Deze inzending voor onze Pride and Prejudice schrijfwedstrijd is geschreven door Karen Holt.

Darcy stepped quietly into Pemberley’s library. The sun, just setting on this early summer evening, shone low through the long windows, adding a golden glow to the elegant furniture and ceiling-heigh walls of books. The quiet rustle of a page being turned made him smile, and he moved towards the chaise lounge. Set close to the windows, with its back to the door, the small couch provided the best in privacy and views the library had to offer, and had become his wife’s favourite place to read.

Not that the mistress of Pemberley had much leisure for it. Elizabeth’s first year in that role had been – he knew – exhausting. Mrs Darcy’s responsibilities were more than Miss Bennet of Longbourne could ever have imagined. Yes, she had ten times the number of servants, but ultimately, it was Elizabeth who must ensure the proper running of the massive estate’s home, as Darcy did its lands and tenantry. Planning daily menus, purchasing household goods of all kinds, making up linen required by family and staff, arranging gracious entertainment for guests – although an army of servants executed the countless details, all of them required Elizabeth’s constant direction and approval.

She had risen to the challenge with bravery, determination – and success. Yes, she had made mistakes. He would never forget how he found her sobbing when she discovered the new candles she had ordered by the hundreds produced more oily smoke than their less expensive price was worth. But her intelligence, curiosity, and warm, open nature helped her master the intricacies of her duties quicker than anyone expected, while winning her the respect and devotion of every soul in the house.

It had been a hard struggle with his pride

Elizabeth heard someone approaching, and glanced over her shoulder. The spontaneous pleasure he saw in her eyes – and the happiness he felt at her welcoming smile – confirmed for the thousandth time the wisdom of letting his heart dictate his choice of wife. It had been a hard struggle with his pride, after her first scornful rejection, but he now knew she had made him a better man – and continued to do so still.
Being alone, they exchanged a brief, warm kiss, before he settled comfortably at the foot of the chaise. “What entertainment are you bestowing your hard-won leisure on, my dear?” She tilted the title and he crooked his head. “Hmmmm…A Chronological Narrative of Lord Nelson’s Victories.” He regarded it long and thoughtfully, then said, “I’m pleased you are preparing so well for Admiral Crawford’s dinner tomorrow because I shall, of course, expect you – as an accomplished woman – to be able to discourse with him in detail on every aspect of Nelson’s campaigns.”

Elizabeth looked up with a startled, worried expression. Darcy struggled to keep looking stern and serious, but such teasing was still new to him, and Elizabeth – after briefly studying his face – burst out in delighted laughter. She turned around to let him enfold her in his arms. “You are right, my love. Perhaps I need not try so hard. We have both already learned the most important and difficult lessons. Shall we just let the future teach us the rest?”