Mr. Darcy’s Compassion– Epilogue

I am sorry this took a little longer than I planned to post. I had my lumbar puncture on Wednesday and ended up getting the dreaded spinal headache from it. After 80 hours of torture, I decided to go to the ER and try something called a blood patch. That had its own issues but I am now headache free! I’ll be sending this story to the editor soon!

Previous Chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven  / Eight / Nine / Ten / Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen / Fourteen / Fifteen / Sixteen

Epilogue

Ten years later

Darcy smiled politely as person after person entered his London house. Beside him, Elizabeth greeted each guest with a charming smile and welcomed them to their home. This evening, they hosted the founding members of the London branch of the Society for the Preservation of Feminine Talent. Elizabeth had named the organization thus to not garner anger at the idea of encouraging independence for ladies while also not infantilising them.

The foundation formed shortly after their marriage and served the Lambton area first. Eventually, Elizabeth took the idea to influential members of urban populations such as Manchester and Birmingham. Last year, they opened a branch in Liverpool. Expansion to London would be their most extensive yet. Of course, quite a bit of the notoriety belonged to the influence of the former Miss Angelina Maria Lucks.

Shortly after arriving at Pemberley, Darcy had sent his solicitor to confirm from Miss Lucks that she was, indeed, Lydia Bennet. She admitted her real identity but desired no assistance from the Darcys and planned to take the London stage by storm with hopes of marrying nobility. A few years ago, she married an aging lord who needed a new countess after his wife’s death bearing their fifth son. At first, there was still no connection to the Darcys. However, a political rival of her husband dug up proof of Lydia’s fallen status. Society, in general, did not think well of actresses, but Lydia had managed discretion in any affairs she had. The supposed proof, however, was not from Lydia’s time with an acting troupe in Scotland or her elopement with the still-at-large George Wickham. No, someone had visited the South Mimms Inn in Hertfordshire and swore there was once a serving lady who called herself Lizzy Smith and looked just like the new Lady Randall. Lydia could have defended herself and lay the blame on her sister, but she never did. In turn, the extremely respectable Mrs. Darcy befriended the countess. Rather than taking lovers like most of the aristocratic ladies, Lydia had turned her activities toward charitable works after retiring from the stage. Between the two sisters, the Society garnered more attention than expected.

After dinner, and the requisite separation of the sexes, Elizabeth took a moment to explain the purpose of the Society to the assembled guests.

“My good lords and ladies,” Elizabeth said, “we meet this evening to discuss the founding of a new branch of The Society of Preservation of Feminine Talent. It is my belief every woman has talents given to her at birth and are deserving of protection.”

“Protection, you say?” an older man asked. “They ought to have fathers to protect them.”

“I agree, sir,” she answered. “However, some do not. Death is no respecter of persons. We may be at peace now, but war may come again, and disease is never far away. Additionally, not all men who bear children are capable of being responsible parents. Indeed, some abuse their wives and children.”

The older gentleman harrumphed. “Then family ought to involve themselves.”

“Again, sir, that is not always possible. The fact is, some ladies leave the protection of the homes to which they were born. What is she to do? Seek employment when she has no experience or training? The results of such a gamble are seldom in the lady’s favour.”

“What does the Society do, Mrs. Darcy?” a lady from the back asked.

“We do have ministers and physicians, but that is not all that is required to assist the ladies and it is not always easy to find those services given from people with the desire to help and not condemn. The Society provides safe homes and healthy meals for our ladies. From the working classes, we teach them valuable skills which can lead to employment. For the gentry, we fill any gaps in their education and keep them immersed in proper society befitting their station. Most importantly, for both groups, we minister to the damaged psyche of our guests.”

The old gentleman stood up and thumped his walking cane. “Are there not workhouses? Are there not churches? You reach beyond your scope, madam.” He shuffled past the others and stood before Darcy. “Sir, you ought to call your wife to order.”

“She has things well in order, sir, and I fully support her,” Darcy replied.

Shaking his head, the gentleman exited the room, and Darcy had little doubt, the house. This portion was always the most difficult for him to watch. He could hardly conceive of anyone not finding his wife brilliant and was still her most steadfast supporter. In turn, during their ten years of marriage, Elizabeth had been there for him in countless times from the wrath of Lady Catherine, to the unexpected death of his Uncle Joseph, even to inheriting control of Rosings and all the strain of managing two estates after his cousin Anne’s demise.

His eyes met Elizabeth’s, but hers did not shine with tears of rejection. She stood erect, pausing to allow others a moment of decision before she continued. A few others excused themselves, but the vast majority remained. Whether they achieved their goal this night or not, Darcy could barely restrain his pride in his wife’s confidence and courage.

