J. Dawn King

Bestselling author of Jane Austen variations

Author: J "Joy" Dawn King (page 2 of 9)

Letter of the Law – Chapter 7

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

This story is consuming me!!! Help! I need time to do my taxes. Ha! I’ll get to them later.

If you are starting this story, here is the link to chapter one: Chapter One

Chapter 7


“She is a lovely young lady, Darcy. I cannot imagine you could find better should you search the whole of the Crown’s territories.” Bingley was standing vigil outside Miss Bennet’s bed chamber in hopes of getting a glimpse of his ‘angel’, so the cousins were indulging in his brandy in the privacy of his study.

“How can you be certain, cousin? You spent less than thirty minutes in her company before you removed upstairs to refresh yourself from your trip.”

“Ah, you see, that is the point, my good fellow.” The colonel appeared far too contented since he would not be the intended groom. “While Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst turned their nose up at the dust and mud on my uniform, Miss Elizabeth overlooked the debris. As well, she engaged in pleasant conversation to welcome a guest, quite unlike our hostess. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that she has been raised with good manners and is the model of gracious hospitality.”

“Humph!” Darcy scorned Richard’s opinion with one emphatic exhale. “Little do you know.”

“She is not the epitome of decorum?” His cousin raised his brows and his glass at the same time.

“For a certainty, she is. Nonetheless, her mother and two youngest sisters are ridiculously vulgar while her father sarcastically shreds their esteem by laughing at them. Her middle sister disappears behind a book as soon as any required social activity is concluded. Only her eldest sister, who is currently lying upstairs in her sick bed, is on par with Miss Elizabeth’s ladylike behavior.”

“What does her family have to do with anything? You would not be marrying any of them? You would not have to see them once you took your bride to Pemberley.” Richard flicked his hand into the air. “It is not as if you care what society thinks about yourself, Darcy. Why would you care what they think of your wife or her family?”

“I care because anyone I bring into my home will affect Georgiana. Miss Elizabeth’s younger sisters are of the same age. They would be terrible examples for a girl who is far more a follower than a leader.” Fair was fair. Darcy felt it necessary to play the Devil’s advocate to counter-balance Richard’s praise.

“I love Georgie too, cousin. Nevertheless, I would have no qualms about bringing Miss Elizabeth into my home as a wife.”

“What?” Darcy met his stare. “You would offer for her after knowing her less than an hour? Are you crazed? Or, are you making this declaration because you are safely leaving with your regiment in less than a week with no necessity tied upon you to find a bride?”

Richard clutched at his chest. “That was cruelly done.”

Darcy apologized, then spied the twinkle in the colonel’s eyes. He was being teased.

“I am serious, Rich. Did she make that much of an impression upon you or are you merely trying to determine my response to her?”

He shrugged. “I suppose a bit of both, if the truth were known. She does seem like the most pleasant female company I have met in a long while. You could do worse, I imagine.”

“She has agreed to help me find a wife.”

“What?” Richard unsuccessfully tried to cough and swallow at the same time. “However did this come about?”

“We spoke earlier today about what constitutes a good husband or wife. I am confident she knows exactly the type of lady I require to be Mistress of my estates and sister to Georgiana.”

“I cannot begin to imagine how that particular conversation took place, Darcy. You are not known for your verbosity, so I wonder at the information you actually imparted and what her understanding is of what you did share.”

“We will have to see who she conjures up from the local society, will we not? Then, and only then, will we know if I clearly delineated my desires and whether or not she is wise enough to make the correct application, would you not agree?” Darcy was smug, and he knew it. He was entirely confident in his abilities to communicate information. He also had no doubt of Miss Elizabeth’s ability to comprehend his opinions. “She will be busy tending her sister while they are in residence. Yet, I expect her to use her time wisely while she sits alongside the bed watching Miss Bennet rest. You shall see, Richard. If there is an appropriate candidate to be found in Hertfordshire, Miss Elizabeth will find her.”

“I hope so.” Richard muttered. “I dearly hope so.”


“Is Miss Bennet much improved?” Darcy asked the next morning when Elizabeth entered the breakfast room.

Only Mr. Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam expressed interest in her reply. The others continued devoting their attention to their meal.

“I am sorry to say she is not.” Elizabeth had been unable to do anything to remove the darkness beneath her eyes, nor did she care enough to try. Jane’s restless, sleepless night had kept her awake, running up and down the stairs to refill the water pitcher to cool her sister’s brow. Had Miss Bingley but provided a maid for assistance, they both might have received a measure of rest. Nonetheless, she determined to be a proper guest by not complaining.

“Perhaps the apothecary could be called?” Darcy suggested.

“Thank you, sir. It would be a kindness.” She placed a slice of bread and jam on a plate and carried it to the only available seat—one next to the colonel. Before she could be seated by an attending footman, Mr. Bingley had signaled a message be sent to Mr. Jones, who had seen to the Bennet family care for her lifetime.

“Miss Elizabeth,” the colonel spoke softly. “Might you enjoy a brief respite from the sickroom for a stroll in the garden outside the drawing room? Possibly the cool morning air would refresh you until help arrives. In the meantime, the servant Miss Bingley has provided can recall you to your sister’s room immediately should there be a need.”

She did not know how to reply for the only ones to know Miss Bingley had been neglectful was the two of them. She chose not to embarrass her hostess.

“I thank you for the generous invitation, Colonel. I do not think I can be gone long from Jane. In fact, pray excuse me so I can return to her.” At that she stood and left the room.


The next morning, Elizabeth had much better news to share. Jane peacefully slept through the night which meant that she was also able to get some rest.

As she was finishing breaking her fast, the colonel re-issued his invitation. “Miss Elizabeth, might we take advantage of her improvement to share a moment in the garden? I understand from Miss Bingley that you are a prodigious walker.”

His smirk at their hostess guaranteed Elizabeth’s agreement. Anyone who could laugh, albeit silently, at Miss Bingley’s officiousness would be a proper companion for a ramble.

By the time they had their outerwear, Mr. Darcy had joined them. Since he would be walking outside, Miss Bingley hurried to ready herself for the excursion.

The four of them sorted themselves into pairs at Miss Bingley’s direction within minutes of stepping into the chill of the morning. Within moments, a disturbance at the stables had both men’s focus.

From the sounds coming from one of the stalls, an animal was in distress. Both Darcy and the colonel rushed to see the source of the problem. Elizabeth and Miss Bingley, out of curiosity, followed behind.

Before they could reach the building, a horse burst from the stable to run frantically in circles inside the attached arena, kicking its hind legs every few steps while tossing its head back and forth. Its agitation was evident in every bulging muscle as the stallion searched for escape. A groom followed with a rope twisted in one hand and a bridle in the other.

An older man leaned on the fence, stepping back each time the horse approached his section of the structure.

“What has happened?” Darcy demanded, as if it was his estate, his stable, and his horse.

Elizabeth noted the same arrogance she had observed in him at the Meryton assembly settle back upon his wide shoulders. It saddened her to see the harsh revelation that the man she had spoken to in the glen was the anomaly. This was the true Mr. Darcy. She felt the disappointment to her toes. She would not help him find a wife for she would attach no one she knew to such an antagonist.

Turning away to return to her sister, she stopped in place when he yelled, “NO!”. Was he speaking to her? Glancing back, she witnessed the unexpected site of him vaulting over the top rail and landing inside the wooden circle—with the out-of-control animal and a frightened young servant.

At the new disturbance, the horse stopped, as far away from humans as it could get within the confinement.

“Back away.”

Elizabeth could see that Darcy looked at the animal, not the groom who was quickly leaving the area. Then, he did the unexpected. Relaxing his shoulders, he held his hands out, palms up as he moved slowly towards the horse, speaking words undistinguishable in their quiet.

The stallion’s ears twitched as he shifted his weight, swinging his head away from the approaching man. Darcy stopped and stepped back. From the tilt of his head, Elizabeth understood he was looking at the dirt rather than at the frightened eyes of the animal.

Colonel Fitzwilliam whispered, “step close, Miss Elizabeth, and watch.” His peaceful countenance and the slight grin on his face bespoke experience. He had seen this before.

The horse stood completely still. So did Mr. Darcy. While the animal’s focus volleyed between what the world offered outside the arena and Mr. Darcy, he stared at the ground somewhere at the front of the horse’s hooves.

“That’s Barnabas,” the head groom whispered to the colonel. “He’s a nasty piece of work for the stable hands but the ladies love him.” He tilted his heads towards the barn where servants were turning the mares into a field. “His get are strong and even-tempered, which is entirely against his character.”

“He has been abused, then,” the colonel offered.

“That he has.” The groom’s jaw tensed and so did the colonel’s. “He arrived in the past hour. He’s traveled far and should be worn out, but his stubbornness will not allow for his care.”

“Why did you take him?”

“Colonel, he cannot help how he has been treated. Mr. Bingley told me to do as I pleased. I pleased to offer the rascal a home.”

Darcy’s cousin nodded.

With a slight shift of its shoulders towards and a last look at Darcy, the horse dipped its head slightly. Darcy stepped closer until he could reach out and touch him. He did. He started at the withers, rubbing him as he walked around him, talking softly the whole time.

