Viscount Andrew Blainsley is a character that appears today. He is completely fictional.
The research took until 1815, but Henry Cavendish's good friend Sir Humphry Davy did indeed develop a much safer lamp for miners. Some other scientists also created new lamps, but Davy's design was superior. He discovered that firedamp could not be ignited by a flame that was enclosed in a fine wire gauze. The lamp became known as the "Miner's Friend." Soon mines had new employees whose only job was to check the Davy lamps for cracks or corrosion before the miners went underground to work.
Henry Cavendish is still remembered as one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. He was always interested in science, not fame or glory. As a result, he published little of his work. After his death, members of the Royal Society read through Henry's journals, looking for new things to publish. However, Henry was ahead of his time on several fronts and many of his writings were not understood. Only years later, when some of Henry's scientific insights were rediscovered by new researchers, would the extent of Henry's genius truly be known.
Devonshire House, April 24, 1813
The Duke of Devonshire swept Princess Lieven around the crowed ballroom. Her dancing, like everything about her, was elegant and sensual.
They both enjoyed the little quivers and stirrings that accompanied their every interaction. It added tension and pleasure that would last for years to come. However, they both knew, without ever speaking of it, that they would never act on this physical attraction. Respect for Dorothea's husband forbid it. Besides, they were too closely tied and too needy of each other to risk the complications of an affair.
Both of their countries were still fighting France. Will and Dorothea, as friends and allies, were battling to expand the fragile alliance they had built. It would be nearly a year complete before Napoleon was finished.
At the same time, Russia was winning victory after victory in Persia and England strongly felt the threat to her imperial power. A new and deadly contest was beginning, a contest in which Will and Dorothea were already enemies.
Then, there was Elizabeth. Here there was no question of foe versus friend. In this, the Duke and the Princess would always act with one mind. Anyone wishing to harm their charge had best beware. Caroline Bingley had already discovered this, much to her despair and disgrace.
Gracechurch Street, November 26, 1812
Charles Bingley sat sipping a brandy. He was in a most elegant and comfortable chair that sat in a fashionable and spacious drawing room. He was more than pleased that he had found such a fine house within Caroline's now limited means.
Caroline Bingley, however, was fit to be tied. The only reason that she was now silent was that she was too hoarse to speak, let alone scream. Screaming was clearly what she wished to do. She had done that, continuously, on the long journey from Scarborough. Finally her body had declared it could no longer take the abuse. Her raw and swollen throat insisted upon a rest.
Fortunately, Charles had let most of her three day diatribe just flow past him. When he did respond, his voice was always calm and he repeated the same things to her, time and again.
"I warned you. Any gossip about the Duke and Miss Elizabeth and you would find yourself on your own."
"It is only for the sake of Aunt Julia that your permanent residence will be in London and not Scarborough."
"You cannot afford a house in Mayfair."
"No, you may not live in my house."
"No, I will not outfit you for the season."
"This area of Gracechurch Street is perfectly respectable, elegant in fact."
"Yes, the Bennet's uncle does live nearby."
"You forget, Caroline. You are a tradesman's daughter."
"No, Caroline. The Hursts will not take you in. They have refused. They are not interested in the wrath of a Duke.
"No, Louisa will not come and speak to you."
"Yes, I am sure she is increasing."
"No, she does not want her sister to help her through such a time."
"Yes, your whole fortune will be in your own hands."
"If you spend your funds in such a way, you will have no income and no dowry."
"No, I will not supplement your income. You will never get another halfpenny from me."
"Yes, once you are settled, you may do whatever you wish. But, you best be careful, your twenty thousand pounds is all you have. I wash my hands of you."
Charles smiled at his mute but furious sister. "One more thing, Caroline, do find a companion. It is unseemly for even a tradesman's daughter to live alone. Mrs. Jones has agreed to stay for only two months." He tipped his glass at his sister before draining the final liquid. "Good bye, sister." Then, he was gone.
For the first two weeks, Caroline sent message after message to her brother and her sister. She ordered each to come and get her. Neither replied. She would have gone herself, but she could not abide traveling in a hackney and she had no coach of her own. Besides, she could not risk being turned away from her own siblings' doors. What if someone she knew saw that happen?
