Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version)
Remember, comments are required.
Chapter 34 –
What the hell happened?
I remember walking into the parsonage’s modest parlor. There was Elizabeth, pale but sitting upright. She was not at death’s door. I recall the enormous relief I felt along with annoyance that I had walked out of Aunt Catherine’s tea for no purpose.
Purpose. I remember thinking of my purpose. Suddenly, all became clear. I loved her. I loved Elizabeth. Pride, status, expectations—they were as nothing to me. I must surrender to her. I must have her.
“In vain have I struggled! It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Yes, I said that. I meant that.
She gave me such an unreadable expression. I thought her overwhelmed by my declaration. My thoughts seemed to tumble out of my mouth. She deserved—she needed to know of my struggles. To comprehend what I had thrown away and rejected for her sake. I had to have her! And then…
Rejection. She rejected me. She did not expect my declaration. She was surprised—shocked—disgusted. Disgusted with me.
I remember feeling stunned then angry. I do not know whether I had ever been that angry before. Not even with Wickham had I been that angry. I offered her my heart, and she spit on it!
She talked of Bingley and Miss Bennet. How did she come to know of that? And why was she so angry? Her sister did not love my friend! There was nothing in her actions that showed anything of it! Continue reading →
by Jack Caldwell
The Ides of March Can Mess With Your Mind
Greetings, folks. Jack Caldwell here. I know you were expecting the next installment of MR. DARCY’S P&P POV. As you can tell, this isn’t it.
I could say the reason it’s not ready is because I have accepted a new job—Director of Economic Development in a village in Wisconsin, and I start on Monday, March 18.
I could say I’m moving to temporary lodgings over the weekend, because my new job is four hours away from where I’m living now.
I could say that I’ve been busy helping my wife get this house ready to go on the market, and the REALTOR is stopping by today to take pictures.
I could say I’ve been busy preparing for the publishing of my new novel, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER, which will be released through White Soup Press in April of this year.
I could say I’ve been busy redesigning my website—Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile—preparing for the launch of MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER.
I could say I’ve been busy writing my new free offering for all of you—SNOWBOUND—which can be found here at The Writers Block (see the tab above).
I could say I’m getting old and decrepit.
But all of that would be a cop-out. The real reason Part 9 of MR. DARCY’S P&P POV is not being posted today is because it’s March 15—The Ides of March. Continue reading →
Welcome to second installment of The Bennet Brother, the new interactive group writing project from Austen Authors! Two weeks ago readers voted on how Elizabeth reacted to both Mr. Darcy’s infamous observation at the Meryton Assembly and his forced invitation to dance. At the end of this segment, you’ll have a chance to vote on what happens next. Given that the next installment will be written by Diana Birchall, I’d choose your option with care!
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.
If you missed it, Scene #1 by Abigail Reynolds can be read HERE.
And now, Scene 2:
Scene 2 – Jack Caldwell
Elizabeth glared at the tall, arrogant man before her; his cold, dark, piercing eyes unmistakably awaited a positive response. Anger rose in her, not only at his rudeness and audacity but also at her brother’s insolence. What was Edward thinking? It would have been far better to ignore this pompous snob, but thanks to Edward and Miss Perry, she had been placed in an impossible situation. The insult to her vanity transcended all other considerations, however.
In her most arch voice, she said, “Mr. Darcy is all graciousness, but I am not in a humor to dance with gentlemen whose countenances may be handsome, but whose manners are not tolerable enough to tempt me.”
Mr. Darcy stiffened, his eyes flying open in surprise. Elizabeth realized with satisfaction that this popinjay had never had a lady refuse him before, and the tiny dark part of her soul reveled that she had been the first.
Edward grinned, and Miss Perry gave a low chuckle. However, Mr. Bingley looked on helplessly, and Jane was not pleased. She gasped in her ear, “Lizzy, by refusing him in such a manner, you will have to decline all other offers to dance this evening.”
Elizabeth knew, of course. She did not plead fatigue, but dislike. While regret that she would not dance again tonight was painful, she stood her ground.
Mr. Darcy’s face was intensely red—from indignity, Elizabeth did not doubt—but to her surprise he said in a level voice, “Far be it from me to deny any pleasure of yours, madam. I am well rebuked for my words, and I do not wish to be the cause of unhappiness, unintended or not.” At this he scowled at Edward. To her he continued, “If your reprimand is not a flat refusal and can abide my manners for a set, my offer stands.” Continue reading →
Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version)
Remember, comments are required.
