Here we go, BOOK 6 in the Seasons of Serendipity series! I am aiming for a December release, late December, LOL. 1 down, 12 more chapters to go! Thank you so much for reading!
XOXOXO Elizabeth Ann West
Chapter 1 - A Spring Society, a Pride and Prejudice Novella Variation
Bursts of wind knocked Elizabeth Darcy back on her heels, answered by her shrieks her laughter. The tall, stoic Mr. Darcy clambered over to his wife, his face stricken with fear as he surveyed the ever imposing hills surrounding his estate of Pemberley in Derbyshire.
"Darling, I fear we should retreat to the picnic." Mr. Darcy supported his wife's form as she shook her head. Despite being heavy with child, she used her reach to lift the string and urge her kite ever higher.
"But this is ever so much fun! When the babe arrives, we must be sure to teach him how to fly a kite. Properly."
“If you say so, Mrs. Darcy,” he leaned close to her ear so he might be heard, “would you prefer he learn to fly a kite before or after he’s breeched?”
“I beg your pardon?” Elizabeth shouted. She had heard the first part of her husband’s words, but the wind had carried his voice off in a different direction as a dive of her kite took her attention.
“It is no matter.”
“Again,” Elizabeth laughed as the brilliantly red and yellow silks tied as a tail to her kite followed the main apparatus in loop-de-loops, “I beg your pardon!”
“IT IS NO MATTER!” Darcy shouted as the wind picked that particular moment to cease and Elizabeth’s kite made a final dramatic plunge straight to the earth with a thud.
Elizabeth hastened across the hill, the weight of her impending motherhood a minor inconvenience to the woman who spent much of her life as an accomplished walker. Darcy chased after her, unwilling to curtail his wife's jubilation, but also not so sure of the rough landscape to keep his most precious possessions safe from harm. If Elizabeth wished to fly a kite, he would allow her. And if she should tumble, it would be his arms to break her fall.
When the young couple reached the poor, pathetic kite crash-landed upon the ground, they shared a look, and Elizabeth pouted.
“I suppose the zephyrs have spoken,” she said.
Darcy carefully lifted the kite, slightly misshapen from its Icarus-esque descent.
“Perhaps so, perhaps not.” He pulled a Barlow knife from his pocket and began to mend the wood, cut the strings, and refastened the twine. Elizabeth watched in awe of her husband’s quick work, overcome with a surge of emotion that was her constant companion these days. She indeed could imagine her husband teaching a young lad his knowledge of magnificent kite construction.
Chapter 1 (cont'd) - A Spring Society, a Pride and Prejudice Novella Variation
Down below, the assorted members of their large family party continued to enjoy their luncheon on the first warm spring day that only the last day of March 1813 could boast. But the family had shrunk to half the size present at Yuletide.
The Gardiners had retreated to London with Mary so she might prepare for her summer wedding to Darcy's cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. The poor bridegroom held no choice but to return to the winter quarters of his regiment in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but hope abounded he’d find reassignment to outside of London.
Sitting up with a squeal of excitement, Georgiana Darcy passed a fashion magazine from Paris to her aunt, the Countess of Matlock.
“What do you think of this sleeve length? In a softer color of course, but could we get one of these gowns made?” she asked brightly and pointed directly to the left fashion plate in the spread. The publication was many months old, but with the many wars on, it was the best to be had.
Margaret Fitzwilliam pursed her lips. “The sleeve perhaps, but not that neckline. It’s too mature for this year. Remember, you are only attending a few, carefully selected events this summer with your uncle and me. Next year is your formal debut.”
There were still many weeks before the Matlocks would return to London as a further effort to reduce their spending. Georgiana going with them provided the appropriate reason for her brother, Fitzwilliam, to help defray the costs of reopening their town home. And it was all in preparations for a wedding in August between their second son and Elizabeth’s sister, Mary. Ordinarily, the couple might wed much sooner, but Richard insisted on taking his bride on a proper wedding trip and could only be promised a lengthy term of leave in the autumn.
Georgiana swiftly turned the page to another style she preferred. Catherine “Kitty” Bennet, her closest sister in age thanks to the marriage of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, quickly pushed another bite of bread into her mouth so she could not be called upon to speak. She had already listened to Georgiana fawn over that particular magazine numerous times.
