Last year was not the best year I’ve ever had nor was it the worst. I just didn’t get any books written. Well…that’s changing this year. “Darcy Vs Elizabeth” should be with my editor when you see this post, and “Darcy Vs Wickham” will be published this spring.
I had planned to do books for each of the Four Lords’ siblings but feel like it would be too complicated because of all the interaction between the families. “The Four Lords’ Saga” was very complicated because some of the interactions overlapped causing reviewers to fuss in spite of the fact that I synched the duplicate scenes in the last two books adding more to one and less to the other, depending on which book and which lord was involved, so readers would know the timing of events. So, I plan on doing a final book to wind that series up: “The Four Lords’ Reunion.”
Then I am torn about what to do after that. I’ve had in mind doing a Mystery Series for about three years and may start that. Or…I may not because I have about fifty plot/premises for Pride and Prejudice variations. Lord love a duck. I do NOT lack for plots. I may just start working through them. Should last me about ten years. 🙂
Anyway, today I have Chapter two of “Darcy Vs Elizabeth.” Yes, the first part is similar to Austen’s up to a point, and then it diverges drastically, especially the Netherfield Ball. This chapter is edited only by me. Please forgive any mistakes. My editor should catch any I missed. Enjoy! 🙂
Elizabeth’s favorite place in all of Hertfordshire was Oakham Mount. High enough to allow her to see much of the county surrounding it, the mount was in the middle of the forest where she walked. She loved the seclusion and the quiet as she awaited sunrises and sunsets and admired the countryside especially in warmer weather. This allowed her to enjoy the many fields ripe with grains or filled with an abundance of wildflowers of every color that stretched as far as the eye could see. Hertfordshire truly was a beautiful county and a pleasant place to live.
At peace with the world, she sat quietly drinking in the beauty before her as she nibbled on her muffin. Cook was very good at her vocation, and Elizabeth sighed in rapture as the sweet buttered treat melted in her mouth. She couldn’t resist licking the crumbs off her lips rather than wiping her mouth. She was loath to lose a single morsel of the delightful repast. I must be sure to thank Mrs. Hanson for her expertise. Perhaps she will have something else as delicious on the morrow.
As she looked at the beautiful vista, she brushed a few remnants of her meal off her skirt, arose, and then was ready to head down the mount intent on reaching Longbourn before the rest of her family greeted the day. She knew her father would already be in his study drinking coffee, his favorite beverage, and she looked forward to the lessons he would give her later in the day concerning the running of his estate. She may not have been a son, but she appreciated that Mr. Bennet recognized her as more intelligent than most men he knew. When she married, she would enjoy being an asset to her husband, not only in caring for their household but in being a partner with him in managing estate matters.
Elizabeth frowned as she thought of the disparity between her mother and father. Then with a shake of her head, she threw off the negative musings and vowed to think only positive ones for the rest of the day. Before turning to the path leading down the mount, she took one last look and sighed wishing she could spend the entire day there with a good book. But, alas, there was mending and practice of the pianoforte to be cared for at home.
Although a remembrance of Mr. Darcy intruded, she refused to let it stay as she skipped down the path. She was not made for unhappiness as she obtained too much enjoyment out of life, and she smiled in pleasure just as she hopped through the heavy brush, at the entrance to the path, and out in front of a horse being walked by its master.
“Whoa, Hercules.” The rider quickly stilled the horse that nearly reared in Elizabeth’s face. “Young woman, do you always pop out of the bushes to startle unwary riders?”
Elizabeth gave a shaky curtsy. “My pardon, sir. I didn’t expect anyone to come along, and my thoughts were elsewhere.”
“You were lucky I was cooling Hercules down after a long run. Otherwise, we might have trampled you. Do you always neglect to pay attention to where you are walking?”
At this, Elizabeth raised her head and took a good look at Mr. Darcy who, with pinched lips, was glaring down at her. With half-closed eyes and fury in her look, she stared right back at him.
With both hands fisted at her sides, she said, “I have walked this path every morning for years and never encountered anyone before today. Unfortunately, it would have to be with the rudest man to ever come to this county.” Turning quickly, she began marching away from the most hated man in her memory.
“You dare insult me because I reprimand you for your actions which nearly caused your injury?” He snorted, then continued on. “I shouldn’t be surprised as you are not even dressed as a lady would be dressed, no matter the time of day or location.”
Spinning around, Elizabeth quickly walked back to his horse and began berating its rider.
“And you, sir, are no gentleman. To proclaim that a young lady you have not even been introduced to is only tolerable and not good enough to dance with Mr. High and Mighty is despicable.”
Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed as she noted the man’s face redden in embarrassment as he stammered to make an apology, but she interrupted him.
