Her only choice was to sneak out of the house. With tears streaming again down her face, she pulled out the heavy black cloak that she wore when she went for long walks at Pemberley. It was not elegant enough for London, but for some reason she had wanted to bring it with her last time she came, and how fortunate that was! She slung it over her arm and picked up her bandbox and bonnet and opened her door very slowly.

The hall was silent and still. Everyone must be fast asleep. She took a slow, deep breath and stepped into the hall, making her way carefully to the back stairs. The servants' stairs were very steep, and she would have to be careful going down with her armload of cloak and bonnet and bandbox.

Before she could start down, she heard a noise behind her and Fitzwilliam's voice.

"Georgiana! Where in the world do you think you are going?"

She gasped and, with an irrational fear born of her emotions of the night, turned to run down the black staircase. The heavy cloak tangled around her legs and the next thing she knew, she was flying forward and tumbling head over heels down the hard steps to land on top of her bandbox at the bottom in a burst of unbearable pain.

"Georgiana!" Fitzwilliam thundered down the stairs in her wake and somehow managed to light a candle with his shaking hands. He saw she was lying with one leg twisted at an odd angle in the remains of her bandbox.

"Ohhhh! My leg!" she moaned, the pain washing away every feeling except the need for her brother's comfort and care. "Fitzwilliam, help me!"

He knelt down beside her and brushed the hair gently out of her face. "I'm here, sweetling, I'm here. Just lie still and I will get help."

By this time the butler had appeared, with a pistol in his hand, to see what was happening. "What's going on here?" he said in a harsh voice quite unlike his own.

Darcy spoke, "Put away that pistol, man, and send a footman for the doctor. Miss Georgiana has fallen down the stairs and I think her leg is broken."

"Fallen down the stairs!" he exclaimed as he put the pistol down on the counter.

"Yes. I think she must have been sleepwalking, like she did when she was little."

"I will get the footmen, sir."

"Thank you, Burton."

Darcy leaned over Georgiana and said, "It won't be long now my love. Does anything hurt besides your leg?"

"My head hurts," she whimpered.

"I'm not surprised, after that fall. Listen, Georgiana, I told Burton that you were sleepwalking. Can you remember that? I do not want the servants to know that you were trying to sneak out of the house, my dear."

She moaned. "I must have been mad. Yes, I can remember."

Just then the two largest footmen came in with Burton and they gently carried her to the couch in the library, sweating mightily as they tried to maneuver her up the front stairs and through the main hall. Georgiana gritted her teeth and managed to not cry out, much as they jostled her broken leg, but the last turn was too much for her and she swooned. When she awoke she was on the soft leather couch and the doctor was being admitted by her brother.

Old doctor Muntling had cared for her many times in the past when she had had childhood illnesses, and he was very kind. She tried to smile at him.

"Well, Miss Georgiana, what have you done now, missy?" he asked.

"I guess I was sleepwalking, doctor, and fell down the stairs. I don't remember anything until I fell, but I had been dreaming that I was getting ready to visit friends in the country."

While she talked, the doctor skillfully examined her and when she finished he said, "Well, it looks like you have broken your leg, which we must straighten and splint, but the rest of you looks all right, barring a small bump on your forehead." He turned to Darcy. "This is going to be painful, sir, you may want to leave the room."

Darcy gave him a half smile and said, "I'll stay. You must think me a weak creature, doctor."

"Not at all, sir. Just a compassionate one, and I dare say you will suffer as much as she does in the process."

"Nonetheless, I will stay."

"Very well. You can give her this while I prepare my splints." He poured out a dose of laudanum and directed Darcy to fill the glass with wine. "The laudanum and wine will help blunt the pain somewhat when I set it."

Darcy gently lifted up Georgiana's head and helped her sipped the wine mixture. She wrinkled her nose at the taste, but resolutely drank all of it without protest.

The next few minutes were a nightmare of excruciating pain, but the procedure, fortunately, did not take long and Georgiana soon felt the doctor winding gauze around the splints to hold her leg straight. By the time he gently set the wrapped leg down the pain was easing, leaving Georgiana ghostly white and shaken, with her stomach violently rebelling. The doctor was prepared for this as well and held a large basin for her.

"Thank you, doctor," she finally gasped.

"You are welcome, Miss Georgiana. You will do better now, I think." He turned to Darcy. "I will leave this laudanum. You can give her two or three drops in wine every...oh, four hours or so if she needs it for pain. It will help her sleep, too, which is what she needs to heal. The bump on her head doesn't amount to much, but cool compresses will make it feel better and ease her headache. I will be by first thing in the morning to check her."

Darcy nodded and Burton, who was waiting just outside the library, escorted the doctor out, leaving Georgiana with her brother. Darcy knelt down next to her and stroked her hair.

"Go to sleep, my dear one. I will be nearby if you need me."

Georgiana clutched his hand when he tried to move away. "Wait! Please wait, Fitzwillam!" He perched on the edge of the couch. "What is it my dear?"

"I'm sorry. I am so sorry to be such a burden to you, my dear brother. I don't know what I was thinking to do something so stupid."

"I'm sorry that I frightened you, my love. I only want for you to be happy."

"I know. I am." Her words trailed off as she dozed off on the comforting words.

Darcy whispered in her ear, "We will go to Pemberley as soon as you are well," and she was still awake enough to smile. THE END

Click here to see what would have happened if she had gone into the attic!


Written by Rebecca M. Fleming & C. Allyn Pierson

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