Every Jane Austen novel reminds us of the severe limitations placed on females of genteel birth in her era. Their only honorable option was to become some gentleman’s wife. Although the men seem to have drawn a far better lot in general, their options were also restricted by social convention. If a young gentleman needed an occupation, he could go into the church, the military, the law, or perhaps banking. Those were the standard choices.
“But,” you say, “I thought the mark of a gentleman was having no profession.”
Well, not exactly.
Unless he was fortunate enough to marry an heiress, a younger son absolutely needed a profession. He had to find a way to earn his living, since he might inherit very little. Think of Colonel Fitzwilliam. He was the younger son of a nobleman, and yet he still felt constrained. In Pride and Prejudice, he tells Lizzy, “Younger sons cannot marry where they like.” I described his predicament this way in The Darcys of Pemberley:
As the younger son of an Earl, he could not marry where he chose. Since he would not inherit his father’s estate and yet was expected to uphold the style of living his family enjoyed, he was obliged to establish his own fortune by some other means. The colonel showed no inclination for banking or politics, and an inconvenient state of peace had broken out before he could amass any great sum by distinguished service in the army. His best remaining chance for even a modest fortune seemed to be to acquire one by marriage. This was the course of action strongly recommended to him by some of his relations. As the colonel’s father often reminded him, many a rich merchant would be willing to pay handsomely to have his daughter married to the son of an Earl.
The eldest son would, of course, inherit the family estate when his father died, giving him some occupation thereafter. But what was he to do meanwhile? Too much free time got more than one heir presumptive into trouble. Thomas Bertram (Mansfield Park) gambled his father’s money away while waiting to come into his property. And Edward Ferrars, in hindsight, recognized that his foolish involvement with Lucy Steele sprang from his idleness.
“It has been, and is, and probably will always be a heavy misfortune to me that I have had no necessary business to engage me, no profession to give me employment or afford me any thing like independence … I always preferred the church, as I still do. But that was not smart enough for my family. They recommended the army. That was a great deal too smart for me. The law was allowed to be genteel enough; many young men who had chambers in the Temple, made a very good appearance in the first circles, and drove about town in very knowing gigs.” (Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility)
Better give that boy something to do! Joining the clergy was acceptable, but not stylish. A military life held more prestige, but also more danger (Napoleon, and all). So, perhaps the law? Fine, but then he must be a swanky London barrister, and not (heaven forbid!) a humble country attorney like Lizzy’s uncle Phillips in Pride and Prejudice, who was considered one of her “low connections.”
To become a lawyer didn’t involve the years of intense study and rigorous exams you might imagine. One had to first acquire a standard degree (from Oxford, Cambridge, or Trinity), which hardly required breaking a sweat, before moving on to “study” at one of London’s Inns of Court (Temple, as mentioned by Edward, for example). There his progress was measured according to how often he dined on the premises (I’m not kidding) rather than by successfully completing courses. What a student actually learned during his “terms” was largely left up to him. If he paid attention in court and read the recommended books, he might come away with some level of competency to go along with his certificate. If not …?
Although I’m no expert, from what I’ve read, the haphazard education of lawyers seems only a symptom of a much larger malaise afflicting the legal system that existed at the time. Defendants had few rights, and juries where notoriously unpredictable – as likely as not to completely disregard logic and judges instructions in order to side with the barrister who put on the most entertaining show in court. Jo Walker (heroine of my second novel: For Myself Alone), after her first encounter with the legal system, says this to her friend, a young gentleman pursuing the law as a profession:
“It seems the law has only a nodding acquaintance with justice and an even more tenuous association with common sense. I find it sadly disillusioning. Are you certain you can be happy pursuing a career as a barrister, Mr. Ramsey?”
“The law is a flawed institution, I grant you. Still, I believe reform is coming, and perhaps I shall be able to do my part. At any rate, it is an honorable profession and genteel enough to suit my mother. Of course, she does not intend that I should ever make a living at it. I can, though, if I am obliged to, and that gives me hope for the future.”
You see, Mr. Ramsey is in the same boat as Edward Ferrars. He is the eldest son and natural heir, and yet his widowed mother has the power to disinherit him in favor of a younger brother, should he marry out of her will. Thus, the necessity of acquiring a genteel profession.
So, which will it be? The church, the military, or the law? If you were a young gentleman in that time and place, which would you choose? Or would you put all your dependence on marrying well?
Personally, I’m glad we have more options now, especially since most of us don’t have a rich relation or spouse to provide us an independent fortune.
Today’s post was supposed to be the launch of my new book, Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections. I was all set to go with the book. The editors and copy-editors had okayed it. The cover was done, the book was formatted, and all I needed to do was to press the button that said ‘Publish.’ But I kept delaying because something didn’t feel right. Finally I decided to send it out to another set of editors. To my surprise, the new editors loved it, but they did feel that there were places I could improve it — not because of the quality of the writing, but because there was a section where I’d strayed too far from my own writing style.
So I’m in the midst of revisions. I’m trying to have it done by mid-June, so rather than add another delay to the release by writing a separate post, I’m going to give you another long, juicy excerpt from the book. It’s probably best to read the first chapter before this, but if you haven’t, the crucial things to know is that this takes place two months after Hunsford. Elizabeth is visiting her childhood friend, Lady Eleanor Carlisle, at Bentham Park, while Darcy is staying nearby with Geoffrey Paxton, his friend from Cambridge and Lady Eleanor’s secret love — and neither Darcy nor Elizabeth knows about the other’s presence.
From Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections
Lady Bentham rose to her feet. “Eleanor, you may choose a list of dances for the musicians,” she said as if granting a great favor. “No more than two hours’ worth, I think. We do not want to over-tire our guests so soon after their arrival.” She swept out of the room.
“Oh, yes,” said Elizabeth dryly. “It would be a shame to allow the guests to choose how much they wish to dance when we can decide it for them.”
Eleanor gave a look of mock horror before starting to giggle. “You need not worry. After two hours, my stepmother will explain to them that they are tired, regardless of what they believe, and immediately they will start drifting off to sleep like characters from a fairy tale. What is your favorite dance?”
“Mine? You had best choose. I would no doubt pick something that would betray my low origins and make a terrible impression on poor Mr. Paxton.” Elizabeth imitated Lady Bentham’s refined accent. She had heard far more of it than she wished to. In the old days, she and Eleanor had taken their meals in the schoolroom, rather than a formal dining room presided over by Lord and Lady Bentham. The change was not an improvement.
