Mr. Darcy makes me heart melt. Sigh. 🙂 XOXO
Elizabeth Ann West
Chapter 7 - By Consequence of Marriage, a Pride and Prejudice Variation
Wind stung Fitzwilliam Darcy's face as Alexander's hooves pounded into the softened road. Georgiana raced through his thoughts and he couldn't remain cooped up any longer. At the last inn, Darcy released his prized stallion from his post position and prayed that speed would alleviate his troubled mind. With only three miles left to ride to Netherfield, he didn't feel much risk in leaving his carriage to travel more slowly behind him.
The rush of galloping down an unfamiliar road coursed through his blood. Man and beast of a similar spirit, the twists and turns added to the thrill. A few times Darcy feared the mud would cause Alexander to slip. The flecks flying through the air were covering his riding boots and breeches, but the more dangerous the ride became, the more Darcy cared less and less for his well-being. Each quarter mile increased the pain in his heart as he struggled to accept he had delegated the search for Georgiana, not abandoned it.
"Hyah, hyah" Darcy shouted, urging Alexander to keep his speed as the road appeared to veer sharply to the right, promising himself after this one last turn he would slow down. As the horse took to the inside track to careen around to the outside coming out of the turn, halfway through something went terribly, terribly wrong. Darcy caught a flash of yellow fabric diving out of the way of his horse only to disappear in the late summer's overgrowth on the side of the country lane.
"Whoa!" Darcy pulled on the reins as a natural response, but Alexander was so well trained, the animal already slowed. "Whoa." They both were winded as Darcy turned his horse around and cantered back to where he last saw what he supposed was a woman. As he studied the greenery on the side of the road, he began to panic. He soon realized this municipality had dug deep trenches on either side of the lane to encourage runoff from heavy rains and the water had stimulated Mother Nature to produce a veritable blanket of lush plants and ferns.
"Hello? Are you hurt?" He waited a moment for a response. "Please. If you—if you can make a sound, I shall not hurt you. My name is Fitzwilliam Darcy." Nearing where he thought the accident happened, Darcy dismounted Alexander and searched the thicket below with care. He didn't detect any sign of movement as his horse shuddered from the sudden slow pace without a proper cool down.
"Easy there, easy there." Darcy patted the animal's nose in apology. Much as he always cared for his horses, he couldn't sacrifice the welfare of a stranger he may have harmed, particularly not a woman, for an animal's comfort.
"Hello? Where are you? I shall not hurt you, but I cannot ascertain your location in this thick overgrowth!" Desperation and adrenaline began to turn Darcy's thoughts to annoyance. Just who was this woman walking on a public road, unaccompanied by an escort? Where was her father? Or brother? Here he was trudging through several inches of mud to rescue a woman who had no right even to be present for such an accident.
Darcy stopped walking Alexander and studied the ground beneath him. There were numerous tracks, from old carriage ruts to his horse's hoof prints. If he squinted, he could almost make out a set of smaller boot prints near the same line he walked, and they continued down the road. Releasing his breath, he clicked to signal Alexander to walk with him as he searched the ground for signs of the smaller boot prints leading off the road. Foot by foot he walked as slowly as he could, now worried that the woman hadn't made a sound nor any sign of getting up by her abilities. He glanced up one last time to reorient himself in the curve, feeling he was near to the point of the turn where he must have run into the girl, only to spy a smear of mud on the lane.
"You must be here somewhere!" he called out triumphantly. Seeing broken stalks on some of the marshy plants in the trench caused hope to bubble inside. He dropped the reins to Alexander and braved the slope one foot at a time lest he step on the poor injured soul.
"Good Lord!" Darcy spied the woman lying on a bed of rocks at the bottom of the gully. Because of the turn in the road and the thick overgrowth, no one would have seen her from the road. Quickly, Darcy raced down the trench, off balance as his boots struggled to navigate the jagged, uneven rocks. Without thinking, he scooped the woman up in his arms to carry her to the edge of the road. She didn't stir as he lifted her, which wasn't a good sign, but he noted at least she was breathing.
"Thank heaven I didn't kill you, Miss..." he struggled for a word to call her and found her dress too fine for a servant so he assumed she must be a local gentleman's daughter, "...Lady."