“Don’t bother apologizing. I won’t accept a weak apology from someone who has the manners of a chimney sweep.” Turning on her heel, she hurried away toward home.
And Darcy let her go. The more he thought on the encounter, the more offended he got until he finally urged Hercules into a canter as he headed back to Netherfield. I’m glad I ignored Bingley and refused to dance with the hoyden. But I wish I had not been overheard.
Both persons returned to their current abodes angered at the encounter and to the unsettling of the other inhabitants.
Darcy entered Netherfield looking like he had tasted something bad. Bingley noted his friend resembled a thundercloud and couldn’t refrain from commenting.
“Darcy, didn’t you enjoy your ride?”
“Desist, Bingley.” With that, Fitzwilliam Darcy headed to the stairs and his bedchamber.
“Oh, Mr. Darcy. I hope you had an enjoyable ride.”
If Miss Bingley hoped he would speak with her for a few moments, she was sorely disappointed when he bowed to her and kept walking. Her sister Louisa gave her a quizzical look, shrugged, and the two continued toward the small dining room to break their fast.
Upon reaching his bedchamber, Darcy encountered his valet Rutgers who also inquired about his outing much to Darcy’s irritation.
“It was as usual,” Darcy growled then apologized for speaking gruffly.
Rutgers had been a little shocked at his master’s manner as the man had always been polite until this morning.
With a sigh, Darcy said, “It was a pleasant ride until I encountered a young woman who stepped out in front of Hercules, and when I admonished her for not watching where she was going—but glad he had not been moving faster and harmed her—she got indignant and insulted me.”
“Oh, my. I can see where that would be upsetting.”
“And she must be a complete hoyden. She was not wearing gloves or a bonnet as she should have been,” he grumbled.
“Was anyone else around?”
“No, it was just the two of us. No matter. She still should have been properly attired.”
“It is rather warm for this time of year. And it is very early for anyone to be about.”
“Rutgers, are you taking her side? There is no question she was rude and improperly attired.”
“No, sir. Just thinking there might have been a reason she refrained from a bonnet and gloves. If she is a rapid walker, it would be easy for her to become overheated since the day has started out warmer than usual.”
“Perhaps.” Darcy hesitated then mentioned, “She did say she never encountered anyone on her walks before.” He smiled as he recalled that she was rather pretty, and her dark hair was glorious with its riot of curls bound with only a single ribbon.
“Was she young and attractive, sir?” Rutgers couldn’t help smiling himself at his master’s expression. However, Darcy’s pleasant demeanor changed quickly to a frown with his question.
“No matter. She was rude to one of her betters.”
Rutgers eyebrows rose to his hairline and his mouth dropped open in shock at Darcy’s comment. He had never heard the young man utter such a proud comment in all his service to him. Although he had heard others refer to him as proud or arrogant, he had never witnessed it himself… until now. And he felt it better to hide his disappointment.
“Would you prefer the blue coat or the green today, sir?”
Darcy blinked at the swift change of subject, shook his head, then replied, “I believe the green today.”
“Very good, sir.”
Darcy noted the rather cool manner in which his valet responded and asked, “Is all well, Rutgers?”
The man looked him in the eye, and without a smile said, “Of course, sir.”
The owner of Pemberley looked confused for a moment and wondered if he had just insulted someone else unintentionally. But his valet had already turned away and didn’t see his master’s red face. Darcy hoped the rest of the day wouldn’t continue as it started and would be a bit more pleasant.
As Darcy walked into the small dining room, all at the table looked at him. Louisa and her husband Gilbert Hurst just glanced at him, then Mr. Hurst said, “Good morning, Darcy,” and gave his attention back to his meal.
Darcy bowed to the ladies who nodded in return as their brother Bingley looked on with a puzzled expression.
“Darcy, my friend, did something happen on your ride this morning?”
“Why would you think that, Bingley?”
“When you came in the door, you seemed to be in high dudgeon, and you all but flew up the stairs with hardly a word.”
With a sigh, Darcy gave in. “Let me make my selections, and I will tell you what happened.
“Oho, so something did happen. I can hardly wait to find out what occurred.”
By this time, everyone at the table was on alert and had stopped eating for the moment, all except Hurst who still tucked into his food with a vengeance as breaking his fast was his favorite time of the day.
Darcy had scarcely sat down before Bingley started questioning him again.
“Was it something startling that happened while you were riding?”
“It was an event that could have been quite tragic but was not…thank God.”
“What on earth? Do not keep us in suspense.”
“I nearly ran down a young woman who was out walking.”
“Who would be walking this time of the morning?”
“One of the Bennet…ladies.”
Miss Bingley, however, wasn’t going to let their guest get away without telling the whole story and piped up with, “And who was out at this time of the morning?”
“I do believe it was the second eldest.”
