“Carriage dresses, dinner dresses, evening dresses, full evening dresses, garden dresses, morning dresses, opera dresses, promenade dresses, theater dresses, walking dresses.” Mrs. Bennet silently checked the list in her hand, sure she’d forgotten to jot down some important event for which her eldest daughters would need to be properly attired.
The coach swayed then bounced through a pothole, and Mrs. Bennet heard the coachman’s muffled curse. She frowned, but then shrugged. At least they would not have to find their footing with care in the foul streets.
“We must thank my Uncle Gardiner’s for arranging the carriage.” Her eldest daughter, Jane, sat between Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Gardiner. “It’s a beautiful day to go shopping for wedding clothes.”
“And we must thank you to my father for his blunt,” Lizzy said from her seat directly across Mrs. Bennet. “However did you manage to persuade my father to put off buying the horses for the farm another year, Maman?”
“Bah! What are horses to having one’s daughters dressed properly?” Mrs. Bennet glanced out the carriage window on her side. Nothing but a pile of cobbles. She turned back to her list and smiled to herself. After some wifely exertion on her part, Mr. Bennet was persuaded to be liberal with his purse.
Shopping for one’s daughters’ wedding trousseaus—the pinnacle of woman’s achievements as a mother, for years Mrs. Bennet had feared this day would never come. Her gaze flickered from Jane to Lizzy. Well done, girls.
Jane’s beauty and sweet personality catching Mr. Bingley was a certain success, she had no doubt. But what a sly girl Lizzy was. How smart of her to turn down Collins for a bigger fish. Ten thousand pounds a year and he the grandson of an earl, too. Mrs. Bennet straightened. Court dresses. Lizzy would need a court dress. She scribbled the item on her list and folded the paper before putting it in her reticule. If that coxcomb Sir William Lucas could be presented at court, for certain the wife of a grandson of an earl would merit a presentation.
“Must Kitty and I be subjected to this excursion, Mama?” Mary lifted her head from her book and intruded into Mrs. Bennet’s mental planning of the arrangement of the seven ostrich plumes on Lizzy’s headdress for her appearance at St. James’. Continue reading →
**This P&P200 vignette is the third of several I have written for the weeks leading up to the double wedding event on Nov. 16. First was Darcy Surprises Elizabeth on 10/29, then A Most Important Dinner at Darcy House on 11/1. Read those first! All are inspired by the Darcy Saga, and may even contain small portions of “flashback” moments I wrote within my sequel. However, all of them are altered a tad to present a differing POV and contain additional information I never wrote before. So they are new material to be enjoyed as part of the awesome Austen Authors P&P200 extravaganza! Thanks for reading, Sharon Lathan
The carriage rattled along the cobblestone street passing one stunning townhouse after another. Lizzy’s eyes darted between the right and left sides of Oxford Street, much as they had all day while shopping at the finer London establishments her Aunt Gardiner insisted were required for the elevated station her nieces would soon be marrying into. Mr. Bennet had blanched at the amount of money being spent, yet each time Lizzy or Jane opened their mouth to protest, Mrs. Gardiner shook her head and smoothly interrupted. Usually by dangling a pretty pieces of merchandise before their eyes!
It had been a gratifying, and exhausting, day thus far, and Lizzy should have been yearning for an afternoon slumber as Jane was enjoying. Instead she was invigorated. And nervous.
Her excess of energy sprung from the excitement at viewing Darcy House in broad daylight. At dusk, with darkness rapidly falling and the artificial illumination from gaslight and smoldering lamps ineffective in dispelling the shadows bathing the grand townhouse, it had still taken her breath away. She could not imagine the impact on a sunny day. Then, of course, there was the vitalizing prospect of wandering through the rooms she had not yet entered, all while attempting to wrap her mind around the fact that in just over two weeks Darcy House would be home.
This unfathomable concept was partially where her anxiety germinated. Predominately her thoughts had centered on her love and happiness with Mr. Darcy. The reality of precisely how radically her life would change as his wife, and more importantly, the expectations and duties that would be thrust upon her narrow shoulders, were lightly shoved aside when in his adoring company in modest Hertfordshire. In London these serious actualities crashed over her.
As true as these concerns and their assault to her normally steady emotions, today Lizzy discovered that her trepidation arose principally from what had occurred the night before. Continue reading →
Austen Authors is proud to announce the winners of our October giveaways. If your name is below, contact Regina Jeffers at firstname.lastname@example.org (or) email@example.com to claim your prize. Leave your name and mailing address in the email.
Earlier in the month, Monica P won an autographed copy of Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy’s Dreadful Secret from Vera Nazarian in the “Supernatural Jane Austen Series Quiz.”