Chapter 32 –
I arise early, as is my wont, and have an abbreviated breakfast in peace—thank heavens Fitzwilliam sleeps late during his visits to Rosings. I am in no mood for his jests today. I am on the edge of a momentous decision, and I must focus all my facilities to that resolution.
As usual, Anne remains above stairs, and I take this opportunity to speak with her. Aunt Catherine only arises at fashionable hours, and as Anne’s companion knows to keep silent, this interview should escape my aunt’s notice. I find my cousin in her private sitting room, attended by her companion, but besides a short greeting she says nothing. I attempt to engage her in conversation and am awarded with little more than monosyllabic responses. I soon take my leave, to her palpable relief. This is consistent with her behavior on all of my previous visits, and I am satisfied Aunt Catherine has failed to raise her expectations. I do not know what Anne wants, but I am secure in the knowledge that it is not marriage with me.
I am outside, the day is fine, and I should enjoy a ride about the park, but I spy the parsonage. Hmm…I really must call upon the ladies. Riding can wait.
Well, that went well—not.
I admit I was taken aback to find Elizabeth alone, but more surprising was my reaction—how strange that her mere presence can so discombobulate me. All I could manage for the first half of my call was polite inquires about her family in Hertfordshire and some inane observation about the parsonage! Gad, I attended Cambridge! Top marks for logic and debate! One look at Elizabeth’s pretty face, and I am a blubbering idiot. I am no better than Bingley! Continue reading →
Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version)
Remember, comments are required.
Chapter 30 –
Miss Elizabeth is here? At Rosings Park? I cannot believe it!
For the last four months, I have struggled to rid my mind of the memory of her light and pleasing figure, refreshingly pretty face, amusingly impertinent remarks, and enchanting eyes. She is too low for Pemberley, I reminded myself time and again. Her family is beyond ridiculous. Just when I believed myself successful, just when she stopped haunting my dreams, I am thrust into her company again.
Miss Elizabeth’s idiot cousin, Mr. Collins, was exceedingly thankful that Fitzwilliam and I would condescend to call upon the parsonage. Fool—as if anything could stop me! Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to Miss Elizabeth’s fiery gaze.
Miss Elizabeth was surprised to see me; that is certain. In my turn, I was surprised to learn the identity of Mr. Collins’s wife. I thought Miss Lucas to be a sensible lady, but one can never tell. As usual, my wits failed me in Miss Elizabeth’s company; I am too captivated by her. I make a couple of inane comments to Mrs. Collins about the cottage and gardens before falling silent. Fitzwilliam, blast him, has no impediment and is his usually charming self. I could throttle him.
Finally, I collect myself sufficiently to inquire of Miss Elizabeth about her family. She assures me they are well and asks whether I have seen Miss Jane Bennet in Town.
I nearly swallow my tongue, but I reply in a reasonably calm manner that I never had the opportunity to meet her there. Oh, I hate lying, but there is nothing for it! I certainly cannot injure Miss Elizabeth by telling her I kept the knowledge of Miss Bennet’s being in Town from Bingley. I am satisfied that what I said is entirely truthful—although not the whole truth.
Gad, my stomach pains me. It must be my breakfast. Continue reading →
by Jack Caldwell
Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner coming soon from WSP!
Greetings, everyone. Jack Caldwell here. I thank each and every one of you who bought PEMBERLEY RANCH and/or THE THREE COLONELS. For my next act, I’m going light and funny. I will be releasing my Pride & Prejudice farce, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER – A Jane Austen Farce, early in 2013 through our new imprint, White Soup Press.
Now, some of you have seen MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER posted at various JAFF sites. So why should you buy a published version of this?
- It’s not on the boards anymore.
- It’s new and improved (I’ve done some edits)!
- You can hold it in your hand, or store it in your Kindle (or Nook or whatever). Cool, huh?
- Because you love me.
Any of these reasons will do.
To whit your appetite, below you will find an excerpt from the novel. The plot follows Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice up to the day Elizabeth Bennet meets Mr. Wickham for the first time in Meryton. I’ve changed three things.
- Mr. Collins blurts out during the silent confrontation between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham that Mr. Darcy is engaged to Anne de Bourgh. Of course, he’s not, but no one is aware of that.
