Welcome to the ninth 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:
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.
Voting for today’s installment will end at 6am tomorrow – Thursday, April 11th. Next week, the story continues with a new addition by Regina Jeffers. The previous eight installments can be read in order on The Writers Block.
And, now, here is Scene #9 by Nina Benneton~~
“And when you are better, Mr. Bennet, I hope you will allow me to escort you myself.”
At Miss Darcy’s artless invitation, Edward laughed.
The pinkness returned to her face.”Forgive my unseemly forwardness, sir.”
Curse his bad manners. He’d done it again, embarrassed her without meaning to. “I would be honored to have you show me the grounds of your home.”
She fidgeted with something at her wrist, then she seemed to stiffen in surprise, as if she’d suddenly recalled something. His gaze dropped, and he noted some kind of small frippery hanging from her wrist.
She half-turned from him, as if she didn’t want him to see it. “As my brother is still indisposed, I had thought perhaps to be hostess in his stead.”
The frippery was a reticule. He couldn’t remember seeing his sisters with reticules when they rode, but then they rarely rode. Longbourne’s horses were needed at the farm more often than available for pleasure ridings. Her fingers, though now no longer clenching, agitatedly worked the pink strings of her reticule.”Miss Darcy, did my laughing offend you in some way?”
“No…not at all, sir,” she replied in a nervous, unconvincing tone.
“I apologize for my clumsy laugh to your offer. It was not directed at you, but rather—” he broke off, realizing what he was about to say could be misconstrued worse.
Her middle finger threaded the pink tassel of her reticule, then she seemed to collect herself. “My offer was to show you and both of your sisters the grounds of Pemberley.” Continue reading →
How often did our Regency Mr. Darcy bath? Everyday? Every week? Every month?
Has a question like this ever crossed your mind? Every night? Every week? Every month?
If you’re the kind of person who ponders such, I have bad news for you:
You are no longer a blissful, happy reader.
You are now officially an afflicted, tortured writer. You will never have a peaceful night of sleep ever again. Because you’re a mindless, historical-facts junkie, you will jerk awake and sneak to your bookshelf to read ‘Life in the Georgian City’ by Daniel Cruishank to find the myriad of trivia about the water supply during the eighteen century in England.
So, what was the water supply situation like?
The most primitive mean, and the cheapest (free!), of getting water would be to bring your bucket, pail etc… down to a public conduit or fountain, erected over a spring or stream (Conduit Street in London, rings a bell? How about Holywell in Oxford, or Jacob’s Wells Road in Bristol?) usually by some wealthy, benevolent patron of the town. Continue reading →
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Earlier this week, my dear friend and a fellow writer, PJ, sent me the above quote by the author Marianne Williamson.
I tucked my head and nodded with self-recognition. Fear of being in the light. Yup, that’s me.
I’m certain I’m in good company, though. During her lifetime, except for her brother Henry’s bragging to his friends, Jane Austen was not publicly recognized as the acclaimed author of her works. Yet, from reading various biographies about Jane and her own personal letters, I get the impression that, even if it was socially acceptable for a woman to write publicly, Jane would have preferred and insisted on maintaining her anonymity.
I’ve often wondered what Jane would have thought of all this—the movies, the plays, the books, the t-shirts, the mugs, and of course, the shrine in my office to her. I have, at least, two copies each of her major and minor works. I have the mug. And of course, at the spot where I rest my head at the back of my writing chair, I have my prize find at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, a totebag that says ‘I Love Mr. Darcy.’ Continue reading →
Below is one of my favorite excerpts from Spices of Pemberley. (Note to self: Never, never, ever upgrade computer operating system a few days before your blog day. Applications don’t open, including one containing the blog you prepared two weeks ago about Georgian plumbing system. Hmm. Perhaps that’s a sign.)
“Mr. Darcy, if you were an Indian boy, your family would be answering these questions. But since you are not, are you okay with answering my frank questions directly?” Mrs. Kumar peered over her glasses at William.
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said. Torn between anxiety that she’d addressed him as ‘Mr. Darcy’ and not ‘William,’ and elation that he at least made it to the interview stage, he eyed the blue binder on the table. Elizabeth had told him the binder was full of information on prospective Indian grooms her grandmother had interviewed over the years. He suppressed the hysterical urge to make a political quip and reminded himself at least it wasn’t binders full of men.
Mrs. Kumar placed a blank sheet of paper beside the binder. A mug, crammed with pens and pencils, joined the paper.
A Stanford man, he averted his eyes from the intimidating Cal bear emblem on the mug.
Mrs. Kumar’s hand hovered above a Pentel pen for a long second before her fingers shifted and closed around a yellow HB#2.
