Chapters 4-6, By Consequence of Marriage

This story idea was my very first one.  XOXO

Elizabeth Ann West



Chapter 4 - By Consequence of Marriage, a Pride and Prejudice Variation

A muggy London morning greeted Fitzwilliam Darcy as he sat in the breakfast parlor, the clatter of his servants carrying various belongings in the hall the only sound he could focus upon. He waited patiently for his carriage to be loaded. A heavy, dread feeling gripped his stomach as he took another sip of his coffee. He couldn't eat food and knew he'd regret imbibing his cook's strong coffee on an empty stomach in a few hours.

Checking the watch fob in his vest, he doubted his decision to abdicate the search for Georgiana. His sister was but fifteen-years-old, and Lord only knew where, and in what sort of state, that derelict Wickham was keeping her. Three weeks had passed since he traveled to Ramsgate to surprise her. Three long weeks of weary travel on road after road between Ramsgate and London, up towards Gretna Green only to learn no one of either George or Georgiana's description had been seen.

"Mr. Darcy? The carriage is ready, sir."

Darcy took one last drink from his coffee before wiping his mouth and settling his napkin on the table. "Thank you, Simmons, please ask Mrs. Potter to meet me in my study," he said as he exited the breakfast parlor.

"Yes, sir."

Darcy swept his study one last time for any documents or letters of business he might need. He employed a steward at Pemberley but would have to rely on his butler, Mr. Arthur, to forward any important correspondence. One last glance at his neat and tidy desk made him pause at one of the few things he changed since his father passed away, the group of miniatures in the right corner. Gone were the two of him and Wickham his father had sitting in a group with his mother and Georgiana. With a heavy heart, Darcy grabbed the miniature of his sister, who couldn't be more than seven-years-old in the painting and held it in his hand.

"Sir? You wished to see me?"

Tucking the miniature into his coat pocket, Darcy turned to face his housekeeper.

"Please allow Colonel Fitzwilliam full rein over the house while I am away."

"Of course, sir." Mrs. Potter's forehead creased as she responded to her employer, confused about the redundancy of such an order. Colonel Fitzwilliam always had free rein over the townhouse when he was in London, with or without Mister or Miss Darcy's presence.

"He may bring unfamiliar men into my study, please do your best to keep as much of the staff away as possible when that happens."

The housekeeper nodded, understanding there was more afoot than her young master was revealing. "I shall serve Colonel Fitzwilliam and any guests he may bring myself, sir."

Mr. Darcy flashed Mrs. Potter a small smile before resuming his stern gaze. Mrs. Potter wasn't acquainted with Mr. Darcy since boyhood in the fashion of Pemberley's housekeeper, but she did remember the young lad visiting London with his father when she first took on her post.

"Thank you, Mrs. Potter. That will be all."

Shaking her head, Mrs. Potter left the study as the master made his way to his stables. As she supervised the clearing of the breakfast parlor, she heard the familiar sounds of the carriage leaving the drive to the side of the house. Quickly she closed her eyes and said a soft prayer for Mr. Darcy, his safe travels, and for the Almighty to relieve any burden on the young man's shoulders.

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Chapter 5 - By Consequence of Marriage, a Pride and Prejudice Variation

Her skirts heavy with at least three inches of dampness and mud, Elizabeth Bennet snuck into the kitchen of her family's estate, Longbourn, and swiped an apple. The cook didn't bother to scold her as this was a daily occurrence, so long as the weather held. Thomas Bennet, Elizabeth's father, sipped his coffee and read the newspaper. Elizabeth greeted him with a peck on the cheek before sliding into the chair next to him.

"Morning, Papa. Anything of interest in the world today?" Elizabeth poured herself a cup of tea from the pot as footsteps echoed above. The rest of her family was rising to begin their day, though Elizabeth and her father had been awake for two hours.

"Sadly, no, morning glory. The whole world is going mad, and I fear there's no stopping the silliness." Mr. Bennet handed the newspaper to his precocious daughter so she might read the headlines of raids by the British Navy off the coast of the Americas and more uprisings in the Spanish colonies. Elizabeth's eyes widened as she tried to imagine what the far away places she read about might be like?

