Lasting Impressions by Pamela St Vines
New Acquaintances and Old Enemies
By Aaran St Vines
Jane Austen's Emma, Chapter 31
Colonel Fitzwilliam was delighted by Darcy's invitation to join him in calling on the Bennets the following morning. Both were avid horsemen and as Darcy had become well acquainted with the countryside, they abandoned the road and headed out across country, following various lanes and footpaths and in some instances, riding directly across the now dormant fields.
When they had reached Mr. Bennet's land, the men slowed their pace to allow conversation, and Darcy began pointing out landmarks and describing various improvements and farming techniques Mr. Bennet had adopted. Fitzwilliam was not at all surprised by Darcy's knowledge of the Longbourn estate, as agriculture was one of his passions. Darcy's love of farming--once regarded as an oddity--was now merely an accepted fact within the family. The colonel was astonished, however, by Darcy's apparent knowledge of the inhabitants of the estate. Once the gentlemen were on Bennet land, everyone they encountered acknowledged their presence with friendly waves and smiles. Many of the tenants even dared to call out greetings to Darcy. To Fitzwilliam's amazement their greetings were returned in kind, and his cousin called many of them by name.
As there was no one else in sight, both men looked around curiously when, "Morning, Mr. Darcy," rang out from a nearby stand of trees. The source of the voice proved to be a lad who was quickly climbing down the tallest tree.
"Good morning, Johnny," Darcy said with a smile and proceeded to introduce him to his cousin.
The colonel could not help but like the boy who shyly tugged his cap and grinned up at him.
"I hope everything is well at home," Darcy said with a nod to the tree from which Johnny had accosted them, "and I trust your mother is feeling much better."
"Oh yes, sir, Mr. Darcy," he answered with a grin. "I was just having a look around. Then I heard your horses and climbed up higher for a better look. He is a beauty, sir," Johnny added as he reached out to pet the muzzle of Darcy's stallion.
"Thank you for asking about Ma, Mr. Darcy. She is pert near as good as new, but she still has to drink her special tea every day. I was just on my way to fetch some more from the Longbourn stillroom."
The boy's eyes lit up with excitement when Darcy offered him a ride and the three of them were soon proceeding toward the manor house. Although there was nothing particularly imposing about that structure, the colonel was most impressed by the air of cheerful industry that surrounded Longbourn. It reminded him of a well-run company of soldiers, where the men had confidence in their officers and trusted their leadership. Clearly Mr. Bennet was a leader in the best sense of the word.
The boy who ran up to take their horses shyly whispered, "If you've come to see Miss Lizzy, sir, she be in the stables."
"Thank you, Peter," Darcy replied. "I am here to see Miss Lizzy. Perhaps you would be good enough to run ahead and tell her we are coming along behind you. The colonel and I will bring the horses."
With a nod the boy immediately ran off as fast as his legs could carry him and Fitzwilliam raised an eyebrow at Darcy in question. His cousin merely smiled and shrugged in reply.
"So, Johnny," Darcy said, "what do you suppose has Miss Elizabeth in the stables at this time of the morning? Do you think she has developed a sudden passion for riding?"
The boy giggled at that thought, "No, sir, my guess would be something to do with one of the cats. If it were a person or one of the horses, Peter would have been more serious like."
"I bow to your greater knowledge of Longbourn," Darcy said with a smile. "We shall assume you are correct until it is proven otherwise."
Johnny thanked him for the ride and ran toward the back of the house. When Darcy and Fitzwilliam reached the stable door, Peter was waiting to take their mounts. He was still slightly out of breath but managed to say, "You go on, sirs, while I see to the horses. Miss Lizzy is waiting for you--in the very back."
It amused Fitzwilliam that he was about to meet Darcy's fiance in a stable and that Darcy did not seem to think it peculiar in the least. With his longer legs Darcy set a pace that the colonel and was hard pressed to keep. When they reached the last stall Elizabeth, Georgiana and Kitty were waiting to receive them, along with two little girls who were hiding behind Elizabeth's skirts. Elizabeth was grateful for Peter's warning. Otherwise Darcy's cousin would have first glimpsed her sitting in the hay.
Darcy presented his cousin to the Misses Bennet and Elizabeth in turn introduced the two bashful little girls. "These are the stable master's daughters Hannah and Emily. They invited us out to see the new kittens being born."