Eleanor heaved a dramatic sigh. “Very well, then. A few country dances, a reel or two, and of course a waltz since we must be modern – and because I have a specific person in mind with whom I wish to waltz. Do you waltz?”
Elizabeth laughed. “Of course not. I have never even seen a waltz. In Meryton, it would be shocking even to speak about it!”
“Oh, you must waltz here, though! I will teach you.”
“If I am not mistaken, unmarried ladies must have permission from the patronesses at Almack’s before dancing the waltz, and I have not received that. Of course, I have never met any of them, either, so it would be quite surprising if I did!”
“Nonsense. In town, yes, we would have to pay attention to that, but this is a private party, so we may do as we like. No one will be in the least surprised.”
With a smile, Elizabeth shook her head. “I will be perfectly content merely to watch.”
The butler materialized at the door to the sitting room. “Lord Charles Carlisle, your ladyship,” he announced.
A tall young man with tousled, windblown hair strolled past him, his shirt points fashionably high. “Eleanor, my dear!” he exclaimed as he bent to kiss her cheek.
Eleanor said warmly, “This is a surprise. We were not expecting you until tomorrow.”
He grinned. “You know that it is a point of honor with me to always do the unexpected.”
“In this case, it makes me wonder what or whom you may be fleeing! But will you allow me to introduce to your acquaintance my dear friend Miss Bennet? Lizzy, this is my brother Charles.”
Lord Charles turned his gaze to Elizabeth, raising an appreciative eyebrow before bending over her hand to bestow a completely unnecessary kiss on it. Elizabeth’s cheeks grew hot at this unexpected forwardness, which seemed to please him, as he made a point of holding onto her hand for a good half-minute after he should have released it. “I would have driven faster had I realized there would be such beauty at the end of my journey.”
Elizabeth rallied at this. “Do tell me, Lord Charles, how often you have employed those exact words in the past? They have an air of long practice.”
He threw back his head and laughed. “Shall I say instead that your eyes would teach the torches to burn bright? Those words are even more practiced. If only we had some torches for your eyes to teach! Eleanor, you must arrange for torches at the next opportunity.”
At least he had a sense of humor and could tolerate being laughed at. “Torches are too smoky for my taste, my lord. But we have met before, on my first visit to Bentham Park many years ago. I helped Eleanor hide a grass snake under your pillow.”
“So that was you, my dear sister! You denied it so prettily that I was fool enough to believe you.”
Eleanor said briskly, “I should have chosen an adder instead. Still, your early arrival will work to my purpose. Miss Bennet must learn to waltz before tomorrow evening.”
“And you need me to take the gentleman’s part,” said Lord Charles promptly. “Knowing that I am always happy to be of service to a lovely young lady, with or without torches, although preferably without snakes, you immediately thought of me.”
Giving his arm a mock slap, Eleanor said, “You are a rogue! I immediately thought of you because you walked into the room just after I decided to teach her to waltz.”
He pressed a hand to his chest dramatically, opening his clear blue eyes wide with mock innocence. “I am crushed, dear sister!”
“You could not be crushed by a coach and four running you down in the street. And do not try to work your wiles on Lizzy; she is my friend.”
“Utterly heartless,” he said mournfully with a glance at Elizabeth, who could not help smiling.
Eleanor rang the bell. “In the meantime, I will see if your room is ready yet.”
“Of course it will be ready,” he said with an engaging smile. “Our dear stepmother would never allow any room to be in anything but a state of perfect readiness.”
“She is nothing if not efficient,” Eleanor said darkly. “Will an hour be sufficient time for you to tie a cravat to your satisfaction?”
He appeared to ponder this. “It will depend upon the quality of the mirror, but you may be assured that the anticipation of dancing with my Juliet will preclude any delay.”
A maid appeared, and at Eleanor’s instruction, led Lord Charles out of the sitting room, though not before he blew a departing kiss in Elizabeth’s direction.
Elizabeth shook her head, astonished at the alteration from the perpetually untidy boy she recalled. “Good heavens. Is he always so forward?”
Eleanor leveled a grim look at her. “Charles is charming, witty, handsome, and I love him dearly, but I would not trust him alone with you in a room for even a minute. He is an inveterate rake and enjoys making women fall in love with him, only to leave them once he has had what he wants from them. Do not let him near your heart, no matter what he may promise you.”
“I had not planned to,” said Elizabeth with amusement, “but I appreciate the warning.”
“One, two, three, one, two, three.” Eleanor established the rhythm as she led Elizabeth through the steps. “That’s it. You can see how simple it is. Remember, a little rise on the last two steps.”
“Is it the same all through the dance? There are no figures or lines?”
“None. You can forget everything you know about reels and country dances. This is completely different, just one man and one woman together for the entire dance. It is wonderfully romantic.”
“Oh, lovely,” said Elizabeth with heavy irony. “Just what I need, a romance with someone who would never consider me good enough to marry. With luck, no one will ask me to dance.”
“It won’t be that bad. You may well win an admirer or two.”
“Among those coming to this house party? As near as I can tell, anyone lacking a title has a fortune or close connections to the aristocracy – except for the one who will have eyes for no one but you.”
“You may like Captain Bradley. He is not the cleverest of men, but he has a good heart and no undue pride. It is not his fault that his father is an earl. And I will warn you which gentlemen are not to be trusted.”
“Apart from Lord Charles?” Elizabeth teased.
“Apart from me?” Lord Charles’s elegant tones sounded from the door to the ballroom. “I had hoped you would not even notice any gentlemen apart from me, my dear Juliet.”
Elizabeth gave him an arch look as she rose from her curtsey. “I had never realized that it was so difficult to pronounce ‘Miss Bennet,’ she said. “If you wish, I could instruct you in how to say it in return for your assistance with the waltz.”
He laughed. “And deprive me of the chance to call you Juliet? Never. But how are your waltz lessons coming?”
“She is doing very well,” said Eleanor briskly. “I was about to show her how to turn while doing the steps.”
“That is my job, fair sister.” Stepping close, he caught Elizabeth by the waist, tugging her toward him.
“Lord Charles!” Elizabeth exclaimed reproachfully, pulling away from him.
Eleanor laughed. “You really have never seen a waltz, have you? You put your left hand in Charles’s right. Now your right hand rests on his shoulder, like so.” She moved Elizabeth’s hand into position. “Then Charles…”
Lord Charles interrupted. “Then Charles has the pleasure of doing this.” He put his hand back on her waist with a slight smirk.
The sensation was shocking. Elizabeth turned to Eleanor. “You must be joking.”
