My Fair Lizzy ~ A Regency tale
An Interview with Lizzy Bennet:
Barbara Silkstone: Welcome as we join Elizabeth Bennet following the completion of her lessons in elocution and etiquette with her tutor, Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Silkstone: Tell us what prompted you to place yourself in the hands of such a haughty pedant. Mr. Darcy is known to unduly emphasize minutiae.
Lizzy Bennet: I must admit my pride was assaulted at Mr. Bingley’s suggestion that I place myself in Mr. Darcy’s hands. I only allowed it because that very thought had occurred to me when Jane and I first assumed charge of Longbourn Flower Basket; if we were to attract the right clientele we knew we must carry ourselves with an element of class.
Silkstone: Knowing of Mr. Darcy’s proud manners and arrogance, it must have taken a great of self-control to submit to his pedantic ways of teaching.
Lizzy Bennet: You cannot imagine! It was only when I caught a flash of the dimple in his left cheek and the softening of his eyes, that I allowed him to bully me.
Silkstone: Were you tempted to end the tutoring at any time?
Lizzy Bennet: It was a conundrum. He was such a relentless taskmaster; my temper is my only weakness and it did boil over a time or two.
Silkstone: What was Darcy’s motivation in instructing you?
Lizzy Bennet: He would state that it was due to his wager with Mr. Bingley, but I am certain that was only a tiny part of his impetus. Although there was no doubt about the difference in our social standing, Fitzwilliam Darcy was attracted to me like a bee to the first flower of spring. quirky grin
Silkstone: What was a memorable moment during your entire venture with the most desirable bachelor in all of England?
Lizzy Bennet: giggles When Caroline Bingley discovered Darcy kneeling before me. The look on her face was priceless!
Silkstone: Thank you, Miss Bennet. And congratulations on securing the heart of Mr. Darcy.
Lizzy Bennet, a sassy London shop girl is instantly attracted to Fitzwilliam Darcy, the arrogant, handsome visitor to the Bennets’ struggling Covent Garden flower shop. Darcy insists on purchasing Lizzy’s lucky orchid as a gift for his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Will Lizzy sell her family’s much needed good fortune to the haughty know it all?
Complications arise when Darcy accepts Bingley’s wager to make a sophisticated lady out of the humble flower girl. Can Lizzy endure Darcy’s mentoring in order to save the Bennet family’s flower shop? Will Caroline Bingley tolerate Darcy’s peppery new student? Will Wickham finally bring about Darcy’s ruination?
This is a light-hearted tale of a headstrong, London lass (Lizzy) whose drive to achieve more than life has handed her compels her to accept the position of pawn in a wager between two friends, (Darcy and Bingley). Gumption meets true love.
This is not your usual Elizabeth Bennet…no offense intended to either Lizzy or the English language. Lizzy’s occasional lapses of proper English should not be mistaken for typos, but rather a touch of cockney! All the characters retain their original Pride and Prejudice personalities and reactions to one another, but the story is not canon. How could it be?
“Are they not two of the most beautiful ladies you have ever seen?” Bingley whispered to Darcy the minute Jane and Lizzy had disappeared into the back room of the Longbourn Flower Basket, a Covent Garden florist shop owned by the Bennet family.
“Ladies? Ladies?” Darcy said, looking at Bingley in astonishment. “Granted the fair-haired one could be a beauty with the right garments and a skilled lady’s maid. But the dark haired one is a barbarian! She has all the charm of a feral cat with the instincts to match. Did you see how she grabbed that plant from me? As if I intended to run off with the thing!”
Darcy was not accustomed to being insulted; to be put down by a shop girl who spoke so poorly—in a shop that had only one plant—was more than he could tolerate. Had he not determined to have that bloody plant, he would have jumped in his carriage and made off for Rosings; but there were principles at stake. And he had a more than mild curiosity as to the behavior of the lady with the fine eyes.