Reverting to her former shyness, Georgiana greeted her cousin quietly, but Fitzwilliam could not miss the light in her eyes when she told him that Miss Catherine Bennet was her particular friend.
Elizabeth immediately offered to return to the house, but the girls had already turned back to the kittens so the colonel obligingly professed a fondness for animals. He was rewarded by a dazzling smile from Elizabeth as she mischievously offered him his choice of hay bale or loose straw for a seat.
"I trust your assistance was not required with the delivery," Darcy said with a smile when they were all seated in the straw.
"Oh, Fitzwilliam," Georgiana enthused, "it was amazing. Are they not the sweetest little things?"
"Yes, they are sweet," Darcy allowed, "but then newborns always are. I remember you--"
"Oh, no, brother," Georgiana interrupted him, blushing furiously, "please do not go on about when I was a baby, and please do not encourage him, Elizabeth."
Elizabeth could not help laughing as said, "I must confess that I would like to hear about what a sweet baby you were, Georgiana, but in deference to your wishes I will deny myself that pleasure--for now. However, I do intend to hear all of your brother's tales when you are not present to be embarrassed by his praises. I expect that Colonel Fitzwilliam also has some stories to tell."
Georgiana giggled even as she reached out to pet one of the kittens. Taking advantage of the distraction provided by the animals, Darcy leaned in to whisper, "I love you, Lizzy," even as he covered her hand with his own.
The colonel missed this private exchange as he was watching Georgiana closely. He could not recall the last time he had heard her giggle, and the familiar way in which she addressed Darcy's Elizabeth had not escaped his notice. Clearly Georgiana was happy with Darcy's choice. His "painfully shy" cousin and her "particular friend" were now animatedly debating which of the kittens was the sweetest while each held one of the younger girls on her lap.
Darcy was distracted from his blushing bride by the sensation that he was being watched. He glanced up to find that young Johnny was now standing in the doorway clutching a large basket that no doubt contained some treats from the Longbourn kitchen as well as the prescribed tea. Darcy returned Johnny's stare with a smile and motioned for the boy to join them. The lad was clearly pleased by the invitation and he happily crossed the stall to examine the now nursing kittens before moving to take a seat beside Darcy.
"So, Johnny," Darcy said, "Miss Lizzy will be my wife in two days time. Did you think it would all turn out so well the day we first met?"
"Yes, sir, I reckoned you'd be marrying Miss Lizzy, and I cain't blame you for making it soon," was Johnny's matter of fact reply, "though folks will miss her something terrible 'round here."
"I am sorry that I will be depriving you of Miss Lizzy's company," Darcy said, "but I am curious as to why you were not surprised by our engagement. Many older and supposedly wiser folks were quite taken aback."
Knowing he was numbered among those "older and wiser folks," the colonel stifled as chuckle and sat back with a smirk to await the boy's answer.
"Well, it's like this," Johnny began, "first off, you went along with Miss Lizzy on her doctoring call, when you could have just as easily dropped me off and been on your way. That made me think you were in a fair way to being right smitten with Miss Lizzy."
"You were quite right," Darcy replied. "I was already quite 'smitten' with Miss Lizzy. Was there anything else you noticed?"
Johnny's face was a study in concentration and Darcy was now intrigued as to how the lad would answer. From the cessation of conversation around them, Darcy surmised that he was not alone in his curiosity.
"When folks first meet Miss Lizzy, she's Miss Elizabeth of Longbourn," Johnny began, "but it's mostly just folks around here that knows Miss Lizzy--the real her with all the things that make her special. I figured that you already liked her a heap when you kept me talking about Miss Lizzy that day, but when you saw her doctoring--then you saw part of what makes her Miss Lizzy. You seemed to be a real fine gentleman and as such I reckoned you'd want a real fine wife, so once you saw inside her I just knew you'd be set on winning Miss Lizzy."
"You are an astute judge of human nature for one so young," Darcy said quite seriously. "I am proud that you deemed me to be so wise a man on such a short acquaintance."
"Aw, weren't nothing, Mr. Darcy," Johnny said with a pleased grin. "Any addlepated fool could have seen it coming."