Unlike Georgiana, Kitty held no interest in a debut. Her dreams of writing novels could be accomplished in Derbyshire just as easily as London. And each day made Pemberley feel more like her home since they all left Longbourn more than a year ago after the death of her father.
“Ooh, look at the bonnets! I should dearly love a bonnet trimmed in emerald ribbon, to bring out my eyes.” Georgiana continued to enumerate her needs for her faux debut as Lady Matlock attempted to endure the child’s exuberance. Kitty shifted her weight away from the discussion of balls and hemlines to listen more carefully to the conversation occurring between the earl and his eldest son, Robert.
"That woman's energy is enough to fox us all, I say!” The earl raised a glass of imported wine from Portugal, a creature comfort of living with his nephew while his family's financial situation remained unsteady. "I bet old Darcy got more than he bargained for with that one."
The viscount sourly plucked a blade of grass that dared to offend by laying over the carefully oriented blanket.
"I should say how Mr. and Mrs. Darcy gets on is none of our business. I believe we harass them enough with our mere presence. I spy a hale and hearty wife enjoying the fine weather with her husband." Robert Fitzwilliam, Viscount Ashbourne, caught Kitty’s eye for a brief moment. Shyly, Kitty blushed and looked down at her knees, carefully tucked beneath her gown at the endorsement of her sister by her newly found friend in Robert.
"You are so concerned about imposing upon your cousin, then fix it, boy. Marry! Pick a woman with a sizable dowry and be done with it."
"Save your skin with my own, father? That is a rich suggestion, indeed."
The tone of voices in the male members of the picnic drew Lady Matlock's notice. Quickly, she hissed at them both in chastisement.
"Stop it, the both of you. Mrs. Darcy is enjoying that rare burst of energy many a mother can attest as a sign of a good birthing to come. Why can we not simply enjoy nature's bounty for one afternoon without the two of you spoiling it with talk of money?" Lady Matlock opened her fan and had begun to furiously flick the accessory to both alleviate her ire and cool her skin.
In another month they would leave for London to reap the social benefits of their younger son’s marriage. Though Mary Bennet was not a lady of high social standing, the £ 10 000 pound dowry bestowed upon her after her father's death with a small anonymous addition by her brother Darcy, was more than sufficient for the countess to see at least one of her children well-settled and secure. Margaret Fitzwilliam's most fervent wish was that marrying would settle down her boy and he would give up his childish dreams of dying on some battlefield in who knows what country. Yes, the match suited her fine, as she long ago gave up on either of her sons marrying titled women high in society.
Further discussion of the Darcys’ felicity died as a servant approached the merry party with a silver tray. A much-maligned pack of letters set upon the plate and the servant lowered it so that Miss Catherine could accept the one with her name upon it. Feeling the thick pad of messages between her fingers, Kitty felt a thrill of excitement when she recognized the direction coming from her sister Jane in Scotland. Mumbling a hardly decipherable desire to be excused, Kitty leaped from the picnic and caught up to the servant carrying the tray of other letters.
“Are you heading up the hill?”
“Yes, madam, there are letters for Mr. and Mrs. Darcy.”
“Oh please, hand them to me, and I shall take them.”
After a short delay the footman, who worried about allowing Miss Catherine to fulfill his job, relented and she grasped the pile. Kitty bolted up the hill in an unladylike fashion to meet her sister and brother.
"Jane! Jane!” Kitty called, waving the letters tightly in a fist above her head, as her other hand struggled to keep the bonnet tied to her head. The wind blew gust after gust, but Kitty would not allow her fuzzy mess of hair to show. The only reason she had been permitted to go outdoors was that she agreed to wear not only a scarf but also a monstrously large bonnet to hide the horrific mutilation she exacted on her long tresses at Christmas.
Silly now in hindsight, at the time Kitty, overcome with grief, had been the last to learn that her favorite sister, Lydia, died giving birth to Mr. Wickham’s bastard child the previous summer. She had feared being forced to London to find a husband and could think of no other way to escape such a fate as no one seemed to care about her wishes.