“Oh come now Darcy! Did you not find the entire scene charming?” Bingley asked.
“Charming? I could hardly understand a word she bawled. If not for the manner in which she grabbed my orchid, I would not have understood her intensions at all!” Darcy was seething, but confused by his attraction to the spirited shop girl.
“My dear friend, I must tell you I am quite taken with the fair-haired girl,” Bingley whispered.
“Oh come now!” Darcy snorted. “They are tradeswomen. Poor people engaged in commerce. You may find her provocative, and ogle her till the moon falls from the sky, but to even consider a dalliance with a shop girl? I should no longer be able to call you my friend if you chose to spend more than these few tortured minutes in her presence.” Darcy was usually forbearing with tradespeople and servants, but Miss Lizzy Bennet had affected him in more ways than one.
“Do you not get a pain in your head from riding so high?” Bingley asked, turning away from his friend, hoping to catch a glimpse of Miss Jane Bennet.
“It was rude to remove the plant from the counter, those gentlemen might think you don’t trust them,” Jane said.
“I don’t,” Lizzy snapped. “Never met an eater of buttered toast that could be trusted. Riches only come by thievery—one way or another.”
“But he speaks with such importance, his words are fierce yet musical,” Jane said.
A long sigh escaped Lizzy’s lips, and her shoulders slumped. “In truth we are not fit to barter with his sort, let’s have done with it. The more I talk the more I dislike the sound of my own voice for I am so tired I do sound like a fishmonger. Only because his money may save us for a bit longer, I will set the price at two months’ rent. If this purple flower is truly lucky he will pay what we ask. The amount can’t be but a pittance to that popinjay.”
“Noooo,” Jane whispered. “We will sound like thieves!”
“If his purchase buys us a delay before you must give an answer to that scoundrel of a landlord, then it will have served its purpose.” Lizzy had made up her mind, and now to make it sound as if she were doing the well-spoken dandy a favor, she looked about the workbench. “Bring that large vase with the lavender stalks and place it on the counter. Fill the room with flowers while I negotiate with the arrogant fops. Let them see we have more than one bloom to offer!”
Carrying the orchid, Lizzy marched back into the barren shop and placed it on the counter. Challenging Darcy with her eyes, she quoted a price equal to the two months’ rent due to their landlord, Mr. Wickham.
Darcy knew the tariff was outrageous, but the orchid would be the perfect gift for his aunt. He studied the frown over Lizzy’s eyes, and suddenly felt a sense of Miss Bennet’s desperation. Beneath the girl’s stern exterior he saw an imp struggling to save a sinking ship. If overpaying for the flower would bring her luck, then it was a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. He did not question how his mind had changed from one moment to the next, but rather convinced himself that it was the pressure of getting on with his business with Lady Catherine.
Lizzy thought Darcy had lost interest in the orchid as he stared blankly at her. “Hurry on! Yes or no!” Feral cat, indeed! She would show him how terribly important her business was. “We have a workroom full of flowers that need placing before the shop opens. Jane came from the back room, placed a vase of lavender on the counter, snuck a peek at Bingley and then returned to fetch another container of blooms.
“Your price is outrageous, but I will take it!” Darcy reached for the pot, his fingers brushing Lizzy’s hand with an almost audible crackle. They stared at one another in surprise.
Money was tendered, and the gentlemen quickly exited the shop. Darcy carried the lucky orchid, turning outside the door to glance back feeling eyes upon him. Lizzy looked away blushing so red he could see her color through the shop’s dirty glass window.
“There goes our luck!” Lizzy moaned.
“On the contrary, I believe our good fortune has just begun. We have two months’ rent, and I have met the most beguiling man!” Jane said.
Giveaway: Please post comments by midnight Saturday, October 7, to qualify for the drawing for two winners. One signed paperback copy of My Fair Lizzy (US Only) and one ebook version of My Fair Lizzy (US or international) are available.
With love & laughter!