What would have once been unthinkable happened, Darcy laughed aloud. The sound startled his cousin as Darcy rarely laughed, but Colonel Fitzwilliam found it even more revealing that the others of their party did not seem to think in unusual. He caught Georgiana's eye and slightly inclined his head towards Darcy as if to ask what she thought of this change in her brother. To Fitzwilliam's astonishment, Georgiana actually winked at him and shook her head in amusement before turning to address Kitty. Darcy now sat beside Elizabeth holding her hand and from time to time when he thought no one was looking, Darcy would whisper in her ear. From Elizabeth's blushes and smiles his whispers were clearly of a personal and romantic nature.
Between wondering at Georgiana's gaiety and observing Darcy with his Elizabeth, the good colonel hardly knew where to focus his attention. They lingered in the stables, until Elizabeth shivered slightly, whereupon Darcy immediately insisted that they return to the house.
"We must get you warm," he said. "Please forgive my thoughtlessness. You were all out here for sometime before we joined you--"
"You must not worry so," Elizabeth interrupted him. "I am very well, dearest."
"Yes but I would have no ill befall you even for a litter of new kittens--especially two days before our wedding."
At Darcy's emphasis on the word "befall," Kitty smiled and whispered, "Later," to Georgiana, Johnny smirked, and Elizabeth colored with embarrassment. Even the stable master's daughters who had been too shy to speak in front of the gentlemen giggled.
While he was curious to know the story behind the joke, Fitzwilliam was struck by the strangeness of his cousin making a joke at all. He could not remember Darcy exhibiting such levity since--well, since long before his father died.
"Poor Darcy," he thought. At that point Fitzwilliam's mind was made up. He would not only support the match. He would actively do all that he could to protect Darcy's bride from those who would hold her in contempt for her lack of fortune and connections. Clearly Elizabeth had made Darcy--and yes, Georgiana, too--very happy. If there was never any other cause, that alone made her worthy of his unqualified loyalty.
"We are all very well," she reassured Darcy once more with a gesture to include their younger sisters, "but I do agree that it is time we went in for a cup of tea. Mama will be beside herself if she finds us entertaining callers in the stable. Johnny, would you be so kind--"
"Sure thing, Miss Lizzy," the boy answered with a grin before running out.
"What exactly has young Johnny gone to do?" Darcy asked with a grin of his own.
"He has gone to the house to see if Mama is aware of our transgression," Elizabeth answered blushing, "so that we might--"
"Plan the wisest way in which to return to the house?" the colonel cheerfully suggested.
"Why yes, Colonel," Elizabeth replied. "Our mother is sometimes--troubled by her nerves and we go to great lengths to--protect her sensibilities."
"I see that you are marrying a lady of unusual talents," the colonel teased his cousin. "She has great promise as a diplomat. Miss Elizabeth, you are no doubt up to the rigors of London society. My question is are they ready for you?"
Johnny soon returned with his report. "Tis well, Miss Lizzy. Your ma don't even know that the gentlemen have come. Peter told Bess and she told Mrs. Hill, of course, but Mrs. Hill decided that Mrs. Bennet should not be disturbed. She is above stairs right now and Mrs. Hill says to come on in and then she'll send Bess to fetch your ma."
This was all delivered in one breath. Johnny gave a quick tug on his cap at Elizabeth's thanks and then grabbed up his basket to leave.
The colonel was vastly amused. Clearly everyone at Longbourn was aware of Mrs. Bennet's 'nervous condition' and conspired with her family to prevent her fits. Fitzwilliam could not help but admire the way Elizabeth managed an obviously difficult mother. He also could not help but speculate that she would soon be equally adept at handling his sometimes-moody cousin.
"Oh, Darcy," he thought, "you have chosen very well, indeed."
The visit continued in the parlor with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in attendance. Although no one could supplant Darcy in her mind as being most deserving of her particular attention and courtesy, Mrs. Bennet was in raptures over meeting the colonel, as he was the son of an earl. The colonel for his part quickly perceived that Mrs. Bennet was obviously not a bright woman, but he found her fluttering and babbling quite forgivable while in the presence of her eldest daughter.
Even Murphy's lavish praise had not prepared Colonel Fitzwilliam for the sight of Jane Bennet. He thought Elizabeth's elder sister was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen and her charms were only enhanced by her seeming unawareness of them. In Fitzwilliam's experience, great beauties were generally not only conscious of their beauty, but also willing to exploit it for any purpose that might be perceived as an advantage. Yet here was a young woman whose kindness seemed as great as her loveliness.
