After many ups and downs, Mr. Darcy to the Rescue is now available on audiobook. There have been three different narrators attached to the project at different points, and the whole process took far longer than anticipated. But the ultimate result is great! Look below for a plot summary and an excerpt from the beginning of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. The audiobook is available from Amazon.
When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…
Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…
How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?
It must be admitted that Elizabeth Bennet’s attention had drifted a little as her cousin, Mr. Collins, had enumerated at great length his reasons for choosing to marry and why he had very rationally selected Elizabeth for this “honor.”
Now as Elizabeth focused on his words, she had to stifle a laugh at the idea that his affection for her was violent or deep or anything more than nonexistent. In fact, he had not even managed to produce any “animated language.” Instead, he had merely assured her that his language was animated. It was a bit like having someone declare it was raining when you stood in bright sunshine.
Oh, merciful heavens, he was still talking! “To fortune I am perfectly indifferent, and you may assure yourself that no ungenerous reproach shall ever pass my lips when we are married.” As he drew breath for another long-winded speech, Elizabeth knew she must say something—and quickly!
“You are too hasty, sir! You forget that I have not yet made an answer—”
Mr. Collins waved his hand airily. “We may dispense with these formalities. We both know how you shall respond.”
“We do?” Elizabeth expected smoke to be streaming from her ears by now.
“Yes, I have spoken with your most excellent father, and he assured me how felicitous he found this event.” He graced her with a smile, which presumably was intended to be charming, but oozed insincerity.
“He did?” Elizabeth found these words hard to credit.
“Indeed. I assured him that our union is already a foregone conclusion since we are united of one mind and one heart.”
“We are?” Elizabeth could not stay silent any longer. “Pray, sir, when did that happen?”
Mr. Collins merely looked bemused. “I…do not believe I can supply you with the exact date.…”
Elizabeth shrugged. “I keep a journal. I shall have to go back to see if I recorded it.” She tapped her lip with her finger. “I hope it did not escape my notice.”
Her erstwhile suitor blinked rapidly, fiddling with his cuffs. “Your father did caution me that you should speak with him first before making any decision regarding my most generous offer.” He shrugged. “I do not see the necessity since we both know that another offer of marriage may never be made to you… Miss Elizabeth?”
Mr. Collins had been so caught up in the sound of his own voice that it took him a few moments to realize that Elizabeth was halfway across the drawing room floor. He hastened to catch up with her. “Where are you going, my most precious love blossom?”
The sound of this ridiculous pet name almost stopped Elizabeth altogether, but she had a more urgent mission. “I must speak with my father,” she muttered.
“To assure myself his wits are in order.”
“Hmm?” Mr. Collins’s tone was quizzical. “I assure you he was of quite sound mind this morning when I spoke to him.”
Briefly, Elizabeth considered the possibility that Mr. Collins was so stupid he was incapable of being insulted. Elizabeth would be tempted to laugh if the situation were not so dire. Why would her father give Mr. Collins the impression he wanted her to marry him?
She opened the door to her father’s study rather more forcefully than she intended, and it banged against the wall. Her father looked up from his desk as Elizabeth closed the door, preventing Mr. Collins from entering.
“Ah, Lizzy, I thought I might receive a visit from you.” Elizabeth’s father removed his spectacles and regarded his daughter with a grim smile.
Elizabeth sat in the chair opposite the desk but perched on the edge, unable to relax. She expected Papa to smile and laugh or at least regard her with an ironic twinkle in his eye. Instead, he merely looked worn and solemn. “Mr. Collins has made me an offer of marriage.” Her voice trembled with uncertainty.
“And you listened to him?”
“I suppose I must be amenable to people’s wishes some of the time, or I run the danger of becoming predictable.”
Such banter usually drew a chuckle from her father, but today, it merely produced a rather wan smile. Fingers of anxiety crept up Elizabeth’s spine. “Papa, is there something amiss?”
Her father’s hands fiddled with his spectacles. “The last thing I wanted was to burden you with this. If Mr. Bingley had… Well, it is of no matter.”
Elizabeth said nothing. Everyone in the family had been disappointed when Mr. Bingley had abruptly left the neighborhood two days earlier. Jane tried to hide her melancholy, but the loss still haunted her eyes. Elizabeth still believed that Mr. Bingley would return, but his sister’s latest letter to Jane had held little hope.
Papa rubbed his hand over his forehead wearily. “Do you recall when Mr. Bartlett was here a week ago?” Elizabeth nodded. She had sent for the doctor herself after her father experienced pains in his chest. “I may have misled your mother about how severe he believes the problem to be.”
