Yet He Is Such A Man Shortly after Mr. Darcy's wedding to the lovely Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, he found himself in the library, late at night, giving some attention to estate accounts that he'd neglected since Hunsford.
Late into the night, as he bent his head over a pile of bills and income statements, he heard a knock at the door.
Thinking it would be his lovely wife, he immediately sat straighter, arranged his tie and called out, "Come in."
But the person who came in was the butler, Jenkins, an old man, older than Mr. Darcy's father and almost bent in two over a gnarly oak cane.
By the wavering light of the oil lamp on Mr. Darcy's desk, he looked like a ghost with flying white hair framing his parchment-yellow face.
"Yes, Jenkins?" Darcy asked, surprised to see the man who had been pensioned off some twenty years before and lived in a little house on the estate.
"Mr. Darcy." Jenkins spoke with a sound like hinges creaking. "As you know, I've been wandering in my mind and not as sharp as I used to be for some time now. Until yesterday, when my sister came and cleaned the cottage, I'd plumb forgotten your father's request."
He closed his mouth and stood there, swaying lightly on his cane, seemingly quite happy with what he had just said.
"My father's request?" Darcy asked, now thoroughly confused.
Mr. Jenkins nodded. "Right. The request your father made of me."
Darcy sighed. This was going to be difficult. After all, he couldn't shake a man who was near the century mark. Or rather, he could, but his other servants and tenants would take a dim view of it and the lovely Elizabeth was likely to think him proud again, when, in fact, he was just impatient. Very impatient. "But, what request? Speak man."
The old man tottered to the desk and lay a man-times folded, sealed letter upon it. "There. That. Your father wanted me to give you that. Only I forgot and it ended up on the nesting material for these chickens I keep. Hope you don't mind the er... stains."
And, having spoken, like a tottering oracle, the man made his way out of the office, before Mr. Darcy could ask him anything else.
Mr. Darcy looked narrowly at the grey and white stains on the envelope and sighed. Well. If it was his father's letter, he must read it. And yet, it was so fouled by the fowls that his heart shrank from the idea.
Reaching into his desk, he took out a pair of gloves he wore while riding. He could always buy new gloves, but he could not touch his Elizabeth with hands that had touched the foul fowl's emissions.
Thus protected, he broke the seal on the letter, with a sound similar to the opening of a very small tomb.
The first words he read made him shudder. His shuddering would only increase.
"Dear son," the letter read. "You should get this at your twenty first birthday, as I expect you to readdress an ill I never had the time to address while living. You never knew that before I married your mother and, indeed, before I succeeded to the estate I was only the second son and as such not regarded at all. I was suffered to go into the army where I lived a wild and dissolute life." Mr. Darcy stared at the letter, looked down at the signature, which was indeed his father's as he remembered it, then looked at the text of the letter again. "When I was twenty one, I chanced to fall wildly in lust -- I would have said in love -- with a Miss Menner, the daughter of a lawyer. Though she was a tradesman's daughter, I was only a second son and our match seemed assured. Only after we'd become engaged, my brother succumbed to the small pox. My father called me to learn to administer the estates. I did what any red blooded officer in the king's army would have done. I eloped with Miss Menner, to Gretna Green. My father did not succeed in catching us for over a month at which time Miss Menner was with child. You can well imagine your grandfather's distress. To annul our marriage, he had to make provisions for this girl and this very unwanted grandson of his. This he did, by getting the girl married to a long-time suitor of hers, a certain Mr. George Wickham and settling upon them a substantial sum. Then he annulled the marriage, Mr. Wickham taking full responsibility for the getting of the child which proved to be a boy. And I was brought home and soon contracted to a woman who was all respectability and sweetness -- your mother, Lady Anne Fitzwilliam. Another thing your grandfather did, and it was to settle some estates -- come from his mother's line -- upon the boy, George Wickham, should he prove worthy of the gift. Now that you are twenty one, Will, I suspect that George has just succeeded to the living at Kimpton. As well schooled and inclined to holy living as he is, there can be nothing wrong with him. So I enjoin you to give him the estates that have been held in trust for him by the firm of Phillips, Phillips and Lucas in Merryton Hertfordshire, (for which I have enclosed the deed and accounts) and that -- should you see it fit -- you allow him to use the name Darcy. I'm sure he could do nothing to disgrace it. Please respect this as my last wishes. Your father, George Darcy."