“No, my dearest Juliet, she is not. And what is even better is that we stay this way through the entire dance.”
No wonder the waltz was thought so improper! It was practically an embrace. Lord Charles’s eyes laughed at her discomfort, making it clear he had no objections to the position. Elizabeth said tartly, “I can tell this dance was invented by a man.”
“Enough of that,” ordered Eleanor. “You are not in your little country town any longer. Now try the steps in place. Charles will step forward while you step back.”
Feeling unusually awkward, Elizabeth tried to do as she instructed. Good Lord – was he trying to put his leg between hers? She stepped backwards quickly, then had to remember what to do with her feet. How could she pay attention to her steps with a man standing so close to her – especially when he was taking advantage of his position to admire certain of her assets? She tried to focus instead on Eleanor’s counting and not to think about what the ladies of Meryton would say if they could see her now.
“Very nice,” said Lord Charles. “Now, keep doing those steps, but allow me to lead you.”
Elizabeth strongly suspected the only place he wished to lead her was into temptation, but she swallowed her retort before she made herself look any more provincial than she already did.
His hand pressed more firmly against her waist. “Now turn with me. That’s right. And again.” When she stumbled, he said, “You’re doing very well. You should have seen me when I first tried to waltz. My partner declared me a menace.”
Once he stopped trying to flirt with her, Lord Charles proved a good teacher, gradually coaxing her into taking wider turns and moving more rapidly. To Elizabeth’s dismay, Eleanor went to the pianoforte at the end of the room and began to play. Elizabeth had felt safer with her friend only a few feet away from her, but she had to admit that hearing the music made the dance easier. Gradually she relaxed into the rhythm of the movement, though the warmth of Lord Charles’s hand against her back continued to disturb her. At least the gentlemen at the dance would be wearing gloves. Elizabeth strongly suspected that her partner had deliberately omitted that part of his attire.
When Eleanor reached the end of the music, Lord Charles released Elizabeth and bowed. “You are a natural dancer, my sweet Juliet. May I hope to have the honor of your hand for tomorrow evening’s waltz?”
“No, you may not!” said Eleanor tartly. “Elizabeth should take the opportunity to dance it with someone else. You can find some other unfortunate woman to practice your wiles on.”
“You are as cruel as you are fair, dear sister!” He took advantage Elizabeth’s laughter to reclaim her hand long enough to place a lingering kiss on it.
Darcy did not anticipate finding any pleasure in spending an evening of dancing and cards at Bentham Park, but he tried to disguise his distaste from Paxton. On their arrival, they found the first set of dances had already started. Lady Bentham was leading the set, but Lord Bentham approached Darcy immediately. “Welcome! I am glad you could join us, Darcy. Come, Charles is in the card room and anxious to see you.”
Darcy glanced at Paxton, who appeared to accept Lord Bentham’s lack of notice without distress. His friend said, “Go ahead, Darcy. I will not intrude on a family reunion.” No doubt he preferred to remain where he would be able to see Lady Eleanor.
Although he had little interest in seeing Charles, Darcy was content to go to the card room. He was in no mood for making the acquaintance of young ladies. They only reminded him of what he had lost in Elizabeth, and none of them could hold a candle to her liveliness of spirit and arch wit. But that was enough thoughts of Elizabeth – he would not allow her ghost to haunt his every moment. Firmly he put her from his mind.
“Darcy!” cried Lord Charles Carlisle. “What brings you to this godforsaken corner of the country? Never mind; you are just the man I need. Come join us and perhaps my luck will turn. God knows I deserve some good luck!”
Darcy tilted his head in acknowledgement and took a seat across from Lord Charles. Pulling out the handful of coins he had brought for this purpose, he spread them in front of him. “You may do your worst,” he said.
The next half hour passed tolerably enough. Darcy ignored most of the banter between the other three men until Lord Charles pushed his cards away. “That will have to do for now,” he proclaimed. “I must attend to my latest flirt. After all, I have only a fortnight to make her fall in love with me, and the sooner that is accomplished, the sooner I will be enjoying her favors.” He smirked at the other men’s guffaws when he traced out with his hands the shape of a well-endowed female. “I have some very particular plans for that young lady.”
Bradley looked up over his elaborately knotted cravat. “I say, Carlisle, she is a gentleman’s daughter, don’t you know.”
Lord Charles’s smile widened. “When has that ever stopped me before? I need some amusement to alleviate the utter tedium of this house party. The Season cannot start soon enough for me.”
Newbury drawled, “And I say you will not manage to seduce her. She does not seem the sort to fall prey to your blandishments.”
“Too virtuous, don’t you know,” added Bradley helpfully.
Lord Charles tapped two fingers on the table. “Would you care to place a bet on that, gentlemen? I would be happy to take your money along with her virtue.”
“One hundred guineas says you cannot enjoy her before the end of the house party,” said Newbury without hesitation.
“Agreed,” said Lord Charles. “Who else is in? Bradley? Darcy?”
Bradley looked up from counting his coins. “One hundred from me as well.”
Darcy shook his head, trying not to let his distaste show. He knew of one girl of good family who had disappeared from the ton after Carlisle had set his sights on her, and another whose reputation was ruined. “I bet only on sporting events,” he said evenly.
Lord Charles laughed. “There will be sport aplenty for me in this case! But I must not keep the young lady waiting. I bribed the musicians to make this set a waltz. Perhaps I can discover a few of her charms during it – after all, a man’s hand might happen to slip from her waist, might it not?” He pushed back his chair.
The other two made to follow him. Darcy, with no desire to watch Carlisle take advantage of an innocent girl, went to observe the other game for a few minutes, but the table was full and none of the players showed an inclination to leave. As the strains of the waltz began to drift in from the next room, Darcy decided it should be safe to emerge from the card room now. Perhaps he could find Paxton and convince him to play a few hands of cards, unless he had managed to win the hand of his lady love for the waltz.
Making his way into the parlor, Darcy scanned the room for Paxton while avoiding the eyes of the match-making mamas. Damnation – his friend was already waltzing, his expression dreamy. Darcy’s lips tightened. He had no patience with lovers at the moment, especially not ones who had succeeded in winning their lady’s affection.
A light, rippling laugh reached his ears, making his blood run suddenly hot. He knew that laugh. It had haunted his dreams for months. Surely he must be mistaken, though. What would Elizabeth Bennet be doing among such elevated company?
His heart thudded painfully against his chest as he slowly turned his gaze in the direction of the laughter. For a moment he froze, his body gone rigid at the sight of her light, pleasing form moving gracefully in the turns of the waltz.