“Miss Elizabeth? I wonder if she walks every morning. And was her sister Jane with her?”
“Bingley, she was by herself. Not even a maid was accompanying her, and…” he trailed off wondering if it was advisable to tell all.
Miss Bingley sniffed in distaste. “Surely, she wasn’t alone…was she? Even the savages in this backward county would know a young woman should never walk alone. But, of course, the display of the Bennet…ladies, if you could call them ladies rather than hoydens, was rather disgusting. The mother was a loud-mouthed harridan who kept referring to your dancing with Miss Bennet twice last night. Charles, how could you dance more than once with a young woman you had just met?”
“Caroline, she is the loveliest creature I’ve ever encountered. A perfect angel. I am determined to get to know her better.”
Rolling her eyes at her brother, Miss Bingley proceeded to tell him what a fool he was to get entangled with someone with such a low status. “And how many young women have you spoken of as being an ‘angel.’ A month or two from now you will probably be admiring another young woman who, hopefully, will be a member of the ton and perfectly suitable to marry. One who will up our own status to a higher position as our father wanted. ‘Tis a shame that you have to consider an estate in among a bunch of country bumpkins to attain the status of gentleman. At the same time, you need to consider whom you associate with as well. The Bennets will not help in that regard with the impertinent Miss Eliza and the two younger hoydens of the family who continually ran around the assembly last night with their laughter being heard all the way to the driveway I daresay.”
“I must agree with your sister that you should exercise much care with whom you associate while here, Bingley,” said Darcy. “The Bennets do seem to show a lax attitude toward propriety. Even Miss Elizabeth this morning not only was unaccompanied, but she had no bonnet or gloves as well. For her to be improperly attired, even at this time of the morning, was unseemly.”
“Was she dressed properly otherwise?”
“Well, yes, she was, but she should not have been alone, and she should have been wearing a bonnet and gloves also.”
“Was anyone else around?”
Bingley frowned at his friend. “Was anyone else there to see she was improperly attired?”
“Well, no. But that doesn’t matter. Young women, if raised properly, know what propriety demands, and they should adhere to it. Society demands it of them.”
“Yes, in Town it is expected. But we are in the country. The rules here may not be as stringent as in London. After all, it was very early when you intercepted her, nobody else was in the area, and if she is a great walker, she would get uncomfortable in a hurry since the weather is much warmer than normal for this time of year. I believe you were sweating rather profusely when you returned from your ride, were you not?”
Darcy scowled at his friend but had to admit that he was rather damp when he arrived back at Netherfield. However, he was not happy at being gently brought to task for the second time this morning concerning the possibility of a fast walker becoming overheated.
Bingley just smiled as if the argument was settled. He liked the Bennets, and he seriously was attracted to the elder Miss Bennet. Now that Netherfield was a possible purchase into the landed gentry, he was thinking more about finding a young woman to court. And Miss Bennet appealed to him very much.
“Caroline, why do not you invite Miss Bennet to supper, so you can get better acquainted with her?”
“Charles, you can’t be serious. Why would Caroline want to know her better?”
“Louisa, I am unable to invite her, but you and Caroline can. And I wish to know more about her. She fascinates me as well as being the most beautiful woman I have ever met. If we find we are compatible, I will ask her father for a courtship.”
“Are you sure you are being wise? Darcy asked. “After all, the entire family acted rather gauche at the assembly. Would you really want to claim them as in-laws?”
“Why not. I found them friendly, and they seem to be part of the upper society in this county. I heard they dine with four and twenty families. That may not be as many as some in the ton, but it is a fair number of society in…what did you call this, Caroline? A backward county? If I decide to purchase Netherfield, this will be my society, and I am not averse to it.”
Caroline rolled her eyes at her brother and then rose and stomped away from the table.
Darcy chewed his lower lip and contemplated how he could divert his friend from a fate worse than death. To marry into a family that would be a continual embarrassment to him would be a burden on the Bingley family, and Darcy had to find a way to stop him. Although it was not his place to dictate Bingley’s choices in life, he would protect his friend from a fortune hunter. Darcy’s father had raised him to have fierce pride in his heritage, wealth, home, and status. He was given good principles but allowed to follow them with undue pride and conceit. Unfortunately, he was also lacking in tolerance for others who were not as blessed. He was unaware that his deceased father and mother would have been very disappointed in him.
Now, for the best news. This is also a giveaway for those who comment below by Sunday March 1st. It will be for the countries that can accept an ebook gift of “Darcy Vs Elizabeth” or a gift card. I am offering three (3) ebooks or gift cards if Amazon won’t allow an ebook. I will have an American Edition with American Spelling and a British Edition with British spelling available. Your choice of Edition. Winners will be announced March 15, 2020.
I look forward to your comments below. 🙂