Change is good. I hope you’ll forgive me for changing the name of this book, but it was necessary. ‘Darcy vs Lady Catherine’ really is more appropriate. 🙂
Well, I have good news. I’m working on a second book to publish middle of May. ‘Darcy vs Lady Catherine’ is one of those ideas that dropped out of the blue and became the basis for the ‘Foreshadow of Things to Come’ that introduces this book.
Those of you who have read my prior books have probably gotten the idea that I’m not fond of that pretentious old bat, Lady Catherine. I don’t think Jane Austen was either. In this book, although Lady Catherine doesn’t appear for a while, when she does, it will be with a bang. And she will definitely live up to her haughty, demanding ways.
And, yes, there is a giveaway of two e-books. So, be sure and comment below. In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt.
Unfortunately, the visit with Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth turned into one with all their sisters and Mrs. Bennet. Even Mr. Bennet joined them for tea and smiled at the antics of his family. Elizabeth’s father, contented with laughing at them, would never exert himself to restrain the wild giddiness of his youngest daughters. But while they were supported by their mother’s indulgence, why would they give him a hearing ear even if he did say something. So, he remained silently amused.
Darcy saw this lack of discipline and scowled at his host but received only a raised eyebrow in return. Bennet was not surprised when his guest turned to his favorite daughter and spoke in a low voice to her.
“Papa, may I, Jane, and the gentlemen visit the little wilderness? The day is very fine following the rain, and we could enjoy the flowers that are blooming.”
“By all means. Go enjoy the flowers, my dear. Gentlemen.”
Bingley and Darcy got up with alacrity and crooked their elbows in invitation to Jane and Elizabeth. Mr. Bennet just smirked. Young love. I hope they are not as foolish as I was.
When Kitty and Lydia insisted on being allowed to go also, Mr. Bennet did use some good judgment and refused their request. He surmised the gentlemen would prefer to be alone with the two sisters of their interest. Jane gave a small sigh of relief, and Elizabeth smiled at her father. And the four young people left as quickly as propriety would allow.
Two benches in the little wilderness allowed both couples to sit and chat for a short while. Elizabeth smiled as her sister and Bingley quietly spoke with their heads close together. But she noted that Mr. Darcy did not seem pleased that his friend was enamored of Jane.
Darcy shook his head and replied, “Yes, Miss Elizabeth?”
“Are you displeased that my sister and your friend seem to be compatible?”
For the second time that day, Darcy could feel his face grow hot with embarrassment. He didn’t mean for his discontent to be noticed. He was still at sixes and sevens as to whether or not to continue pursuing Miss Elizabeth, and he was not sure that Miss Bennet truly was enamored of Bingley as he was of her. He had seemed sure of a courtship with Elizabeth when he wrote to Georgiana, but now he had doubts. Some of the comments by Miss Bingley had rung true and niggled at his mind. Particularly Caroline’s comment that the Bennet family was horrible and would be a terrible influence on his sister bothered him.
“I would never be displeased if my friend found a woman who returned his regard. I would want both of them to find happiness.” Darcy knew he didn’t quite answer her question, but he did let her know his feelings in general. Elizabeth’s frown and silence let him know that she had caught his reluctance at giving her a complete answer. What he didn’t know was how she would react to that knowledge.
In a few minutes, he found out when Elizabeth arose from the bench. “Jane, I believe it is time to return.”
Her sister looked at her in confusion, hesitated, then nodded acceptance, and softly gave her apologies to Mr. Bingley. “Perhaps, we can take a walk tomorrow. I’m sure the ground should be dry enough by then.”
“I look forward to it, Miss Bennet.” Taking her hand and looking into her eyes, Mr. Bingley kissed her knuckles through her glove. No one commented on that he let his lips linger a bit longer than propriety would allow, and that Jane’s cheeks pinked with a light blush that displayed her pleasure.
Walking the men to their horses, the two sisters thanked them for coming, and Jane told them they were welcome any time. But her sister frowned as the two men rode away toward Netherfield.
“Is all well, Lizzy?”
“I am not sure, Jane. My first impression of Mr. Darcy was that he was a snob and very proud. I wonder if that was a more accurate one than I had the other day. And today…I’m just not sure.”
“Come, let us have another cup of tea. I fear you are merely unsettled after being confined to the house and our family for two days.”
“No, no thank you. No more tea. I think I will just stay in the wilderness for a few more minutes. Then I will come inside.”
“Are you sure, Lizzy?”