Elizabeth was here, in another man’s arms, another man’s hand splayed against her waist. Bile rose in Darcy’s throat when he saw the object of her delighted laughter. She was gazing up into the admiring countenance of Lord Charles Carlisle.
We have a special poll this week for our Pride & Prejudice Reader’s Choice story, The Bennet Brother. This is your chance to choose which of the ladies in the story will be Edward Bennet’s eventual bride. Think hard about this one! We won’t be announcing the results. You’ll just have to read the story to find out the answer! This poll will be open through 6 a.m. on Thursday, Eastern time.
Who should Edward Bennet eventually marry?
1. The lovely and well dowered Lady Colette Fitzwilliam, younger sister of Colonel Fitzwilliam
2. Miss Caroline Bingley
3. Miss Georgiana Darcy, whose brother will insist on waiting until she is at least 18 years old.
4. The charming and flirtatious Miss Perry of Meryton
5. None of the above
When I read reviews, either for my books or for those written by other authors, I’m struck by the individuality of everyone’s reader personality. Our reading styles are as different as our reading tastes. And I’m not just talking about the Real Book vs. E-book debate. (In case you’re interested, most of the time, I come down enthusiastically on the side of the paperback book–I love the tactile nature of reading.) A reader’s personality is defined by so many other things.
If I had to use one word to describe my reading style, I’d probably say ‘laid-back.’ For one thing, I am not an urgent, desperate reader. Even if I’m loving the book I’m reading, I do not, under any circumstances, stay up till 2:00 a.m. to finish the book. When it’s bedtime, I settle on a stopping point, and look forward to reading a little more the next day. As a result, busy days mean a single book might take me a week and a half or two weeks to finish. But that means I have that many more days to enjoy that particular book.
I often tuck a book in my purse on the off chance that I’ll have an occasion to read while away from home. But I’ll only read if I think I can give the book my full attention. Voices distract me–my conscious mind tends to follow a conversation going on beside me, making it difficult for me to maintain my concentration. I have to be completely wrapped up in a book in order for my mind to block out the world around me, and that doesn’t happen very often. So I tend to save my reading for quiet, unrushed moments.
I think the vast majority of readers are anxious to get right to the action, but I admit to being one of those people who doesn’t mind a slow buildup. I enjoy reading detailed character sketches–those quirky details that bring the characters alive in your imagination–and even a bit of gossipy backstory. Jane Austen accomplished this beautifully. While I know some readers prefer not to have a character’s appearance described, preferring instead to picture each character in their own way, I love the descriptions, love seeing the characters as the authors imagined them. I don’t ever picture celebrities or people I know while I’m reading, although I definitely do that when I’m writing.
I don’t skim or look ahead, and I hardly ever try to predict where the plot is headed. I also don’t second guess the ending. I am content, simply to read, to let the author take me where she will and just enjoy. It is very rare that I don’t finish a book, and a particularly eloquent sentence, or a bit of clever dialogue so impresses me that I will read it over several times. When I first started writing, I kept a journal of ‘good words’–little used words I discovered in novels I was reading. Words I wanted to use myself. I still look for those in the books I read. I love reading the dedication, acknowledgements, and author’s notes too!
I discover most of the books I read online, via social media or while browsing on Amazon.com. Occasionally I’ll notice one at the bookstore that strikes my fancy, but not nearly as often. I rarely get recommendations from friends. I’m one to judge books by their covers, and I’d estimate that about 80% of the time, my cover love is justified: I end of loving the book. I am also swayed by editorial reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, etc.), and I find that when a book is described as a ‘tour de force,’ or a ‘triumph,’ I’m avidly curious about it.
I like to read books with happily-ever-afters. Or at least happily-till-month’s end, before the crazy starts all over again. I like there to be charm, and wit, and humor. That’s not to say that I won’t read other books, but they won’t be my favorites, and most bestsellers are of no interest to me at all. Am I a quirky reader? Who knows? Let’s compare notes.
Will you stay up late if a book has you riveted?
Do you carry a book with you wherever you go?
Do you like an author to describe a character’s physical appearance?
Do you skim? Predict? Abandon stories unfinished?
What distinguishes your reading style?
Images via Jane Mount. I LOVE these!
In her return to Pemberley, with the excitement and business attendant on the weeks leading up to her lying-in, Elizabeth had rather naturally forgotten to think about Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It was not the pleasantest prospect, and having been exposed to rather too much of the lady’s arrogance and her dictatorial ways during the London sojourn, Elizabeth might be forgiven for a powerful wish that she not be required to be in the company of her husband’s aunt again for some considerable span of time.
Darcy’s feelings were not widely different. He knew his duty to his family and his connections; he wished that all related to him should be happy and respectable, as far as possible. Yet there is no denying that time spent in his aunt’s company was penitential. That was why, on the annual courtesy visits to Rosings that could not be avoided without endless remonstrations and repercussions, he had always made sure to travel with his cousin, the equable Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose calm, judicious presence did much to make the visits endurable.
Having attended to his obligations, as he felt, by escorting Lady Catherine and her daughter to London, and going through the comedy and charade of that not-so-young lady’s presentation at court, Darcy was disposed to be glad to see the back of them both, and to retire to the peace and happy domesticity of his own portion of paradise, with Elizabeth at Pemberley.
Both Darcy or Elizabeth had been troubled, on the London visit, to notice an obvious adventurer, Maurice Townley, hovering about Lady Catherine and her daughter, and Darcy had done what he could about it. He had taken pains to discover who Townley was, and to warn his aunt about him in the strongest terms. There was no more to be done: both Lady Catherine and Anne were of age and sound mind, and ought to be proof against fortune hunters. When the news came, taking wings as such gossip always does, that Maurice Townley had followed his new friends to Rosings and was making an extended visit there, Darcy had shrugged his shoulders, fired off one last letter to his aunt, counseling caution, and let the matter rest there.
To try to dictate to Lady Catherine, was surely an exercise in futility, and Darcy would have no part of it. If she liked to be a fool and entertain a fortune-hunter in her own house, Darcy could only thank Heaven that he was not the master of that house. He was not called upon to be politely indifferent to the sight of Maurice Townley filling his belly with an autumn’s worth of fine dinners at Rosings. If the prattle and flattery of a fop was the entertainment Lady Catherine required and was willing to pay for, it was outside Darcy’s purview.