The wind blew so strongly, and inconveniently in the wrong direction that Kitty's voice could not be heard by the Darcys. But Kitty could hear their voices carried upon the wind, down the hill to her as she made her stumbling progress up the mound.
By the time she arrived, Mr. Darcy had convinced Elizabeth to give him a try, but he was a sore disappointment for spectacle. Unlike Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy did not dash about the top of the hill attempting to harness the wind with each gust but instead stood firmly and steadfastly in one place so that the kite held its position with a modicum of regularity.
"Kitty!" Elizabeth greeted her sister. "Did you see me fly it? It was so very exhilarating! Come, William, allow Kitty a try."
Kitty shook her head.
"We have letters from Jane!" Kitty had to shout as the top of the hill was even worse for others to hear each other than the wind blowing down below. Elizabeth brightened even more at that news if it was even possible since the kite had done a fair good job of cheering the young wife from the glooms and dooms of winter. Both sisters wasted little time in opening their missives and nearly simultaneously shouted out the only news that Fitzwilliam held before either of them.
"THEY HAVE MARRIED!" the sisters shouted in unison.
With little prompting, Kitty and Elizabeth shared a hug in a renewed episode of girlish laughter. It felt as though so much happiness was nearly a sin.
Once the girls calmed, Elizabeth gazed down the hill with a renewed look of disappointment. In the distance, finally strolling up to the picnic, arm in arm, was her mother with Alistair Darcy. Alistair had surprised them all with an early return from India in late December, though now the reports had come in that just before he left, the properties suffered a suspicious accident. With nature’s thaw came the likelihood that Pemberley would become less burdened, but in the meantime, her mother, despite her widow gray ensemble, could too often be found alone with Alistair. The developing situation vexed both Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, however when Elizabeth looked up to point them out to her husband, she could not.
"I believe you shall find my kite flying skills superior to yours!"
With that minor warning, Fitzwilliam Darcy began to swiftly tug and maneuver the string in such a manner the glorious kite flickered, fluttered, and turned topsy-turvy on his slightest command. Both women moved closer to the spectacle, and Elizabeth found herself standing shoulder to shoulder with her husband as yet another little Darcy wished for his sentiments to be known with a set of strong kicks to his mother’s stomach.
The Trappings of Marriage
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are off to Gretna Green!
In Book 4 of the Moralities of Marriage series our dear couple have survived accidents, forced marriages, and meddling relatives. After a short stay at Pemberley where the future Mrs. Darcy comes to terms with the kind of wife Fitzwilliam Darcy will need on his arm, they take off for the border to marry over the anvil. When Mr. Darcy plans an idyllic wedding trip to his family estate just outside of Dumfries, the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Darcy discover the trappings of marriage have yet to relinquish their hold.
Chapter 1 (cont'd) - A Spring Society, a Pride and Prejudice Novella Variation
The joyous afternoon continued in such a manner until the dark clouds are on the horizon began their track too close for the party. When it appeared they descended from the sky and touched the hills directly, the staff packed away all of the food, blankets, and the kite. Mr. Darcy drove his wife in a new phaeton as the rest of the party boarded carriages to take them back to the main house.
Once all returned safe and sound to the fussing of Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, the great house of Pemberley began the daily shift into the afternoon routine. Rest for the ladies, especially for the mistress of the house. Rarely did Mr. Darcy join the gentlemen in the library or billiards room as he preferred to remain with his wife until she slept, and then he crept down to his study to work. Both Lord Matlock and Alistair Darcy left their nephew alone, perhaps because they both always assumed he remained above stairs or because they both preferred their drinking and dining without his mere presence wounding their pride.
The spring plantings were well underway as the last threat of frost was past, and it was Mrs. Reynolds who interrupted Darcy’s reading of his steward's reports.
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Darcy, but Mrs. Darcy wishes for some adjustments to the evening menu.”
“Mrs. Reynolds . . .” Darcy began to warn his housekeeper. Relations between his wife and one of the longest-serving members of the household had soured since Elizabeth’s insistence that the staff began lessons in reading and basic arithmetic. At first, even Fitzwilliam had privately sided with Mrs. Reynolds, but now that it was likely the house would start some measures of austerity come summer, Darcy presently sided with his wife. The men and women born on the property would find work elsewhere with better skills and his recommendation.