Neither parent was insensible of the colonel's admiration of Jane. Mrs. Bennet was quite ready to throw aside her hopes of having Jane well settled at nearby Netherfield, in favor of seeing her closely related to a member of the peerage.
Mr. Bennet, however, was concerned for his daughter. Any son of an earl would be expected to marry very well--particularly a younger son who would not inherit the title and attendant lands. Thus the colonel could not dare to entertain serious intentions towards a young woman in Jane's situation-- no matter how much he might admire her. As Darcy's kinsman, Mr. Bennet presumed the colonel to be an honorable man who would not deliberately trifle with a young woman's affections, but he was also painfully aware of the small circle in which they lived, and feared it would be all too easy for a young woman of Jane's limited experience and acquaintance to misunderstand the colonel's admiration and be disappointed. Mr. Bennet was considerably relieved when he noticed Darcy eyeing his cousin as if Darcy shared his concerns. This suspicion was confirmed a short while later when Darcy murmured, "Do not worry, Mr. Bennet. I shall put him on guard," while bidding him farewell.
It had been planned that Darcy and Elizabeth would meet each other's visiting relations at the evening's dinner party. However, now that Elizabeth had met his cousin, Darcy was impatient for her to meet Fitzwilliam's parents as well. In truth, he also dreaded the idea of forgoing her company for the entirety of the afternoon. Understanding something of his power over Mrs. Bennet, Darcy wisely broached the subject to her first.
"I realize that there is much to be done here and that I will soon be depriving you of your daughter's company by taking her away," he began, "but I am anxious for Miss Elizabeth to meet Lord and Lady Carlisle. Would it be--do I ask too much--"
"Of course you want Lizzy to meet your relations," Elizabeth's mother replied, interrupting Darcy in her eagerness to please him. "Why that is only natural, Mr. Darcy.
"I myself am sometimes anxious over such things," she continued in a conspiratorial whisper that could still be overheard by most of their companions, "so leave it to me. Lizzy will go back to Netherfield with you so that you can introduce her to your family upon their arrival, and I will manage everything here."
Elizabeth smothered a smile. She could not help but be pleased at how well Darcy had learned to maneuver her mother, even though she blushed at the thought of what Colonel Fitzwilliam might be thinking.
For his part, the colonel was musing that Darcy must be truly besotted. Darcy, who had mocked and derided many mothers of decidedly higher rank for much less silliness, seemed to take Mrs. Bennet's weaknesses in stride.
"Mr. Darcy is most anxious to introduce you to Lord and Lady Carlisle, Lizzy," said Mrs. Bennet, "so I really think you must go along to Netherfield. Do you not agree, Mr. Bennet?"
"Certainly, my dear," the smiling Mr. Bennet murmured. He was glad for his daughter's sake that Darcy seemed to have accepted her mother's foibles. "I shall have the carriage readied while Lizzy and Miss Darcy fetch their things. James will wait at Netherfield until you, and perhaps Miss Darcy, are ready to return home, Lizzy."
With the inducement of such fair companions, Darcy and Fitzwilliam eschewed riding back to Netherfield in favor of going along in the carriage. Darcy's only regret was that propriety demanded he sit across from Elizabeth instead of beside her. While this afforded him a lovely view, he considered the inability to touch her a severe deprivation. The foursome chatted of everything and nothing until Colonel Fitzwilliam had the misfortune to touch upon a sensitive subject.
"But what of Lady Catherine, Darcy?" he asked mischievously. "Will she brave the wilds of Hertfordshire for this event or did she just threaten to send you a hideous, but expensive gift?"
Only Elizabeth returned his smile, but it was a perfunctory gesture that did not reach her eyes. Georgiana paled noticeably even as she patted Elizabeth's arm, and to Fitzwilliam's surprise Darcy braved propriety and prudence by daring to cross the moving carriage to sit at Elizabeth's other side and take her hand. He looked torn between despair and absolute fury.
"You need not worry so for me, dearest," Elizabeth said quietly, ignoring their companions entirely. "I am well. What a fool I would be to fret over Lady Catherine's good opinion when I have been so fortunate as to gain yours?"
To Fitzwilliam's wonder, the brewing storm he had observed in Darcy's countenance was gone and he smiled down at Elizabeth contentedly. Elizabeth returned Darcy's smile and then blushed as she remembered they were not alone.