Reaching the top of the gully, he cursed himself for not thinking to lay down his coat before he lifted her. He disliked laying her down on the ground, but he needed to check for injuries before he decided on the way to transport her to safety and find a doctor. He searched the ground around him to find the softest grassy area along the trench.
"Forgive me Miss; I shall lay you down as gently as I can." Gingerly, Darcy lowered himself to his knees and placed his charge in the grass. Once more, he searched for any sign of another person; perhaps she had a maid that walked slower or a sister or brother nearby? Seeing no one, he took a deep breath and began inspecting her person.
The gash on her forehead was by far the most serious injury and likely the reason she remained unconscious. He tugged at his cravat to undo the fancy knot his man Simmons considered a personal triumph. It wasn't perfectly clean after half a day's travel, but it was the cleanest cloth he possessed as he rarely carried handkerchiefs. He held the makeshift bandage against the still bleeding wound and searched for any sign of broken bones. Her arms appeared unharmed, and he touched them for any reaction. Seeing none, he reached as far down on her legs as he could to preserve her privacy to jostle them, and as he moved her right leg, she began to moan. Immediately, he removed the bandage to see her face.
"Miss? Miss? Can you hear me?" Darcy urged, trying to elicit another response.
Despite her hair and face being soaked with blood and dirt, two beautiful brown eyes fluttered open, and her pale pink lips parted to say only one word before she returned to her unconscious state.
Unable to reawaken her, Darcy resumed pressure on her head wound and prayed for help to find them. The sound of an approaching carriage roused him from his vigil. Relief surged through his chest as it was his own equipage coming down the lane.
His driver slowed and Simmons sprung out of the carriage itself before the wheels came to a complete stop.
"Mr. Darcy, are you all right, sir?" Without a word, Simmons motioned for the lad up with the driver to hop down and fetch Mr. Darcy's horse wandering toward a tree some yards away.
"I've nearly killed a woman! She was on the road, and I swear I didn't see her before she, before she . . .” Darcy motioned with his hands to the unconscious woman before him, his hands stained with her blood. A former comrade-in-arms of Colonel Fitzwilliam, Simmons had seen far worse on Europe's battlefields. Without a word, he moved forward to lift the woman up only to have Mr. Darcy finally snap out of his shock and refuse to let anyone else carry her.
Simmons rushed forward to the carriage door and Darcy gently placed her on the seat in front of him. Simmons closed the door and leaned his arm out of the window to bang on the side, motioning for the driver to drive on. With a quick crack of reins, the carriage was off as fast as the driver could urge it to hasten to Netherfield, leaving behind a young man of thirteen to figure out a way to either mount Alexander or walk the animal the remaining three miles.
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Chapter 8 - By Consequence of Marriage, a Pride and Prejudice Variation
A sharp, aquiline nose poked through the drapes of the second-floor drawing room at Netherfield Park keeping vigil over the large circular drive. The owner of the nose, Caroline Bingley, was soon rewarded for her perseverance as a coach that could only belong to Fitzwilliam Darcy raced through the park and charged to the front steps.
Pleased that it appeared Mr. Darcy was in a hurry to arrive at Netherfield, Caroline rushed down the grand staircase and stopped in the foyer only to see Mr. Darcy carry in the lifeless body of a young lady. Caroline gasped at the sight as Mr. Darcy spun around to face the stairs. Seeing the girl he carried brought a frown to Caroline's brow. It was that saucy, upstart Bennet girl! The one who had laughed at Caroline and proceeded to play a witless flirtation the night before with that dull farm boy.
"Mr. Darcy! We are so pleased to welcome your arrival—"
"I need a room. Now."
Caroline fanned herself in revolt. "I'm sorry, we simply don't have the other rooms made up. I only had the staff ready the large guest room in the family wing in preparation for your arrival."
Growling his discontent, Darcy walked up the stairs past Caroline and barked for direction to his guest room from the nearest footman. Caroline snapped her fan shut and scurried after Mr. Darcy.
"Mr. Darcy, please wait just a moment. Surely you are not placing Elizabeth Bennet in the room I selected for your visit?"