The older man softly chuckled. “That there is a horseman.”

Elizabeth had to ask, “Why do you say that?”

The man continued to watch the action inside the fencing as he replied. “An inexperienced, or uncaring man would pat the horse.” He scoffed. “Babies are to be patted, Miss. Horses? They can feel a fly land on their skin anywhere on their body. No, if you want them relaxed, you do as that man there did, you start at the spot their mother nuzzles them when they are just born, and you imitate that motion. This is a pleasant place for a horse.” He gestured towards the pair. “Look at the expression on his face. Where before there were wrinkles under the stallion’s eyes, showing his worry and distress, now they are gone. Watch his tail. See it swish? It means the pressure he felt inside the stable is released, which is the only way a horse learns.”

“I do not understand.” Elizabeth continued to watch Mr. Darcy. As she did so, a feeling of intense warmth permeated her body as she, herself, relaxed with the movement of his hands. Maybe he was not so arrogant after all.

“Horses are not like dogs, Miss, who would give up their life for their owner. A dog loves anybody with food and a scratch for their ears. Horses don’t love humans. They react to training, not emotions.” He gestured towards the animal. “If you make the right thing easy for them, they will do it. If you make the wrong thing hard work for them, they will no longer do it. That man in there knows that fact and is acting in a manner that puts a tired animal at ease. He is not asking him to move. He is not asking him to do anything contrary to his inclination. Therefore, the horse can trust him because inside, it’s what the horse wants to do.”

“Trust him?”

“No. He wants to stand there and get a good rubdown. He wants a little peace and quiet after finding himself in a new home with new people around him. And now that he is settled, he will want the grain he knows that lad already dumped inside the stall and he will want the fresh hay covering the floor.”

“Then you expect Mr. Darcy to be able to lead that animal right back to where all of this started to go wrong?”

“I do.” The older groom puffed out his chest as if he had been the one to calm the horse. His confidence in the outcome was not misplaced when Mr. Darcy stepped towards the stables and the horse took a step forward as well.

“You admire what was done here?” She had to ask.

“No, Miss. I admire the man.”

Her admiration for Mr. Darcy was growing. She was clueless how she felt about this constant fluctuation between him being someone she despised and someone she…well, she needed to ponder on what she witnessed in the arena.

“These four-legged creatures are intuitive just as we are. He watched the man’s body as he approached the same way the man did his. Was he aggressive? Angry? Confrontational? Belligerent?”

All terms Elizabeth had applied to Mr. Darcy since the assembly.

“Or, was he approachable, friendly, kind, and most importantly, gentle?”

Seeing Mr. Darcy through the eyes of the stallion was revealing. Layers of hard feelings and disappointment in his character were falling away until she no longer knew what to think. He was a complicated human, much as she thought of herself. Glancing at the colonel, she found him looking at her—smiling.


Taking up her needlework, she glanced at her sister. Two hours had passed since she had left the stables, yet she could not stop thinking about the man. In reality, her temperament was far more suited to the colonel’s openness. Nevertheless, her heart thumped when she thought of his cousin. Mr. Darcy! If only…

Miss Mary King, at a year younger than her, was a lovely young lady who had recently inherited a large sum from the passing of her parents. Recently arriving in the area to reside under her uncle’s care, Elizabeth had been impressed by her timid smile and calmness amidst the hustle and bustle of the Bennet females. Of all her sisters, Miss King reminded Elizabeth most of Jane. Like them, she had been raised the daughter of a landed gentleman, which made her equal to Mr. Darcy. Certainly, with her dowry, she would be a more acceptable match than any of the Bennets, who would receive fifty-pounds a year until their mother’s death whereupon they would share her portion of five-thousand equally with five sisters. It left only her charms to recommend her, something that paled alongside the sweetness of Miss King.

Yes, the young lady would make an appropriate wife for Mr. Darcy. Sadness filled her chest at the thought.

“Stop!” Elizabeth told herself. “He is not, nor never will be, for you, Elizabeth Bennet.” Then she chuckled at herself. “Do you even want him? Mr. Darcy? How could you?”

She heard the men before she saw them. Glancing out the bedside window, the colonel took the lead as Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and Mr. Hurst closely followed behind. Their mounts were already at a run as they rapidly moved down the gravel approach to Netherfield Park before veering into the field running west of the property. The sight of the men sitting comfortably in their saddles with their thighs clasped tightly…she cleared her throat only to admit, they were magnificent.

Earlier the colonel had proudly showed her what he called his most faithful companion—his horse. The bay mare had a slight limp from the journey to Hertfordshire, so the colonel chose to allow his rest. The dapple grey he currently rode was swift enough to keep his lead.

What is it about men and horses? Elizabeth reflected as their laughter filtered back to the house. Mr. Darcy laughing? At both the assembly and at Lucas Lodge, she would not have thought it possible. Yet, the unquestionable evidence was before her eyes and ears. She sighed. Would she ever be able to fully sketch his character? It would take forever, which might be the opportunity for Miss King, but not for her.

Unconsciously, she became aware of the silence. Then, the pitiful cries of a wounded animal warred with the panic of men. The sound of a horse’s pounding gait approaching the house and a man’s voice yelling for help, brought her to her feet. Quickly stepping to the window, she spied Mr. Bingley galloping at full speed towards them. Without thought, she ran out of the room to the front of the house in time to hear him barking orders.

A servant was dispatched for the apothecary while another was readying himself to speed to London. A surgeon and a rifle were needed. The colonel’s horse had stepped into a hole, falling before its rider could kick his way clear. Both had a bone sticking outside the skin of its leg. For the horse, it meant the sad end of its life. For the colonel, possibly the end of his career.


Letter of the Law – Chapter 6

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

Well, this is a surprise. I started typing this morning and could not seem to stop. Did Nicole and I sprint early today? Oh, yes.

Please understand that I am posting this raw. I have a beta reader who is reviewing the chapters but I am not waiting for her before I post. So, please forgive the errors. Without further ado here is chapter six.

If you missed the start of the story, here is the link to Chapter One: Chapter One

Chapter 6


The noise coming from inside Longbourn was deafening. It was the work of a moment for Elizabeth to determine its cause. Jane had received an invitation from Miss Bingley to attend tea at Netherfield Park.

Their mother was fussing over her gown, tugging the neckline down while simultaneously puffing her sleeves. Both Kitty and Lydia complained at their not having been invited, while Mary silently went about the office of ignoring all that went on around her.

The look of panic her elder sister directed at her when Elizabeth stepped into the room moved her to come to the rescue. It would be hours before the carriage would need to be readied for the three-mile trip to the Bingley residence.

“Jane, you are positively giddy.” Elizabeth giggled when Jane sighed aloud for possibly the tenth time. The sisters were finally alone in their room under the guise of repairing a slightly misaligned hem.

“Am I?” The slight dip at the bottom of her skirt had been adjusted and she was staring out the only window in their bed chamber. “Most likely you are correct, Lizzy. After all, you usually are.”

Elizabeth snorted. “I would not say so myself, sister dear. As a matter of fact, a fact you might find of interest, I will confess for your ears alone that I may have been in error as to the officiousness of Mr. Darcy’s character.”

“What is this?” Jane spun towards her, her mouth dropped open and her brows almost to her hairline. “You no longer hate the man? How could this be?”

“Perhaps I have decided to emulate my roommate and learn to think well of everyone and believe that none have a flaw they cannot justify.”

“Never!” blurted Jane. “I know you, Lizzy Bennet. You have enough of our father in you that you see the world much differently than I. Although I am pleased to hear you are not bearing the heavy weight of a grudge, what has come over you to make this dramatic change?”

Elizabeth sat on the edge of her bed, grabbed her pillow, and held it protectively to her chest.

“Mr. Darcy must have jumped the fence line between our neighbor’s property and ours as he was riding along the path to Oakham Mount. We nearly collided, or rather, I nearly collided with the massive animal he was sitting upon.” She picked at the fabric of her skirt. “I was quite surprised when he dismounted rather than ride off when he became aware of my identity, but he did not. Instead, we had a lengthy conversation that revealed certain qualities about him I did not know existed.”

“You do not seem pleased.” Jane suggested.

“I do not know that I am.” Now it was she who sighed. “My displeasure with the gentleman fit as comfortably as my old wool coat. After his ugly comment at the assembly, I had easily tossed him into the quagmire with all the other men of my acquaintance who arrogantly assumed they were superior based solely upon their sex. Into the mixture were other men who are not so blatantly proud, but who refuse to acknowledge a lady’s opinion as worthy of note.”

“That reeks of bitterness, Lizzy.”

“I will admit,” she lifted her head to look directly at Jane, “I was bitter. Here was the handsomest, wealthiest, educated man to enter our sphere and he despised me from his first glance. Were my feelings hurt? Of course, they were. I vowed to myself to never forgive his slight and concluded the fault had to be his in an effort to preserve my own self-esteem.”

“Oh, Lizzy.” Jane rushed to sit alongside her. “You are lovely from head to toe. He must not have truly looked at you or he never would have said such cruel words.”