Nor was it wonderful that his entire mind and heart were taken up with other concerns, as the time approached for his wife’s first accouchement. And on a crisp autumn day, when those leaves that by nature turned into soft red and gold colours were displaying themselves to full advantage, the event was accomplished. After some anxious hours, which Darcy never cared to remember in after years, his first son was put into his arms, a fine healthy red-faced chap, held wrapped in a cocoon of blankets by Mrs. Reynolds, whose heartfelt look of delight was only a reflection of Darcy’s own.
“A fine fellow, sir, and eight pounds if he’s an ounce!”
“Only eight pounds?” he exclaimed. “Is that not small?”
“It’s a fine weight in children!” Georgiana answered, from Elizabeth’s bedside.
“He seemed extremely large to me,” came Elizabeth’s voice wearily from behind the curtains.
Darcy turned pale, and hastily handed the infant back to Mrs. Reynolds. “May I see her?” he asked the doctor hoarsely.
“Certainly, sir. Your wife is doing as well as any healthy young woman in like circumstance may be expected to do, and you may visit with her for a few moments if you take care not to tire her,” said the doctor, pulling aside the curtains. “We may safely leave them alone for a little,” he nodded to Georgiana, Mrs. Reynolds, and the weekly nurse, and they filed out, to attend to Master Fitzwilliam’s first washing.
What raptures and tears of relief the young couple shared, we may leave for their privacy and our imagination; but certain it was that Elizabeth made a steady improvement, growing stronger day by day, and not suffering any of the dangerous after-effects only too often attendant on confinements, in houses both great and small.
So rapid was her recovery, that she was up for breakfast after only ten days in bed, sitting at table opposite her husband, smiling into his eyes over the buttered-eggs, chops, and toasted bread.
“The little man is asleep,” Elizabeth announced. “Nurse thinks he may sleep all night in another week or so. It is hard to believe, given the size of Pemberley, that he can be heard all over the house.”
“That he can,” said Darcy admiringly. “Clear to Lambton, I’m sure.”
Letters were brought in, and the young Darcys perused them rather negligently.
“From Jane,” observed Elizabeth, “she hopes to come and see the prodigy before the weather turns cold. I know she wanted so much to be here, only little Eliza was teething.”
“Mm,” said Darcy absently.
“Darcy! What are you reading? I don’t believe you heard a word I said. Who is my rival now? Your man of business?”
Darcy laid down his letter. “Lady Catherine de Bourgh,” he said deliberately. “Herself.”
“Lady Catherine! And what can she have to say?”
“Only some very aweful news, to be sure.”
Elizabeth saw by his expression that something really was amiss. “Well?” she asked quietly.
“Anne marries Mr. Townley.”
“Yes she did though. By this account, it is already concluded. He was at Rosings long enough to be married as a member of the parish, and Mr. Collins made no objection, and performed the ceremony himself.”
“Anne married! But – is he not penniless? With they live at Rosings? Will Lady Catherine lose her daughter?”
“I can hardly tell about these matters, Elizabeth. The letter is little more than an announcement of the fact. But your curiosity will not be racked for long.”
“What do you mean?” she asked suspiciously.
“They mean to come to Pemberley for their wedding-journey. Newlyweds, Lady Catherine and all.”
Elizabeth fell back limply in her seat with astonishment.
“I have made you ill! Let me fetch you water – I will ring for your maid.”
“No, no, nonsense, Mr. Darcy. I am not such a frail creature as that. Only I did think we were safe from your aunt for a sixmonth at least,” she complained.
“No such thing, apparently. They were leaving at once, and will, I reckon, be here – tomorrow. Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Townley. By heaven!”
“Not by heaven at all,” his wife replied tartly.
“Well, at least you will be out of the mischief. We shall say you are still in confinement by doctor’s orders, and must not be disturbed.”
“Are you mad?” she said incredulously. “Lady Catherine is perfectly capable of marching into my sick-room, and inspecting the nursery with the bride in tow, rigged up in satin – and such a bride!”
“All very well for you,” her husband returned. “I will have Maurice Townley to my share.”
Elizabeth lifted up her fine dark eyes.
“He can fish. I’d not put him on one of my mounts for a fortune,” he said grimly.
A cry was heard from above and both parents smiled.
“I must go feed him,” said Elizabeth importantly. “You may come upstairs with me if you like.”
“If you’re certain I won’t be in the way,” he said diffidently. “I must say the sight of you with the boy is the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“I think you had better. We are not likely to have time for such private joys after the infliction. Still, it will be some compensation, and possible amusement, to observe how the new Mrs. Townley comports herself.”
“And how Lady Catherine likes it.”
They mounted the broad grand stairs together, hand in hand.
Welcome to the fourteenth installment of The Bennet Brother, the interactive group writing project from Austen Authors! At the end of this segment, you’ll have a chance to vote on what happens next. There are also extra details on Twitter, where this story has taken on a life of its own. Mr. Edward Bennet (@edwbennet) already has a notable presence and regularly interacts with readers, including this interview with Miss Leatherberry on Leatherbound Reviews:
See how it all started and take a few moments to enjoy the Bennets as children in Susan Mason-Milks The Bennet Children have an Adventure, prelude to The Bennet Brother.
Full details on Pride & Prejudice Reader’s Choice can be read by clicking to the page via the menu above or the icon to the left. Authors for upcoming scenes through August are now listed.
Voting for today’s installment will end at 6am tomorrow – Thursday, May 16th. Next week, the story continues with a new addition by Maria Grace. The previous thirteen installments can be read in order on The Writers Block.
Here is Scene #14 by Sally Smith O’Rourke ~~
Darcy looked around the room at family and friends. What must they be thinking? He could stand it no longer. As the sun’s descent cast shadows across the carpeted floor, he slipped out of the room. Passing a maid in the entry way, he ordered candles lit throughout the house.
Slowly he took the stairs down into the courtyard. Distracted, he wound his way across the lawns to the wilderness. The soothing sound of the rill drew him to the water’s edge; there, on the muddy bank of the river, he sat on a fallen tree. His mind was in utter chaos as he watched the obsidian water, a dark ribbon in the pale light of the new moon, as it slid around branches and twigs, lapping against unseen rocks.
Anger and mortification were heavy on his mind. His aunt, in her brazen attempt to control all of their lives, had broken the law and every rule of polite society… and in his house. He might have been pleased when the authorities took her away, but it removed the intense pleasure it would have given him to evict her, bodily if necessary, himself. He closed his eyes, trying to posit the best course of action to deal with the consequences that were sure to follow the matriarch’s criminal behavior.
He turned at the sound of crushed leaves and pine needles.