His stomach sank. Though Elizabeth had warned him earlier no prospective groom had ever merited a pen—only pencil. Still, he had hoped to be the exception.
Mrs. Kumar laid the pencil on top of the paper. “Now, Mr. Darcy. Tell me about your family.” Continue reading →
A catchier title than Elizabeth Braves the Slop, Part Three, (Didn’t want to title Part One thus and gave the theme/intrigue away prematurely ).
Rage filled Elizabeth. She left Tetty and charged toward the old man, now scraping the mud off one foot against the trunk of a tree. “Mr. Feild—”
“You’d be wanting to box for my ears for what Tetty’s been telling you, I suppose?” He interrupted without pausing his scraping.
“Is it true?” She forced herself to speak in a calm voice. “You bought her at the Buxton fair?
He examined his scraped foot and made a face. “Guilty as charged.”
Her hands balled into fists. “And now you’re planning to sell her at Bakewell?”
“That’s what she wants.” He lowered one foot and raised the other to the trunk. “Ran and hid in the dovecote when I said I have no shoes to take her there.”
For the first time in her life, Elizabeth wished to inflict physical harm on another person. “How dare you, buying and selling a woman as if she was a piece—”
“No, not horseflesh, Ma’am.” His eyes fierce, both feet on the ground, he faced her. “She’s worth less than horseflesh.”
She was now Mrs. Darcy of Pemberley, not Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn, she reminded herself and pressed her balled fists against her sides. Not trusting herself to speak, she clenched her teeth and glared at him.
“There are men who value their horsefleshes more than their wives,” his voice harsh, he continued, advancing closer. “Her previous husband, a gin-soused brute, had arranged with her lover, the baker, the sale of Tetty at the public auction in exchange for the baker’s mare.” Continue reading →
Click here to read Read Part One. Part Three, the ending, of this P&P 200 vignette/short story will be posted 12/11.
…Mindful of the potence, a central pole with braced horizontal beams where ladders could be hung to access the nesting boxes, she gingerly made her way to the center. About to climb the ladder, the unmistakable sound of person breathing heavily checked her.
Heart leaping to her throat, Elizabeth spun and pressed her back against the wall. “Who’s there?”
No answer other than the noises from the birds, then a faint sound of someone trying to muffle their own breathing but failing.
Holding her own breath, her eyes straining to peer into the shadow, Elizabeth inched sideways toward the door.
The door opened. Diggory Feild’s voice sounded too loud in the dark. “Come on out, Tetty. It’s only the young mistress, newly married and as obstinate as you.”
A dark, clump of a shadow unfolded upright from a low corner. “Ma’am, are there any men out there, besides him, that is?”
Elizabeth released a breath slowly and willed her heart to settle down to her chest. She shook her head then realized Tetty, whoever she was, may not see her clearly. “No. Is he harming you?”
“No, Ma’am,” Tetty said. “But I’m not coming out until there are other men out there.”
Despite her words, Tetty didn’t sound frightened, which reassured Elizabeth. “May I enquire why you are hiding in here?”
Mr. Feild said, “Has it occurred to both of you daft women that if I’d a fancy, I could shut this door, lock it, and trap you both in?” Continue reading →
After writing my first novel, Compulsively Mr. Darcy, I didn’t want to write another ‘cultural’ Austenesque novel but wanted to challenge myself with something else, like a romantic comedy of War and Peace or a Regency Suspense. Then, one evening, I attended a book club discussion of Jumpa Lahiri’s novels. Opinions and questions raised from that evening— about family duty, obligation, tradition, cultural prejudice and cultural pride and so on—fired my muse.
I had to write another ‘cultural’ Austenesque novel.
The result is my second novel, Spices of Pemberley.
Blurb: In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy had to overcome family duty and obligation to marry a portionless country miss. In this modern retelling, what if it’s Elizabeth who must overcome family expectation, duty, and tradition to follow her heart?
Below is two excerpts, the beginning scenes of the first two chapters.
Neonatal Care Intensive Unit
“Baby Girl Bennet is a ten-day-old baby who was born via precipitous delivery to a twenty-four year old mom …”
Mohini listened to the intern. By now, she could recite by heart what the young doctor would say every morning. The first day, she was in too much shock and grief for his words to register. What did register were the nervous tone and its implication for her dohti’s survival. The third day, she recognized it was lack of confidence in his voice and not a reflection of her granddaughter’s health. By the fifth day, she could decipher bits and pieces. By the seventh, she could predict what he would say next. By the ninth day, she could recite from memory his presentation of her dohti’s daily intake, her output, her weigh gain and so forth. Continue reading →
Power. Sturdy half-boots secured on a raised mound, Elizabeth Darcy surveyed the backside of her new home. Not for anything in the world would she admitted to anyone, much less her new husband, how that word discomposed, if not outright intimidated, her.