“Thus, speaks a sister who loves me.” Elizabeth clasped her sister’s hand in her own. “No matter. He has apologized most eloquently, well, in truth, it was a simple statement that had more meaning to me than had he written a sonnet begging my forgiveness.”

At her chuckle, Jane curiously inquired, “was that all you talked about?”

“No.” She pondered how much to share. “My dearest sister, I was quite surprised to find the man equal parts stoicism and…” Elizabeth paused to consider her thoughts carefully. She had reviewed each word spoken in the glen and had been stunned at how openly he had expressed himself. A man of his stature, the grandson of an earl, owed nothing to her, especially not a slight revelation into the emotions driving his decisions. “…and friendly.”

Jane nodded knowingly, as if Mr. Darcy had been the pinnacle of amiability equaling his close friend and host.

“We spoke of marriage, family responsibilities, expectations, and hopes.”

“Lizzy!” Her sister was quite shocked, a feeling Elizabeth also bore in her chest.

“I know.” She squeezed the hand held in her own. “I have determined to aid Mr. Darcy in a personal quest. He is in need of a wife and I promised I would filter through the unattached ladies of Meryton to see if there is a gem of the highest value who could tolerate such a man. So far, the only female who comes to mind is you.”

Jane’s chin dropped. “Me? And Mr. Darcy?”

Uncontained laughter burst from Elizabeth as she tossed the pillow aside. “Yes, Jane dear. You are the only person I know, either male or female, who would meet his exacting standards.”

“But I do not think of Mr. Darcy in that way.”

“Yes, I know. Your heart is already attached to Mr. Bingley.”

“Elizabeth Margaret Bennet!” Jane stood and faced her, hands upon her hips. “My heart, is no more secured to Mr. Bingley as yours is to Mr. Darcy.” She leaned forward, her face within inches of Elizabeth’s. Again, her mouth dropped open. “Oh! Oh! Oh! Or, have you given your heart to him and you are unwilling to admit it to me, or to yourself? Are you falling under his spell? Do you love him?”

“Ha! I do not know if I yet like the man, nor if I ever will.” Elizabeth confessed, her laughter gone. “What I am entirely confident of is that Mama is the last human on the planet who needs to know Mr. Darcy is seeking a bride. Could you imagine?”

Horror covered Jane’s beautiful face, her hand clapped over her mouth. She whispered, “Let this be our secret or she will have Lydia primped and polished and stuffed into the carriage with me for Netherfield.”

Elizabeth shuddered at the thought. Lydia and Mr. Darcy? Never!


Charles Bingley briefly studied the billiard table before lining up his shot. In his distraction, his cue clipped the ball, so it missed his target by several inches. Setting the long wooden stick aside, he refilled his brandy glass, offering to do the same for his friend.

Darcy shook his head before taking his turn in the game. His shot was direct and true, knocking two balls into the pockets.

“Your brain and your aim is upstairs in the guest room, I suspect.” Darcy mused.

“She is an angel, I say.” Bingley had no reason to deny his thoughts were with Miss Jane Bennet, currently ensconced in a bed chamber at Netherfield Park. She had not traveled by carriage to tea. Instead, she and her horse were soaked from the pouring rain by the time they arrived. Within an hour, the eldest Miss Bennet had been stricken with a dastardly chill. “I would much rather have her here under different circumstances, wishing she was not ill, yet I am glad to have her close.”

“Bingley!” Darcy growled. “Would you feel the same if it were Miss Lucas above stairs?”

“Miss Lucas? Why would you ask about her?” Bingley seemed truly surprised. “I mean, she is a lovely girl, a woman really, who assuredly has much to offer, but she is not my angel.”

“Then why did you flirt with her during the treasure hunt? You stood too close, you clasped her hand, you even embraced.”

“What? Embraced? I certainly did not!” Bingley was flabbergasted.

“Yes, Bingley, you did.”

“I meant nothing by it, Darcy. I was merely being friendly.” He insisted.

“We have spoken of this before, my man.” Had he been a younger relative, Darcy might have grabbed Bingley’s shoulders and shook until some sense settled into his skull. However, he breathed deeply instead, keeping his hands to himself. “You are playing a dangerous game. You are no longer at university nor do you have a father to step in to rescue you if need be. As a responsible land owner of the prominent house in the community, you should be a pillar, an exemplar of fine conduct for those reaching for your position to imitate.” At Bingley’s blank stare, he gave up. “I shall say no more.”

“But, you agree she is an angel, do you not?”

“I do not know her well enough to be able to give an honest response, Charles, and remind you that you do not know her well either.” Darcy rested the blunt end of the cue stick on the floor and leaned into it before continuing. “What I do know with confidence is that ladies are complex creatures. Any interaction we have with them needs to be well-thought-out in advance. Deciding who is the appropriate mate for us should be a matter of deep contemplation as we weigh how they personality would fit into our lives. They will not always have their youthful looks and their innocence as to marital expectations.”


“I am not speaking of the marriage bed, Bingley.” Darcy’s chin dropped to his chest. Breathing deeply to remove the frustration from his voice, he lifted his head to stare his companion in the eye and added, “Both the man and woman go into a marriage with certain…expectations of what our partnership will be. However, since we have never actually been wed, our expectations and hopes may be based on fiction rather than reality. We will only find out after spending months on end with our brides what our futures will hold.”

“You have a very cynical view of matrimony, Darcy, though I am not surprised you have given the subject considerable thought. Which might also explain why you are no closer to finding a mate then you were when we met over four years past.”

“Have you pondered what Miss Bennet hopes for in a marriage? Have you given any thought as to her expectations?”

“Why would I?” Bingley was flustered. “Is it not every girl’s dream to have a healthy, wealthy husband with a fine estate and enough funds in her reticule to purchase whatever her heart desires?”

“And this is the type of wife you are looking for?” Darcy was astounded. He should not have been surprised.

“What else is there?” Bingley’s arms stretched out from his side.

“What else? I will tell you what women truly want. They want the same as we do. A secure, comfortable home filled with happiness and joy. Good health for themselves and their family. Wealth enough to sustain them. A sense of purpose. A measure of adventure. A lifetime of learning new things and experiencing life to the full. They do not want their opinions disregarded. They know their worth and they long for someone to recognize and acknowledge the same. They want felicity and contentment, so their homes are filled with peace.”

Darcy wanted to slap his hands over his mouth. Those were Miss Elizabeth’s words, not his own.

“Opinions? I am not going to marry a woman with opinions.”  Bingley chugged his brandy, disregarding the quality and the taste. “My sister, Caroline, has enough for a lifetime so I do not need another female in my house with opinions!”

“Then you have much to learn.” Suddenly, Darcy felt old and tired.

“And you know so much about women? I cannot fathom where you have gotten your information, Darcy. You rarely speak to a female, brushing them off like dust on your collar.”

Darcy tilted his head to acknowledge the barb had struck its target. Bingley was correct. That had been his habit. Yet, Darcy had learned a thing or two from speaking with Elizabeth Bennet. He now comprehended that being ignorant of a woman’s nature was a dangerous thing.

“Bingley, you will do what you will do. I believe we have canvassed this subject to the point where we need to speak of something else. Are you agreed?”

“I agree we should speak of Jane Bennet.” Bingley chuckled at the stern look Darcy wore.


By the end of the day, not only was Jane Bennet established in a guest room under the care of the local apothecary, her next youngest sister had joined her. Darcy could not believe his good fortune as he needed to know if she, knowing his desires, had found someone in the locality who would measure up.

However, Miss Bingley would not give them leave for any private conversation.

“Surely, your purpose in walking to Netherfield Park is rather obvious, Miss Eliza. Despite being a fine walker, there had to be a motive other than tending to your sister. After all, nobody dies from a cold.” Caroline sneered.

“I cannot imagine what you mean.” Elizabeth kindly responded.

Darcy recognized from their hostess’s posture—elevated chin, raised brow, stiffened spine, and hands clasped so tightly the knuckles were white—that her comment was meant to intimidate, something he doubted Miss Elizabeth rarely allowed to happen.

“You and your unwed sister, who has had how many seasons so far?”

Now, it was Miss Elizabeth whose hands were tightly fisted. Rather than provide a response, Elizabeth’s own chin shot up. What was arrogance in one was righteous anger in the other.

Miss Bingley continued prodding. “You both have easily positioned yourself in a household with two of the most eligible bachelors in the Kingdom. Your mother must be overwhelmed with joy at your accomplishments.”

“Bingley!” Darcy sharply whispered to get his friend’s attention. He needed to restrain his sister’s rude comments. Of course, Darcy felt regret at his own earlier rudeness towards Miss Elizabeth, but he had apologized. Caroline would not.

“I do not know, Miss Bingley, as I did not stop to inquire as to my mother’s attitude before I started for Netherfield Park.” Miss Elizabeth’s voice was calm. Yet, the signs of turmoil were there should one choose to observe. Darcy watched her like a hawk. “You do bring up a subject I would enjoy discussing with you and that is the London season.”

“I dearly love the season and imagine, more than anything else, you long to participate.” Miss Bingley again needled her guest.