"You know this woman?" Darcy paused outside the door as Simmons, who had been following behind the loud, cantankerous woman, moved forward to open the large, white door.
"Know her? I do not! Though I am acquainted with her boisterous, uncouth family courtesy of last night's local assembly. My goodness, you would have been appalled at the night's festivities if you—"
"Miss Bingley! If you recognize this woman, then please send an express to her family right away. I nearly killed her as I rode my horse, but she dove out of the way. She has injuries to her leg and head."
Caroline peered over Elizabeth Bennet as Darcy gently placed her on his bed. She assumed the woman was faking her distressing situation to gain Mr. Darcy's attentions. With an irritated sigh, Caroline turned around and stomped out of the room, shouting out orders for someone to ride over to Longbourn and alert her family. If it meant that Miss Elizabeth would be out of her house sooner rather than later, Caroline would ride over herself.
Darcy took off his blood-soaked coat and joined Simmons near the bed.
"Her head appears to have stopped bleeding, which doesn't concern me as those type of injuries are often worse than they seem."
"But? There is something that concerns you?" Mr. Darcy prodded his man Simmons to give his opinion.
Instead, Simmons gently lifted the skirt of Elizabeth's dress about six inches and showed where her right calf was visibly swollen, straining against the edge of her boot.
"I fear if we do not remove her boot and elevate her foot, she might lose it."
Darcy strolled over to the sideboard where he was pleased to see his favorite brandy stocked. As much as he loathed the attentions of Caroline Bingley, at least her attention to his person was a welcome coincidence given the circumstances. Taking a healthy swig, Darcy noted a rider rushing off across the park, he assumed towards her family. Not knowing how far her family's land was, he had to make a decision.
Ultimately, it was his wish that he never lose a foot because of a stupid rule of polite society that made up his mind.
“Agreed, we shall remove it." Darcy carefully unlaced the boot mindful of Miss Bennet waking. She stirred restlessly but did not come round. As Darcy pulled the boot away, Simmons slid a waiting pillow underneath her foot, and both men grimaced at the bruising and odd angle in which the foot appeared to rest unnaturally.
"It's most certainly broken." Simmons shook his head as Darcy poured himself a second glass of brandy and an additional glass for his man.
"Here. You look like you need it as much as I do." Darcy and Simmons both sipped their drinks and peered at the lady resting on the bed before them. "What if she never wakes?"
Simmons shook his head as a female maid appeared in the doorway. Placing his glass down on the silver tray, he walked over to the woman, motioning for the maid and Mr. Darcy to hold her down. With a deep breath, he pulled the ankle as hard as he could then allowed it to return to its proper place. The young woman screamed out and for a moment appeared to wake, only to succumb to her unconsciousness once more. Simmons took a bandage from the maid and wrapped the ankle tightly. He led Mr. Darcy to the door as the nameless maid took over nursing duties.
"Mr. Darcy, there is nothing anyone can do now but wait. It's in the Lord's hands."
As Simmons took Mr. Darcy to the hastily readied room at the end of the hall, Darcy continued to bark orders for his doctor in London to be summoned and for someone to find the local doctor or apothecary. It wasn't until Simmons negotiated the great man into a tub that he sent out messages to Darcy's staff. Poor young Calvin, the boy who walked Alexander back, was dispatched to London on another horse to find Darcy's personal physician.
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 9 - By Consequence of Marriage, a Pride and Prejudice Variation
Pale yellow wallpaper curled all along the edges of the new room Georgiana Darcy and George Wickham found to rent. Georgiana grabbed her belongings in the middle of the night as her dear George explained that the other innkeeper cheated him and they must leave right away, or the authorities might separate them. A situation she had never encountered while traveling with her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, but again, she knew all about how difficult the world treated her poor George. She knew because he reminded her all the time.
Four weeks had passed since she and George left the safety of Ramsgate and her brother's protection and she grew tired of her honeymoon trip. She didn't understand why they couldn't hail a hackney cab and return to her brother's house so they could be married by special license and be done with this game.
With another sigh, she peered into the scratched looking glass over the rickety bureau, trying once more to pin her hair up in a pleasing style. Unfortunately, it was a losing battle since she never needed to play her own maid, her attempts were interrupted by the loose doorknob squeaking as it turned. George Wickham entered the room with the meanest expression Georgiana had seen yet. He frightened her more and more these last few days.
