Fitzwilliam Darcy lifted his pen and paused while he carefully considered his words. As he did so, he allowed himself to watch the enchanting Miss Elizabeth Bennet smile at something she was reading. For a moment, his thoughts were captivated by what it might be which had caused her amusement rather than how he should broach the next topic in the letter he was attempting to write to his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam.
So far, Darcy had inquired after his sister and had commented on the general news of the area and the more specific details concerning his friend Charles Bingley and Netherfield, the estate where he was now ensconced. Whether that ensconcing was more of Darcy’s free will or a sense of duty was debatable. Helping his friend was no burden. However, abiding the man’s sisters was a bit of a task and trying to Darcy’s patience. He should just tell Caroline Bingley of his engagement. Perhaps then she would stop fawning over him at every turn, but he could not do that.
His betrothal, though well-known within the family and amongst the small circle of friends his aunt entertained at Rosings, was not something he wished to have published far and wide. Nor was it something which had ever been verified by him. In fact, he had yet to admit to the reality of such an arrangement in which he found himself to more than his younger sister, his cousin to whom he now wrote, and, of course, to his betrothed. He had not even confirmed its veracity with his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, even though it was her daughter, Anne, whom he was expected to soon marry.Anne had insisted that he not publicly tie himself to such an arrangement until it was well and truly a thing which must be. She had held out hope that she would find another to care for her, but she had not. And then, she had insisted that her health be stronger than it was before being required to perform the duties of a wife. However, she had not grown stronger. Now, as she approached her twenty-third birthday, it was no longer avoidable, and Anne had, on Darcy’s last trip to Rosings in the spring, agreed that come the new year, they would marry.Darcy had willingly agreed. He saw no need to delay further. He and Anne had always gotten on well together. There was no reason for him to believe that they would be anything other than happy, save for the nagging worry that he always carried with him regarding her health. He cared for Anne, and he knew that the intimacy that marriage would bring would likely also bring a new, more profound, and enduring sort of love. The fact that she shared a constitution that was as weak as his mother’s drew him to morose thoughts and reflections on the pain he had experienced first with his mother’s passing and then again when his father died. To lose a well-loved parent was gut-wrenching, but to lose a wife…He sighed. He was not certain he could survive it half as well as his father had. A chuckle from the lady reading the book across from where he wrote drew him back from his reverie. She was why he was writing.“Mr. Darcy,” Mr. Sedlow, Netherfield’s butler stood at Darcy’s side, speaking in a low, discreet tone, “there is a gentleman here to see you, but he requests that you speak to him in the study.”“Who is it?” Darcy inquired as he tucked his pen away and folded his letter.
“A Colonel Fitzwilliam, sir. He says it is of great importance and privacy is required.”
Darcy’s brow furrowed. It was extremely unusual that his cousin did not enter the library and make his presence known to one and all. Richard was fond of attention and more at ease in company rather than tucked away in a room with a book for any length of time.
Bingley looked up from where he was conversing with Miss Bennet near the fire and gave Darcy a quizzical look as Darcy rose to leave the room. Darcy shrugged in response. He knew little more than Bingley did about why he, and only he, was being summoned. It could not be about his sister Georgiana for Richard had not been in town. He had been to Brighton with his father.
Darcy stopped mid-stride as he entered the study. Richard was standing at the window gazing out over a barren field. His shoulders drooped, and, on his arm, he wore a band of black.
“What has happened?” Darcy crossed to where Richard was.
“I could not allow an express rider to deliver this to you,” he held out a letter edged with black.
Taking the letter, Darcy broke the seal.
It is with the utmost sorrow that I write to you the news that at 3: 45 in the afternoon on this 14th day of November in the year of our Lord 1811, your cousin and betrothed, Anne Sophia de Bourgh has stepped into the presence of God.
So begins Mr. Darcy’s Comfort.This story, as I am sure you can tell, begins while Jane is ill at Netherfield. In this version of the story, Darcy is happily betrothed to his cousin Anne and has been for many years.
It would be more accurate to say he was happily betrothed to his cousin, and I am not changing to past tense because Anne has died. I am making the change because until Darcy met Elizabeth he was happily betrothed. Now, as the story begins, he is torn between duty and what his heart is telling him. However, duty is swiftly removed, leaving Darcy grieving and on his way to Kent to attend a funeral. What follows is how Darcy finds peace within himself and how events unfold leading to Darcy once again being happily betrothed.
At the time of my writing this post, Mr. Darcy’s Comfort is in the hands of my final editor, the cover has just been completed (you are the first to see it), and the need to write the book description is staring at me from my to-do list, taunting me with the difficulty it will present in condensing a story into a few, tantalizing words. However, by this time next week, if not before, Mr. Darcy’s Comfort will be available for preorder with a publication date set for the last week of April. Be sure to keep an eye on my blog or my social media pages for an announcement. Or better yet, sign up to my email list, and an email announcing all the pertinent publication details will be delivered to your inbox.