“I cannot say that I long to participate. I am curious,” she paused until Caroline leaned forward in her chair, unwilling to miss a word. “How many seasons have you had?”

Caroline sputtered.

Darcy wanted to laugh. He heard Bingley’s soft chuckle. Miss Caroline Bingley was almost four and twenty years and had six complete seasons to make a match. Had she not aspired to the highest echelons by keeping her focus on the Darcy name, she might have made a successful match. Darcy’s shoulders spasmed at the thought of having her on his arm, in his home, and in his bed. Never!

Caroline slumped into the back of her chair. She had been bested at her own game.

He was proud of the young woman with the dark chestnut curls and flashing brown eyes. Darcy yearned to clasp Miss Elizabeth to him as Bingley had done to Miss Lucas during the treasure hunt. How inappropriate!

Miss Elizabeth? He had better watch himself around her. Dormant feelings were being stirred by this impertinent miss. While her circumstances kept her unqualified from becoming a prospect for marriage, she was worming her way into his heart, one inch at a time. Deciding William Shakespeare was wise when he wrote in Henry IV that “the better part of Valour, is Discretion”, Darcy stood, excused himself, and proceeded to leave the room.

Before he could take two steps, the butler approached with a man in his shadow.

“Mr. Bingley, sir.” He bowed, irritation at having the gentleman following him rather than waiting, as was proper, in the entrance hall. “Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam to see you.”

Bold as usual, the colonel did not wait to be presented. Stepping around the servant, he approached Darcy, shaking his hand. He did the same to Bingley and Mr. Hurst, who until this point had remained asleep on a sofa placed in the far corner of the room. Bowing to Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley, Richard finally turned to look at the room’s final occupant.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” Stepping closer to Miss Elizabeth, he gave her a full courtly bow.

As hostess, Miss Bingley would have been within her rights to greet the colonel and offer introductions. Regardless, with the interest he was showing her foe, she pressed her lips together and turned her face away.

Darcy was shocked by her bad behavior. It could only mean that Caroline thought Miss Elizabeth to be a threat to her reaching her goal of wedding Fitzwilliam Darcy. How could that be? He had no interest in Bingley’s sister and only a slight inclination toward Bennet’s second child. Jealousy was an ugly thing.

Charles Bingley jumped to his feet after shooting a glare at his sister. Expressing good manners, he performed the necessary tasks so Richard and the true beauty in the room could become acquainted.

A sharp pain flashed across his chest when Miss Elizabeth smiled at his cousin. How could that be? She had not smiled at him like that until he knew her for almost a se’nnight. He wanted to growl. Yes, jealousy was, indeed, an ugly thing.

Letter of the Law – Chapter 5

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

Yes, we sprinted again. 1,088 words this morning. Have you read anything by Nicole Clarkston? She’s a brilliant author. Oh, my! Wait until she is finished with the two she is currently writing. They are AMAZING!!! Her North and South adaptation will make you sob. Her Pride & Prejudice variation? I can’t quit laughing. You may think I’m sprinting to get my own book done. Nope! I’m trying to get her to finish hers so I can read the ending.

Here’s chapter five. We are sprinting again in the morning. Each of my chapters is approximately 3,000 words so, unless I get more time to write during the day, it will be a few days before the next chapter. Of course, I’m a bit anxious to see what Darcy and Lizzy will do next in my own story. Time for you to read and me to write, I think.

If you are starting from the begging, here is the link to Chapter One: Chapter One



Impressions filled Darcy’s mind. The comfort of books warred against the chaotic disorder of the shelves and small tables. The smell of leather and paper was tainted by dust and stale tobacco. The relaxed countenance of the Master of Longbourn clashed with that of his daughter, Miss Elizabeth. She stood fierce.

Momentarily, she had clutched the ledger to her chest, her chin slightly lifted and her eyes on fire. Darcy wanted to run his finger under his collar to loosen the sudden tightness, grateful her glare was not leveled at him. When she turned to carefully place the accounting book in its place on the shelf, he could not fail to notice how ordered that particular section of the library was. Was she responsible for their care? How peculiar!

The light seemed to dim when the door closed behind her. Darcy turned his attention to Mr. Bennet. When they left the room almost an hour later, he knew where the elder Bennet sisters gained their intelligence.

Bingley had been correct; all five daughters were an amalgam of their parents. Miss Bennet and the two youngest had the fair hair and coloring of their mother. Miss Elizabeth and Miss Mary both had the dark tresses and eyes their father would have had in his youth. While the two youngest were flighty, boldly improper, and lacked innate intelligence like their mother, the three other ladies held the quiet wit of their sire.

He had been unpleasantly shocked at the sarcastic barbs in Mr. Bennet’s conversation. Both he and Bingley had the advantage over the Master of Longbourn. A man with five unmarried daughters should have done all he could to curry favor with the gentleman present in his library. Instead, it was as if the father wished them gone so he could return to his reading.

Darcy had long entertained himself with the study of characters. He found the residents of Longbourn interesting. Speculating on what he had learned thus far, he wondered at Miss Bennet not yet being wed. With several years in society, she was either extremely picky when it came to a mate, or there was something wrong with her that forced a gentleman to cast her off despite her appearance. She was an attractive female who many a gentleman, including Bingley, would want on their arm. Yet, what had stopped men from offering for her? Was there a defect not yet apparent? With a mother who shoved her eldest in front of potential suitors, why had there been no success?

And, Miss Elizabeth, she, too, was a puzzle.

The last woman he had seen with estate books in her hands was his own mother. Her interest in every aspect of the running of Pemberley had made for delightfully rich conversations his parents had shared with Darcy. From infancy he was the recipient of two responsible adults who deeply cared for their good name, their home, the prosperity of those under their care, and their son.

What other ways was Miss Elizabeth Bennet like Lady Anne Darcy? For a certainty, she was not the daughter of an earl, but she carried herself with regal confidence while not being overbearing or filled with conceit.

He was impressed that she had so quickly made a positive impression upon him. Of course, she would never be the future Mistress of Pemberley. Ever! He would need to leave this portion of Hertfordshire if he was to find a bride with the elevated rank needed to be a fitting bride to a Darcy.

He needed to ponder his next step without the constant interruption of Miss Caroline Bingley. Thus, upon returning to Netherfield, he requested his mare be saddled for a hard ride across the fields. Solitude and pounding speed would provide the perfect setting to meditate on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman could bestow. Not that he would ever marry her, of course.

It was too bad, he mused. She had many appealing aspects to her character. Nevertheless, her position in society was far inferior to his own. He would need to look further afield.

Rushing up the stairs to his guest room, he quickly changed and set off on his task. In just under ninety days his sister would reach her sixteenth birthday. He needed a wife and he needed her quickly.


Little time passed before Elizabeth was angrily striding away from the house, following the line of trees east of Longbourn. So well-trod was the trail, barely a blade of grass could be found as one of her feet was place in front of the other with a vengeance. Therefore, she was completely unaware when she rounded a corner that she was not the only person, or creature, on the footpath.

“Mr. Darcy!” He sat astride his mount.


“My apologies for startling you, Miss Elizabeth. I failed to anticipate anyone other than myself on this route.” He immediately glanced behind her to see if she was accompanied, tipped his hat to leave when he realized she was not, then reconsidered. Rather than retreat, which was his habit when an unattached woman was in his presence, he swung his left leg over the saddle to dismount.

What was he about? His mind screamed at him. For almost every second of every day since he inherited, he avoided unmarried women. As a whole, he found them to be nasty creatures with little moral substance, even littler intellect, and single-minded in their pursuit of a mate—in particular a wealthy one.

However, he would wed a shrew before he lost the care of his dear sister, who, in her own way, had acted as female as the rest when she foolishly agreed to an elopement. Do girls think of anything other than marriage?


Darcy looked closely and discovered her hands fisted on her hips, her chin jutted out, and her lips tightly compressed together. He recognized the signs, she was livid.

Oh, Good Lord! Had he said that out loud?

“Miss Elizabeth, I…”

“Do not pretend contrition.” Her chin rose, and he felt threatened by this sprite of a young lady. As had flashed through his mind earlier, she was fierce. An Amazon woman!

He shook his head to clear his vision.

Her form was light and pleasing, the top of her head would not quite reach his chin should she stand in his embrace. He groaned aloud at the thought. Even under the stress of the moment, he knew his mind should not have gone there.

“Trust me, Miss. There is no pretence.” Whipping off the glove on his dominant hand, he rubbed his palm over his mouth, possibly to contain any other unexpected outbursts that would embarrass him further. “I offer you my sincerest apology.”

She snorted. “Sincere it may be but humble it is not.”

Her eyes blazed. She looked like his mental image of the Roman goddess Diana, the Huntress.

“I beg your pardon.” Bowing deeply, he wondered if she questioned his intellectual acuity. He would have done. Shaking his head, he decided to begin again. “My mind was not agreeably engaged and the surprise of coming upon you unexpectedly has, from all appearances, unhinged my tongue. Nevertheless, should you choose to answer my misspoken question, I would be grateful.”