She had to change tactics. She had only one man servant. If he was always out delivering messages and waiting for answers, he could do nothing else. With only a cook, a maid, her abigail and this one man servant, much was being left undone and Caroline's comfort was in peril. So, she reduced the number of messages to only two per day, one each for Charles and Louisa.
When Christmas came and went without a word from either, Caroline began to realize that she might truly be on her own.
Well, she would show them! She was not about to reside on Gracechurch Street, nor to live without a carriage or proper servants. As to forgoing a new wardrobe for the coming season, that idea was absurd. Caroline was, after all, a wealthy woman. If she used some of her dowry, so what? Mr. Darcy was in no need of her dowry anyway.
So, as distasteful as the idea was, Miss Bingley would conduct some business. She would acquire a proper house, a carriage and all else she needed. It was unfortunate that her inexperience left her vulnerable to abuse in these transactions. But, for Caroline's purse, her attitude of obvious disdain was her own worst enemy. The honorable tradesmen would normally have protected an innocent female in such a circumstance. In this case, to a man, they felt no guilt at all when they lined their own pockets.
Thus, Caroline Bingley found a house to lease in Mayfair, at nearly double the going rate. So it went with nearly everything else: her carriage, the horses with bad teeth and greying coats covered in boot black, and the smiling man who called himself a business manager. Only in the acquisition of and wages for new servants did Caroline hold her own. She did, after all, know how to manage a house.
Still, her new home was only partially ready. She would store most of owner's furnishing and replace them with ones that were more fitting to her own wealth and status. Caroline's new carriage had been delivered and now she would shop. She nodded in approval as her eyes took in the coach, the driver and her footmen. How well they were all matched! The colors would be the envy of the ton!
Several days later, Caroline sank into the soft carriage seat as she headed home. Today had been particularly gratifying. Her new, one of a kind china was superb.
Madeline Gardiner had pulled her husband into the back room as soon as she recognized the snobby creature who had entered their shop. Mrs. Gardiner would stay hidden. Miss Bingley had never laid eyes on Edward before, so he would deal with this woman who had so wounded dear Jane.
The smell and arrogance of new money was all over this Caroline Bingley. Edward saw at once the chance for some small revenge, not to mention the opportunity to rid himself of this hideous china. He had left a setting of it in his showroom, certainly in the hopes of one day selling it, but more importantly as a reminder of his own folly.
The woman who had made the special order bore some remarkable resemblances to Edward's sister Fanny. Both showed far too much cleavage and far too few genteel manners. However, he knew who her husband was. That man could afford this order many times over. What Edward had not known was that the husband had finally put a stop to the woman's frivolous spending. Gardiner had not asked for a deposit nor gotten a signed contract. He had no way to insist upon payment when the husband refused the final bill. For Edward's own fledgling reputation, he had to pay his artisans. Yes, that overly gilded and entirely tasteless setting had provided, for years, a visual reminder of how not to do business.
"Ah, yes, Miss Bingley. I am not quite sure that I should let these go. They were made for foreign royalty, you know. With all the wars, they have been unable to return to England to claim them."
It had cost Caroline only twenty percent above his original price to get the foolish shopkeeper to give up the exquisite dinnerware, even after all of his moaning about disappointing royalty. Well, that was his problem not hers.
Gardiner smiled as Miss Bingley's carriage pulled away.
Caroline was finally ready. The guest list for her first formal dinner in her new Mayfair home included only titled, first circle names, except for Mr. Darcy, of course. He did not yet have the title that she would secure for him. When a full complement of single line rejections came in, Caroline's tantrums cost her two of her maids.
When she finally calmed down, she realized that all these friends must still be in the country. She should have paid calls first, to determine who was in town, before she sent out invitations. How silly of her!
So, her calls began. Undaunted by the numbers of people who 'were not at home,' Caroline persisted and did find herself admitted to several fashionable homes. Not one to waste any opportunity, her best gossip flowed freely.
When the rumors made their way to the ears of Princess Lieven, she did indeed know how to act.
Less than a fortnight later, the Lieven's home was sparkling and the din of the heavy crowd nearly drowned out the small orchestra's music.