“Now, that we have that over with,” she smiled, and the crowd chuckled. “I wanted you to listen to the testimony of some of our ladies and other benefactresses.”

Elizabeth ceded the floor and came to Darcy’s side as three different women gave their stories. They ranged from as extreme as Georgiana’s experiences to as mild as Elizabeth’s. The other patronesses spoke about the statistical data of the women they helped. The majority of them came from the middle class to lower gentry families. They never turned away a working-class woman, but their primary goal had always been to help the women who no one believed could have terrible families. Shocked gasps and disgusted mutterings ripped through the room when the final patroness explained one in four of the ladies they helped, regardless of social class, had been sexually abused before adulthood.

Elizabeth had a final speech to close the presentation portion of the evening. Afterward, it would resume as any regular dinner party, and card tables would be brought out. In another room, ladies were welcome to exhibit on the pianoforte.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Elizabeth beseeched, “do not merely take our words on the matter. Visit our facility in Bloomington. We have not invited you here to raid your purses. Our Society is already well-funded and has established our newest location in a respectable neighbourhood, and with all we could need. The meaning behind this evening’s presentation was purely educational. Now, that you know of a need, I only ask what your compassion would have you do.”

The crowd applauded, none heartier than Darcy. When she reached his side, he raised her hand to his lips. She still claimed his act of kindness had saved her, but all Darcy could think about was how many ladies she had saved in the years since.

Slowly, through years of patience and firm boundaries, they had resumed visitations with Jane and Mary. Mrs. Bennet had refused to ever accept any responsibility for matters but wrote civil letters, and they had seen her a few times while they visited the Gardiners, who had fully apologised to Elizabeth. Neither the Gardiners nor Mrs. Bennet were welcome at any Darcy property, but Elizabeth did not lack for company. She had found a faithful, steadfast sister in Georgiana, who while much healed had not yet married, and a loving relation in Darcy’s paternal aunt Katherine Sneyd. Elizabeth had made many acquaintances via her work with the Society, and several of them were her bosom friends. None of it surprised Darcy, he always knew she would be well-loved.

After their guests left, Darcy escorted Elizabeth to their chamber. Holding her to his chest as they fell asleep, he considered then, as always, how thankful he was for finding her at the inn of a small Hertfordshire town. He could hardly fathom what life would have been like without her, but it certainly would not have included four bright-eyed children with Elizabeth’s smile. Nor would Darcy have known the deep fulfilment one could have when assisting others. The most significant difference of all, of course, was that he would not have the woman he loved beyond all others and who completed his heart in his arms. He had loved her then; now she was imperative to his life. Marrying Elizabeth was not an act of compassion. He had no more choice in the matter than he had in drawing breath into his lungs. She was the greatest gift he could ever conceive, and he would forever be grateful for the second chance which led him to find her.

The End

Thanks so much for reading!

20 thoughts on “Mr. Darcy’s Compassion– Epilogue

  1. You have touched my heart with this beautiful, moving story!! The epilogue raised social awareness of the plight of women in the Regency period. I am glad to see that the Darcy’s, along with Lady Randall/Lydia, raising awareness of an issue that the Ton often left to families and the church. There was so much bias and prejudice, along with secrecy during that time period. While raising the social conscience of your readers, you interspersed it with an extremely beautiful love story. Darcy’s love helped heal Elizabeth. Elizabeth brought love, laughter and joy to his and Georgiana’s lives. Truly one of the most touching stories that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. GREAT story!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly, the statistics about one in four females abused under the age of 18 is a present-day statistic. We don’t really know statistics from years past and they are highly flawed because so few people reported. 1 in 6 boys are also sexually abused before adulthood. Together, that makes 1 in 5 children. You can imagine many of the runaways today might be leaving similar situations. Most of the time they’re forced into prostitution. This doesn’t even touch the sexual slavery issue. I’m so pleased you were touched by this story!

      Like

  2. Thank you for sharing this story.

    I hope your bad experience post-lumbar puncture was not in vain and that your doctor is able to bring you relief. Recovery is a long process sometimes; but GET WELL SOON!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful epilogue. I really enjoyed this story and can’t wait to own it so I can read it again.
    Thank you for managing to post this despite your health problems. I hope they are soon better controlled. Take care Rose.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful ending to your story. I loved the detail of the foundation, and that Lydia was involved along with Elizabeth. Such a positive outcome from what started out as a desperate situation for Elizabeth. Glad that she had reconnected with Jane & Mary, and the Georgiana became the loyal and loving sister that Elizabeth deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I really feel like the story was about Elizabeth and so while I wanted to give a glimpse of her family situation, it in no way was the crux of the story and didn’t need additional scenes to address.