- The Netherfield party is to have dinner at Longbourn that evening.
- Elizabeth owns a cat.
This all-out farce is inspired by the classic THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Unfortunately, there are no penguins, but I think you’ll like it anyway.
Without further ado, the following is an excerpt from Chapter One of MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER: Continue reading →
(November 6, 1812)
“Ah, Thacker, has my cousin returned?”
The butler glanced at the door. The colonel was a constant and welcomed guest at Darcy House, but the knocker was not in evidence, a clear sign that the family was unavailable to visitors.
The colonel laughed. “Oh, do not bother, old man.” He moved inside the vestibule. “I will just call on Miss Georgiana.” He handed the imperturbable servant his hat and gloves and was removing his coat when a tall gentleman made his appearance.
“I thought I heard your voice, Richard,” said a smiling Fitzwilliam Darcy, his hand extended in welcome.
“Come into my study, Fitz. Your arrival is most timely if you mean to stay for dinner.”
“Of course! You would not throw your poor cousin upon the mercy of the kitchens of Horse Guards, would you? The horses eat better!”
Darcy harrumphed. “I seriously doubt that the Crown’s food is that deficient, but we will suffer your company. Thacker, be so good as to alert Cook that we have a guest for dinner.” The butler nodded as the two gentlemen continued down the hall.
“You have not answered my question,” Fitzwilliam pointed out. “You have been gone for a month. Did you return to Pemberley?”
Darcy’s response was lost to posterity, for at that instant, a pretty young lady dashed from the music room.
“RICHARD!” cried Georgiana Darcy. “Oh Richard, have you heard the news?” She leapt into an embrace with her cousin and guardian. “Brother is getting married!”
Fitzwilliam was dumbfounded. “Married?” His arms full of Georgiana, he peered over her head at Darcy. “To whom?”
Butter would not melt in Darcy’s grinning mouth. “You are acquainted with the lady—Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”
Thirty minutes later, the two gentlemen were comfortably ensconced in Darcy’s study with cigars and wine, a roaring fire in the grate, and Georgiana was upstairs changing for dinner.
“Now that you have successfully distracted me with cigars and wine,” said Fitzwilliam presently, “shall you tell me how things came to pass? Engaged to Miss Bennet? I am all astonishment!”
“I thought you had some wind of it. You must have seen evidence of my admiration in Kent.”
“I thought I saw something, but to this degree? No. You have been very sly.”
“Not in the least. I must wonder at your astonishment; surely my aunt spoke to the earl last month.”
“I have not heard anything, and I would be surprised if I did. You know Father and Aunt Catherine hate each other. But why would—oh!” Fitzwilliam frowned. “She knew? You told Lady Catherine of your intentions and not me?”
“Peace, Cousin! It was not so much a matter of telling her as her finding out.”
Mollified, the colonel sat back. “How did that come about? Anne?”
“No, I did not tell Anne, either.” He imparted the story of Lady Catherine’s journey to Longbourn, her confrontation with Elizabeth, and her attempt to warn Darcy off. By the time Darcy finished his tale, the colonel was excessively diverted.
“Ho, this is rich! The old bat thought she would have you bend to her will, but in all probability, she drove you right into Miss Bennet’s arms! How Father will laugh when he learns of this!”
Darcy sat up. “Must you tell him?”
“Of course! I can keep nothing from him—especially if I wish to stay in his best books. My allowance depends upon it!” At Darcy’s dark look, Fitzwilliam sobered and patted his cousin’s knee. “It would be all for the best, Darce. You cannot think he will look kindly on your betrothal to a county lady of no note.”
Darcy ground his teeth. “Elizabeth is a gentleman’s daughter; we are equals.”
“Do not be foolish! You know this will disrupt his plans for you. However, I can be of service. As much as he dislikes being thwarted, he enjoys thwarting Auntie Cathy more! The very fact that our aunt disapproves of Miss Bennet will raise her in my father’s eyes.”
Darcy was hardly mollified. “I will stand no disrespect for Elizabeth.”
Fitzwilliam almost laughed at the image Darcy presented—glowering face, arms crossed over his chest. Why, if only he bit his lip, he would be the perfect picture of an angry, stubborn child. “Miss Elizabeth is charming. She will win over Father in no time, and Mother too, I have no doubt.”
