or cold I was in nature. Henry shall not only cast his wrathful thoughts on Richard, yet he shall feel it for Kitty as well.”
“And maybe even us,” I added. “For we are the ones who harbor them and let them remain with us. He will look at that as siding with them.”
“And therein lays another injury that he will feel, even if the injury be imagined and self-inflicted.”
I gave him a solemn look. “Am I cold for confessing that I feel no pity for him?”
“Not at all. His actions today were unpardonable. And as you had so evenly argued, their acquaintance was brief, and Kitty had never attempted to draw him in. Therefore, his fixation came from his choice to dwell alone over an affection that he did not even do much to further. Good god, love makes fools of all of us.”
I nodded. “Yes, it can. And it inevitably will.”
“However that does not conclude our crisis. We have a house full of people who we have to entertain, and I am unaware of what to do with them after this situation.”
“That is where Richard and Kitty have saved us. They wish to marry, and they will see that it is better to do it sooner rather than late. I propose that tomorrow, we help them to finalize what day their wedding shall be, and then I along with the rest of the women shall plan it.” I pulled the extra pillows from the bed.
“That will preoccupy us females while you and the gentlemen organize a hunting party with some other gentlemen in the neighborhood. The sheep shearing festival is also occurring soon, which makes us able to hold that in expectation. And—though this shall make you angry—can we also send out invitations to hold a ball at Pemberly after Richard and Kitty's wedding?”
“Oh, a ball!”
“Fitz.” His sarcasm made me smile in spite of myself.
“Oh, all right. As long as you promise me one thing.”
I watched him undress. “And what is that?”
“Do not call me Fitz again.”
“Really? Must I swear to that?”
“Yes, you must.”
“Oh, very well. It is a sacrifice that I shall make in payment of being able to put on this ball.”
Darcy looked at me fondly.
“You secretly really wish to host a ball, don't you?”
“Yes,” I confessed. “Yet so does Georgiana. So, I do not feel selfish in any way.”
“Well, this day continues to bear gifts,” Darcy scoffed. “I have a cousin who announced his engagement, his brother who ruined it, the paroxysm caused a rift in our family peace, and now we might host a ball. I pray no more conflicts on the rise appear, for I do not think I could bear it.”