I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to post this chapter but writing Miss Darcy’s Parisian Pin is taking a little longer than I expected. I’d hoped to have this out for May, but I’ve been a little distracted by a few ongoing writing projects so its publication has been postponed. I’m working on a few books as I write, and each one seems to demand my time. Still, there are so many lovely books coming out from all our authors there’s plenty to keep you all in wonderful reading material! I hope you’ll enjoy Chapter Two, and if you’d like to refresh your memory or read Chapter One, click here for the link!
When Georgiana returned from the folly, she could not say her spirits felt any better. Though she loved nothing more than riding out across the Derbyshire landscape of her home and being in the place where she and Antoine had shared their feelings, the sense of unease she’d felt on waking after her dreams still haunted her.
Think of me and I am sure my heart and mind will respond across the miles.
Ordinarily, those particular words scribed in his letter with such heartfelt affection worked their magic, and inspired a vision of Antoine to form in her mind. She felt he was with her, and the very air that stirred her curls seemed like an unseen hand caressing her hair. But this morning, she’d read his words over and over, and called his name out loud, to no avail. She couldn’t feel his presence, no matter how much she closed her eyes, and though the sun’s rays were warm, she’d felt a chill and shivered. It didn’t help that the last letter she’d received from Louise had been over a month ago. In it, Antoine’s sister had explained that they were to go travelling with their mother, visiting relatives who had escaped the wars in France to make new homes in Italy. Georgiana knew they were to spend some time at Lake Como and Verona, before heading on to Venice. Keeping up a correspondence was bound to be difficult, she reasoned, but Georgiana had hoped to have received word from Louise before now.
Fetching out the last letter from the rosewood box Georgiana devoured every word. One particular paragraph left her with mixed feelings.
After months of moping about showing no interest in anyone or anything, my brother is showing signs of recovery. Of course he still misses you very much, and you are ever in his thoughts, but finally I am seeing the brother I know best, one who loves to laugh and have a joke. I know you will think this is good news, and when you hear he is now having fun once more, and going out and about with his friends, you will rejoice like me.
Georgiana felt quite in two minds. Of course she wanted Antoine to be happy, but she couldn’t help feeling he must be in the process of forgetting all about her, and not for the first time did Georgiana wonder if going out with his friends included any of the female variety. It was so hard not to feel jealous of anyone else having his attention, and for a moment she wished she could forgo propriety and write to him herself. Only that would be impossible, and also fruitless, as she didn’t even know exactly where in the world she should send the missive. Besides, if anyone were to find out she’d attempted to write to him, she knew her brother would be angry, and any possibility of being united with Antoine would be lost. Georgiana heaved a sigh, put the letters back in their box, and tried very hard not to burst into tears.
There was a knock at the door just then, and though Georgiana was feeling despondent, she knew it could only be one person. Lizzy had her own special signal, two short raps before a pause and then two more. If it had been anyone else, Georgiana would have pretended she was elsewhere, but if anyone could make her feel better it was Lizzy. Darling Elizabeth really was like the sister she’d never had, and they’d become close in the few months Lizzy had been at Pemberley. Georgiana hastily blinked back the tears that threatened to spill over her cheeks, and bade her sister come in.
‘Georgiana, I have such news!’ said Elizabeth, putting on her most cheerful voice, and rushing to her side. ‘We are to take a little holiday.’
Georgiana was sitting at her dressing table and Lizzy saw straight away that her sister did not look happy. She hung her head, and her shoulders drooped.
‘Oh, my love, whatever is the matter?’
Lizzy knelt down at Georgiana’s side, taking up her hands in her own. She could see Georgiana’s eyes were red-rimmed, though she was trying her best to smile.
‘Lizzy, you will think me such a selfish creature for I am wallowing in self-pity. I am sorry to be so miserable when you’ve come to tell me such good news, but I cannot help myself. Sometimes I think I will never see Antoine again, and as the days go by I’m beginning to forget what he looks like. It’s May and nearly summertime, and December seems so long ago now, with all my memories fading away.’
‘I do know how hard it is for you, my dear. Being apart from loved ones is never easy. My sister Jane endured much time and heartache apart from her beloved Mr Bingley when he went away just as they were starting to know one another. We cannot always know there will be a happy outcome, but we can always hope, and generally I find if the course is true, all will lead to the right conclusion.’
‘You are such a comfort to me,’ said Georgiana squeezing Lizzy’s fingers. ‘I will try and be patient. If a little time apart is going to separate us forever then perhaps that means our relationship was never on a firm foundation in the first place. If Mrs Bingley could endure such a test, I am sure I can also.’
‘That’s the spirit, Georgiana,’ said Lizzy rising to her feet and perching on the chaise longue at the foot of the bed. ‘I am certain Monsieur de Valois is finding being apart from you just as tiresome.’
‘In her last letter to me, Louise suggested that Antoine was having fun once more, though she tried to reassure me that he spoke of me.’
‘And so he should be enjoying himself. He is a young man, and you are a young woman, both at a time of life where you should be having adventures, and seeing a little of the world.’
‘Yet I hope Antoine is not having too much of a wonderful time without thinking of me. When I think of all the distractions and entertainments he must be enjoying, I cannot help but feel envious.’
‘Well, we shall certainly try to give you a few amusements of your own. I’ve come to tell you we are going to Bath for a month or two – it’s not Venice, but I have heard there is plenty of diversion to be had.’
‘We are not going to London?’
‘No, I managed to persuade your brother you were not quite ready for a full season yet. I have postponed that until the winter, though I cannot say if we shall be able to delay until after Christmas.’
‘Oh, Lizzy!’ Georgiana jumped to her feet, pulling Lizzy with her and twirling her round. ‘Thank you, thank you. I cannot tell you how delighted I am not to be going to London, and I have always had a hankering to see Bath. I am sure it is every bit as beautiful as any town or city in Italy.’
‘I have seen paintings, and it looks very fine. We shall certainly find ourselves very grand on the Crescent, I am sure. The shops are talked of as some of the finest in England, as well as the Baths, the Pump Rooms, and the theatre being beneficial to our health and entertainment. The society is very refined, I believe, and there are balls every night.’
‘I do not care for balls so much, but I admit I enjoy a little shopping, and I love the theatre. Thank you, Lizzy, perhaps a change of air will do me good.’
The colour was returning to Georgiana’s cheeks, and even a smile played on her lips. Elizabeth had accomplished all she set out to do that morning, and as she left the room allowed herself the smallest grin of satisfaction. Perhaps a trip to Bath would help solve all their problems.