“And the viscount?”
Fitzwilliam’s smile faded. “That will be a harder task. You know how much stock my dear sister Eugenie puts in appearances, and Andrew follows wherever she leads.” The colonel’s and the viscountess’ mutual loathing was well-known within the family. “However, Father demands a unified public front in all things. Win his acceptance and the rest of the family will fall in line—including Lady Catherine.”
Darcy relaxed. “My uncle is a reasonable man. I am satisfied. I shall write him presently. He is still in Derbyshire, I recall.” He took a sip of his wine. “Shall you attend the wedding? If so, I would ask you to escort Georgiana.”
Fitzwilliam nodded. “I shall be happy to if I am granted leave. After all, someone must represent the family. It certainly will not be Lady Catherine.” He frowned. “I wish Anne could… but that is nonsense. Her health would not allow it, even if by some miracle our aunt gave permission.”
The two sat for some time, drinking, the crackling fire the only sound in the room.
“Darcy,” Fitzwilliam began again, “are you certain about this? Please understand I am only concerned with your happiness. Miss Bennet is all that is lovely and charming, but—”
Darcy held up a hand. “Fitz, I am certain. I shall not change my mind—I shall marry Elizabeth.” He sighed. “It is hard for me to speak of this. In her presence, I feel—calm. Complete. At peace. I find she is as necessary to me as food and drink. I do not think I can now live without her, knowing I have finally won her tender affections.”
“She says I have, and I believe her.” He chuckled. “I certainly know my fortune means little to her!”
Fitzwilliam frowned, the source of his misgivings now on the table. “Forgive me, Darce, but how do you know that?”
Darcy laughed out loud. “Because she turned me down at Rosings!”
Darcy ignored his cousin’s inelegant outburst and gave an abbreviated recounting of his misadventure in the parsonage at Easter. “So you see?” he concluded his tale. “If she were mercenary, she would have accepted my boorish proposal, and I never would have been the wiser until it was too late! But she had mercy on me and taught me a hard lesson on what it takes to please a woman worthy of being pleased.”
“Apparently, you have learned this lesson.”
“I will endeavor to put my better understanding to good use for the remainder of my days.”
Normally, Fitzwilliam would have disregarded such a statement as mere hyperbole had it come from any other man. “She has bewitched you, has she not?”
“I am a better man for knowing her.”
Fitzwilliam raised his glass and offered a toast. “Then I wish you joy with all my heart.”
Darcy’s eyes were suspiciously moist. “Thank you, Fitz. Your words mean more to me than I can say.” He gathered himself and stood. “Shall we to dinner? Georgiana is surely waiting for us by now.”
Fitzwilliam grinned, already relishing whatever arts Darcy’s cook was to employ that evening. “Excellent! Lead the way, Cuz.” And if what you say about Miss Elizabeth is true, Darce, I shall love her as if she were my own sister, he thought to himself.
by Jane Austen & Jack Caldwell
Greetings, faithful followers of the Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles. Your favorite Louisiana native, Jack Caldwell, here. We—the lovely Beta Babes and I—are in a generous mood. Therefore, we have included the following for your reading pleasure. Halloween is upon us, and this is about as close as I’ve ever gotten to a supernatural story. Some of you may recognize it from my series of Jane Austen short stories, VARIATIONS. But it’s improved—there are photos included now!
Note that the next installment of Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV follows. The usual requirements apply.
We Have Mrs. Radcliffe to Thank
(from VARIATIONS, a series of Jane Austen “what ifs”)
No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all against her in equal measure. She was the eldest daughter of a country clergyman, and while certainly not rich, she was not destitute either. She loved her family, her home, and her romantic novels and expected very little else out of life, except for a handsome man to sweep her off her feet and carry her away. As the chances of that occurring were very slight, her life was very ordinary.
Thanks to her friends, the Allens, Catherine was taken to Bath, where she made the acquaintance of Miss Eleanor Tilney, the beautiful daughter of a local retired army general, and her brother, the equally handsome Mr. Henry Tilney. Acquaintance rapidly grew into friendship, and just as quickly, an invitation to Miss Tilney’s home was extended and accepted.
Catherine never had such an adventure before in her young life—visiting a country estate as the particular friend of a lovely girl with her extremely agreeable brother as escort! Such things did not happen to clergyman’s daughters from Fullerton!
