“I am so glad you sent me a note. If not, I might have been forced to go with Caroline,” Jane chatted away, while Elizabeth stood staring out the window. Now that Jane sat in her parlor in their London house, she wasn’t sure if she was capable to go through with it. Perhaps a letter would have been better. It would have been less humiliating. “Lizzy, are you all right? You don’t seem yourself.”
“I am thankful you came with haste” Elizabeth turned and sat next to her sister. The one person in her world she could share her most guarded secrets with. “It was serendipitous it gave you an excuse to be free of your sister-in-law for a few hours. I am still uncertain how you can stomach her for such long periods. You are a better woman than I.”
Jane smiled and waited for the tea to be poured and the servant out of earshot before she responded. “She is not so bad all the time. There are times her veneer slips and she can be agreeable. Unfortunately, it’s tedious to wait for the next one to arrive.”
Both laughed and took the time to drink their tea and eat some scones. The two chatted about letters they both received from home. While Mary’s letters were dry and almost word for word to each, their mother wrote very long letters specific for the daughter she was writing to at the time. “Now, the pleasantries are finished, what is it Lizzy, I am worried” Jane prodded.
Lizzy rose from her seat too nervous to remain still, “Well, I fear it is of a very personal nature, and I hesitate out of a fear of embarrassment for me, and shock for you.”
Jane stood, nodding as she did so, “Then I suggest we take a walk and see how your orchids are fairing in the solarium. Shall we?” Jan walked over to Lizzy and looped arms with her as they stepped into the warmth of the London summer. Elizabeth missed the sun. In London the sun was always a hazy blob far away, while in the country it is a brilliant light that makes you squint when looking at it.
“I am sorry for troubling you with my worries, but you are the only person I trust with something so delicate.” Lizzy explained as they made their way into the quiet solitude of the glass solarium. The smell of fresh dirt and moss.
“We shared a bed for most of our lives, Lizzy, if you can’t talk to me about such things who should you talk to?”
“You are right. I am just not sure where to begin.” If Lizzy’s face was as red as it felt. How a person begins such a conversation she wasn’t sure. A good deep breath couldn’t hurt. “It has to do with intimacies between Darcy and myself.”
Jane turned with eyes filled with compassion as she always remembered him to be, “Oh dear, has he done something to hurt you? Has he frightened you?” She pulled Lizzy into a loving embrace.
“No. Nothing like that. He is exceptionally gentle and respectful to me,” The next would make her face flame. “That is more the problem.”
Jane pulled away looking at Lizzy and a wide smile broke out across her sister’s face. “Well, that we can work with. What might I ask, did mother tell you of the marriage bed?”
Lizzy made a snorting sound, “You mean between her twitters, and hands fluttering to her chest? Not anything helpful. She just said that my husband would know better how to tutor me, and that I should do as he asks.”
“Well, in that at least she was scripted. Perhaps we should make it a point to speak with our younger sisters before their wedding nights to save them from such awkwardness.”
“Yes, let’s.” Lizzy agreed, feeling more comfortable. She knew Jane would be the one to speak with about this.
“Let me make sure I understand your predicament, Darcy is being a gentleman. He comes to you when he wants relations, has you keep your night dress on, and barely spends more time than he needs, then bids you good night and leaves. It that a good summary?”
“Yes, how did you know?” Lizzy asked with shock and relief she wasn’t the only one. “I quite enjoy our time together, but can’t help but wonder if there was more missing. I just cannot conceive how to speak with Darcy in the light of day about such matters. You never know when a servant will walk in, or Georgiana. Do not take me as cruel, I love Georgiana, but it can make it awkward.”
Jane hugged Lizzy again, “Remember that book we found in father’s library?”
Lizzy laughed, “You’ve thought about that to have you? It was so naughty. We never should have read it.”
“You, dear Lizzy were the one who insisted. You said, and I quote, ‘How are we to ever know how to be a wife if we do not study the finer points.’”
“I did, didn’t I.”
“I am so grateful for you making me now. You are right Lizzy, if you can get Darcy to see you as something other than a fragile piece of crystal that may break you and he will have such a grand relationship. It was perhaps a month into our marriage, that I sent every servant we had off the property. Caroline was visiting their aunt in Bath, and I was at my wits end.”
“What did you do?” Lizzy asked in awe of how her sister had come out of her shell in the months after their marriage.
“I attended him in his study naked.”
“You what? Weren’t you worried someone would walk in?”
“No, because I gave strict instructions not to be on the grounds. Has Darcy seen you naked?”
“No. Like you said, he comes in and just folds my night dress up.” The tears sprang, threatening to overflow.
“Oh, now don’t get weepy. It is not, I have learned, because he does not care to look at you. It is because he loves you and not yet able to see you in the role as mistress. According to Bingly, they bring men up thinking of their wives one way and their mistresses another. I challenged him that I saw no reason that I couldn’t be both, since I enjoyed our time together.”
It warmed Elizabeth that she was not alone in this, and that there was hope. She walked over to a bench and sat, “I do not think I could force all our servants to leave. They have been working for his family for generations and they do not break protocol.”
“No, I suppose that would not be an option for you,” Jane sat next to her. “We are industrious women. I am sure we can come up with something. We just need to consider our options.”
The women sat in silence both scheming to get Lizzy and Darcy alone with no distractions. After many minutes Jane jumped up, “I have it. I know how we will get you alone.”
“Bingly and I are leaving for Netherfield next week to flee the heat of London. I will send you and invitation to come visit us.”
“Well, wouldn’t it be awkward for me to kick all of your servants from the house?” Jane was so confused.
“No, on the way to visit us, you will claim motion sickness just when you leave Merryton. Remember that small cabin on the property of Netherfield. We used to say it was haunted and make up stories about it?”
“Make Darcy stop there for the night. When he leaves the cabin to tend the horses, which he will have to do you can surprise him.”
“While I will handle things at Netherfield so Bingly doesn’t send out a search party.”
“Do you think that could work?”
“Of course it could. I will set to leaving food in the cellar so you won’t starve and I will make sure there is wood and candles with clean blankets. It will be perfect.”
Lizzy thought on Jane’s idea and the more she considered it, she liked it, “But, what do I do? What do I say? How do I instigate our intimacies without burning up with embarrassment?”
“I have a book I found in Bingly’s collection, I believe it belonged to his father. It proved exceedingly helpful. As soon as I return home, I will send it straight away.”
“Oh, Jane, what would I do without you as my favorite sister?” Lizzy hugged her, squeezing tight.
“Nonsense, we are here for each other, always.”
Elizabeth’s heart was light for the first time in weeks. She would seduce her husband. She hoped she wouldn’t shock him too much.