During the pause, she studied his face. He felt exposed and desired nothing more than to jump back on his horse and ride like the wind to a distant location where he could hide himself from the probe of her eyes.

Finally, she spoke. “I assume, from your question, that you are often pursued as a prospective mate. Thus, you have come to view my sex as predators rather than seeing us for the individuals we are. Am I correct to this point?”

He had to admit she was spot on, so he nodded.

“Then, you have lumped all women into a mold of your own design, one that flatters your standing as superior, as if a man only can be varied in his interests. Am I still in the right?”

He knew better than to nod. In truth, he had no clue how to respond.

“Pray, Mr. Darcy, might I share with you my opinions of the male population as bluntly as you have done mine?” Before he could answer, she continued. “For I view them…you… in the same measure as you do us. I find men to be unbending, selfish, discriminatory, arrogant, prideful, callous, uncaring, and ignorant as to the affairs of their own household. Now, what have you to say for yourself, sir? Can you adequately defend yourself against my charges?”

Her countenance showed her confidence in her belief that he would fail should he try.

“I do not believe I can.” He honestly admitted. “Nonetheless, you are excessively harsh, Miss Elizabeth, as…”

She sneered, and he knew he was in trouble. “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

“What? How?” He clasped his hand over his mouth so hard he could feel the sensitive skin behind his lips press into his teeth. His humiliation was complete. “You heard. I understand why you think ill of me.”

“Those were not the words of a gentleman.” She huffed. “Do you wonder, then, why I easily lump you in with every other stubborn male of my acquaintance? A woman has little protection against the whims and opinions of the men in her household. Thus, a female with the full use of her thinking faculties will not rush into attaching herself to just anyone who comes her way. You see, sir, daily we may spend hours tending to our needlework as expected by society, receiving callers who share the news of the neighborhood. Our lives may appear, to an ignorant eye, to be stagnant and useless, yet, I know of not one female who does not long for something more.”

This must be the reason the eldest Miss Bennet was unwed.

Wait! What? Something more? He had to ask. “Such as?”

Sweeping her hands out to the side, she replied, “We want the same as you, I would imagine. A secure, comfortable home filled with happiness and joy. Good health for ourselves and our family. Wealth enough to sustain us. A sense of purpose. A measure of adventure. A lifetime of learning new things and experiencing life to the full. We do not want oppression, nor do we want to have our opinions disregarded. Like you, we know our worth and we long for someone to recognize and acknowledge the same. Are we so different?”

He studied her as intently as she had done him. To his shame, he had grouped all females into the opinion of being, in all honesty, boring. Shaking his head as he finally realized the accuracy of her words, he admitted, “No, we are much the same.”

“You are surprised, are you not?” Her head tilted as the sunlight sparkled from her irises.

“I am, indeed.” Unintentionally, he stepped closer. He wanted…no, he needed to fix this if possible—to repair her low opinion of him. “Besides my horrid comment at the assembly, which I now discern was blatantly untrue, is it your father, then, who has caused your turmoil and pain?”

His question was boldly done. Nevertheless, he cared for her answer because he knew at that moment in time that it would reveal much about her character.

She nodded.

Ah! Pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. “Your father is pressuring you to act in a manner against your nature.”

Her head bobbed up and down.

“Mine, although he has been gone these five years, is doing the same.”

He had her full attention.

“According to his Last Will and Testament, I have eighty-nine and a half days to take a bride or I lose guardianship of my beloved sister to a relative who would make Georgiana’s life a constant misery.”

“Then your situation is much worse than mine, Mr. Darcy. Eventually, I will marry or take up a position to support myself. Either will change my circumstances although both would put me under the authority of another male, most likely. Yours will tie you for a lifetime to a mate who may or may not bring you happiness. I do prefer my circumstance over yours, sir. While my situation is not currently ideal, I am loved by my father.”

“Then, you are blessed.”

She turned from him, her gaze distant. “Yes, I suppose I am.” Still, she looked away. “I have witnessed marital felicity and it is a thing of immense beauty and value. My uncle and aunt are both intelligent souls who are entirely devoted to each other. My uncle works hard so his family prospers. With that said, he places his wife and children as a priority to pursuing wealth. They live together, laugh together, and love together.”

“Ah, yes. I understand.”

“Do you, sir?”

Darcy nodded. “My father was much the same. His efforts to build Pemberley’s coffers were not at the expense of time spent with my mother, my sister, and me. He was, as you described your uncle, devoted.”

“You loved your father.”

He appreciated that her comment was not in the form of a question as it indicated her comprehension of the relationship.

“I did, very much.”

“And, you have made it your goal to emulate him?”

“I try.”

“Harrumph!” Her eyes pinned him to where he stood. “Can you say that your father had the same low opinion of the female sex as you do? For, I cannot begin to imagine, if he truly valued your mother, that he thought of her as nothing but a brood mare who darned stockings and embroidered cushions.”

“Never!” He scoffed as memories flooded his vision. “My father would have felt the ire of my mother had he not cherished her.”

“Which is as it should be.” She chuckled.

Her smile was radiant, and he realized he was drawn to this slip of a girl. She unsettled him to the point he both wanted to be in her presence and wanted to remove himself quickly from in front of her.

Clearing his throat, he asked, “Do you not feel it imperative that a wife show her husband deep respect?”

“If he has earned such,” was her immediate reply.

“Ah, so you expect perfection in your mate.” He chided. “Then you will remain unwed, Miss Elizabeth, as a perfect man would expect a perfect wife, would he not?”

“Mr. Darcy, we have canvassed subjects that are typically unmentioned in polite society and neither of us have run from the topic. Therefore, I will ask you, daringly I suspect, what you look for in a bride?”

His horse snuffled, and he was grateful for the distraction. The question was critical to him. Darcy had given it much consideration over the past se’nnight.

“Miss Elizabeth, I see my future much the same as you see yours.” Taking the time to pull his glove back on, he selected his words carefully. This was no silly miss he could pass off with a trite comeback. “My mother was the daughter of an earl who well knew her position in society. My father, like me, had inherited our estate far younger than he had hoped. Both of my parents were strong-willed with even stronger opinions.” He felt the corners of his mouth lift. “I recall many times when they would clash against each other, voices raised and, in my mother’s case, arms flailing. However, as a child I never felt threatened by their disagreements as I understood they were, in their own way, trying to get their point across.” His eyes closed to better savor the memories.

“I have always assumed I would wed. Not for the sole purpose of providing an heir to my estates, although that is a consideration, but to have a lifetime companion, one to share both the joys and the heartaches of life. I see my wife as someone to take charge of my home, which would be wherever we are. We would consult together to determine where attention is needed and work together to see it done.”

“So, you do not see yourself as an autocrat?”

“An autocrat?” He was offended.

“You know, an absolute ruler of your domain?” Before he could respond, she snorted. “Sir, you appear surprised I am familiar with the word enough to use it appropriately in conversation.”

He wisely, he determined, remained quiet.

“My father’s library has several books on tsarist Russia and Byzantium.”

“As does mine. But, before we stray too far from our topic, I will resolutely confirm that I do not see myself as a tyrant over those who serve under my authority.” He was angry. Controlling his words was becoming more difficult by the second. “How dare you even use that word in reference to me. I have spent my lifetime seeing to the needs to my tenants, my servants, my sister, because they are important, not only to the welfare of my estate, but to me.” He poked his thumb at his chest, his irritation with her growing until he was forced to drop the reins and pace back and forth in front of where she stood. “When a man or a woman approaches me with a concern, I listen until I hear what it is they truly are asking of me. I would be a poor master, an ignorant man, if I arrogantly assumed I always knew what was best before comprehending the situation fully.”

He stopped in front of her, aghast. “You think this of me?”

Ignoring his question, she asked one of her own. “You listen?”

He threw his arms up in frustration. “Of course, I do!”

Her response was totally unexpected. She smiled until her cheeks bunched and her eyes…good heavens! Her eyes looked like pools of tranquility he could plunge into and be lost in forever.

“Then, sir, I will help you find a wife.”

“You?” Sudden hope filled his chest.

She laughed. Laughed! His embarrassment and disappointment were complete.

“Oh, no, never me, Mr. Darcy. After all, I am merely tolerable.”

He wanted to rip out his tongue.


Chapter Six


Letter of the Law – Chapter 4

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

Dear Reader,

I’m pleased to be back in my chair typing away. In fact, thanks to author Nicole Clarkston and her willingness to get up at 5:00 a.m. to do typing sprints with me, I’m almost finished with chapter 5 already. That woman is a marvel.

What is a typing sprint? We set the timer for 30 minutes and type as much as we can during that time period. At the end we compare our word counts, take a five-minute break, and do it again. This morning she did a bit better than I did at over 1,100 words. I typed 1,079 in an hour. It sure gets the juices flowing knowing I have someone to be accountable to. My daughter, Jennifer, also does this with me but she does 40 minutes at a time. More time equals more words.

Without further ado, here’s chapter four. (Link to chapter One if you are just getting started: Chapter One)

Chapter 4

Jane Bennet had stars in her eyes and Elizabeth was well pleased to see her sister’s delight. She did not have to wonder at the source of her favorite’s joy.

