Twelve Days of Christmas
January 30, 1812
Can you believe we have been married nearly a month? I hope married life is finding you as well as it finds me. Charles is so kind and such a treasure to me!
We have had many conversations about our fears, and I must thank you for encouraging me to speak openly with my husband about it. A closeness I could not have imagined has formed between us.
Last week, I hosted my first dinner party. Sir William and Lady Lucas, Mr. and Mrs. Long, and Mrs. King were invited. I believe the favourites were the partridge and pears. Mama was such a help to me. I know you were worried about her change in demeanour being permanent, but she has been all I could wish for. Instead of taking control, she gave suggestions only when I asked. She has even made Lydia remain home at times, letting Kitty be the only Bennet daughter “out.”
I hope this finds you well.
February 14, 1812
I hope, my sister, that your husband has been as romantic as mine on this Valentine’s Day. A pair of turtle doves arrived this morning. I can think of no better symbol for our love.
Pray, reply with haste so I may know what wretched gift Richard has procured for you. We must laugh at him when we can, you know.
Regarding your last—if Richard is deployed, of course, you are welcome at Pemberley. I could not bear the thought of my sister being all alone while her beloved faces such danger. You must come. Indeed, I would prefer a visit for less tragic reasons. We will soon be in London. Might a visit be possible then?
March 24, 1812
Richard and I have arrived at Rosings. Richard had not expected an invitation this year as Lady Catherine still seemed irate about Darcy’s marriage to Lizzy. However, now that I have met her, I believe her bark is worse than her bite. She asked me many questions, to which Lizzy would have loved to reply with suitable impertinence. She is curious about her nephew’s wife. I thought I might encourage our sister to work on her husband and reconcile.
I have seen Mr. Collins and Charlotte as well. He echoes his patroness in everything as useful as a flock of colly birds. Meanwhile, Charlotte remains too proud of her cows and hens to display ill-humour at her husband’s embarrassing ramblings. I came prepared to hold our cousin in high regard and see him in the office of a clergyman. Now, I cannot find anything admirable. Richard is ten times the man our cousin is, and now I fully understand Elizabeth’s censure and pity for our friend.
Now, I must write our sister. Richard is teasing me and saying he shall send me a flock of hens and starlings after seeing how I “admired” Mrs. Collins’s. To think, Lizzy has turtle doves!
Your devoted sister,
May 15, 1812
We have just come from Netherfield and had the most glorious time at Jane’s birthday celebration. Mr. Bingley gave her a set of five gold rings. Sapphire, emerald, ruby, diamonds, and amethyst all splendidly arranged. Oh, they complement her gowns and complexion very well. Despite the finery and her smile, I know her joy was incomplete due to the absence of you and Mary.
You and Mr. Darcy were very kind to invite me to summer with you and Miss Darcy. I will miss Mama and Papa terribly, but they agree it will be good for me to have more experience away from Meryton. They have also said it will help Lydia to develop her own character without a sister to support her.
We look forward to your visit in June, when I hope we will hear of a blessing. Jane has told me that you know of her upcoming “Christmas gift,” as she calls it. If you and Mary have news as well, I will be busy with sewing baby things for months!
July 28, 1812
I have had a letter from Kitty at Pemberley. She tells me of her and Georgiana swimming with geese in the lake. Can you imagine? I never would have thought stern Mr. Darcy would allow such a thing!
She also wrote of Lady Catherine visiting. Kitty says she was too afraid to say anything above one-word answers, following Georgiana’s suit. You have met the lady. Is she truly so terrible? She hired Mr. Collins, after all.
You will remember Suzy, the milkmaid, of course. She has found herself in an unfortunate situation from one of the militia who recently left for Brighton. Mama and Papa plan to help her in some way, but I can only think it might have been me. I do not believe I ever said it before, but I am sorry for not heeding your words previously.
Greet Richard for me, and please come to Pemberley for Christmas. If the babe comes early, then I am sure Pemberley can provide for two babies as well as one. It will not be Christmas if we are not all together.
September 21, 1812
My hand can barely write for shaking. Richard has had orders and will soon be returning to the Continent. I cannot sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see him marching with drums and fife playing. His babe moves within me, and all I can do is pray that he will not grow up without a father.
Life has changed considerably for us all in a year. Did you know I had written in my journal before last Christmas that I wished we could see the future before making a choice? It seemed some magic happened whereby we were shown many possible consequences of our decisions, and I falsely felt secure, for this was never one we faced. I do not regret marrying Richard, of course. I only wish I had another chance to alter my course, to save my love from this trial. It may be fruitless and silly, but I wish for just a bit more Christmas magic.
I write you as I believe you will not laugh at me but commiserate.
October 20, 1812
Can you believe nearly a year ago we all danced at Netherfield? How my life has changed! So blessed am I!
We have hosted a farewell ball, although I did not dance, before leaving for the estate in Cheshire. Lydia is a regular favourite. Replacing the brashness of last year, she is now reserved. Gentlemen seem more enamoured of her maturity and quiet words. However, she claims she will not marry before her twentieth birthday. You may not recognise her when you see her at Christmas. I daresay Kitty will have altered much as well.
I have had a letter from Mary. How startling it is to have her message devoid of scriptures while she confesses her deepest fears. I wish we could do something for her and Richard. It seems so unfair that our husbands have such independence while his very life is at stake on the whim of others.
While I enjoyed an evening of watching ladies in elegant dresses, she endured another night terrified for her husband and unborn child.
I pray all is well with you. I trust Darcy has recovered from the stress of the harvest.
November 30, 1812
I apologise, my dear sister, that my husband and I were unable to convince Richard to give up his commission. It appears, if my Darcy relatives are any indication, that the stubbornness and pride I have known my darling husband to have comes from the Fitzwilliam side of the family.
Come to Pemberley. We will shower you with love and affection. I am confident Richard wishes for you to be comfortable during your confinement and for the duration of his campaign.
If you do not arrive by December 23, Darcy says he will fetch you himself—loath as he would be to leave me at such a time.
Your scolding and emotional older sister,