The scream Mr. Darcy uttered, upon finishing the reading of this letter sent his lovely Elizabeth running from her room.
By the time she opened the door to the library, however, she found her beloved laughing like a man who had lost his wits.
"My dear," she said. "What is wrong."
By only reply, he handed her a pair of gloves. "I see," she said. "And?"
"Oh, for heaven's sake put them on so I can show you the foul letter that the fowls have fouled."
Looking at him very narrowly, the former Miss Bennet realized that here was a man teetering at the very edge of sanity. A man who should not be tempted further.
She put the gloves on, then read the letter. At the end, she struggled to find words. "But--" she said. "He is a Darcy!"
"Yes," Mr. Darcy answered, grim and determined.
"And your father's last wishes are that you provide him with lands and a living."
"Amounting to about five thousand a year, yes."
"And allow him to use the name Darcy."
"Yes," Mr. Darcy answered through clenched teeth.
"Yet he is such a man."
"Yet there is nothing for it."
The Darcys looked at each other in sheer horror.
"Something must be done," Elizabeth said. "Perhaps he can be convinced to change his ways."
"But how?" Darcy asked.
The former Miss Bennet sighed. "I think we should ask aunt Catherine."
"Aunt Catherine?" Mr. Darcy asked, not believing that his wife could refer to the redoubtable lady in such a way.
"I heard that when she married her husband he was also a bit wild. Yet she brought him to heel in no time."
"The first thing," Lady Catherine said, posing in the best manner of an Italian painting, upon her chair, with her hand extended in oratory manner. "Is to ensure he marries a sensible woman."
"Too late," Mr. Darcy said. "He has already married."
"Yes, um..." Lady Catherine narrowed her eyes, at having to admit this fact. "I don't suppose the chit could be disposed of with money or an assassin."
"She is my sister," the Darcys said, in unison.
Lady Catherine sighed. "Yes. Um. Very inconvenient indeed."
"So, there is nothing to be done?" Darcy asked.
"Oh, Darcy, don't be ridiculous," Lady Catherine said. "There is always something to be done when men have to be trained. It's just that it's easier if it's the wife who contacts them. But I'm sure they'll understand the need in this case. In London, contact Mr. Fenris Eisen. He has his offices in Mudd Street, just off Hog's bridge. Tell him I sent him and explain your problem."
Mr. Darcy got up, not sure he liked the idea that men could be trained or that there was always a way to do it.
The office of Mr. Eisen was cramped and dark. Mr. Eisen himself was an enormous man, who wore a monocle and looked like he spent his spare time plotting the fall of various Royal houses.
He listened to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy's account with a grave expression, till the end.
"And I gather your... um.... half brother is not worthy of the name?" he asked.
"He was a smart and endearing child," Darcy said. "But as an adult, he grew too fond of wine, women and--"
"Song?" Mr. Eisen asked, hopefully.
"No," Darcy said, shuddering when he thought of Wickham's singing ability. "I was going to say gambling."
"Pity." Mr. Eisen sighed. "If it were song there are choirs in Italy to which he could be sent after a small operation."
Mr. Darcy choked and heard his wife cough behind him. "No," he hurried to say. "He is to be given an estate. I just want him made into a gentleman. A proper gentleman."
"I see," Mr. Eisen said. "Well, it shouldn't prove too hard. Which type of gentleman would you like him to be? Fatuous, fashionable or pious?"
"Oh, that's an extra charge. And we'll need to talk to his wife."
In the North country, a couple of weeks later, a man in a red coat ran from a group of very tall, very angry-looking men.