“Yes, sir, but the problem is we do not have any oysters, and the mistress is asleep. I cannot bear to wake her, and yet I’m afraid the best Cook can offer is an oyster sauce over roasted partridge.”
Darcy frowned as he thought about his wife’s disappointment. He knew the changes to the menu were to stand in as a celebration of her sister’s nuptials, but then logic got the better of him. “How are we to have an oyster sauce if there are no oysters?”
Mrs. Reynolds blanched. “Well, we did have the oysters in stock, as Mrs. Darcy was aware. But I’m afraid . . . “
When his housekeeper struggled to give an explanation, Fitzwilliam understood. The rich tongues of his less than flush relatives devoured the oysters.
“I do not even wish to know which uncle of mine is at fault.”
“I’m afraid it’s both, sir. The last two days they’ve been most demanding in their requests in the afternoon. And sometimes, in the evening.” Mrs. Reynolds did not add she had begun keeping the younger maids away at all costs from Mr. Alistair Darcy. The man had not changed in the twenty-some years he’d been away.
Darcy sighed and put his report aside. Rising from his chair, Mrs. Reynolds stepped back, but Fitzwilliam offered the woman a warm smile. “My apologies for the disruption my family has caused. And I fear that I have been most distracted by the care of Mrs. Darcy—”
“As you should be, sir!” The woman who had fussed over the lad who stood now as a great man before her could not help the motherly outburst. But neither could Mr. Darcy scold her, not when they were in private and he so heavily relied on Mrs. Reynolds’ good sense.
“Yes, she is nearing the final days,” he errantly smoothed the wayward curls at the nape of neck bothering his collar, “least, I dearly hope so!” The young husband let out a nervous laughter to Mrs. Reynold’s wide smile.
“She is, we all see it. And I have the staff prepared for the moment Mrs. Darcy’s time may come. But sir?”
“Yes, yes,” Darcy tugged his waistcoat down as he lifted his coat from the back of his chair. “I shall go now and discuss the household expectations with our guests. We cannot have Mrs. Darcy’s carefully made dinner plans ruined further. And an oyster sauce is more than adequate; I shall let Mrs. Darcy know of the adjustment when she wakes.”
“Thank you, sir.” Mrs. Reynolds began to mention the spring hiring fair, but Mr. Darcy tabled that matter for another day. That was not a discussion he would have without his wife, but he did not tell Mrs. Reynolds so.
After the housekeeper left to oversee other parts of the house, Darcy exited his study to look down the long hallway to the older wing of the house where the library resided. He had avoided the company of both of his uncles of late for many reasons, and while he had no choice but to discuss the delicate matter of disrupting the mistress’ menu, he knew he would also no longer avoid discussions of another sort. Both men desired letters to draft from the Darcy accounts in London, and Fitzwilliam was not prepared to pen one to either. After all, how could he trust them with pounds of sterling when he couldn’t rely on either of them to spare pounds of oysters?
You've been reading A Spring Society.
Book 6 of The Seasons of Serendipity, continues to tell the fate of the Bennet family after the death of their patriarch, Mr. Bennet, in Book 1, A Winter Wrong.
After a winter of wonders, from a Darcy babe making his growth known to the arrival of Darcy's uncle, Alistair Darcy, the Bennet, Darcy, and Fitzwilliams families became further entwined with the engagement of Mary Bennet to Colonel Fitzwilliam. Spring 1813 continues to delight the Darcys as they come up on their first year anniversary and welcome a new addition to the family.
The Seasons of Serendipity are novella length episodes to be read and enjoyed like our favorite hour-long BBC dramas. The series has 5 novellas in the main storyline, and a bonus novella that follows Jane Bennet's adventures in Scotland with the handsome, reluctant Lord Graham Hamilton in A January for Jane.
A Spring Society Book 6 of the Seasons of Serendipity.
a Pride and Prejudice novella variation series
Tentative Release Date: December 23, 2017
~ 175 pages in print.
+ 15 additional Pride & Prejudice variations are available at these fine retailers . . .
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