Northanger Abbey was a disappointment, however. As a faithful reader of the novels of Mrs. Radcliffe, Catherine could not help but be delighted at the prospect of the expected gothic grandeur that was sure to be the Tilney estate. However, the reality was nothing of the sort. The abbey was a short, squat hall on level ground. Inside, the furniture was in all the profusion and elegance of modern taste. The fireplace, where she had expected to find the ample width and ponderous carving of former times, was contracted to a Rumford, with slabs of plain, though handsome, marble and ornaments over it of the prettiest English china. The windows, to which she looked with peculiar regard from having heard the General talk of preserving them in their Gothic form with reverential care, were yet less what her fancy had portrayed. To be sure, the pointed arch was preserved—the form of them was Gothic, and they might be even casements—but every pane was so large, so clear, so light! To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions and the heaviest stone—work, for painted glass, dirt, and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing.
Another blow was that Mr. Tilney did not reside there with the General and Eleanor. Woodston, nearly twenty miles distant from the Abbey, was his establishment. For at the age of seventeen, Catherine had found someone as worthy of her admiration as her dear novels. In Henry Tilney she found all expectations of her necessities of an agreeable gentleman. He was smart, in both mind and dress, and was clever without being cruel. And there was another accomplishment besides—a depth of feeling she had never known existed in the world outside what her mother called her “dreadful novels.” As much as Catherine enjoyed Eleanor’s company, she anticipated Henry’s visits with sweet eagerness.
The General, however, was not so agreeable. Dark and foreboding was his aspect. Catherine seldom saw him except at dinner, and sharp was his questioning of his visitor. He insisted on prompt attendance, and his only other command was that Miss Moreland refrain from entering any room in the family wing, save Miss Tilney’s.
For a girl raised on novels Gothic, this was the same as an open invitation. Catherine longed to explore the bedrooms there, particularly the room of the late Mrs. Tilney. Ever since she beheld the portrait of the woman in the family chapel, Catherine was convinced that the lady had been a victim of foul play. Moreover, it was fixed in her mind that the perpetrator of the heinous deed was none other than the poor woman’s husband. Why else would the General, usually so attentive, glower so at her at any approach to the prohibited room?
For several weeks, Catherine tried to talk her friend into an exploration of the chambers to no avail. Eleanor, due to fealty and fear, could not be moved. Catherine’s curiosity had to be appeased. She came to the resolution that she would make her next attempt on the forbidden door alone. It would be much better in every respect that Eleanor should know nothing of the matter. To involve her in the danger of detection, to court her into an apartment which must wring her heart, could not be the office of a friend. The General’s utmost anger could not be to herself what it might be to a daughter, and besides, she thought the examination itself would be more satisfactory if made without any companion.
Of the way to the apartment she was now perfectly mistress, and as she wished to gain entrance before Henry’s return, expected on the morrow, there was no time to be lost. The day was bright, her courage high. At four o’clock, the sun was two hours above the horizon, and she would be the only one retiring to dress a half-hour earlier than usual.
Catherine found herself alone in the gallery before the clocks had ceased to strike. There was no time for thought. She hurried on, slipped with the least possible noise through the folding doors, and without stopping to look or breathe, rushed forward to the one in question. The lock yielded to her hand, and luckily, with no sullen sound that could alarm a human being. On tiptoe she entered. The room was before her, but it was some minutes before she could advance another step.
She beheld what fixed her to the spot and agitated her every feature. She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, a handsome bed with dimity curtains, arranged as with a housemaid’s care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows!
Catherine had expected to have her feelings worked, and worked they were. Astonishment and doubt first seized them, and a shortly succeeding ray of common sense added some bitter emotions of shame. She could not be mistaken as to the room, but how grossly mistaken she had been in everything else! This apartment, to which she had given a date so ancient, a position so awful, proved to be all that was delightful. True, it had not been used in some time, but it bore the mark of the servants—not a speck of dust could be found. There were two other doors in the chamber, leading into dressing—closets, no doubt, but she had no inclination to open either. Would the veil in which Mrs. Tilney last walked or the volume she had last read remain to tell what nothing else was allowed to whisper?
No—whatever might have been the General’s crimes, he had certainly too much wit to let them sue for detection.
