Elizabeth and her relatives bid farewell to Mrs Reynolds not long after Miss Darcy's arrival. They thanked her most profusely, for her wonderful insight on their tour of Pemberley. As Miss Darcy had offered to show them around the gardens the next day, they decided to retire back to the Lambton Inn for the evening. They did not know it just yet, but Elizabeth and the Gardiners were going to be in for a very special treat the next day. From the moment Miss Darcy set foot into Pemberley house, the servants themselves could see a major transformation in her character. She, who usually shied away from conversations, could be seen conversing with the butler and other servants. Naturally, all the staff were intrigued as to who this Miss Elizabeth Bennet was. Despite Miss Darcy's incoming headache, she could not help but divulge all she knew to her lady's maid – from when she drew water for her bath, and all the way until she was ready and dressed for bed. Her maid who had heard the unabridged version of Georgiana's story could not wait to share the news with the other maids of the house. Clearly, their master had feelings for this Miss Bennet, especially if he took the time to write his sister about this special lady in not one, but multiple letters. It appeared as if Mr Darcy had detailed everything from Elizabeths looks to her interests.

By nightfall, every servant in Pemberley was well aware of the events that had occurred that very day. Word had spread of a mysterious lady who had somehow captured the heart of their master and his sister. Yes, they were referring to one Miss Elizabeth Bennet. No doubt, Mrs Reynolds would have added to Georgiana's story of what she had learnt from her interaction with the younger woman. She seemed content with how everything had turned out and was rather pleased with herself. She believed that Elizabeth would make a fine mistress and would be an appropriate female companion for Georgiana, instead of acquaintances like Caroline Bingley. The Darcys only extended invitation to Miss Bingley out of pure politeness. Everyone knew that all she wanted was to be mistress of Pemberley. Mrs Reynolds scoffed at that – her master would rather be a bachelor than marry the likes of that woman. She never did understand how her personality could be so different from her brother Charles, who was a great and true friend of their master.

There would be no sleep for the entire household that night, except for Georgiana who was already in a deep sleep, exhausted from her days of travel. Pemberley was abuzz with excitement. This universal feeling would most likely be felt throughout for many more days to come, perhaps even weeks. A few laundry and parlour maids were huddled together speaking in hushed tones about Miss Darcy's special guest; the head housekeeper and other maids were frantically adding final touches to the house, making sure everything was in pristine condition; and the head chef was busy creating various pastries, ready for their arrival that afternoon. Pemberley was going to put its best foot forward, and be on its best behaviour.

Georgiana woke at the break of dawn, feeling extremely well-rested. Sunlight had just begun to trickle into her room, bringing out the lush green turquoise curtains which framed the windows and her bed canopy. The curtains featured golden ornate leaves which were absolutely stunning, but not gaudy; it was a perfect balance, just enough to add a touch of elegance and character to the very room. Georgiana lay back against the plush pillows in absolute bliss. She had not had a good night's sleep for the last few days and was glad to be home, in her own bed. She wondered if she had truly met Miss Elizabeth the previous day, or whether it was just another figment of her imagination. The more she thought about seeing her again, the more nervous she became. She had never hosted guests of such importance before and would hate to leave a bad impression. Her brother was due to return home that very afternoon, about the same time of Elizabeth's arrival. Miss Darcy suddenly smiled. She had an idea, one that involved Mrs Reynolds.

After a long agonising wait and many hours of complete anxiousness for everyone involved, the time had finally come. Two horses were readied and saddled by the stablemaster, and the coachman and footman each took their final positions by the summer barouche carriage. They were to head into the neighbouring village to pick up the Gardiners and Miss Elizabeth, with the compliments of Miss Georgiana Darcy. There was much excitement in the tiny village of Lambton when they spotted the unmistakable carriage. The Darcys were extremely well respected in town, not just from their support of local businesses, but also of their generosity and friendliness with the people. The locals were intrigued when they saw Madeline Gardiner, her husband and her niece helped into the carriage by the footman. Mrs Gardiner grew up in Lambton during her younger years, so the locals knew her quite well, and through that connection, they also knew of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. There had been some talk circulating the town that the master of Pemberley had arrived back home just yesterday. Oblivious to those travelling in the carriage, rumours began to circulate within the town, and slowly spread from one town to another.