Dorothea heard the beautiful, young Duke beside her release a heavy sigh. She followed his eyes and saw that Miss Bingley had just entered the room.
"Such a sigh, Your Grace. Do not tell me that you are feeling pity for her?"
Will was thoughtful for a moment. "I suppose I do feel some pity. However, my sigh was for her brother. I did, I do value him." Several more moments passed in silence. Will had written to Charles, giving him one more chance to handle things on his own. Bingley's response had been two lines. "I have washed my hands of her. Do as you see fit."
What Will did not tell Princess Lieven was that part of his melancholy was due to having used knowledge inadvertently gained from the Old Duke's trunk.
Dorothea patted Will's arm. "Just think of Elizabeth as this all unfolds."
Will gave a brief squeeze to the Princess' hand and nodded.
Viscount Andrew Blainsley had the reputation of a cold-hearted rake. He was a clever man and fed this reputation at every turn. Long ago he had secreted substantial funds outside England. His most private life was always a danger. If it was exposed, he was ever ready to quickly flee. Banishment abroad was preferable to a hangman's noose.
The ton's most infamous rake had never, not once, bedded a woman. In his arrogance, he had been sure that only those of his own kind were aware of his true nature. A quiet game of chess with the Duke of Devonshire had put paid to that. Young William Cavendish knew of Blainsley's dalliances with men, in alarming detail.
Yet, Blainsley had not headed for the nearest port. Somehow he actually trusted this Duke.
"I ask this not as blackmail, but as a favor. If you grant it, I will be forever in your debt."
"And if I refuse?"
"Then you shall have no reason to fear me. I will not expose you. Not ever."
Blainsley had agreed. He truly believed that Devonshire had approached him looking for someone safe of whom to ask this favor. The deed would be done and each man knew he now had an ally in the other.
The Viscount waited until just the right moment. Two of the ton's most prolific gossips were positioned near Miss Bingley. Blainsley went over and took Caroline by the arms, leaned in close to her ear, and growled a little too loudly. "Stop following me around you little whore! And stop begging! I will never grace your bed again. Find someone new to scratch your notch!"
Blainsley immediately left the ball. It took mere minutes for the scandalous news to travel through the entire room. Caroline Bingley was cut by each and every person to whom she tried to issue her denials. Her carriage took her home from her last ever London ball.
The Duke and the Princess had each done their parts. Will had rid the ton of Caroline and Dorothea had made sure the slander about Elizabeth was nowhere believed.
Devonshire House, April 24, 1812
Countess Fitzwilliam moved over to her youngest son. His manner all evening had been easy and jovial. His mother, however, saw that sadness never left his eyes. Should she need any more proof of his low spirits, Richard was not waltzing spoke for itself. She knew the cause of his despair. They had already discussed the hopeless situation. All the Countess could do for now was to offer him the comfort of her arm.
Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam did not remain in the military out of necessity. It was true that he was a second son, but his family was enormously wealthy. His parents had seen to his comfort and security, now and in the future.
No, Richard was very much his father's son. Duty was everything. Military intelligence was where he could best serve. It was perfect for his particular skills and now the Crown had called on him for further sacrifice. He could not say no.
His eyes roamed over to Devonshire waltzing with the Russian princess. What a fitting scene! Britain and Russia twirling elegantly through the world, all the while each seeking advantage, a sign of weakness, a way to take control. Richard Fitzwilliam had been pulled into the latest version of this deadly dance. It was the fight over power in central Asia and would come to be known as The Great Game.
His eyes continued on and he found Darcy and Elizabeth. He could almost feel the heat of their connection from where he stood. Jealousy and despair flowed through him. The desire of Richard's heart was far in the north. Duty held him to London and would soon take him to foreign shores. Jane's year of mourning might be over, but that did Richard no good. He could not go to see her. Propriety forbid him from even writing to her. If the fates were particularly perverse, it may even be years before he was able to set eyes on her again.
Richard did not know that he had let out another sigh until he felt his mother gently squeeze his arm.
Will was particularly proud of the happy face he had shown as he announced the betrothal during supper. The reaction of his guests was everything he expected, an entertaining combination of thrills and disappointments. He had particularly enjoyed the moment when a mass of Royal Society men had descended on Darcy to offer 'congratulations.' Warnings was a more appropriate term. If Darcy made Elizabeth unhappy, it was not one irate father that he would have to deal with, it was many.