Catherine was sick of exploring and desired nothing more than to be safe in her own room with only her own heart privy to its folly. She was at the point of retreating as softly as she had entered, when the sound of footsteps—she could hardly tell from where—made her pause and tremble.
To be found there, even by a servant, would be unpleasant, but by the General would be much worse! She listened—the sound had ceased—and resolving not to lose a moment, she passed through and closed the door.
At that instant, a door beneath her was hastily opened. Someone seemed with swift steps to ascend the stairs, the head of which Catherine had yet to pass before she could gain entrance to the gallery. She had no power to move.
With a feeling of terror not quite definable, she fixed her eyes on the staircase, and in a few moments, it gave Henry to her view.
He looked astonished too. “How came I up that staircase?” he replied, greatly surprised. “Because it is the nearest way from the stable yard to my own chamber; and why should I not use it?”
Catherine recollected herself, blushed deeply, and could say no more. He seemed to be looking in her countenance for that explanation which her lips did not afford. She moved on towards the gallery.
“And may I not, in my turn,” said he, as he pushed back the folding doors, “ask how you came here? This passage is at least as extraordinary a road from the breakfast parlor to your apartment as that staircase can be from the stables to mine.”
She could not lie to his bright, penetrating blue eyes. “I have been to see your mother’s room,” said Catherine, looking down.
“My mother’s room! Is there anything extraordinary to be seen there?”
“No, nothing at all.”
“You look pale. I am afraid I alarmed you by running so fast up those stairs. Perhaps you did not know—you were not aware—of their leading from the offices in common use?”
“No, I was not.” She changed the subject. “You have had a very fine day for your ride.”
“Very, and does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the rooms in the house by yourself?”
“Oh! No, she showed me for the greatest part on Saturday—and we were coming here to these rooms—but only,” dropping her voice, “your father was with us.”
“And that prevented you,” said Henry, earnestly regarding her. “Have you looked into all the rooms in that passage?”
“No, I only wanted to see —” She realized how foolish she appeared. “Is not it very late? I must go and dress for dinner.”
“It is only a quarter past four. There is time enough.”
“My mother’s room is very commodious, is it not?” Henry said. “Large and cheerful-looking, and the dressing-closets so well disposed! It always strikes me as the most comfortable apartment in the house. Eleanor sent you to look at it, I suppose?”
“It has been your own doing entirely?” Catherine said nothing. After a short silence during which he closely observed her, he added, “As there is nothing in the room in itself to raise curiosity, this must have proceeded from a sentiment of respect for my mother’s character, as described by Eleanor, which does honor to her memory. The world, I believe, never saw a better woman. But it is not often that virtue can boast an interest such as this. The domestic, unpretending merits of a person never known do not often create that kind of fervent, venerating tenderness which would prompt a visit like yours. Eleanor, I suppose, has talked of her a great deal.”
“Yes, a great deal. That is—no, not much, but what she did say was very interesting. Her dying so suddenly, and you—none of you being at home—and your father, I thought—perhaps had not been very fond of her.”
“And from these circumstances,” he replied, his quick eye fixed on hers, “you inferred perhaps the probability of some negligence, some—something still less pardonable?”
She raised her eyes towards him more fully than she had ever done before.
Without hesitation, she placed her little hand in his. Immediately, he turned and walked with her to his mother’s apartment. A moment later, the two were in the middle of the room. Catherine could know no reason why he did this, except to prove to her that her suspicions were wrong.
He said nothing. Instead, he stood before her, both her hands in has. Deeply his blue eyes searched hers, searching for she knew not. She felt her soul open—he knew her every secret, including her love for him.
In a soft voice scarcely above a whisper, he spoke. “Would you like to meet her?”
Catherine blinked. “I… I beg your pardon? Meet who?”
“Your mother!” she cried. “Is not your mother dead?”
A half-smile marked his countenance. He half-turned, never releasing his hold on her hands, and to one of the doors on the far side of the room, he called out softly, “Mother?”
At once, the door opened and a beautiful older woman entered the room. Her face was unlined and her hair a soft shade of gold. Her ivory dress was of an older style, at least twenty years in the past, yet it shown as if the dressmaker had just completed her labors. Her features favored Eleanor, but she shared the same blue eyes as Henry.
The woman looked at a shock-stilled Catherine with intense interest. Her eyes never leaving the girl, she said in a low, throaty voice, “Henry, is this the one?”