The carriage ride to Pemberley was a nice surprise and a wonderful way to start their day. The driver proceeded to take an alternate scenic route, where they were able to glimpse a taste as to Pemberley's picturesque gardens. Elizabeth gasped. There were hidden lakes, grottoes, streams and pantheons at every turn. She could imagine the gardens stretching out for at least a hundred acres over the horizon, with its rose and water gardens. It was like something out of those mythical books that she loved as a child – full of whimsical excitement and opportunities for her imagination to run wild. The Gardiners were equally amazed, occasionally pointing out various sections of interest and engaging in light conversation with the coachman. Not long afterwards, their coach began to slow. Right by the lake was single marble pergola. There was no obstruction in its sight, except sweeping views of the gardens and the meadow beyond. It was tranquil and melancholic; the perfect escape if one desired peace and quiet amongst the bustling nature of Pemberley.

When they alighted from the carriage, a few of Pemberley's staff, Mrs Reynolds and Miss Darcy herself were there to greet them. The staff appeared to be even more attentive to them than previously, especially to Miss Elizabeth. Once more, the loyal housekeeper began with the introductions. "Mr and Mrs Gardiner, Miss Elizabeth. Welcome once again to Pemberley. I trust that the journey was uneventful."

"Not at all, thanks to you and to Miss Darcy for inviting us to tour the gardens!" Mrs Gardiner expressed her joy and thanks on behalf of the three of them.

"I would love to show you the main pantheon after tea, and if time permits some of the hidden streams and grottoes. They are my favourite spots. But first, how about a pot of tea!" It was clear that Georgiana was extremely excited and wanted nothing more than to drag them inside.

Elizabeth and the Gardiners could not believe what they were seeing. Inside was a large table filled with mouth-watering delights. It felt mystical, like a dream, as if each dish had its own character, all intricately displayed. This was not just any ordinary tea; it was as if they had stepped into a banquet fit for welcoming Kings and Queens. There were fresh fruits sourced from Pemberley's very own gardens, upside-down cakes with caramel glaze, apricot and almond tartlets, compote of pears, sugar dessert biscuits, assorted pastries, queen cakes, sweet buns and baked bread, which were still warm, fresh from the oven. Each dish was a work of art. The unmistakable faint scent of freshly brewed tea soon filled the entire space, and everyone wanted nothing more than to sample the wonderful creations right in front of them.

"Please help yourself to anything. I'm afraid the head chef went overboard and cooked many of my favourites." Georgiana explained, gesturing at the entire table.

"I wouldn't know where to begin." Elizabeth looked around in wonder at the sheer variety of foods.

"What would you suggest Miss Darcy?" Mrs Gardiner asked her.

She beamed at them and immediately began pointing out several pastries and fresh produce that simply could not be ignored.


Mr Darcy was exhausted, but at least his business relating to Pemberley's estate had finally been resolved. He could not wait to return home to be with his sister and have a well-deserved sleep. He wondered how his friend Charles was doing. His best friend had decided to rekindle his relationship with Miss Jane Bennet and was to leave this very day for Longbourn. That decision was courtesy of Mr Darcy's visit. Not even three days ago, Mr Darcy had travelled to London to speak to Charles directly, something to do with the Bennet's eldest daughter. His last conversation with Elizabeth ended on a rather sour note, and he often found himself reliving that occasion over and over, like being stuck in an infinite time loop. For too long, he had been living with his mask of indifference, sometimes even without knowing, and it had become second nature to him. Elizabeth blamed him for breaking her sisters' heart. He had not meant to cause heartache to Elizabeth or her sister, but at the time, he had thought that she was after his friend's fortune. He realised that he was wrong and needed to correct his mistake before the love of his life was lost to him forever.