With an impish smile she continued, "Having withstood the lady's presence, I can assure you all that I am not so fragile as to be shattered by the mere memory of your aunt's visit."
"Her visit--" Fitzwilliam echoed incredulously. "Do you mean that Lady Catherine was actually here?"
"Yes, Fitzwilliam," Darcy said flatly, "Lady Catherine traveled into Hertfordshire to express her displeasure and disapproval of the match. Unfortunately I was in town at the time and so the distasteful task of listening to her complaints fell to Eliz--Miss Elizabeth."
"It was hardly a satisfactory arrangement for her ladyship," Elizabeth said smiling up at Darcy, "but as her remarks were quite unkind towards Mr. Darcy as well as myself, I was most happy to spare him the unpleasant duty of hearing her out."
"Fortunately Bingley and Hurst knew enough of Lady Catherine to deny her a private interview with Miss Elizabeth, else I fear it might have been even more distressing," Darcy added grimly.
Seeing that the tension had returned to his jaw, Elizabeth squeezed Darcy's hand and smiled up at him. Her attentions had the desired effect and his anger subsided once more.
"Her visit did result in our first disagreement," Darcy added, returning Elizabeth's smile. "However, I seriously doubt that development would bring much joy to Lady Catherine were she to understand the exact nature of our disharmony."
"Yes, we continue to be at opposites over the situation," Elizabeth happily agreed. "I could easily forgive Lady Catherine's mistaken notion of my character. There was, after all, no degree of prior acquaintance between us, which makes her false assumptions regarding my motives entirely understandable. However, I found her unfair criticism of Mr. Darcy, whom she has known all his life, most offensive and have demanded that Lady Catherine apologize to him. Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, while quite willing to graciously overlook your aunt's insult to himself, insists upon an apology for her mistreatment of me, so it is a hopeless case you see."
Fitzwilliam was delighted and amazed by the change in his cousin. The Darcy of old would have sulked and ranted for days after the mere mention of such an affront, but his cousin sat before him smiling happily at his fiance. Certainly Lady Catherine would not be forgiven until she had satisfied Darcy's exacting sense of justice, but Darcy seemed content to live with the breech and unwilling to waste his happiness upon such a cause.
"Please accept my apologies on behalf of our family, Miss Bennet," the colonel said after a pause. "Knowing my aunt, I can well imagine the vitriolic nature of her remarks. I also offer my congratulations and admiration for your courage under fire. It is a quality highly prized in my profession."
"Thank you for the commendation," Elizabeth replied. "I accept it most gladly, but your apology is entirely unnecessary. It was Mr. Darcy who was injured by your aunt and I am afraid only Lady Catherine will be able to apologize suitably for that."
Elizabeth turned to Darcy, and Fitzwilliam saw her whisper something to his cousin but her voice was pitched too low for him to hear what she said. The colonel dearly wanted to know what he had missed for the change that came over Darcy's countenance was remarkable. His former smile seemed as a frown by contrast with the happiness that now suffused his countenance.
Elizabeth had in fact whispered, "I love you, dearest."
To Fitzwilliam's surprise Georgiana winked at him--again. The colonel cheerfully returned her wink this time, as he sat back to speculate exactly how long it would take his parents to realize that this marriage would be one of the most important blessings of Fitzwilliam Darcy's life--and of near equal importance to his sister, for Georgiana had clearly undergone a metamorphosis during her short time in Hertfordshire. That much was obvious. Georgiana's ease with the entire Bennet family and her particular friendship with one of the younger Bennet girls had already attracted her cousin's notice.
Fitzwilliam knew he had been somewhat distracted at Longbourn first by observing Darcy's fiance and then by the eldest Miss Bennet, but he studied Georgiana now across the carriage. To his considerable relief, she truly seemed like herself again as if the summer's unhappiness had never occurred, but the alteration was far greater than the mere restoration of Georgiana's naturally sunny disposition. Although still soft spoken, she exhibited a new found confidence. This was proven when they arrived at Netherfield. His painfully shy cousin now seemed entirely comfortable in a room full of adults. It also did not escape Fitzwilliam's notice that when she moved to join Darcy and Elizabeth on the sofa, Georgiana sat beside Elizabeth.