“Cousin.” He stood and made a shallow bow, and then took his seat again on the tree.
“It is my desire to be alone, Anne.”
She waited a moment before speaking, “I am sorry. It had been my intent to explain everything, but I had not expected their arrival so soon.” She paused slightly, and then repeated, “I am sorry.”
“Yes, so you said.”
“Are you very angry?”
“I am. I am humiliated and angry.”
“You do understand why I did it, do you not? I could not allow mother to have her way in this. I know you do not approve, Cousin, but I love Mr. Wickham with all my heart.”
“The man is a bounder.”
“If he was, his love for me has changed him.”
“Men do not change, Anne.”
“He has changed. He and Denny have owned the Lodge for more than three years now. He is a respected businessman.”
“So you think. He wants not but your portion.”
“I would have agreed with you if he had fallen in love with Anne de Bourgh, but he did not. When I met him at Ramsgate two years ago he knew not who I was, and though I recognized him, I introduced myself as Abigail Mason. He fell in love with me before he knew who I was or how much my marriage portion is. Knowing that mother will refuse to release it, he still wishes to marry me.” She paused to allow him to take in the information. “He does love me, Fitzwilliam; me the person, not the rich spinster.”
“So you are intent on marrying him?”
“Yes. The occurrences here stopped our planned elopement, as was mother’s intent. I admit, though, that I would much rather it be a proper wedding. But elopement or wedding, I shall have him.”
“And why are you telling me?” With the toe of one shoe Anne stirred the leaves at her feet, watching as the leather made swirls and divots in the dirt. “Anne?”
“You and I know that mother will not be prosecuted. The men she hired will pay for her crimes, but that does not negate what she has done. We will be unwelcome everywhere after this.”
“I am certain that Mr. Collins will be a great comfort to her.”
“Yes.” She smiled at the sarcastic comment. “But this situation makes you the family Patriarch, at least, you are the oldest male member of the family remaining. I want your blessing for my marriage to Mr. Wickham.”
She stomped her foot. “I want no money!” She knelt on the ground next to the fallen tree and put her hand on his. “I want you to accept him as family.”
“You ask a lot of me, Anne. If I am to believe you, he is now an upstanding citizen, but I am finding that more than difficult to accept. He is a degenerate cad.”
With tears beginning to fill her eyes, Anne declared, “He is not.” She stood up. “You do not know him as I do.”
“And you do not know him as I do. He may not have been responsible for the highway robbery, but he did steal my horse.”
“Yes. He is sorry about that; escape was the only thing on his mind so he took Charlemagne. He had every intention of returning him. It was one of the reasons he met with Georgie.” Darcy was unable to stifle a “harrumph’ that Anne ignored. “He is not the monster you think him.”
Emotionally drained by the events of the day, he had no desire to hear his cousin’s irrational and ignorant claims, but Anne had shown a side of herself that he had never seen, and respect for the forthright nature of her appeal forced him to listen.
“You said returning the horse was one of his reasons for wanting to see Georgiana. What was the other?”
“He always thought of her as his young sister and the incident at Ramsgate has preyed on his heart for months. In spite of your suppositions, he was not there to attempt an elopement with her. He did not know she would be there. When you arrived and saw them together it was innocent as I am sure Georgiana told you.” She looked at him and raised an eyebrow, knowing full well that he had not believed his sister or his father’s godson.
He had to admit that his sister had denied the elopement. “If that is true, why did he not defend himself, explain himself?”
Quietly she said, “He was protecting me. I told mother that the sea would do wonders for my health. She allowed me to travel there with Mrs. Jenkinson. It is at Ramsgate that we met and where we became engaged.” She dropped her head, “He was there to see me.” She paused, “Mr. Wickham allowed you to believe he had designs on Georgiana so you would not suspect the truth.”
Darcy looked up at Anne, her pale skin glowing in the dim moonlight. Was it the truth? Had he been wrong? Suddenly he realized that his assumptions had been a blatant accusation of his sister as well as Wickham. If, in fact, this was true, Georgiana must hate him for it.
His mind was reeling and his head was aching. He stood and took Anne’s arm, but said nothing. After a short distance along the river bank she said, “Tell me you will think about it. Tell me I will not lose my family if I follow my heart.”
Unable to think of anything to say he agreed, “I will think about it.”
She squeezed his arm, “Thank you.”
They walked in silence until they reached the lawn. Anne had needed the extra time to form her next words carefully. “Promise me something, Cousin.” She waited. He said nothing. “Promise me,” she insisted.
“What is it you want me to promise?”
“That you will follow your heart and not your staid attitudes about what is expected or acceptable in society.” She waited for the words to register before continuing, “She is beautiful, intelligent and strongly independent. I believe she is the kind of woman who could make you happy. Do not allow her limited connections and finances temper your love. Open your heart as I did.”
“And who is this lady?”
Anne looked up at her relative and laughed, “Why do you suppose mother tried to bribe Mr. Bennet? It was not simply because she saw his interest in Georgiana, but the obvious affection you have for his sister, Elizabeth. The Bennets and Mr. Wickham were in the way of her ultimate plans for you, me, and Georgie.” She waited a mere moment, “Your stoic demeanor does little to hide your true feelings, Fitzie.”
Startled by her use of the nickname, “Do not call me that!”
“It did not used to bother you.”
“We were children then.”
“Yes, we were, happy children who found joy in life and the world around us. Shall I tell you a secret?” She did not wait for an answer. “Mr. Wickham often makes me feel like a child again. Happy, content with what life has to offer without thought of money, property or connections.”
“And that is a good thing?”
“A very good thing, Fitzie.” Visibly he cringed at the name. “You don’t want me to call you that because you are embarrassed by it. I use it because I love you. Does my love embarrass you?”
“Of course not.”
“Then why should my term of endearment?” He had no answer, for he could not tell her he was afraid people would laugh at him and he did not want to be thought of as ridiculous.
Anne continued, “Do you remember that summer you spent at Rosings and several of my father’s hunting dogs had litters?”
“I often think of that day when all the puppies were climbing on us and we were on the ground giggling as they tickled us. We were unafraid to show our feelings then. And shall I tell you, it is often how I feel now when I am with Mr. Wickham.”
Darcy smiled at the memory of the small, furry creatures licking their faces, their tiny claws tickling their necks. The joy of it lightened his heart.
“I saw the look on your face when you watched Miss Bennet nuzzle Charlemagne. She was not the least embarrassed for anyone to see her do it, and you liked it.” A quiet aside, “Her playfulness would be a good counter to your priggishness.”