"Confound it! Damn tight-wadded Darcy and his stubborn ways!" George flopped on the bed and loosened the dingy cravat around his neck. He was dressed in the most gentleman-like clothing he possessed, which altogether wasn't much.
Georgiana turned around and faced the looking glass again. She didn't know what to say and learned yesterday that asking questions was, almost always, the wrong thing to do.
George kept muttering to himself, laying back across the bed and staring at the dirty ceiling above him. "The writing was perfect and the letter addressed correctly. I waited four hours! Why won't he even send an intermediary?"
More curses followed, prompting Georgiana to stand and pour him a drink from the bottle she spied earlier in the cupboard that also worked as a bedside table. This was a step she dreaded resorting to but, alas, there was no help for it now. Drink reduced his attentions during relations, and if she thought about it carefully, she was finally beginning to wonder what sort of man was George Wickham? But, it seemed to calm him, and that's what she aimed to do.
He took the bottle instead of the offered glass and gulped a swig. The leer in his eye made her blush, but it wasn't her beauty he was eyeing.
"Georgie, my sweet, remember when I told you once we were married I'd have enough money to buy you the most beautiful jewels? Jewels to rival even the Prince Regent's mistress!" He took another swig from the bottle and wiped his mouth.
"Er, yes, I remember. That's why we played our little game of a hiding honeymoon and couldn't stay at the nicer inns."
George's face grew slack as stone causing Georgiana to fret.
"What I mean— is we couldn't stay anywhere I've stayed before with William, or they'd find us too quickly, and we'd never be allowed to marry. I remember!" Georgiana smiled at George and tried to bring his mood back around. Instead, he glared and drank more.
"Unfortunately, it seems your brother and his cousin are hell bent on trying to starve us. I've written twice now to the townhome with no response, nor any meeting at the appointed park!" Looking at the bottle, George sighed and replaced the top, handing it back to the woman he shared his bed and board with for the past month. At first, it was delightful, plucking the prize of Derbyshire right out from under her brother's nose, but her naïveté and simpleness began grating his nerves.
"Why don't we just take a carriage and call on William?"
"No!" George bellowed, making Georgiana cower away from him. As she retreated, she bumped into the only chair in the room and plopped down into it. He wrung his hands and tried again with a softer tone. "What I mean is, I must meet your brother away from his home, or he may just kill me on the spot."
"Oh no! William would never harm you. You're practically part of the family; you said so yourself that my father loved you like a son."
George wiped his face with his hands and squeezed his temples in exasperation. Why, why was she so doltish? Didn't she learn anything from those high priced tutors Darcy employed?
"You forget that I've now taken his little sister. I'd run me through without a second glance." Agitated, George stood and began pacing. He needed to think of a new plan. "Georgie, didn't your mother give you that necklace around your neck?"
Georgiana clutched the dark ruby pendant hanging on a simple golden chain. George had sold a good many of her other jewels when they first ran away, and this was the one he promised never to sell.
"I cannot, please do not ask me."
"Georgie." George Wickham flashed his most dashing smile and crouched down to her eye level. Gently he tipped her chin up as she refused to meet his eye and he leaned in to give her a passionate, lover's kiss. Watching her eyes close, he continued to kiss her with the most care he could muster, and slowly snaked his fingers around her delicate décolletage. His nimble fingers undid the clasp, and he caught the heavy jewel before it fell to her lap. Pulling back, he noticed she kept her eyes closed and was smiling.
"Mmmmm, George. I love you so!" Her eyes popped open and sparkled at the man she had chosen as her future husband, but her mood quickly soured as her hands grasped her bare neck. "No, please! I beg of you."
George Wickham held the heavy pendant in his hands and turned over the ornate gold setting. Inscribed on the back were Georgiana's name and the date of her birth. This was just the piece he needed, he hoped.
"I'm sorry, poppet, it must be done. I must draw your brother out and I see no other way than to sell this little trinket right to the Darcy family jeweler." George grinned at the diminutive woman crying before him, once more hearing the song of thirty thousand pounds croon in his head.
You've been reading By Consequence of Marriage
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.