"What are your plans daughter? Surely it's been some time since you were in London to visit that aunt and uncle of yours." Mr. Bennet interrupted Elizabeth's reading.

She glanced up at her father, trying to read his face and determine if he were teasing her. Mr. Bennet was forever teasing his daughters and wife, for that matter. She squinted her eyes in an effort to read her father's true intent and therefore devise a clever retort. Releasing a breath in exasperation, she decided to remain honest.

"Aunt Gardiner did invite me to London some weeks ago, but I've decided to remain at home."

"Oh?" Mr. Bennet raised his eyebrows at his daughter who was always the first to travel and the last to remain still for long.

"Yes, I am decided upon spending this autumn and winter with Jane. No telling when some lucky beau may sweep in and steal her away forever." Elizabeth stirred her tea to circulate any sugar settled on the bottom and then took a sip.

Mr. Bennet grinned at his daughter. "A lucky beau is it? Perchance you already have one in mind?"

Elizabeth pressed her lips into a firm line to hide her grin. "I'll never tell."

"Ah, so I should guess then?"

Elizabeth shook her head, but now her smile was free and shining on her face.

"Let's see, I saw you both dance with young Mr. Masters; pray is he for you or your sister?" Again, Elizabeth said nothing and wrinkled her nose, continuing to sip her tea slowly. Mr. Bennet leaned back and dramatically rubbed his chin. Birds chirped outside the window, and high-pitched, agitated female voices rang from above. Finally, her father leaned forward and clasped his hands in front of him.

"I know, Mr. Bingley is for Jane–" Elizabeth gave a pert nod to her father, "and Mr. Lucas is for you." Elizabeth choked on her mouthful of tea and sputtered the liquid in a most unladylike fashion. Footsteps thundered down the stairs with subsequent shouting as the two youngest Bennet sisters arrived at breakfast squabbling over a ribbon.

"Papa! Lydia has taken my best green ribbon, and she will not give it back. Make her, Papa! Make her return it!" Kitty, the fourth Bennet daughter, cried as she chased Lydia, who was taunting her with the ribbon, around the breakfast table.

Mr. Bennet ignored the two misbehaving daughters to avoid distraction from his favorite. His favorite daughter who just admitted to him, albeit by deed not word, that she was smitten with that dolt John Lucas! Elizabeth decided to seize the opportunity to avoid undue scrutiny. She quickly excused herself from the table to run upstairs and change out of her soggy dress, wet from her morning walk and her failure to drink tea without spitting half out.

"Girls!" Mr. Bennet's shout made Kitty stop in her tracks but had no such effect on Lydia until she circled back close to her father and he suddenly rose from his chair. "Return the ribbon, Lydia." With an exaggerated pout, the young girl complied, finishing with a practiced flounce into the nearest chair.

As Mrs. Bennet entered the room and began a belated shouting at Kitty, Mr. Bennet shouted over his wife to attract the attention of the housekeeper, Ms. Hill.

"I'll take a tray in my study, Hill." And with that, Mr. Bennet left the sure to follow assembly gossip to the breakfast parlor set deciding that living through the event was more than enough for his taste.

New Release!

the trappings of marriage

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 6 - By Consequence of Marriage, a Pride and Prejudice Variation

By late afternoon, even the youngest ladies of Longbourn were exhausted of talk about the previous evening's assembly. Trading notes with her elder sister, Elizabeth was still incensed at the woman she perceived as competing with her for John Lucas' attentions. Jane's assessment that Caroline Bingley was kind and even hinted at a dinner invitation did nothing to quell Elizabeth's resentment. She continued to take her pique out on the needlework before her, a collection of handkerchiefs she planned to give to Kitty for her coming birthday. Tugging the thread through the snowdrop flower design, she refused to credit part of her annoyance to the lack of gentlemen callers arriving to pay their respects at Longbourn.