Elizabeth’s breath caught.
“Mr. Bartlett believes my heart is weakening. And it is only a matter of time until it fails.” Papa’s voice was calm, but his hands moved restlessly over the surface of the desk.
Elizabeth covered her mouth to muffle her gasp. “Oh, Papa!” Tears spilled out of her eyes and ran unchecked down her cheeks.
Her father nodded slowly. “I know. I am not a young man. I had hoped for more time, but…” His hands once again worried the frame of his spectacles. “For my own sake, I have made peace with it, but I do wish you girls could be safely married.” He ran his hand through the thinning hair over his forehead; many strands of gray had recently joined the strands of brown. “I had intended to father a son. And when it became clear that was not to be…” He bowed his head, showing the weight of his years. “I should have run my business affairs more carefully. That is the truth.”
“Oh no, Papa!” Lizzy cried. She jumped up and hurried around the desk so she could kneel beside her father’s chair. “’Tis nothing but the vagaries of fate! Our situation can scarcely be laid at your door.”
“If it pleases you to say it….” Her father patted the hand she laid on his arm. “I must confess to being a coward as well. I have not shared this news with your mother. I did not wish her to worry—or shriek.” Elizabeth and her father exchanged a knowing look.
Elizabeth stood, leaning against the desk for support. “Do not be anxious for our future. The solution has been presented to us just in time.” She swallowed hard. “I shall marry Mr. Collins and then when you…” She noticed a tremor in her voice. “And then Mama and my sisters will not be forced to leave Longbourn. It is the perfect solution.”
Her father leaned back into his chair, looking very frail. “Yes, indeed, it would be perfect if Mr. Collins were a sensible person. If he were not living proof that the Good Lord has a sense of humor. But I would not ask you to make such a sacrifice! I would have you marry for love.” The corners of his lips, indeed his whole face, seemed to be dragged down by the weight of his burdens.
“You are not asking; I am offering. Yes, I had hoped for love, but I have always known the chances of finding it were never very great. I am much too outspoken, and I have little dowry. I love Longbourn and my family, so I would be marrying for a different kind of love.” She attempted to catch her father’s eye, but his head remained bowed.
“Perhaps Mr. Collins’s affections might be transferred to one of the other girls…”
Elizabeth took her father’s cold hand in hers, touched by how much he cared for her. “Mary has stated more than once in Mr. Collins’s presence that she has no intention of ever marrying. Kitty and Lydia are too young and silly. And Jane… I could not ask that of her.” Elizabeth wanted to believe Mr. Bingley would return for Jane, and nothing should stand in the way of her sister’s happiness.
Elizabeth formed her lips into a semblance of a smile. “My marriage will bring happiness to you and Mama and the family. And it will ensure our future. That will make me very happy indeed.” Kneeling again, she tried to radiate an air of calm acceptance, although it was not one of her strengths. Perhaps Jane can give me lessons.
Her father placed his other hand on hers. “I must confess it would set my mind at ease to know the family future would be secured.”
“It will be.” Elizabeth squeezed his fingers briefly.
Papa shifted in his seat, looking at the window. “I have said nothing of my health to anyone. I think it best if it remains that way.”
“Yes, of course,” Elizabeth said. Even with the promise of security through her marriage to Mr. Collins, her mother would be beside herself with anxiety. “Your health might continue to be good for quite a time. No need to worry about it now.”
“Yes, just as Mr. Bartlett said.” He turned his gaze back to Elizabeth. Tears glistened in the corners of his eyes. “Oh, my darling girl, you have ever been a comfort to me.”
She gave her father a watery smile. “And you have been my strength, Papa.”
Her father discreetly wiped his eyes and straightened in his chair. Elizabeth stood.
“Now, go and give Mr. Collins the good news. It is far more than he deserves.” Her father picked up his book. “I am nearly to the end of this book, and I mean to finish it today.” He managed to smile at her before lowering his eyes to the book, but he blinked rapidly as he commenced reading.
Before opening the door, Elizabeth wiped her eyes with a handkerchief, wishing to avoid awkward questions about red-rimmed eyes and blotchy skin. Although Mr. Collins would certainly interpret them as tears of joy.
But no, she must not be bitter. She must only dwell on the good things about the marriage. This union will make her father happy, her family happy, Mr. Collins happy. Only one person would not be happy.
But that does not matter, she told herself firmly and opened the door.