“I believe so, Mother,” he answered. Henry turned to Catherine. “Forgive me, my love, but I must know.”
Catherine felt her very mind invaded.
She felt compelled to answer truthfully. “Yes.”
Do you say this of your own free will?
Do you want to stay with me for all time?
“More than anything else in the world.”
Henry turned to the woman. “Yes, Mother. She is the one.”
The woman smiled. “I am so happy for you, my son.” She spoke to Catherine. “Do not fear, my child. A kiss and you will join us for all eternity.”
The woman floated to Catherine’s side, her hands gently cupping the girl’s face. “So pretty, so pure. You have chosen well, Henry. What is your name, sweet child?”
“Welcome to our family, Catherine.” With that, Mrs. Tilney lowered her face to Catherine’s neck.
Catherine’s world went dark.
Catherine sat on the sofa with Henry in Mrs. Tilney’s apartment. They were quite alone, for Mrs. Tilney had retired to her room again. Henry began to tell his bride of their history.
“My mother’s malady,” he continued, “the change which ended in her death, was sudden. At first, we thought it a bilious fever. But she seemed to waste away, and no doctor could cure her. My father, brother, and I remained in almost constant attendance for four and twenty hours. On the fifth day, she died. As her disorder progressed, we saw her repeatedly, and from our own observation can bear witness to her having received every possible attention which could spring from the affection of those about her or which her situation in life could command. Poor Eleanor was absent, and at such a distance as to return only to see her mother in her coffin.”
“But your father?” said Catherine. “Was he afflicted?”
“Immensely. You erred in supposing him not attached to her. He loved her beyond all reason, I am persuaded. I will not pretend to say that while she lived she might not often have had much to bear, but though his temper sometimes injured her, his judgment never did. His value of her was sincere, and he was truly afflicted by her death.”
“I am very glad of it,” said Catherine. “It would have been very shocking!”
Henry laughed. “Not as shocking as it was when she returned to us! Oh, I thought I had gone mad with grief, and my family, too, but it was no ghost. It was my mother, more beautiful than she was in life. Her death killed all illness. She was whole and well.”
“Un-dead, yes. We do not know to this day from where the vampirism came.”
“She shared her gift with you?”
“With all of us—yes.”
Catherine tried to take all the changes in. When she awoke from her swoon in Henry’s arms, she knew her world had changed. She felt new and free. Catherine Morland was no more. Though not yet officially married, she was now Catherine Tilney and would be so forever.
“I do not understand. How can this be? You have been out in the daytime and Eleanor too. I thought the sun was the enemy of vampires. Yet, as I sit here in your arms, watching the sunset, I feel not the least discomfort. And you do not sparkle.”
Henry laughed. “I believe that most of what is written about vampires is rubbish, my love, much like your beloved ‘dreadful novels.’ In actuality, only Mother is a full arch-vampiress. She does not like the full sun all that well. And she can only consume fresh blood—not human, of course,” he hastened to assure her. “She is partial to lamb, but cow’s blood does well enough. The rest of us are gifted with partial-vampirism, like you. We carry on as we always did. The only exceptions are that we age very slowly, we are impervious to normal death, and we like our meat raw.”
“But my meals here—the food was well cooked.”
He smiled. “We suffered so as not to offend your sensibilities, my love.” He grew serious. “You now understand why we are so reserved. We can be destroyed by the frightened and uninformed. A stake to the heart, beheading by a silver blade, that sort of thing. We pose no threat to king and country—in fact, Frederick, being invulnerable, is a great weapon for England—but as we are considered unnatural, we are feared.”
“And your father is gatekeeper to the family secrets?” Catherine stated with new-found prescience.
“Yes. He is perfect for the task, as he is naturally suspicious. It is why Eleanor’s admirer has been held off at arm’s length. We are not certain that the Viscount would accept the price of joining the family.”
“And I was judged worthy?”
Henry smiled. “Yes. Thank you, my love.”
Catherine’s own smile faded. “Henry, what of children?”
“I do not know, love. As we are only half-vampires, we may yet be blessed.” He pulled her into a close embrace. “I do want children with you, Catherine, but that may be denied. Will you hate me if it is so?”
“Never!” she cried. “My life is you, Henry. If that is all I ever have, I will be more than content.” She shivered.
“Catherine, are you well?”
