Well, I’m glad that some of you enjoyed the first entry in this series!
This was the response that for whatever reason sprang into my mind over the weekend (once again a bit of racy language and some indirectly discussed sexy bits):
August 15, 18–
The Rose and Thorn, Leicester, Leicestershire
My Dearest Mrs. Darcy —
Although my salutation fails to scan so prettily as yours, it is no less true, nor any less a gladness for me to be able to write than for you, I hope, to read. Alas, that you must read it, rather than hear it from my lips.
Yet without sorrow’s parting, there would be no joy of reunion, and that is a felicity I greatly anticipate.
Your letter overtook me at Leicester, when I had scarce reached the inn. The arrival of a letter so soon from you at first excited my alarm, for I thought of the terrible news that arrived for you and the Gardners at Lambton last summer—the letter I have wished so many times had never reached you, and yet which, in its own way, has led us to the blissful existence we now inhabit. In any case, my alarm was needless. Love’s words, it seems, truly have wings. If it be so, than I wish that mine could carry me to you in fact as in thought, because I like you feel the same infinite loss.
It was good that you warned of what you termed your wifely musings before my hunger for you brought me to consume the letter whole. The mortification that reading such musings in the public room of the inn would have far surpassed that of being called “Billy” (by which name I would beg you never to address me, did I not know that begging you so would make the event all the more certain). Modesty is not, I know, a virtue much imputed to me, but yet I own this much of my bachelor modesty: that reading words of such frank intimacy in a public place would have come closer to teaching me the limits of my mortality than of my mortification.
I will ask that you read the rest of this letter in private, as I would not lose you — either to literal mortification or to mortifying embarrassment. I do not promise to be so forthright as has been your gift (from birth, if your father is to be believed), but I do promise to be no less sincere.
The ride to Leicester was uneventful, along a road that I have traveled a thousand times, and yet I was filled with a sense of newness, of seeing all as if for the first time. This caused me some wonder, until I realized that indeed I was for the first time riding that road not as Fitzwilliam Darcy, son and heir, nor as Fitzwilliam Darcy, landowner and brother, but as Fitzwilliam Darcy, husband. Though the Reverend Mr. Whitely had told us that man and wife are one flesh, I have only just realized that he meant this not merely as a metaphor for conjugal union, but as a statement of fact. I have been transformed by you. I have been born anew. Georgianna has, since our father’s death, pointed out to me many, many times that I should act my age, not like an old man; I fear she shall have cause to continue berating me, for now I am a child.
Though I have always found the study of Divinity to be of greatest importance, I cannot say to have greatly taken any of its lessons truly to heart. A man of reason is hard pressed to see the sense in interminable lists of laws, and lines of descent, and battles, all of which belong to a world as distant as that of Homer, or of the Oriental texts that have become so fashionable of late.
Yet, as you so rightly put it, I see affirmation of God’s Grace every day that I am blessed with your presence, and shall be able to survive the Purgatory of this journey only because of the promise of meeting my Beatrice at the pinnacle on my return.
Or perhaps Beatrice was merely Dante’s Elizabeth, for I cannot believe that his love was any more a beacon than my own. Therefore I hold you to be the true original, and Mr. Alighieri’s muse merely a reflection.
My, what a pair of heretics we are, Lizzie. Yet I would not recant this theology for all of the Rev. Mr. Whitleys or Mr. Collinses in Christendom.
That you might be bearing something for me that while, as you say, I would, I cannot bear for you — that was something the rendered me more than speechless on the very first night that we enjoyed together. You had fallen asleep, and I lay there, with my head upon your belly, gazing up at your naked perfection — feeling my old self destroyed as Semele before Jove — and it occurred to me that beneath my cheek there might have been a spark struck by our passion. I wept, Lizzie, for the reality of what it might mean to have a child with you was truly an awesome and an awful realization. I had thought that I knew what it would mean. I was wrong. I know now that I still do not conceive, as you may indeed already have done. I hope that you will not think me cowardly to say that the realization struck me so to the core that I hope the reality is some time off — I am not sure that I should survive it. And I would not wish to stop trying to conceive any time soon.
I am a coward, it is true.