“He is everything a young man ought to be.” A sigh punctuated Jane’s words. Elizabeth smiled at her sister. “Mr. Bingley’s good humor coupled with his sense and liveliness, and perfectly good breeding, why, I have never seen such happy manners!”

“He is handsome,” replied Elizabeth, “which a wealthy young man ought to be if he possibly can.”

“I was very flattered by his asking me to dance a second time at the assembly. I did not expect such a compliment.” Jane mused. “And, Charlotte? That he would stand up for two sets with her as well that night and enjoy her company during the game this evening, shows a remarkable ease at elevating a young woman who is often passed over, so she feels worthy. Yes, even upon this short of acquaintance, his gallantry appeals to me.”

“Dearest Jane, you are too good.” Elizabeth finished tying the ribbon at the bottom of her thick braid. A feeling nagged at her, like having a tiny pebble in her shoe, when she considered the conduct of the Netherfield party, including Mr. Bingley. Shaking it off as her own sour disposition in comparison to Jane’s sweet temper, she added, “We have known Mr. Bingley for less than a se’nnight. Might it not be best to guard your heart until his character has been firmly established?”

As soon as the final word erupted from her mouth, Elizabeth wished it unsaid. For the light, the sparkle, the pleasure on Jane’s face left, leaving behind hurt and discouragement. Elizabeth felt of no more worth than the bucket of icy water the maids used to douse the final embers in the downstairs fireplace at disappointing her dearest sister.

Jane, her tender Jane, paid far more attention to her younger sister’s warning than she probably ought. “You are most likely in the right of it, Lizzy. I give my heart too easily, but…”

“No. Pray forgive my callous mind and wayward tongue.” Climbing into the other bed in the chilly room, Elizabeth regretted her harshness. “I am allowing the poor manners of Mr. Bingley’s sisters and his tall friend to influence me against the whole of our newest neighbors.”

“Mr. Darcy should not have said what he did at the assembly.” Jane’s voice was unusually firm, and Elizabeth appreciated her most peace-loving sister’s defense. “Despite this, he did appear pleased at being your partner for the treasure hunt. His eyes followed your every move.”

“How would you know?” Elizabeth chuckled. “Your own eyes were attuned to your companion’s brother, I do believe.”

“Not all of the time!” A giggle burst forth from Jane. “Well, I might, in truth, confess to a great portion of the time—perhaps.”

Elizabeth blew out the candle and settled down into the pile of bedclothes, their warmth wrapping her in comfort. The waning moonlight filtered through the cotton covering the window between the two beds. Her sister lay flat on her back, her hands, resting over the top of her coverings, were folded as if in prayer. Her lips pressed together.

“Lizzy, I cannot give up my hope in Mr. Bingley. I cannot.” Jane whispered into the silence of the night. “At almost three and twenty, I have never met a man who has appealed to me more. Certainly, he appeals to Mama as well.”

Elizabeth’s smile matched Jane’s. “Yes, I do imagine he would as he is a single man in possession of a fortune. According to our parent, how could he not be seeking a wife, especially one from amongst her own daughters.”

“I will not disregard your caution, Lizzy.” Jane turned to look directly at her. “There is wisdom in not trusting too soon, but I cannot believe Mr. Bingley could act in an ungentlemanly manner after being shown his happy disposition, which revealed no variance in the two occasions we have been in his company.”

Although Elizabeth’s exposure to the world was greater than her sister’s, it was only through the books in their father’s library. Rarely had new individuals moved into their small portion of Hertfordshire. The ones who had, until that point, were not unattached, nor were they gentlemen. This was new ground they were treading. She could not help the inner hint of doom surging through her when contemplating their simple life in comparison to the routines of the wealthy in flitting from one house party to the next.

“Then we shall have to, as Mama suggested, throw ourselves in front of Mr. Bingley so we have an opportunity to perform a thorough study of his character before you wed.”

Jane’s aim was true. The pillow landed flat against Elizabeth’s face. Before she handed it back, Elizabeth decided she would use whatever powers of observation she possessed to determine whether the man was worthy of Jane’s heart. For, she knew herself well, if Mr. Bingley were to be found toying with the affections of her favorite sister, Elizabeth had no qualms in making her displeasure known.


Darcy accepted the brandy his friend poured, holding it up to the candlelight rather than drinking from the crystal glass. He recognized it as being he same pattern as those at Darcy House and wondered if Bingley or his sisters had been the one to make the purchase. He felt no flattery at the imitation, only a sense it was not a good sign that they were not confident in making their own path in setting up their household.

“What a lovely evening with our neighbors.” Bingley proclaimed, completely unaware of Darcy’s introspection. “Even you seemed to enjoy the game, my stoic friend. In fact, I believe I might have seen your face crack into a smile at one point, or had the rich food unsettled your stomach, causing indigestion?”

Darcy snorted.

“The ladies were uncommonly brilliant. When added to their loveliness, even you can not claim they are not worthy women.”

“Worthy of what, Bingley?” Darcy sat erect in the leather chair. “Are you already enamored to the point you are ready to offer for one of the Hertfordshire ladies? We have been in their company for less than a se’nnight, have you already made your choice? Which lady shall it be? Miss Jane Bennet, Miss Lucas, or possibly one of the younger Bennet girls, maybe the one who won the game, what was her name, Miss Mary?”

“Darcy. Darcy. Darcy.” Bingley chided. “Miss Bennet is all that a young lady should be.”

Darcy shook his head. “You cannot know this, not for certain. What of her mother? Do we not check the sire and dam before purchasing a horse and bringing it into our stables? Why should we not do the same with the woman we intend to take as a bride?”

“Darcy!” Horror covered his friend’s face.

“Do not be blinded by fine looks and a gentle mien, my friend.” Darcy sipped his drink. “Just as I am often told how much I resemble my father and you are told the same about your mother, the Bennet daughters would naturally resemble their parents. Could you truly see yourself tied to a woman like Mrs. Bennet with her shrill proclamations of our fortunes and her haughty presumption that you are soon to be her son?”

He had silently berated himself the whole journey back from Lucas Lodge for his momentary attraction to Miss Elizabeth. Yes, he had been impressed by her quick thinking and her consideration of others. Yet, had it been a show? Had she been displaying conduct not truly her own for the purpose of enticing his interest? Other grasping females had done so.

Mrs. Bennet’s demeanor and speech had called to mind some of the military maneuvers Richard had shared. The first was to know your enemy. Had the matron of Longbourn secretly planned the initiative whereupon her eldest presented themselves as different enough from the general female populace so they stood out as special? Attractive? Tempting? Darcy would not put it past the woman.

He huffed. How in the world was he to find a pearl amidst the motley populace surrounding Meryton? He would not. The course of wisdom would be to remove himself to Percy Hamilton’s country estate. Darcy had ninety-one days remaining to find a bride. Twisting the glass so the light refracted in a rainbow, he resolved to write Percy in the morning to accept his invitation. He could be in Yorkshire within the week.

Bingley, surprisingly, had pondered his comment before replying. “I would not be marrying Mrs. Bennet should I offer for her daughter.” He stated matter-of-factly. “Although there is some morsel of truth to your observation, the simple matter we both need to keep in mind is that we have yet to come to know Mr. Bennet’s character. While I saw evidence of the two youngest of their progeny being much like their mother, I saw no such evidence in the three eldest. Did you?”

Honesty bade Darcy confess, “No, I did not.”

He refused to change his mind about the suitability of the Bennets or anyone else in Hertfordshire. What intelligent man would tie himself to a flighty woman who was an embarrassment to the man’s good name? Surely, Miss Elizabeth’s father was little more than a figurehead in the running of his estate. With a wife like that…Darcy shuddered, he could not be a man who took control of his household. It was his greatest fear, being attached to a conniving female who would make his future a living hell.

If only he had the option of remaining single. Georgiana could marry and birth the heir to Pemberley. However, the codicil ended any opportunity to wait, take his time, or leave the responsibility to his sister.

Yet, in all honesty, he always assumed he would eventually marry. The thought of filling his home with happy children with a proper companion by his side pleased him greatly. Ninety-one days to…

Bingley blurted, “Then I recommend we call upon Mr. Bennet during visiting hours tomorrow to see if Miss Bennet is her mother’s daughter or her father’s child.”

Darcy nodded. Hope was not a commodity he held in abundance. In his lifetime, the loss of his parents and the ensuing responsibility kept him placing one foot in front of the other without speculating on what might have been or what could be. The exception was in matters of business. He relished the research, the thrill of contemplating one path over the other, and the opportunity to grow his properties and rejoice in his own success. He hoped for financial stability in a changing world.

Where people were concerned? The quality was elusive. Years of being disappointed time after time by both sexes not seeing beyond what he possessed to the man behind the wealth and name, had jaded him. He had no possible prospect that Mr. Bennet would be any different than his wife. Thus, the brief flicker of whatever emotion the man’s second daughter had fostered in Darcy’s chest, would be extinguished, the ashes falling to the large pile of disappointed soot already existing in his heart.

He was weary.


