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Authors: Rebecca Ann Collins

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I am told, again by Jane Bingley, that since his marriage to Jessica, Julian
Darcy is a changed man, far more thoughtful and concerned for others, she
says, and his mother is said to be delighted. I do not doubt it.
    Catherine had no intimate knowledge of either Jessica Courtney or Julian Darcy, at least not since the days of their childhood, when Julian had visited Rosings with his parents. She had known little of the young man who had married her niece Josie Tate, and even less of the distinguished scientist who was now the husband of Jessica Courtney.
    Too enmeshed in the matters of Hunsford parsonage and Lady Catherine's concerns, she had been appalled by Josie's marital problems and her tragic death, but had little knowledge of Julian's situation. Characteristically, she refused to make adverse judgments or apportion blame upon either of them, without sufficient information.
    Distressed and guilt-ridden following her daughter's death, her sister Rebecca had confessed that Josie had at first been reluctant to accept young Julian Darcy's proposal, but had been persuaded by her mother to do so. Shocked by the revelation, Catherine had realised the sheer foolhardiness of such action, bringing happiness to neither partner and certain misery to both in due course.
    Now, seeing Julian and Jessica together, she recognised in them a couple whose mutual affection seemed to sustain them completely.
    Continuing her letter to her mother, Catherine wrote:
Julian and Jessica seem exceedingly happy. On occasions such as this, I cannot
help thinking of poor Josie. Becky feels it, too. She blames herself for much of
Josie's troubles and so, it would seem, does Mr Tate.
Becky is still unhappy about Mr Tate going off to America; he seems unlikely
to return to England. I do pray that she will find contentment again.
Emily Courtney sends you her love. She looks tired and much older than
her elder sister Caroline, yet Becky says she never complains. I have always
thought she had the kindest heart, yet she appears to have had the hardest
life of all.
And now to some really good news!
Tomorrow is Boxing Day and a big day at Pemberley. Young Anthony
Darcy is to accompany his grandfather to the function at which the household
staff and farm labourers receive their Christmas boxes. Cassy says he is very
excited indeed.
He is a handsome little fellow and devoted to his grandparents. Quite
obviously, Mr Darcy is very proud of him.
    Catherine's letter did not fully convey her feelings at seeing young Anthony Darcy, bereft not only of his unhappy mother but deprived also of the benefit of a father's influence in his life. A fine-looking, tall, intelligent lad, he was a credit to his aunt Cassandra, who had raised him with love and care to fulfil his destiny as the next master of Pemberley. Yet, to Catherine he seemed an unusually grave child. She could not help wondering how much he knew of his parents' predicament and to what extent this knowledge would colour his own life.
    It was a question to which she could find no answer.
    It was late and Catherine had almost concluded her letter, when the door opened and her husband entered the room. Seeing her still at the bureau, he hesitated, not wishing to disturb her, but she held out her hand to him and he came to her.
    "I am almost done, dearest, will you let me conclude my letter to Mama? I shall not be much longer," she said gently.
    "Of course," he said, staying with her while she completed her letter.
    She let him read over her shoulder as she wrote, knowing he would take pleasure from the last few sentences.
Frank sends his love and together with mine and Becky's, I hope it will help
keep you warm and happy this Christmas season. We expect to travel down
with Jonathan and Anna early in January and hope to spend a few days with
you before returning to Kent, to prepare for the opening of our parish school.
We are all very excited about it.
Dear Mama, you are much missed. I should have liked to tell you all
about our time in Italy, and I do so wish you could have been here with us to
see how deeply happy I am. Frank and I, though we are far from being rich,
want for nothing more than what we have now, for we have each other at last.
One thing I do know; we are on the threshold of a wonderful year! Do
take care, Mama, and mind that you avoid cold rooms and draughts, which
you know will make you ill.
God bless you,
Your loving daughter
Catherine Burnett.
    "There, it is done," she said, rising from her chair and turning to her husband, who had waited patiently for her.
    "Good, your mother will surely enjoy the news from Pemberley," he said, drawing her into his arms. "But I, too, have some news which I am quite certain will please you."
    When she seemed surprised, he added in a quiet, matter-of-fact way, "Mr Darcy wishes to make a donation towards the Parish school at Hunsford, in memory of his father-in-law, Mr Bennet."