As the evening drew to a close, Darcy went outside to personally thank and send home the special guards he had put in place for the night. These men had one duty only, to keep any de Bourgh from the premises. Thankfully, Darcy's worries about his relatives making a scene were unfounded. Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh had not appeared this night.
After he had let the final guests out, Norris locked the great front doors. It was a night for sighing, but the one from Norris was not due to sadness, it was due to relief. The evening had come and gone without any hitches. More importantly, near a full year had passed without scandal. Conviction had settled over him as the evening had perfectly progressed. Gardiner was safe. Norris would not have to deliver the Old Duke's orders to Blevins. Miss Elizabeth's kindly uncle would be allowed to keep his business and proceed with a life of his own making.
Will ordered a great fire to be built in his study before he sent most everyone to bed. A few guards remained on duty, including one outside the study's doors.
The Sixth Duke of Devonshire stared at the wall of books, beyond which lay the safe. His father's words swam through his head. "One day. One day William, you will realize that you are, all you are, is the Duke of Devonshire. When that day comes, open this safe."
No Father. Will remembered how he had answered the man at that time. I will not only be the Duke of Devonshire. I am a man. I am a part of humanity. If being nothing but Devonshire is what is required, I will never open this safe. I will not become you.
Will finished his brandy, removed his coat and cravat, and then opened the safe and placed his father's trunk over near the fire.
He opened the lid and stared at the letter. Well, Father, you would be proud. I am indeed become the Duke of Devonshire. I have the blood of two men on my hands. I have used some of your knowledge to gain an evil favor from an otherwise harmless man. But now your game is over. As a matter of fact, the whole set of games of all this line of Devonshires will end here with me. Tonight I gave away the only woman I will ever love. I can safely say that your direct line is about to die, dearest Father.
Will poured himself another brandy. As he sipped the fiery liquid, he slowly burned everything in the trunk, starting with the unopened letter from his father.
The former Mrs. Lydia Wickham lived a remarkably happy life. She had not been two months at her new estate when she was caught in a most compromising situation with a local second son. His parents were very pleased. Their holdings were small and if not for this marriage, he would have left home to find his own way in the world. They were happy to see him settled on this nearby estate even if his new wife was a little lacking in manners. For the couple themselves, he was delighted to find his randy widow still a virgin and she was an eager participant in the newfound joys of the marriage bed. George Wickham may have been handsome, but he had never inspired the fluttering that her new husband did.
The new couple never left Ireland. Funds were always short. However, the steward that Darcy had left in place made sure that they never exceeded their income. In time, Lydia's new husband even learned to care for and improve the estate.
Catherine Hervey did not enjoy the same kind of felicity in her eventual matrimonial bed. However, she made a very acceptable society match during her first season. Her husband's estate was in Scotland and Kitty's new Town bronze made her a shining leader in the small community. Her husband was pleased with her and she with him. Kitty did not miss the physical pleasures that she did not know existed.
To the surprise of everyone except Mary, Jane and Houghton, it was Mary who married the good vicar.
Jane continued in her good works at Darlington. Who knows if, in the fullness of time, the excellent Colonel Fitzwilliam might make his way back there?
Mrs. Philips held her sister's hand as Mrs. Bennet's life force slowly drained away. The mulatto daughter survived and Jane Philips sent her to be raised among the household slaves. After all, it would not do for some of her own blood to be laboring in the fields.
The widow Philips somehow escaped the perils that claimed the lives of twenty percent of the white islanders every year. She lived to a ripe old age. As one of few British 'ladies' on the island, she happily took on the role of sought-after-hostess to all the soldiers and gentry who came and went.
No one ever discovered, nor even remembered to investigate, the reason for Longbourn being given to such a bumbling, distant relation as Mr. Collins.
Chatsworth, October 14, 1785
Henry had enough of being so close to people. He always came to every Cavendish and Grey christening, every one. That did not make it any easier to be around all these people. His breathing and heart rate were just returning to normal as he approached the small, hidden pond. He would be safe here.