His surprise was complete. They continued in silence.
The house stood in the near distance; torch light creating a shroud of serenity that Darcy certainly did not feel.
Finally Anne said, “You have not promised.”
Distracted he questioned, “Promised?”
“That you will open you heart.”
“You are asking much of me this evening, Anne. I can only say with certainty that I will think about all of it.” He paused, “You should go in now so that the chill does not…” He stopped himself. She was not the frail flower needing special care that his Aunt had wanted all to believe. She was fiercely independent, and he was proud of her. Rather than suggest she needed to be out of the cool air, he told her he needed to be alone for he had much to think about. She reached up and kissed his cheek. He smiled at her, and when he was certain she was safely inside, he turned away from the house.
He walked; his head down. He rubbed the back of his neck. Since their days at Cambridge, he had believed Wickham to be a blackguard of the worst kind. Wickham’s refusal of the living offered by his godfather was an insult Darcy could not abide. He had been sure that the cad had taken the money in lieu of the living and used it for debauchery and his dissolute lifestyle. Had he used it instead to buy into a legitimate business? Had he been wrong all these years? Had his obstinate nature caused him to accuse his sister, as well as Wickham, unfairly? What sort of man did that make him? He realized now that he had created many of the problems he had blamed on Wickham and his aunt, and for which he was now in search of a resolution. The answer was simple. He was the resolution. Anne had said it, he was head of the family and it was his responsibility to rectify all of it.
He continued his ramble around the grounds of his estate while attempting to determine how best to proceed, and decided he needed to sleep first and deal with it in the bright light of the new day.
Finally pushing aside the many concerns he would need to address in the morning, he came upon a small garden that he often looked out on from his library, and the pleasant memory of Elizabeth Bennet in this garden overrode all other thoughts. Not two days before, he had watched Miss Bennet playing with his dogs here. He had walked to the window in order to see the whole of the scene and there she was running in the garden with his Irish Wolf Hounds. It was an amusing sight as the animals were much bigger than the slight, dark haired woman. She was laughing in enjoyment, alone with the animals. He had almost laughed with her when she knelt on the ground and hugged the necks of the giant dogs.
If he took Anne’s suggestion to ignore her low connections and lack of dowry he could find no flaws in her. Like everyone, he supposed she had some, but he had seen little evidence of them. Even her impertinence at their first exchange, having been triggered by his arrogant insult, could hardly be considered a flaw.
While initially he saw nothing pleasing about her looks he had, for some time now, considered her; his thought process paused, beautiful, yes, as Anne said, she is beautiful.
She is a voracious reader which, luckily for him, meant she had been capable of rendering aid at a critical moment. He smiled to himself; if she were to stay at Pemberley for any length of time he suspected she would spend an inordinate amount of time in his library… his favorite room in the house. He had already found her there once. It was a happy thought.
As though they could read his mind, his dogs, Hermes and Hera, sauntered into the garden. An instant later he looked up in the direction of light footsteps. She seemed to float toward him as she came out of the veil of evening mist surrounding Pemberley House.
He stood and bowed and as she reached his position, “Miss Bennet.”
She curtsied. “Mr. Darcy.”
“What brings you out into the night air, Miss Bennet?”
With a hand on the head of one of the dogs and the other on the neck of the second dog, she said, “We saw you from the library window.” She saw the small smile that curved his lips and wondered at its meaning, but continued, “I feel it necessary to apologize for my part in the recent,” she paused not sure what to call the occurrences, “events that have so distressed you.”
He looked at her quizzically. “Your part, Miss Bennet?”
She bowed her head. “My meddling was largely responsible for all of it. Had I but observed propriety and stayed with the ladies during the robbery I would not have found the watch. Had I not found the watch, I would not have shown it to you, forcing you to rise from your sick bed so that your recovery was delayed. Nor would you have assumed Mr. Wickham was a party to the incident.” Absently her hand rubbed the neck of the dog. Was that a chuckle she heard come from him?
Ire started to rise within her when he said, “Miss Bennet, your meddling, as you call it, is responsible only for saving my life, for which I will be eternally grateful. I hold no one but my aunt and myself responsible for the actions that have brought disgrace on my home and family. Trust that you had no part in any of it.”
The bit of anger gone, she added a further plea, “I must be allowed to apologize for my brother as well. Had he not insisted upon my sister and I being included in your most generous invitation, your aunt would not have felt compelled to take so drastic an action for the security of her family.” Elizabeth looked up into his dark eyes. Was that affection she saw? Was it possible after the events of the day? “I am sorry for all of it. Please accept the apology and tell me you will not hold any of this against Edward who holds your friendship in such high regard.”
“I do assure you, Miss Bennet, that your brother is no more responsible for any of it than are you. So please do not distress yourself.”
“When Mr. Wickham stole Charlemagne, Edward made such a mess of it. I fear you cannot excuse that so easily.”
“Yes, Miss Bennet, that too. My cousin Anne has explained the circumstances surrounding the theft and I am prone, at present, to acquit Mr. Wickham of all crimes. Edward holds no fault in the matter.”
Darcy watched Elizabeth, did he sense desire or was it simply the torch light glistening amongst the gold specks in her honey colored eyes? He almost laughed; it was his own desire to envelope her in an embrace that he felt. Anne was right about one thing. Elizabeth Bennet was very likely the one woman with whom he could be happy in his life.
The turmoil of the last few weeks left much to deal with, and now was not the time to offer his hand to a woman he was not certain would accept it. However, he was unable to stifle the urge to touch her. With a feather soft touch he brushed an errant curl from her cheek, and then followed the contour of her jaw with his thumb before dropping his hand and asking her to walk with him.
Lizzy’s stomach jumped when his hand touched her face, and she was unable to stop the shiver that ran through her body as he took her arm.
What twisty-turn will happen next?
- Darcy agrees to give Wickham a chance and host the wedding at Pemberley. Perfect scenario for love to bloom and family to visit!
- Inspector Holmes reports that Lady Catherine was attacked by the bandit Sullivan, wounded in the scuffle, and now lies near death. Will Anne de Bourgh soon inherit Rosings Park and her fortune?
- Caroline Bingley witnesses the exchange between Darcy and Lizzy, and in desperation conceives of a plot to rid Pemberley of the Bennets for good.
- To Darcy’s annoyance, he is separately drilled for information on The Bachelor – Edward Bennet – by Lady Colette Fitzwilliam, Georgiana, and Caroline Bingley!