“Never better, Henry. I… I feel so alive! Is it not strange to say that? Yet, I feel…” She blushed. “Henry, may we marry soon?”
Henry’s blue eyes seemed to glow. “Are you… impatient?”
Catherine’s eyes glowed in return. “Yes! You know I am! Such… such feelings course through me! I can hide nothing from you, my darling. I… I feel completely wanton!”
His lips captured hers in a kiss that was so all-consuming that they would have died of suffocation, if they were still fully alive.
The door opened. “Henry? Are you—oh, my!” cried Eleanor.
Henry turned to her, but kept Catherine in a close embrace. “Wish me joy, Sister. Catherine has met Mother!”
“She has?” Eleanor squealed. “How wonderful! Welcome to the family, my dear friend!”
Catherine left her lover’s embrace and turned to her sister. “Thank you, Eleanor. But tell me, is dinner ready? I feel positively ravenous!”
Henry laughed. “Come, darling. We cannot have you starve.”
As they left for the dining room, Catherine said, “And after dinner, we must speak about this viscount of yours, Eleanor. I think we need more gentlemen in the family.” She laughed. “Oh, how right Mrs. Radcliffe is—and how very wrong!”
It takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.
Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version)
Remember, comments are required.
Chapter 19-23 –
Well, the deed is done. I have saved Bingley from a most imprudent match.
I traveled to London from Netherfield with Bingley. For me it was to escape the snare that Miss Elizabeth Bennet was becoming, and for Bingley, it was to see to some business. As I feared, part of Bingley’s business was to make inquiries as to the settlement that would be expected for a man of his means to the daughter of a country squire. My friend was indeed infatuated by the charming but otherwise inadequate Miss Jane Bennet. Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, who unsurprisingly followed us to Town, were beside themselves and petitioned me most passionately to talk sense into Charles. I agreed, and the disagreeable interview was done directly.
Bingley was at first quite put out by my questioning his intentions. However, when directly interrogated about the state of Miss Bennet’s affections, he could make no answer. Apparently, he owned some uncertainty about the level of her feelings, thinking her regard sincere but unequal. His doubts increased when I honestly could not alleviate his fears of her indifference. I pointed out the certain evils of choosing a lady with undesirable connections and intolerable relations, especially without any corresponding assurance of offsetting affection and love. Bingley’s disgust of making a marriage of convenience (which mirrors my own) and his reliance on my guidance made the unpleasant task of persuading him against Miss Bennet but the work of a moment.
I know I have done a great service for my friend. I just wish I did not feel so filthy.
Georgiana is somewhat improved. I think it is because of my return to Town. She misses me so, and I delight in her company, but she is so altered from the enchanting child who danced and sang throughout Pemberley—the girl I cherished, before Younge and… him. How dare he attempt to harm me through my sister! If there is a man on this Earth I hate, it is He Who Shall Not Be Named!
I fall back into gloomy thoughts, even as Advent begins. If only Miss Bennet loved Charles! Then, I could have no real objection. If only her connections were better. If only Mr. Bennet was a baronet. If only Elizabeth—
Gad, I must stop thinking about her! Continue reading →
Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version)
Remember, comments are required.
Chapter 15 –
WTF? WICKHAM? Wickham is in Meryton? What the devil is he doing here?
When I rode up with Bingley to greet the Bennet party, I almost fell off my saddle at the sight of that reprobate! Looking at his snide expression, the vision of Georgiana’s devastated face came directly to my mind. Oh, how I wish I had throttled that bastard in Ramsgate! I could not stand to be in that degenerate’s presence another instant, for if I did not ride away, I should have leapt off my horse and gave that deceitful disgrace of a man a piece of my mind. No—better yet, a kick in the bullocks.
Charles, of course, berated me for my behavior in Meryton, and I was forced to put him off with an abrupt apology. He knows I dislike that weasel, but he knows nothing about of how that scoundrel damaged my family in Ramsgate. And I mean to keep it that way. Charles cannot keep a secret to save his life.
Blast it all! Did Wickham know I was here? Is he after more of my money? Blackmail—is that his scheme?
No. He knows if he even breathes a word about Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam will hunt him down and skewer him with his sabre. And it will not be in a duel, either!
Well, if my father’s good-for-nothing godson knows what is best for him, he had better stay out of my sight! Continue reading →