Suddenly, he became aware of crying nearby. It was a round little boy, surely no older than four or five. Henry approached the lad slowly and sat down. Finally the boy stopped crying and Henry spoke gently. "I, too, am sad. What is it that has you upset young man?"
The boy looked at Henry warily at first and then seemed to decide that he could trust this odd, old man. "My mommie always comes with me when we go to church to see the new babies."
"Your mommie is not here today?"
"She is dead." The boy's voice was flat.
Henry's heart ached, both for the boy and for Henry's own missing mother.
"What is your name, son?"
"Are you a Cavendish?"
Little William nodded. "My mommie says I am. Her mommie was a Cavendish. She says that makes me one too. But my name is Collins. William Collins."
Henry Cavendish never forgot this little boy. When he finally decided to deny Fanny Longbourn, this boy's tear-filled face was the first thing that came to mind.
Mr. Collins and Charlotte brought only one child into the world, a daughter. Although their daughter was a little worse than 'so very plain,' she did have one large advantage. Miss Collins was heiress to Longbourn, an unentailed estate.
Charles Bingley married a beautiful daughter of a prominent Scarborough tradesman. They purchased a handsome nearby estate and Charles learned to be a responsible landowner. True to the wishes of both grandfathers, the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bingley were born gentry.
Caroline took her much reduced fortune and her battered reputation back to Scarborough. She was allowed to move into the old family home after Aunt Julia went to live with Charles and his wife on their new estate. Caroline lived her life out in a very confined society and never married.
Thankfully, Anne de Bourgh's behavior toward Darcy had not been borne of mental illness. It was instead the result of that special kind of frustration known only to the completely spoiled on the occasion of first being denied something.
Lady Catherine finally convinced her daughter that Darcy was forever lost. A pale, sickly Rosings' heiress could not compete with the Cavendish status and fortune. Anne, however, was not to be denied a husband and eventually purchased one by signing over Rosings to a nearly bankrupt, elderly Earl. Much to Anne's chagrin, he insisted on consummating the marriage. The Earl may have been a spend-thrift, but in other ways he was no fool. The possibility of an annulment would not threaten his newly acquired wealth. The timing of the wedding night proved fatal for Anne. She did not survive the pregnancy.
Poor Lady Catherine found herself banished to the dower house. From there, she watched in horror as the Earl stripped Rosings of most of its value. Her own personal fortune dwindled apace as she tried to alleviate some of the sufferings of tenants and servants. She would never have previously believed it to be possible, but she blessed the day when the de Bourgh estate was sold. It was purchased by a handsome and kind couple who worked to restore it to its former glory. Lady Catherine lived many more years, watching her beloved estate once again become prosperous.
Prince and Princess Lieven were finally called back to Russia in 1834. She was most unhappy to leave London. Her unhappiness turned to devastation when her two youngest sons died suddenly. The Princess removed from service to the Tsar and fled to Paris. There she lived out her life, consoling herself with intellectual pursuits. She and Elizabeth never lost their friendship.
Lady Amabel Hume-Campbell received a Grey family title in her own right when she was created 1st Countess de Grey of Wrest in 1816. She doted on her Darcy 'grandchildren' at every possible opportunity.
The beautiful William Cavendish never married and became known as the Bachelor Duke. He spent his life in service to the Crown. After a year of mourning the loss of Elizabeth, he tired of being alone. His mistresses were many and legendary. The Victorian Cavendish heirs worked hard to burn all the letters that revealed Will's private life.
It was nearly two years before Mr. and Mrs. Darcy again set foot on England's shores. When they arrived, it was with a dark-haired, bright-eyed heir whose mother was again heavy with child. In all, Elizabeth would bear Darcy five sons and one much cherished daughter.
Elizabeth finally laid eyes on Pemberley some three months after the birth of her second son. From the moment that she first saw it, she knew she was home. It was the first real home that Elizabeth had ever known.
The wanderlust created by their two years abroad never left them. Over the years there were many times that an entire army of footmen, maids, guards, nurses, governesses and tutors would accompany the Darcy family to far-flung destinations.
Nonetheless, true to their natures, all this travel never interfered with the Darcys' duties to their estates and dependents nor with Elizabeth's honoring the scientific part of Henry's legacy.