“For centuries, ownership of land and estate, and all its attendant responsibility, has been the main and only sure basis of power for any respectable Englishman,” Fitzwilliam had once lectured Charles Bingley during a walk to Oakham Mount last month.
At the time, anxious to lose the company of his friend and her sister so she could indulge in some private time with Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth had impatiently only half-listened to the men’s conversation.
Now, as she stood at Pemberley’s trademan’s entrance and viewed the two outbuildings, behind which lay the sixty-six household offices of Pemberley, and where an army of servants, almost all Derbyshire bred, considered Pemberley their home and Fitzwilliam their own beloved master, Elizabeth could not help but recalled Mr. Bingley’s response.
“I readily own that I possess no little trepidation about taking on the responsibility of a landowner, Darcy,” Mr. Bingley had replied, “but in my defense, I must remind you, besides that I have neither the temperament nor inclination for it, I was not born and bred as you have to expect the possession of such daunting power as my birthright.”
Softly, Elizabeth chuckled. Mr. Bingley was correct in all his points. Fitzwilliam, a tender and attentive a husband any bride could wish for, was first and foremost the Master of Pemberley. The mantle of power cloaked about his shoulders with an enviable ease that mere mortals, herself included, could only marvel at. Yet, she sobered, she could not escape the ugly thought which troubled her. In marrying her, a portionless woman who brought him, beyond a lively mind and impertinent wit, no land or fortune, no connection, no discernible advantage, Fitzwilliam’s power as a landowner had decreased. Continue reading →
“Monday we sort and soak soiled linens, Tuesday we wash and boil any that needed boiling, Wednesday we dry and fold, Thursday we mangle, Friday we iron, and Saturday we…” Martha paused.
The wee thing standing in front of her appeared overwhelmed.
Martha glanced around the washroom before lowering her voice, “Have you done any laundering work before?”
“No, Cousin Martha, but I’m very willing to learn. Mr. Martindale has my mum send his wash out every week.” The girl’s voice was as timid as a poor curate’s church mouse. “Please, I can work very hard.”
“Don’t fret. It takes a while to learn how things are done at a grand place like Pemberley.” Martha soothed.
The poor lass’s mum, a distant relative and Mr. Martinadale’s maid, had begged Martha to find a suitable position for her young daughter, to be out of the way of that reprobate Martindale’s too-interested-in-young-girls eyes. Fortunately, little Meg’s unexpected arrival a few days ago was on the same day that the newly married master brought the mistress home, and the happy but distracted Mrs. Reynolds had reluctantly agreed to hire the girl as Martha’s helper.
Spending fifteen hours a day in the hot, wet and smelly washroom was not the kind of work Martha would wish for an eleven-year-old, but at least the poor girl’s virtue was safe from an old man’s roving hands.
Behind them, two maids sorted through the dirty clothes and linens. Annie, one of the chambermaids sent down to help with the laundry this week, said, “Now that there’s a mistress at Pemberley, Mrs. Reynolds expects the washings will take up the whole week.”
Sarah, the other laundry maid who worked with Martha, giggled. “From the look of it, the daily soiled bedclothes from the mistress’s apartment alone will keep us busy in the washroom for a while.” Continue reading →
“What do you mean we have to make another Bride Cake by tomorrow?” The cook all but shouted at Mrs. Hill. “What’s wrong with the two cakes we have made?”
Mrs. Hill cringed. She didn’t blame the cook for being upset. “Mrs. Bennet learned Mr. Darcy detests orange, lemon or citrons, and she wishes not to offend her son-in-law. She directs the kitchen to make a new bride cake.”
“Mr. Darcy! Mr. Darcy!” Cook waved a wooden spoon wildly about, narrowly missing a game hanging from the rafter. “I’m heartily sick of that gentleman. He has caused me no ends of trouble. Everything must be done for his highness’s particulars tastes, says the Missus. The ham must not be so salty, the lobster must be fresh, the white soup must be…”
“I’ll get the eggs.” Leaving the cook to rant, Mrs. Hill escaped. She doubted the solemn Mr. Darcy cared about the cake or the ham or much of anything except sitting and staring at Miss Elizabeth, but that was not something one could tell Mrs. Bennet, especially when the mistress’s nerves were quite frazzled already on the eve of her daughters’ wedding.
Within yards of the hen house, Mrs. Hill heard, somewhere behind the coop, a woman’s soft voice giggling, followed by the man’s rumbled laughter. Undoubtedly that kitchen maid she’d hired to help with the wedding preparations was now carrying on with one of the stable boys. Mouth pressed tight, Mrs. Hill rounded the bush, prepared to harshly discipline the servants. She stopped short at the sight of the couple in front of her. Continue reading →