David Wilkin will receive an autographed copy of Colette Saucier’s Pulse and Prejudice.
Beatrice will receive a copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula DVD via Colette Saucier.
Gerri Bowen will receive an autographed copy of Vera Nazarian’s Mansfield Park and Mummies: Monster Mayhem, Matrimony, Ancient Curses, True Love, and Other Dire Delights.
Ella Quinn will receive an autographed copy of Regina Jeffers’s Vampire Darcy’s Desire.
Rosanna K will receive an autographed copy of Mary Lydon Simonsen’s Mr. Darcy’s Bite.
Karana will receive a copy of Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany (donated by Sharon Lathan)
RedRose15 will receive a copy of Bespelling Jane Austen by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard, and Janet Mullany (donated by Regina Jeffers)
The November Giveaways have begun for our Anniversary Month. Instead of the one monthly giveaway, there are FOUR giveaways: November 1-9, November 10-16, November 17-23, and November 24-30. Be sure to enter often by leaving your comments on the daily posts and the Rafflecopter option.
Today marks the first day of the long-planned Austen Authors November Revels. We planned a big celebration, but in light of the destruction and suffering from Hurricane Sandy, it seems appropriate to tone it down a little. We’re going ahead with the P&P200 posts and the giveaways, in the hope that they will provide readers with some gentle escape from reality.
There will be a few changes in light of the situation. We’ve planned some extravagant weekly giveaways this month, but we’re going to delay the drawing for the first week’s prizes for several days (precise date to be determined) so that those readers who have lost internet access can still have a chance to enter. Any comments left on posts from the first week will count toward those prizes, even if they come in late. Various authors are also looking at different ways to raise funds for disaster relief.
With our thoughts and prayers going to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy, Austen Authors welcomes you to the November Revels.
November is a very special month at Austen Authors!
You are cordially invited to attend
the 200th anniversary of the wedding of
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy to Miss Elizabeth Bennet
& Mr. Charles Bingley to Miss Jane Bennet
Naturally, this means LOTS and LOTS of P&P200 vignettes – so many that during the entire month of November we’re cancelling our regular daily post to make room for daily P&P200 and wedding-related posts. THIS is the event we have been working toward since our inaugural P&P200 post on September 18, 2011.
As of today, there have been 117 P&P200 behind-the-scenes vignettes. All of them can be read, in order, either by clicking any P&P200 icon (start on the last page), or on The Writer’s Block P&P200 Board. This month alone we have over 40 additional P&P200 blogs planned surrounding the November 16 nuptials. WOW! You won’t want to miss a single day!
Here is a mere sampling of what is in store for your reading pleasure–
Colonel Fitzwilliam learns of Darcy’s engagement
Lydia complains that she can’t come to the wedding
Mrs. Bennet’s advice for the wedding night
Mr. and Mrs. Collins marriage
The Longbourn ladies go shopping in London
Lady Catherine & Anne de Bourgh talk about the wedding
Caroline Bingley explains it all
Darcy & Elizabeth’s last walk before the wedding
The wedding nights of the Bingleys & the Darcys
Numerous reflections of the wedding
~~and so much more~~
Additionally, several Austen Authors will be presenting historical pieces on Regency wedding customs. Also, because some days are packed with awesome posts, we will be publishing in a “real time” format upon occasion rather than all at once after midnight. For instance, The Wedding post will publish at 11:30 EST on November 16 to coincide with when a Regency Era wedding would have occurred. Check back often and be sure to scroll down the page so nothing is missed!
But if you thought the November Revels were only awesome blog posts, THINK AGAIN! We have many other surprises in store for you, including a big one for the 201st Anniversary of the Netherfield Ball on November 26.
There are prizes! LOTS and LOTS of Austen-related prizes every week. Highlights include
9 10 11 many multi-book sets, three original prints from Ackermann’s Fashion Repository (dated between 1810 and 1820), tons of single books, DVDs, audiobooks, and unique gifts. And we’re still adding more! Look for the weekly blog post detailing the prizes, and visit the Giveaway Page for a peek at what is coming during the month. Stop by frequently to comment and enter the Rafflecopter contest form for a chance to win some goodies!