      Like

  5. What a lovely ending – not only happiness for Darcy and Elizabeth, but through them, good can come for other women at risk. Thanks for sharing your story with us- and hope your health is on the mend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have enjoyed this story, but I must admit I would like to have seen the first encounters with her family played out in the book. I would like to see what strengths she gained from her marriage to Darcy as well as what support he would give and how it would be received. You also do not explain if Mr. Bennet was really at death’s door and what happened as a result. Is there any healing for Jane? Does she become part of the society and find healing and strength? Does she meet Bingley again? How did that go? Don’t get me wrong, I love this story, but there are some details that are missing for me. I will look forward to reading it as a whole rather than in installments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t include a lot of these things for several reasons. First, let me address what IS included. Mr. Bennet definitely died. Elizabeth acknowledged that he was likely dead by the time even spoke to Darcy. There’s no reason to think that Jane is just inventing things. Elizabeth never accuses her of that. Additionally, there is a reason why the Darcys never go to Longbourn and why Mrs. Bennet (and Mrs. Bennet alone) is living with the Gardiners. Earlier in the book, Darcy said that he rarely sees Bingley, even as he’s a close friend. In the epilogue, we know that Elizabeth is not close to Jane. Her husband was never a lofty member of Society. There’s no reason to wonder if she saw Bingley again or needed London’s approval.

      Now, on to the reasons why I didn’t delve more into the Bennets. The conflict of the story is Elizabeth learning to love herself. Leaving Longbourn is just the set-up. The conflict is resolved. Meeting Jane would either have no impact on the story or introduce a new conflict when the primary one is over.

      Additionally, we never see the problems which make Elizabeth leave on screen. Confronting them afterward would create an imbalance. If the story had been following those conflicts all along, then yes, I would absolutely need to show the scenes resolving them. However, the conflict is Lizzy learning to love herself and live her own life. It really doesn’t matter what happens with anyone else. Because she has done the work to feel comfortable with who she is, she is not threatened in having a relationship with firm boundaries with her family. None of them did something so intentionally unforgiveable such as the man who abused Georgiana. They would never, ever have a relationship with him, for example. The epilogue states Lizzy’s relationship with her family and they’re firmly where she is comfortable. Does it mean Jane or Mrs. Bennet are happy with them? Probably not but their opinions don’t matter and Lizzy is not going to be manipulated again.

      Finally, rebuilding those relationships would be a very long process. Even Elizabeth rebuilding her confidence in herself takes longer than the story depicts. Life does not suddenly get better after 1 week because a hot, rich guy loves you. I tried so hard to make it more than that. However, a story can’t go on forever and I personally dislike epilogues which contain multiple scenes spread over many years or follow up chapters that continue on and on when the conflict ended awhile ago. I’m not cataloguing their whole lives. My studies on proper story structure would back this up. This is a brief glimpse they’ve allowed us and then they need their privacy again.

      Like

  7. I love the epilogue. It wraps the story nicely. Though I would love to learn what happened in the 10 years. I know. We can just never be satisfied. 🙄 But it’s better to have demanding readers than no readers. 😉 I am glad you are feeling better and I look forward to your next project.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there were a lot of great moments and some harder moments. Lots of uncomfortable conversations with her family. Probably times of wondering if she is making the right choice and Darcy reminding her it’s okay to have boundaries. I think creating the foundation and extending it like she did would have taken a lot of her time and energy and probably served to direct her focus. She would undeniably know that she was not alone and that it was not normal or appropriate how her family acted. She would also see that there is great joy that can happen afterward. However, all of those things are a long process and I think would have been far too long to show.

      I want to work a bit more on my non-JAFF for a few weeks but the next JAFF will be Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club. I think I’m finally in the right frame of mind to work on that one and Lizzy starting the foundation in MDC has helped prod me there.

      Like

      1. You truly did the topic justice. As a therapist I understand more than most the process. I especially appreciate the re-connection to her family with firm boundaries in place because it shows true and complete healing. Anytime I escape in a book I always hate wit comes to an end. P&P variations are part of my self after rough days with clients. Your stories help me unhook from real life tragedy and enjoy my favorite couple in new situations. Keep writing and I will keep reading. 😀

        Like

  8. Applauding your story.

    From my experience as a caseworker with Children, Youth and Families…when foster parents were trained one of the statistics given to them was that even though children may have not talked about abuse nor have had anyone discovered they were abused…about 80% of those who had to be placed in foster care had been abused one way or another…emotional, physical or sexual abuse!

    Thanks for sharing your talents. And hoping you get some relief from your own physical distress. Good luck with publishing this.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s