Book 5 of the “Realm” series is my latest Regency romance release, and to celebrate, I have a special giveaway. I will name three lucky winners in this Giveaway – one print copy and two eBooks. The giveaway is open to US, Canada, and International visitors. Leave a comment below to enter the giveaway or for additional opportunities to win, use the Rafflecopter option to connect the post to Social Media.
Members of the Realm, a covert operations group. have retuned to England to claim the titles they left behind. Each holds to the fleeting dream of finally knowing love, but first he must face his old enemy Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of the group has stolen a fist-sized emerald. Mir will have the emerald’s return or will exact his bloody revenge.
A devastating injury has robbed AIDAN KIMBOLT, VISCOUNT LEXFORD, of part of his memory, but surely not of the reality that lovely Mercy Nelson is his father’s by-blow. Aidan is intrigued by his “sister’s” vivacity and how easily she ushers life into Lexington Arms, a house plagued by Death’s secrets–secrets of his wife’s ghost, of his brother’s untimely passing, and of his parents’ marriage: Secrets Aidan must banish to finally know happiness.
Fate has delivered MERCY NELSON to Lord Lexford’s door, where she quickly discovers appearances are deceiving. Not only does Mercy practice a bit of her own duplicity, so do all within Lexington Arms. Yet, dangerous intrigue cannot squash the burgeoning passion consuming her and Viscount Lexford, as the boundaries of their relationship are sorely tested. How can they find true love if they must begin a life peppered with lies?
SCENE SETTING: Aidan Kimbolt has been away from his home since his injury has robbed him of part of his memory. He sends his man of all means, Henry “Lucifer” Hill, ahead to prepare the estate for his return. On the road, Lucifer meets Mercy Nelson, the younger sister of Grace Nelson from A Touch of Grace. Like Grace, Mercy has run away from their brother’s life of debauchery. Mercy believes Grace has died on the road, but she is determined to reach London and freedom.
EXCERPT: Mercy’s newfound optimism floundered when the cold rain had begun. She had set her sights upon London once again. The Pawleys’ regular maid had returned yesterday, and Mercy had regretfully gathered her meager belongings. Mary Purefoy, the maid, had graciously permitted Mercy to share her small room for one last evening; otherwise Mercy would have been forced to be on the road some twelve hours earlier.
Mrs. Pawley had fed her a hearty breakfast and had given Mercy a small loaf of dark bread to see her on her way. “If’n ye are ever in the neighborhood agin’,” the woman offered. “Ye must come to us. Mr. Pawley and me be thankful to welcome you.”
Mercy had been sorry to leave the woman, not only because of the nourishing food and the dry bed, but because the Pawleys had shown her a great consideration. It had been so long since Mercy had known true human kindness that she thought she would miss the couple’s empathy more so than she would miss the Pawley’s warm kitchen.
* * *
“Congratulations, Your Lordship,” Aidan had waited for Lucifer to speak his peace to the marquis. Aidan had asked Godown to join him and Lucifer in a private drawing room. It was a bit unusual, but Lucifer Hill had served beside the members of the Realm as their eighth man. Hill had saved each of their lives at one time or another, and they had rushed to save his more often than Aidan could recall. Men who shared such moments held a bond beyond class or station. “It pleases me you have found a worthy mate, my Lord.”
The marquis smiled that silly grin, which had not departed Gabriel Crowden’s countenance since Grace Nelson’s appearance in the Linton Park chapel. “Lady Godown will bring a sense of order to Gossling Hill. I thank you for your well wishes.” Godown had accepted Lucifer’s hand in parting. “Now, if you will excuse me, I must return to the wedding breakfast before the Three Roses think me displeased with my choice of brides.”
“A man must only look upon your countenance, my Lord, to see your true regard for the lady,” Hill asserted. Surprisingly, the marquis did not contradict the statement. So Hill sees what I do, Aidan thought. It was a moment of triumph and regret.
“Be safe, Hill,” Godown said graciously. “And keep the viscount from harm.”
“I will do my best, Sir.” Hill bowed as the marquis exited.
Aidan watched Godown go before he said, “I will remain at Linton Park until Godown’s aunts follow the marquis to Staffordshire. Pennington has asked for my escort as far as Cheshire.”
Hill nodded his understanding. “Your delay will provide me time to make certain everything at Lexington Arms is set aright before your arrival.”
Aidan smiled easily. “Do not go berating everyone again. I have no desire to listen to a litany of complaints upon my return.”
“You know I have no patience for those who waste my time,” Hill defended himself.
Aidan grasped the man’s shoulder. “And I am a better man for your allegiance, my Friend. You will hold to the marquis’s warning to take care.” He shook Hill’s hand. “Have you said your farewells to Hannah?”
“Aye, Sir.” Hill nervously reached into his pocket. “Before you leave Linton Park, would you ask Lady Worthing to present this small gift to Hannah on Christmas? It is a token of my devotion.” His friend’s voice had taken on an emotional tone, like sand rubbing against a stone, and Aidan felt the same twinge of jealousy, which had plagued him of late.
Aidan accepted the brown paper wrapped package. It grieved him he would not know the pleasure of giving a simple gift to a beloved one. “Why did you not give it to Hannah yourself?”
“The woman has shed enough tears with my leaving,” Hill confessed. “Plus, I wish Hannah to realize she is in my thoughts when we are separated. It is important for a woman to have something upon which to hang her hopes. Viscount Worthing was saying just the same the other day.”
Aidan thought of poor Susan. Had his young wife not had something upon which to pen her dreams? Had such a thought been the source of Susan’s bedlam? Had there been a means by which he could have saved her? Had Susan wished to be saved? “I will see to it personally.”
* * *
A few days ago on Facebook, a friend of mine posted this cool link about people who’d gotten book-related tattoos. Lots of famous novels were represented, including the Harry Potter books, The Little Prince, The Great Gatsby, Peter Pan, The Catcher in the Rye, and even Where the Wild Things Are!
But, of course, this image from Pride and Prejudice was the one that really caught my eye, and I had to share it. I loved hearing from several other Austen fans about their personal tattoo choices — some of which were definitely Austen related! – or the kinds of tattoos they’d fantasized about getting someday.
If you were going to get a tattoo (or, perhaps, you already have one or more!!), what would yours say? Or which image would you choose? I’m a little too whimpy to do it for real (needles! pain! oh, my!), but one of my favorite JA quotes is this one: “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.” Probably a bit long, LOL, but I’d be tempted to immortalize it. Or maybe just: “I *Heart* Mr. Darcy!”
What about you? Would you…tattoo?!