Elizabeth Bennet chewed on her lower lip as she bent to the task at hand. She was grateful her father’s penmanship was easily read. However, the totals for the weekly purchases were outlandish. Longbourn estate took in over fifty -pounds per month in rents. The crops currently being harvested were already sold and should add the bulk of their annual income of two-thousand pounds. Produce for the estate was gathered and stored, wood chopped and hauled for the upcoming winter, and the house itself had recently been cleaned from the bottom to the top in preparation for the days when the ground rested and the seasons invited family to visit from afar.  Everything was as it should be except for the accounts.

“Papa, was it really necessary for Mama to replace all of the furniture in the parlor and her sitting room? Did not she do the same last November?” Elizabeth tallied the columns and came up with the same negative number.

Mr. Bennet looked up from his book as Elizabeth checked the title. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume II by Edward Gibbons.

Elizabeth shook her head in frustration. Their own household was in decline and neither her father nor her mother appeared concerned in the slightest.

“Your mother would not be satisfied with anything less than the latest in furnishings to impress the neighborhood.” He quipped.

Elizabeth translated his statement to mean her father was not willing to listen anymore to his wife’s ranting and railing over her desire to elevate herself over Lady Lucas. Nor was he willing to use his authority to stop his wife’s foolish spending, nor his own.

“Papa, the price for your latest shipment from London was dear.” Elizabeth loved her father’s library, spending hour after hour curled up in the large leather chair in front of the fireplace, perusing tomes from classic history to romance. But the cost of the two books delivered the day prior would have covered all the tallow candles Longbourn would need for the cold days from November to March when daylight was short, and the darkness would need to be illuminated.

Endeavoring to keep resentment from her voice, she tried again. “At this rate, Father, there will be no funds to set aside should an emergency occur.”

Mr. Bennet flipped his hand in the air, returning to his book and refusing to reply, only adding to her ire and concern.

“Papa, would that I could be like my mother and sisters who believe all is right with Longbourn. But you know I cannot.” Clenching her teeth, her nostrils flared. She placed the quill back in the holder and pushed the estate ledger away from her as if repulsed. “Can we not exercise economy? Can we not stop this unnecessary spending before we are unable to pay the merchants who are relying upon our honour to support their own families? Papa, are you listening to me?”

“I cannot possibly fail to hear you, Lizzy.” He marked his book and closed it. However, he did not deign to move his eyes to hers. Instead, his gaze moved from one set of bookshelves to the next. “I am surrounded by riches more precious than gold. My library is the work of a lifetime and I could spend the rest of my years in contentment to never leave this room.”

She heard his pride and her heart dropped to her toes. She wanted to demand his attention and satisfaction be with his children not his books. From past experience, Elizabeth knew it would not happen.

Keeping her voice modulated, she asked, “then what do you plan to do with your books when we cannot pay the bills coming in, when we lose our home to our debts, and when we are thrown to the hedgerows like mother fears?”

He huffed. “Do not worry so, Lizzy. Longbourn has always managed, and we will do so in the future.”

“Papa, might you decided what could be done with the east field? Could we not plant the soil that has been dormant for my lifetime to increase the crop yield? Would that not help pad the coffers…”

“Enough!” Mr. Bennet sighed, ran his hand over his mouth, then finally looked at his daughter. “Do not fear, my daughter.” With a wry grin, he chuckled. “Your Mama has determined Jane will wed our newest neighbor before the crops need to be replanted in the spring, so we will merely decamp to Netherfield Park should our economies become poorer than they already are.”

Elizabeth was furious. From her early adolescence, both her and Jane determined to marry only where the deepest affection existed between themselves and their future mate. The prospect of a marriage of convenience, like that of their parents, was intolerable.

“Father, you must know that Mr. Bingley paid equal attention to Charlotte as he did to Jane. There is no guarantee that his affections are engaged towards either woman. You should not count on your daughters, who have little to recommend themselves, making a match that would save Longbourn.”

“Lizzy,” he pinned her to his chair with a penetrative stare. “I am the master of Longbourn, not you. We are solvent. There has been no emergency to reduce our funds to the point we would need to leave our house behind. You are worrying about something that has not happened yet. A sensible man would never choose Miss Lucas over our Jane, Elizabeth. Now, tally your columns and leave me in peace.”

She felt the blow in the pit of her stomach, numbness radiating to her limbs. How could he…

The tap on the door was most untimely. Their housekeeper announcing the presence of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy was unwelcomed, at least by her. Her father’s pleasure at the sudden interruption grated upon her sensitivities.

With a dip of her head to acknowledge their presence, she closed the ledger and placed it with the others on the shelf.

Here is the link to chapter five: Chapter Five

2018 is Here!

On this day when many are making new resolutions they hope to accomplish during the next 365 days, I too am making lists and dreaming of what might happen in 2018. Do I hope to write more books? Absolutely! In fact, that’s pretty close to the top of the list. Losing weight? That’s always on my list (#1).

However, for now, my husband and I are scrambling to get our house packed up and moved to a large storage shed before we leave for Ecuador in less than three weeks. Yippee!!! (for the trip – not the packing and moving). I was able to gather up all my Jane Austen paraphernalia and box it up to send to some of my newsletter subscribers. I was so excited to get it done that I failed to notify all of the winners in advance. Good grief! I’m a bonehead.

The winners are:

Billi A.

Christina B.

Meredith E.

Julia R.

Oh my word, I forgot who the 5th winner was. Drat!!! I was going to write it down. Wait! It was Jeanne G.

I do hope you enjoy your surprise gifts. Here is what went into the mail –


For those of you who did not win, please be patient. I insist I’m going to stop buying Jane Austen related items but…you know how it is.

Please take care during the winters months if you are in the northern hemisphere and the summer months if you are south of the equator. Best of wishes to you all!


The Letter of the Law – Chapter 3

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

(If you need to start at the beginning, here’s the link: Chapter One)

Chapter 3


Darcy managed to put the events of the Meryton assembly behind him during the following two days of riding from one corner of the estate to the other, spending countless hours reviewing the accounting ledgers, and visiting Netherfield Park’s tenants, inspecting their cottages. Charles Bingley had been a willing, if not easily distracted, accomplice.

On the evening of the third day, they were back in the carriage headed towards Meryton, this time for a gathering at Lucas Lodge, the home of Sir William and his family.

“Do we have to?” Miss Bingley whined.

“Yes, Caroline,” her brother, to Darcy’s surprise, staunchly replied. “We need to establish ourselves in the neighborhood. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to attend every social occasion offered by the citizens we will interact with for years to come. Our presence at Lucas Lodge will advance our position in Meryton society. Surely, you cannot find even a minimum of fault with this plan.”

In all honesty, Darcy understood her plea. There had been little in the way of stimulating company at the assembly. His sense of fairness had absolved the second Bennet daughter—he could not recall if he had been told her name—of her lack of decorum in making him the object of a jest. After all, even though his insult had been delivered solely to his friend, had she heard, his own manners could have been found to be at fault.

Thus, it was to his chagrin when he was later partnered with the Bennet girl in a game of treasure hunt. Usually, he enjoyed the challenge of the game. Nonetheless, being in her company for possibly hours, depending on the clues offered, left him feeling unsettled. His earlier conversation with Bingley had already proven that the night held the potential for harm.

“Can you not relax your stiff upper lip long enough to find, at the least, a minimum of enjoyment?” Charles Bingley pulled at the cuffs of his jacket as he surveyed his appearance prior to departing his home for Lucas Lodge. “You will never attract a worthy woman standing against a wall with your arms crossed and a glare in your eye. Darcy! How could they possibly see your charming personality at its finest with you hidden away? Are you listening to my sage advice?”

“Sage advice? From you?”

Fitzwilliam Darcy, master of one of the largest estates in the Kingdom, had met his friend a year after leaving Cambridge. He had returned for information on a subject of interest and happened upon bullies pounding young Bingley for daring to pollute the halls of the university with his roots in trade. Using his full height and strong muscles, he had set the fools on their ears and made a good friend in the process.

Charles Bingley, at three and twenty, adored women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. From toddlers to dowagers, females freely approached him. Darcy had been in awe the first time a small child of about four years picked a flower and gave it to his friend, batting her eyelashes in youthful innocence. Other than his sole sibling, Georgiana, no child had done the same for him.

Darcy knew his reputation of holding himself aloof at social gatherings was his own fault. He despised fortune-hunters, yet his fortune attracted them like flies to a honeycomb. He felt decades older than the younger man, rather than the five that separated them.

“You are a flirt, Bingley.” Darcy adjusted his own cuffs although his valet had turned him out impeccably. “One day, you will turn your many charms on the wrong woman and her father will have you at the front of a chapel so fast your head will spin. This dangerous game you play can cause hurt of the most grievous sort and I shall have none of it, my friend.”

“A flirt, you say?” Bingley lifted his chin to examine the knot and placement of his cravat. “Not at all.” Apparently, finding out of alignment, he stepped away from the mirror strategically placed over the mantle to approach the drinks table where crystal decanters and their contents gleamed in the candlelight. “I am merely being friendly—neighborly, if you will.”