“Yes, Jane. I’m sure.” And after giving her favorite sister a hug, Elizabeth walked back to the wilderness where she stayed until the sun began to set. Although she had come to no conclusions, she gave a sigh of frustration and headed back into the house to prepare for supper.
The next day included an express from Town. Darcy’s solicitors needed to meet with him concerning some of his investments that would require his signature.
“My apologies, Bingley. I must be gone for a few days to care for business. Then I shall return if that pleases you.”
“Of course, Darcy, you must return. You must not leave me alone with Hurst and my sisters. I shall go mad.” Both men laughed at Bingley’s comment knowing that it wasn’t true he would go mad. But Bingley’s sisters were trying enough that he welcomed his best friend anytime as he never got tired of Darcy’s company.
“Hurry back, my friend.”
“I should be less than a se’nnight, but I do wish to see Georgiana and take her to the opera or another musical event. She seems to be recovering from her ordeal this summer, but sometimes she seems a little too quiet, and I worry. That’s why I’ve written her every day hoping to keep her spirits up. Mrs. Annesley also has instructions to notify me if she seems too withdrawn.”
“I’m of a mind with Colonel Fitzwilliam. I wish we could run that blackguard through. Wickham has been nothing but trouble for you, Darce, for too long a time.”
“Yes, I have been debating about paying any more of his debts and…I feel for the young women he’s seduced. I wish there was some way to warn them in advance.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“No, I’ve heard nothing of his whereabouts for quite a while other than the incident at Ramsgate. Bingley, I was so enraged, I wanted to kill him for hurting my sister. But that would have only made things worse.”
“Steady, my friend. You’re a good man, and you will always be on the side of the law. And time will help your sister as well. Take heart.”
“Thank you, Bingley.”
Mounting Attila, Darcy headed toward London with Matthews following in the Darcy coach. He would arrive before his valet and would have some of his business discharged before evening arrived.
“Charles, where is Mr. Darcy going?”
“Good morning, Caroline. Did you sleep well?”
“Charles, I asked you a question.”
“Darcy is riding to Town. He received an express that there was some business that needed his personal attention.”
“Is he returning? Surely, he will be coming back. He can’t just leave and not say goodbye. He was to stay here for at least a month to help you with the estate. He….”
“Caroline!” This was the third time Charles tried to answer her questions, and she finally quit talking to hear his reply.
“Mr. Darcy had business that required his signature, so he had to return to London. While there, he will also visit with his sister and take her to the opera. She has been busy with the masters, and Darcy means to ensure that she doesn’t keep her nose to the grindstone forever. They will visit with family and friends.”
Caroline just looked at her brother as if she didn’t believe him for a moment. “He will be back?”
“Yes, Darcy will be back in less than se’nnight. He and I still have things to learn about Netherfield and need to hire a steward for when we are in Town.”
“I’m glad he will return. When we go back to London, I intend to be engaged.”
“It will never happen.”
“Yes, it will.”
“No, it won’t. He is courting Miss Elizabeth. He has no intention of marrying you. He has never intended to marry you.”
“He can’t be courting that country chit. She is nothing. She has no beauty, no status, no fortune. She is nothing to the ton.”
“Caroline, you have never understood that none of that means anything to Darcy.”
“No, Charles. He will never turn his back on family and society. He knows what that would mean for sweet Georgiana. It would ruin her prospects.”
“If he marries Miss Elizabeth, that will not ruin his sister’s future. Miss Bennet is the daughter of a gentleman, and he is a gentleman. They are equal in that regard. You have never recognized that we are not of his world. The Bingleys are from trade. We have entry to his society only through his good graces. Without his patronage, we are nothing.”
“No. He has elevated us to where we have nearly been accepted by the ton. I won’t accept anything else.”
“You may not, Caroline, but society will not accept you until I become landed gentry. Purchasing an estate and becoming established is the only thing that will bring that about. You have no choice.”
With a huff and a stamp of her foot, Caroline Bingley stomped up the stairs and slammed the door to her bedchamber as she contemplated how to prevent Miss Elizabeth Bennet from ensnaring Mr. Darcy with her arts and allurements. She was open to using anyone and anything at her disposal.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, after a pleasant but busy stay with his sister in London, headed back to Meryton at the same time as the militia, Mr. William Collins, and George Wickham.
Be sure and comment below for an entry to win one of two e-books in the Giveaway. Comment By midnight EST Thursday, April 19th. Winners will be announced Sunday, April 22nd.