A small sigh across the room caused Elizabeth to glance at Jane. Poor Jane! Elizabeth crushed the edge of the fabric in her hands. Surely Mr. Bingley, with his town manners, should call on the woman he danced with not once, but twice! Jane caught Elizabeth's eye and gave her sweet, peaceful smile. Elizabeth made a face and Jane giggled. Noise from the front hallway slowed the ladies in their silent camaraderie as the housekeeper Hill announced the arrival of a Mr. Charles Bingley.

Standing to greet their new neighbor with a curtsy, Mrs. Bennet rushed to Mr. Bingley assuring him of their pleasure at his call and chattering on about the prodigious sense of the weather to hold off raining until after everyone returned home from last evening's assembly. Mr. Bingley gave every answer that was polite, but Elizabeth noticed he kept his eyes on Jane, who for her part stared at the book in her lap.

"Mama, the weather is indeed fine. Why don't Jane and I take Mr. Bingley on a tour of our gardens? He may enjoy your prized roses." Elizabeth announced as she tucked her sewing project back into the basket, expecting an affirmative reply.

Jane placed her book on the table beside her and happily stood to take Mr. Bingley's arm that he now offered. She lifted her eyes to meet his and Elizabeth's own heart skipped a beat. Elizabeth resolved to do anything in her power to encourage the two of them to find their way, and if anyone asked her, their way should be down the lane to the nearest church! Elizabeth accepted both girls' spencers and bonnets from Hill though she had no intention of donning her bonnet.

Outside in the garden, Elizabeth took on the role of guide to entice Mr. Bingley and Jane further away from the windows where she spied her two youngest sisters gawking and giggling.

"Near the back there, Mr. Bingley, you'll find we boast a most healthy rose thicket. When we were children, Jane had the clever idea to intertwine these two bushes that grew towards one another, and now we are graced with this wonderful mixture of deep wine red and the purest white blooms side by side." Elizabeth pointed to one of the farthest hedges and marched past two full rows of flowers and herbs.

"I say, how remarkable to enjoy such disparate colors. My mother loved to graft her roses in Yorkshire. Do you also enjoy the practice?" Mr. Bingley politely inquired, speaking only to Jane.

"Lizzie gives me undue credit; she is the true queen of the roses. I garden in the herbs and maintain our stores of dried spices and remedies." Jane replied.

Mr. Bingley turned his head to find the herb collection and immediately began steering Jane towards her preferred portion of the garden. "I've always wished to learn more about restorative plants and tinctures. Tell me, what is the plant for headaches and soreness?"

Jane laughed at Mr. Bingley's earnest nature. "Feverfew, Mr. Bingley. A few leaves of feverfew and your pain should subside."

"Yes, feverfew! You must think me incredibly dense not to remember the name. But doesn't it look much like another plant?"

As the two walked back towards the more practical plot of the garden, Elizabeth stayed behind pretending to inspect the roses for a need of pruning. Here she was trying so hard to drag her sister and her beau to the most romantic part of the gardens, all in vain. She laughed for thinking a love at first sight like Jane's and Mr. Bingley's ever required her help to get on.

About to dash back into the house for a set of pruning shears, thus allowing her to reasonably give Jane and Bingley some privacy, the sounds of another horse arriving in the front lane caught her attention. The sun was behind the man's back, but Lizzie recognized that form anywhere, John Lucas.

Elizabeth approached to capture the horse's reins giving John the chance to dismount and smiled when the man slid off the saddle and tipped his hat to her.

"Miss Elizabeth."

"Mr. Lucas, how kind of you to call." Elizabeth motioned for the stable's groom to hurry forward to take the horse, but instead, Mr. Lucas held up a hand to stay him. Instead, he fumbled in the horse's saddlebags to pull out a wide book with ornate gold lettering. Elizabeth drew in her breath thinking that John had brought her a gift.

"I must confess that when I visited your Uncle's bookstore in London, he begged me to ferry this home."

Elizabeth was confused. "But you returned to Hertfordshire last week, sir."

"Er, yes." John sheepishly gazed at the ground and kicked a pebble with his boot before holding the book further out from him. "I did not so much forget to deliver the atlas as I perused it myself these last few days."

Elizabeth couldn't be angry; it was just like John to agree to do a favor only to transform into a semblance of a young child distracted by a treat.