It’s going to be a great time to try out new authors, because many Austen Authors will have one or more of their e-books on sale at $1.99 for the entire month. Some of the titles on sale are:
What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds
Miss Darcy Falls in Love by Sharon Lathan
The Truth About Mr. Darcy by Susan Adriani
The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview
The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell
Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma by Diana Birchall
Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson
Mr. Darcy’s Bite by Mary Simonsen
Darcy’s Decision by Maria Grace
Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Rigaud
The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman
Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
As a bonus, there is a special illustrated ebook edition of Pride & Prejudice available FREE to everyone at Discover a New Love, courtesy of Sourcebooks. If there are any issues with the new prices not appearing immediately, please let us know, and we’ll try to get it corrected ASAP.
**This P&P200 vignette is the second of several I have planned for the weeks leading up to the double wedding event on Nov. 16. Darcy Surprises Elizabeth was the first on 10/29. They are inspired by the Darcy Saga, they may even contain small portions of “flashback” moments I wrote within my sequel; however, all are altered a tad to present a differing POV and contain additional information I never wrote before. So they are all new material to be enjoyed as part of the awesome Austen Authors P&P200 extravaganza! Thanks for reading, Sharon Lathan
Darcy walked slowly through the parlor, crossed the entrance foyer, and entered the dining room. Pausing near his chair at one end of the long table, he swept his scrutinizing gaze over the place settings, candelabras, flowers, chairs, and every other item in the room, just as he had done in the previous chambers. Hosting dinner parties was, without a doubt, his least favorite duty. When the occasion called for it, he rose to the challenge, and in keeping with his character, ensured perfection and protocol down to the tiniest detail. Over time he had hosted gatherings with aristocracy and persons of eminence, managed capably despite his discomfort, and invariably his guests were satisfied.
Considering this, Darcy knew it was illogical to fret over menus and ambience for the small group of people expected tonight. Yet never, in all of his years, had a dinner at Darcy House held greater significance than this one.
“Is all to your specifications and satisfaction, Mr. Darcy?”
“Excellent, Mr. Travers, as always.” He read the label on the wine bottle the butler held for his inspection. “Two bottles should suffice, but have two more within easy access.”
They were still discussing the list of spirits for the evening when Georgiana glided into the room. She waited until Mr. Travers left, greeting her brother with a kiss and a query. Continue reading →
Have you heard? We are to hosting a Double Wedding!!!! A very special wedding…one between Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. And to celebrate we are giving away some of the best prizes we have ever offered on Austen Authors. In fact, there are so many lovely gifts that we have decided to change our format a bit this month. Instead of one large giveaway at the end of the month, we are hosting FOUR fabulous giveaways, so you must visit often to increase your chances of winning.
The first giveaway runs from November 1 – 9.
The winners from the first of the November giveaways will be announced on November 11. As always, each comment on the individual posts count as one entry into the giveaways. And do not forget to use Rafflecopter on the Giveaway Page for additional opportunities to win by connecting the posts to Social Media.
We promise plenty of juicy entries on Pride and Prejudice 200, leading up to the Wedding of the Year (which year, I am not saying) on November 16!
The first week’s prizes include….
an Ackermanns’ October 1810 Print entitled “Evening Promenade, or Sea Beach Costumes,” donated by Abigail Reynolds (Note! The print is not matted or framed. It will be delivered in a protective sleeve.)
a copy of Old Friends and New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen by Sybil G. Brinton (donated by Susan Mason-Milks)
a Regency era replica Quill Pen and Ink Set, which is donated by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Happy Halloween, AuAus! I entered this installment into the posting queue on Sunday, just in case Hurricane Sandy wiped out every power line in the state of Connecticut, making it impossible for me to get this to you on time.
I hope you’ll enjoy learning a little more about Elizabeth and her father, and how she came to be a vampire.
In case you’re new to this story and would like to catch up:
“What of your mother and sisters?” Darcy inquired. He’d always thought Elizabeth resembled her father while her sisters favoured their mother, but it was now evident they had more in common than mere physical appearance.
Elizabeth shook her head. “They are human, though Jane knows precisely what we are and why. She has kept our secret, and always shall; but I fear it’s been very hard on her. She worries for us constantly, as you must also worry for your sister.”
“Of course,” he agreed absently, running the back of his hand over his mouth, deep in thought. While he could relate to Mr. Bennet’s desire—and even his desperation—to provide for his family using whatever means were within his grasp, after seeing Georgiana through her transformation and the harried, emotional months that followed, the master of Pemberley disagreed with the elder man’s solution, especially when Mr. Bennet’s decision ultimately sentenced Elizabeth, a favourite child, to such a difficult and dangerous existence.
“Your father made a conscious choice, did he not, to become what he is?” he asked her.
“He did. Though I’ve often questioned his sanity, I’ve never questioned his devotion. He cares for us, and paid the ultimate price in order to assure our future at Longbourn.” Continue reading →
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)
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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 →