Fitzwilliam could hardly wait for his parents to arrive. Although they would strive to support his cousin in almost anything, he knew that they would not be without misgivings about this sudden marriage, and the colonel found it amusing to privately speculate as to which of them would succumb to Elizabeth's charms first. Of course, neither of his parents would openly oppose the match as that would only result in scandal. However, it would be interesting to see just how long it would take them to be truly happy with Darcy's choice.
Although Darcy was delighted to have Elizabeth's company for the afternoon, his desire to introduce her to his relations upon their arrival was thwarted by the simple fact that Lord and Lady Carlisle were still not present when Elizabeth was obliged to return to Longbourn to greet her own guests.
"I am sorry, dearest," she apologized as Darcy walked her out, "but I do not want to neglect my aunt and uncle who have surely arrived from London by now."
"Think nothing of it," Darcy assured her. "While I am anxious to introduce you to my uncle, I must confess that my primary aim was to afford myself the pleasure of your company for the afternoon. Lord and Lady Carlisle will no doubt arrive shortly and you will meet them soon enough."
When the carriage was out of site, Darcy sighed happily knowing that the entire Netherfield party would soon follow Elizabeth to Longbourn. He had no doubt that Lord and Lady Carlisle would breeze in with barely enough time to dress for dinner. Darcy who was unfailingly punctual had long since accepted their penchant for tardiness as it was beyond his control.
"Our wedding, however, will begin on time whether they are present or not," Darcy thought with a chuckle as he walked back into the house.
Even as Lord and Lady Carlisle were settling in at Netherfield a short while later, another newcomer was taking a room at the inn in Meryton. Sgt. Murphy could not help but overhear the stranger introducing himself to several of the militia officers at a nearby table.
"Please allow me to introduce myself, gentlemen," he said smoothly. "I realize we are not acquainted but I hope to be numbered among you as a fellow officer when Colonel Forrester returns from town. I am George Wickham, just rode in from London myself, but formerly of Derbyshire."
Murphy's expression hardened as he thought to himself, "Things are about to get interesting."
Meanwhile Caroline Bingley was wishing she had never heard of Ireland. Although Caroline had boarded the ship with her head held high and sneered at their spacious and well appointed quarters, she was secretly pleased that Charles had spared no expense and that Mr. Hopkins had procured every possible comfort for their journey. Their fine quarters combined with the fact that she was attended by both a maid and a traveling companion would no doubt impress upon the other passengers that she was someone very important. Alas, Caroline's fantasies of being admired by fawning shipmates were shattered shortly after the ship set sail by the reality of seasickness.
Mrs. Annesley emotions alternated between gratitude at being relieved of the tedium of Caroline's condescending remarks and guilt for having briefly wished such a fate upon her. Of course, Mrs. Annesley was too sensible a woman to believe her musings had caused the malady. However, she deeply regretted having wished such an evil upon anyone, particularly when confronted with the reality of Caroline's wretchedness.
Given the sudden onset of Caroline's illness and the relative calmness of the sea, Mrs. Annesley knew that she was in for a very rough time of it and would probably remain ill throughout the voyage. As the smell of food would likely worsen Caroline's discomfort, Mrs. Annesley insisted upon attending her so that the maid might take her supper and enjoy a little fresh air before returning to her mistress.
"--We are expected to reach Dublin in two mornings' time, Monique. In the meantime you and I will take turns staying with Miss Bingley," she said. "Go on now. You must keep up your strength to care for your mistress. After you eat, I suggest a brief respite on deck. Although it will be chilly, the fresh air will do you good and a walk on deck will help you adjust to the ship's motion."
"Yes, ma'am," the maid replied crossing to the small dressing room for her cloak. "I'll do just what you said, Mrs. Annesley, and then I'll come back to spell you."
Monique bobbed a curtsey and fled the cabin, grateful for Mrs. Annesley's assistance and guidance. Mrs. Annesley nodded and set about replacing the cool compress she had applied to Caroline's throat in hope of lessening her nausea.
For once in her life Caroline lacked the strength to complain. She accepted the older woman's ministrations without comment. Surprisingly the compresses did help and she was finally able to drift off to sleep.
Mrs. Annesley breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that the more Caroline was able to sleep during their crossing, the less unpleasantness they would all have to endure. Reasonably certain that Caroline would sleep for some time, Mrs. Annesley took a seat at the small desk and began to write a letter that she would send back to London just as soon as they reached port, "Dear Mr. Darcy--"