    Catherine could not believe her ears; this was better news than she could ever have hoped for. Fixing him with a quizzical expression, she demanded to know, "Frank, is this your doing?"
    He smiled. "No—well, not entirely. I believe Jonathan Bingley has done a great deal more than I have. He has taken your cause very much to heart and of course, Mr Darcy values his opinion greatly. Indeed, I have only mentioned the matter of the school to Mr Darcy once, tonight before dinner, when he was showing me the treasures of the Pemberley library."
    "Did you say we needed money for the school library?" she asked.
    "I did not… at least not in so many words. I did mention the fact that you intended to use some part of your legacy from Lady Catherine to establish a library for the school, to which he responded that it would not be right that you should do so. Mr Darcy said no more at the time, but when we spoke again after dinner, he informed me that he had discussed the matter with Mrs Darcy and they had decided to make a significant donation to the school in memory of her late father Mr Bennet, particularly for the provision of a library."
    Catherine had no words to express her joy as she tightened her arms around him.
    "Oh Frank, I did tell you Mr Darcy was a most generous man, did I not?"
    "You certainly did," he said, smiling, "and it appears that like Mr Darcy, Mr Bennet also believed in the value of education and the importance of reading. Mr Darcy wishes very much to encourage you in your endeavour. He suggested also that I should break the news to you tonight, as a sort of late Christmas present."
    Her loving response was predictable and greatly appreciated. "He was right," she said, "I could not have asked for a better gift."
    As they prepared for bed, he asked, as though it were an afterthought, "Catherine, do you really believe this is going to be a wonderful year?"
    She replied without hesitation, "Indeed I do; what's more, I intend to enjoy every moment of it and you, my dear husband, are invited to join me."
    It was an invitation he could not possibly refuse.
Appendix
A list of the main characters in
Recollections of Rosings:
Mrs Catherine Harrison—daughter of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins.
Dr Harrison—her husband and parson of the parish of Hunsford.
Miss Lilian Harrison—their youngest daughter.
Rebecca Tate (Becky)—Catherine's sister.
Mr Anthony Tate—her husband, a publisher.
Mr John Adams—curator at Rosings Park.
Mr Frank Burnett—a former librarian at Rosings, who returns some years later
to assist with the conservation of the treasures of Rosings Park.
Mr Jonathan Bingley—son of Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley; nephew of the
Darcys, and a former manager of the Rosings Estate.
Anna Bingley—his second wife (his first wife, Amelia-Jane Collins, was killed
in an accident).
Anne-Marie Elliott—Jonathan Bingley's daughter. Colin Elliott MP—her husband, a member of Parliament.
Mrs Caroline Fitzwilliam (née Gardiner)—Elizabeth's cousin and wife of
Colonel Fitzwilliam of Matlock.
Lady Isabel Ashton—a London socialite and friend of Becky Tate.
Mr Joshua Armstrong—her cousin.
And from the pages of
Pride and Prejudice:
Mr and Mrs Darcy of Pemberley
Mr and Mrs Bingley of Ashford Park
Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Rosings Park
Colonel Fitzwilliam—Mr Darcy's cousin
Mrs Charlotte Collins (née Lucas) of Longbourn—Elizabeth's friend
Acknowledgements
The author acknowledges her debt to Miss Jane Austen, whose genius has been her inspiration.
    Special thanks to Ms Claudia Taylor for her invaluable research and advice, to Marissa O'Donnell for her artwork and to Robert and Anthony for technical help.
    To all those from Alaska to New Zealand, who read The Pemberley Chronicles series and write to say how much they love them, many, many thanks.
About the Author
A lifelong fan of Jane Austen, Rebecca Ann Collins first read
Pride and Prejudice
at the tender age of twelve. She fell in love with the characters and since then has devoted years of research and study to the life and works of her favorite author. As a teacher of literature and a librarian, she has gathered a wealth of information about Miss Austen and the period in which she lived and wrote, which became the basis of her books about the Pemberley families. The popularity of The Pemberley Chronicles series with Jane Austen fans has been her reward.
    With a love of reading, music, art, and gardening, Ms Collins claims she is very comfortable in the period about which she writes, and feels great empathy with the characters she portrays. While she enjoys the convenience of modern life, she finds much to admire in the values and world view of Jane Austen.
BOOK: Recollections of Rosings
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