George Wickham ran as hard as he could. He couldn't remember how he'd got these men upset, but he was sure he'd done something. Between the gambling and the drinking and his hoping in and out of women's beds, he'd undoubtedly annoyed some father or brother or someone.
The street was dark and narrow and slippery, and he had drank way too much to run well. He could hear the sound of heavy boots behind him, and he ran as if his life depended on it. Which it might very well.
From behind him, he heard a voice call, "Come, come, Mr. Darcy. We only want to make you respectable," followed by wild laughter.
Beyond the fact that they'd confused him with Fitzwilliam Darcy, Wickham shuddered. Respectable would mean no more women or wine or... er... gambling. He hadn't dared sing since Darcy had punched his lights out for singing while fishing at five.
Only a few doors away. He was almost there. Home. And his lovely Lydia. And a sturdy locked door between him and these men.
Having gained enough of an advantage, he unlocked his door and hurried inside.
Lydia sat on a couch, reading a trashy novel and eating bonbons out of a box.
"Oh, Wicky, you're home. What fun."
George locked the door with fumbling fingers. "Thank Heavens I'm home, darling. You wouldn't believe what happened. These men were pursuing me and-- "
Behind him, he heard the door unlocking, felt it being forced open. Several, very large hands laid hold of him.
He blinked the sweat out of his eyes and looked at his wife who, he now noticed, was wearing a very nice dress. And since when did they have money for bonbons and trashy novels?
"Lydia," he screamed, with the fervor of a man betrayed.
"Oh, hush, Wicky. They just wanted a copy of the key."
"But, Lydia," he wailed. "They want to make me respectable."
Lydia smiled. "Yes, and then I shall be Mrs. George Darcy. Only think. Mrs. George Darcy. How well that sounds. And I shall have pin money and carriages and a house in town."
Wickham screamed as he was dragged backwards out of the room.
Months later, the still-Mrs.-Wickham, soon to be Mrs. George Darcy, and her in-laws toured the facilities where Mr. Wickham was being made into a new man.
"We've rarely had to use the rubber hose," Mr. Eisen said, showing them, through a glass as a straight-jacketed Wickham got pelted with jets of ice water. "The ice water treatment has proven most effective. We've given him a drug that makes him say whatever crosses his mind and whenever he speaks of wine or women or... er... gambling... we douse him. It's happening less and less frequently."
Mr. Darcy nodded approvingly, while George's maddened eyes fixed him in a desperate plea for help. "Can you do it when he threatens to sing, too?"
"Done," Mr. Eisen said. "He held two nurses at bay with an hymn for a day before we added that."
"But... women?" Lydia asked, fanning herself. "You mean, when he mentions any woman except me?"
"Oh." Mr. Eisen shook his head sadly. "No, you see, the process is not so fine that we can exclude a woman among many. I'm afraid Mr. Wickham, er... Darcy, will never have an interest in women at all again."
"Oh," Lydia said. "But then--"
"He will be much too fine a gentleman to remark if his wife should have male friends."
"Oh," Lydia perked up. "And we'll have the money to spend summers in Brighton with the militia. We have many friends there, indeed...." She smiled. "And I'll have carriages and pin money and jewels."
They left, ignoring Wickham's scream echoing behind them.
The treatment was, of course, wildly successful and soon the newly renamed Mr. George Darcy took over his vast estate.
Despite the fact that he seemed to have no interest at all in women, his wife included, he soon had three sons and five daughters. And if his children were of wildly varying body types and hair color, and one had the distinctive Denny over- bite, he was too fine a gentleman to remark upon it.
Indeed, Mr. George Darcy was accounted all a gentleman should be. And his mother in law derived great pleasure from talking about Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. George Darcy.
"There is only one thing," Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy told his wife late at night, ten years after all these events. "George is no longer fond of drink and women and gambling. But sometimes, when they're staying over, in the dead of night, I swear I hear him singing."
He sighed again. "Something about a bird in a gilded cage."