"Oh, John," she said, quickly covering her mouth with one hand while still holding the reins with the other. The horse grew slightly restless as he became interested in reaching the grass line to rummage for a snack. Elizabeth pulled on the reins to keep the horse's head from leading her away but only resulted in taking a few steps along with the beast until he was satisfied.

"Would you like to come inside for some refreshment, Mr. Lucas?"

John Lucas glanced at the house behind Elizabeth. He was fairly certain he saw faces just where the curtains now swayed in place behind the glass. Instead, he took his reins from Elizabeth. "Miss Elizabeth, I am afraid I cannot."

"You rode all the way here to deliver my atlas, but you didn't intend to take tea with me?"

His shoulders tensed and he licked his lips. As he removed his hat, John stared at the woman before him whom he would happily admit was quite pleasing to the eye, but unfortunately, could never help him rise to the level he wished for himself. The Lucas family was on the way up, and the Bennet family, with an entailed estate and no male heir, was definitively not. "I think that perhaps there is a misunderstanding about my – what I mean to say, is that, while you and I enjoyed a friendship as children now that we are grown we must – Lizzie?"

Elizabeth's countenance had considerably cooled, and she now held the atlas across her chest with both arms. "Mr. Lucas, you are failing to make any sense."

"Lizzie, I wish for you to find the best husband for your future life." Elizabeth's lungs ceased to work as she waited for him to continue. "But I am not that man."

The shock made Elizabeth freeze in place before she could gather her wits. Anger pooled in her heart and her chest burned. Had she just experienced an anti-proposal? A shun? "I wonder, sir, what compelled you to come here today and insult me in such a manner?"

"Do you? Your behavior last night at the assembly had everyone talking of how soon an alliance might be formed between us."

"My behavior? Forgive me; I must have asked myself to dance twice with you and retrieved my own glasses of punch." Elizabeth was furious. Maybe she didn't love Mr. Lucas like Jane was falling for Mr. Bingley, but she had plans. She knew she could grow to love him quite easily; he already was like an older brother to her.

John returned his hat to his head while simultaneously pulling his horse back to attention and proceeded to mount. "Forgive me, Miss Elizabeth. I never intended to hurt you."

"Fear not, sir, I am not easily injured by men I give no consequence." Without watching him ride away, Elizabeth turned and walked calmly towards the back of the house, angry tears threatening to fall from the edges of her eyes.

Reaching the back door, Elizabeth opened it and placed the atlas on the garden workbench just inside, tossed off her ridiculous day slippers and donned her boots. Without a backward glance, she marched away from her father's home as she finally allowed her tears to fall. She thought she heard Jane's voice calling to her, but Elizabeth didn't care. Humiliated and lost, she had to get away from her family. Away at least until she could understand what had just transpired and steel her emotions against the certain teasing jabs of her father.

You've been reading By Consequence of Marriage

master 1

By Consequence of Marriage, Book 1 of the Moralities of Marriage

a Pride and Prejudice novel variation series

Release Date: December 23, 2014

65,000 words, ~334 pages in print.

When his horse throws a shoe, Fitzwilliam Darcy misses rescuing his sister, Georgiana Darcy, from the clutches of George Wickham by only one day. Now on the hunt to find them both, the gossip beginning to swirl in London forces him to abdicate the search to his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, while he plays the wayward gentleman in Hertfordshire with his friend Charles Bingley. After a collision with his future, Darcy struggles to satisfy his attraction to a pair of fine eyes and keep his family's scandal hidden.

Elizabeth Bennet dreams of nothing more than remaining close to her sister, Jane. When a rich gentleman, Charles Bingley, enters the neighborhood, it seems certain that Jane will make a match with him. After all, Jane Bennet is the sweetest and most beautiful woman in the county! But Elizabeth's efforts to find her own local match go awry and she feels abandoned by the first man to cause stirrings in her heart. Her parents attempt to marry Elizabeth off to her cousin, William Collins, who is set to inherit the estate. But when she refuses, she soon finds herself In London with relatives, forced to find her own happiness.

+ 12 additional Pride & Prejudice variations are available at these fine retailers . . . 

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