I have seated myself here, ready to tell you — as you have so movingly told me (and you have moved both my soul and my body, please believe me) — how you have initiated me into a mystery beyond measure. And yet, though this is true, and though I have found with you a realm of experience previously unknown to me, you know that I have experienced carnal embrace before I met you.
That strikes me as a particularly ugly and ridiculous phrase, “carnal embrace.” Very well, then, I shall follow your example, calling the act by its proper English name, and say that it saddens me that I fucked any woman before we fucked.
I am not proud that it is so, but as I have already admitted, so it is. I am not like some men who are pleased to indulge a sin in themselves that they condemn in women. Even so, in this I can scarcely even condemn myself, but for the fact that my weakness robbed me of a shared experience with the woman I love.
The reason that I tell you so much is that the woman who first shared with me the embrace that should have been yours was, in fact, none other than Lady Croom.
I was not as old as my sister is now, and she was a married woman of about your years and already a mother. She was, as you say, very pretty (though not as beautiful as you) and very forceful in pursuing her will, which was myself. I thought at the time that she desired me for my own virtues; indeed, she made me believe that I was the only man to know her intimately — ah, another euphemism! — the only man to fuck her but her husband, whom she claimed to have shared a bed with only once. Knowing her as I came to do, I cannot in good conscience give credence to those assertions. I believe now that she merely wished to indulge her own pleasure, and to prepare for the eventuality of Lord Croom’s death. An alliance between my family and hers would have appealed to her, as it would, no doubt, to my father, who counted Lord Croom as a close friend. In any case I wish — for Lord Croom’s sake, for their children’s, and for Lady Croom’s — that his departure might be many, many years in the future.
In the end, she dallied with me — fucked me — on four occasions, each less a pleasure to me than the last, for with each encounter, she lost interest (being intrigued, I believe, more by acquiring what she could not have than by having it), and I felt my own impropriety more and more deeply. On the day of what was to have been our fifth assignation, having made up my mind to see her no more, I arrived early to the stable where we were wont to meet, and there found her engaged with another young man in very much the same sorts of embraces — fucking — that she had shared with me. The young man was, you will not perhaps be surprised to know, George Wickham.
From that day to this, I have not spoken privately to Lady Croom, nor to her husband. Lord Croom I have not met because of my own shame at having abused his honor. Her I have refused to see because I could not think how to speak to such a women after such an experience.
Young Gustavus and Thomasina have been welcome at Pemberley, and Georgiana has been a frequent visitor at Sidley Park. Indeed, Lord Croom has written me on several occasions suggesting an union between his son and my sister. Georgiana, however, has made it clear that, much as she enjoys the very interesting Thomasina, Gustavus is not for her, and so I have been spared the mortification of that alliance, at least.
I should not have been shocked, then, that Lady Croom swooped in the moment that she heard that you were at Pemberley unattended.
Please, beloved, forgive me. I should have thought that she would engage in such a stratagem. I should at the very least have warned you. I do not believe the lady to be evil, yet I cannot think of her as anything but vicious. Venal you may have called yourself, but even now you are the model of chastity against which all women must be measured, and against which standard I fear to say that Lady Croom fails most miserably.
It is pointless for me to say that what I knew with her is nothing to what you have shown me. That would be to compare the murky light of a guttering candle to the full brilliance of the Sun. I know too that even to say such a thing would do nothing to alleviate your just anger with me.
Please believe that I am always
Desperately, eternally, completely
Fitzwilliam Henry, Darcy by birth, Bennet by God’s good Grace
PS I am ashamed that it took no more than rereading your “wifely musings” to render me utterly ready for your presence, to desire that I might show you even now how truly penitent I am and how fully I wish to make amends. Alas, the only embrace I have to satisfy the need you inspire is mine own, and so I must satisfy myself with that. Another sin on my side of the ledger, but one I could no more abstain from after these last weeks of bliss than I could from breathing. Nor do I count it a sin to give myself relief while thinking on the perfection of my wife, whom I dream to see, to touch, and, yes, to fuck every waking moment. More blasphemy. I shall seal this now and send it or I shall begin to tell you just how I dream. — FHD(B)