His meeting with Charles had gone as planned. As anticipated, his friend was overjoyed to learn that Miss Jane Bennet returned his feelings. He could not remain angry at Darcy. The master of Pemberley did not know it, but it was the sight of him apologising that humbled Charles so immensely, that he forgave him instantly. Darcy looked so uncomfortable, so ridiculous, that it took a lot of control for his friend not to laugh outright. It was also pure luck that Caroline was out with her sister that morning. If they were around, Charles would have definitely lost his temper. It seemed that his friend had finally grown a backbone, taking on the full role of being the head of his family, and not letting his sisters influence his decision. That to Darcy was an achievement by itself. He hoped that if he repaired the relationship between Charles and Jane, then there would be some redemption in Elizabeth's eyes. Right now, he could only pray that he was not too late.

It was not long before their master was spotted entering the first bend of Pemberley's grounds. The stable boy discreetly signalled to another staff member, who signalled to another, until the message had reached its final destination, Mrs Reynolds. She promptly made her way to intercept Mr Darcy's path. The staff were on a mission. They were going to carry out Miss Darcy's plan to perfection.

"Good afternoon Mrs Reynolds." Mr Darcy greeted her with an inclination of his head.

"Good afternoon sir. How was your trip?"

"My business went rather well. How is my lovely sister? Has she settled in well?"

"Miss Darcy has settled in most marvellously. Apparently, a friend of hers toured the house just yesterday. Your sister insisted on her and her relatives in returning today, to have tea." Mrs Reynolds suddenly dropped to a whisper, "If you ask me for my opinion, sir, I haven't seen her this happy in a long time." She pondered for a moment as if she was trying to remember something. "Oh yes, I almost forgot. Your sister mentioned that you are acquainted with her. Perhaps you would like to meet with them later, but first, you need a bath young man. I will not have you embarrassing your sister and her lady friend." She looked disapprovingly in mock humour at his somewhat dusty travelling clothes.

Mr Darcy was surprised. That did not sound like his sister at all. She had never hosted someone for tea, especially not by herself. At first, he assumed Georgiana had made a new friend whilst being away from home the last few months, but it would seem he is already acquainted with them. There were not many lady companions that he and his sister were both acquainted with. Every unmarried female seemed to be after his fortune, or if their roles were reversed, after his sister's fortune. He hoped to dear god that it was not Caroline Bingley. Surely Charles would not be so naive as to send his sister and relations to Pemberley while he was off to visit the Bennets at Longbourn. He would not be able to deal with them at this point in time – especially Caroline, that woman's constant fawning was an eyesore. It was a miracle he had managed to remain civil for so long.

"And do you happen to know the name of this acquaintance?" He pretended to appear uninterested, but his voice was rather strained and somewhat reserved.

"I believe Miss Darcy called her a Miss Elizabeth Bennet"

He froze, his mind blank and his thoughts focused on that name. "Elizabeth is here? In Pemberley?" Mr Darcy's thoughts of Elizabeth suddenly assaulted his senses, his mind in a daze. He was so shocked that he did not realise he had spoken his thoughts aloud, nor that he addressed her improperly, by her first name. At that moment, he did not care how improper he came across. It was more important that she, who had been constantly on his mind the whole summer, was finally here in his home, in his gardens. He had to see her. His mask had slipped for a brief second, but it was long enough for Mrs Reynolds to catch a glimpse of a hopeful, longing look. It was strikingly similar to Miss Elizabeth's expression during the tour, and it did not take a genius to work out what it meant.

"Why, yes sir." The housekeeper showed no indication that she had noticed his slip-up, except for her slightly upturned lips.

A million thoughts raced through his mind. He wanted to go immediately to where they were and surprise them both. However, Mrs Reynolds was right. He definitely needed a bath and a change of clothes, especially if he was meeting her. It would not do to venture out underdressed in his days' old clothing. With that, he walked briskly into the house and ascended the stairs taking a few steps at a time. He had no time to lose. The housekeeper, who was left standing outside the house, could not help but feel a great sense of accomplishment. As she made her way into the home, the butler greeted her with a cheeky wink and a grin. Success.