“No, Darcy, do not balk. For, most of the ladies we met at the assembly are uncommonly pretty. Some of them I can charge with being outright beautiful.” Bingley poured two glasses and took a sip from the one he retained in his possession. “This is not a game I am playing, at all. For you see, by standing close I can easily determine if she is hiding wrinkles or freckles or a bad odour. I can see if her teeth are rotted by engaging her in conversation. If I tilt my head towards her, I can determine if the colour of her hair has been altered to cover grey strands she is attempting to hide. When I casually touch her arm, I instantly know if I am attracted enough to pursue a friendship and, possibly, even a courtship.” He shook his head slowly. “No, this is certainly not a game.”

“Yet, the potential for harm hovers over you each time you approach a lady who is actively searching for a mate.” Darcy sat in what he had already determined was the most comfortable chair in Bingley’s study. “The rules of propriety are in place for a reason, my friend. They enforce what it means to act the gentleman. We do not touch. We do not stand too close. We do not engage a lady in extended conversation and we do not stand up to dance more than once in an evening unless we desire our name to be tied permanently with her. These are for our protection, and hers. In fact, within moments of standing up with Miss Bennet, her mother was loudly sharing her opinion of your intentions to marry her eldest.”

Setting his glass on a side table, Bingley dropped into the opposite chair. “Then how are we to get to know them? How are we to learn if they would be our perfect match?” He smoothed the fabric over his thigh. “While I comprehend the need to not increase expectations, especially within the first few moments after an introduction, I cannot understand how in the world a man is to determine whether she is his wife-to-be unless he does the things I have observed others doing.” Bingley paused in thought. “I am aware that I push the boundaries of what is socially proper, but I cannot believe this is wrong, Darcy. Since I inherited, I have been in fear of becoming attached to someone I later find out is entirely wrong for me. My friendly nature allows me to know, usually within a dance or two, whether to pursue or to refrain. I save time and effort as well as my emotions by acting in this manner.”

“This is not the first time we have had this conversation, Bingley. I have yet to carry my point and you are yet to convince me to a different opinion.” Darcy cleared his throat as he stood to check his own cravat in the mirror. “No, I cannot believe you are just in your thinking. Nonetheless, if you are content to suffer the consequences of your actions, who am I to judge?”

Darcy took a final drink as the butler announced the ladies and the carriage were ready to depart for Lucas Lodge. As he gathered his coat, hat, and gloves, he could not help but reflect on the impact a flirtation had on his almost sixteen-year-old sister. She had been left crushed and broken early that summer when she overheard George Wickham declare he was solely pursuing her for an elopement to gain her sizable dowry and enact revenge upon the heir to Pemberley. Despite the passage of a few months, her pain was as vivid now as it was when Darcy had held her as she sobbed her initial heartbreak.

No, Bingley’s conduct at the assembly had not been proper. Nor, had his.


The names of the attendees willing to participate had been placed on small scraps of paper and placed in a bowl where Lady Lucas could easily choose pairs of two. Miss Jane Bennet was partnered with Mrs. Hurst. The next pair drawn was Miss Elizabeth Bennet, yes, that was her name, Elizabeth, and Darcy. They were followed by Miss Charlotte Lucas and Bingley and a younger Bennet named Kitty and Mr. Hurst. The Lucas’s only son, John, was to play in company with Miss Mary Bennet. To her apparent displeasure, Miss Bingley was drawn as the final pair with Miss Lydia Bennet. The only hard and fast rule was that you needed to stay with your partner at all times.

He looked to Miss Elizabeth as the first clue was read. Would she run in the opposite direction from the solution to the riddle or would she follow him as soon as he figured it out?

I look at you and see me.

He tilted his head and whispered. “The mirror,” as he then tipped his head towards the large piece of glass hanging over the mantel.

“I know, Mr. Darcy.” She stood her ground, not moving to search for the clue which was undoubtedly hidden behind the lower corner of the frame.

“You have no intention of playing this game?” He should have known. Frustrated, his tone was snippy.

Finally, she turned her face to look directly at him. “I have every intention of playing the game.” At his lifted brow, she added, “Let us allow the others to find the first three clues so they can all participate. These were created by Sir William, who has used the same style of riddles since we were young. The last three are composed by my own father. You will find they are much more of a challenge.”

“Has your father shared these riddles before?” Her attitude was passive when compared to his innate desire to be the first to find the answer. How childish of him!

“Why, that would be cheating, would it not?”

He could not tell if she was teasing or if her tone was accusatory. Darcy thought his best defence was to watch her and say nothing.

“Sir, you should know that Charlotte Lucas is exceedingly cleaver and highly competitive. Right now, she holds back to determine Mr. Bingley’s performance.”

“Whether or not he has the intelligence to figure out the simplest of clues?” Darcy nodded his head at the brilliance of the plan. Then, it hit him. “Are you doing the same to me?”

Surely not! He graduated at the top of his class at university. Men like Bingley routinely came to him for advice on all matter of subjects. He would not be the dunce when it came to a silly parlor game. Would he not?

She smiled and said not a word. Finally, when he could stand it no more, she bade him to watch.

Lydia snatched the clue from the back of the mirror while Caroline Bingley looked on with pride at being first to discover the scrap of paper. With a flourish, Lydia handed the next riddle to Miss Bingley to read.

I can stop the sun’s rays from shining and the raindrops from falling.

While Miss Elizabeth’s youngest two sisters squealed possible solutions, Mr. Hurst moved to the umbrella stand in the entrance hall and plucked the next riddle from inside the fabric-coated frame.

Elizabeth whispered, “Would you consider Mr. Hurst to be a wit?”

“Not at all.” Darcy admitted. “I am quite surprised the solution came to him quickly. His wife is of the same inclination.” He tilted his head towards where Mrs. Hurst and Jane were standing. “Your sister?”

“Do not be fooled by her innocent appearance, Mr. Darcy. She, too, is a quick thinker. What keeps her from winning is a complete lack of any desire to achieve what someone else wants. As the epitome of genuine kindness, she would want everyone to win. Should Mrs. Hurst choose not to participate or fail to follow the meanings of the riddles, Jane will be content to stand aside.”

Darcy looked to where the others stood. “So, our competition will be Miss Lucas, and Miss Mary?”

Miss Elizabeth scoffed. “You are giving no credit to their male partners. Are you so severe upon your sex?”

Before he could reply, Hurst read the third riddle.

On land I am useless. At sea I am Relentless. What am I?

At first, none in the party moved. When Darcy leaned towards Miss Elizabeth to ask her a question, she shook her head as she watched the others and uttered softly, “A moment, please.”

When none of the others offered a clue, Darcy’s partner pondered aloud. “Let us see. I believe the information we need to focus on the most are the words ‘sea’ and ‘Relentless’. Does this spark any ideas from any of you?”

Darcy could no longer refrain. Again, leaning towards her, instead of saying what was on his mind, that the Relentless was a sailing ship many craftsmen formed models of and sold in the shops near the docks in London, he was caught off guard by the smell of honeysuckle. Images from his childhood summers spent under the alcoves covered with the fragrant plant with his mother wafted through his brain. It was her. Miss Elizabeth was wearing the scent. It was light and pleasing, not cloying like the rose oil many ladies apparently bathed in.

His face started to heat, and Darcy knew he should not have been thinking about ladies bathing, especially Miss Elizabeth. She was his partner, for heavens sake!

John Lucas and Miss Mary led the participants to Sir William’s study where, sure enough, there was a large wooden model of the vessel perched upon the mantel above the fireplace. Young Mr. Lucas reached inside the hold for the next clue.

Darcy eagerly anticipated the words on the scrap of paper. According to Miss Elizabeth, they would now be actively engaged in determining the answer. He wanted to rub his hands together and could not seem to keep from smiling.

John Lucas cleared his throat.

Mr. Smyth was found dead of a Sunday Morning. His valet immediately sent for the constable, who questioned the wife and the servants. The constable asked for each of their alibi’s during the period immediately preceding the crime. The valet had gone below stairs to get a breakfast tray from the cook. The maid was filling a basket with produce from the garden, and the butler was getting the post. The constable immediately arrested the murderer. Who was it?

Miss Lucas took off at the same time as Miss Elizabeth. Darcy stood there thinking about the clue. Mr. Lucas reread it aloud, then dropped the paper and left the room. Darcy followed. There were the two friends standing in the entrance hall next to a wooden table with a silver salver on top. Miss Lucas lifted it while Miss Elizabeth retrieved the paper.

He was saved the humiliation of admitting he had not yet figured out the solution when one of the younger Bennet’s asked, “how did you know, Lizzy?”

Her smile was not one of a braggart and neither was Miss Lucas’s. “There is no post on Sunday, Kitty, so it was the butler who killed Mr. Smyth.”

Bingley moved to stand close to his partner. Bending his head, he bumped his shoulder into Miss Lucas’s and congratulated her from her brilliance. Miss Lucas’s smile was radiant.

Miss Elizabeth had been correct. Her two youngest sisters walked back to the drawing room as did Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. With their partners no longer willing to play, Mr. Hurst and Miss Jane Bennet soon followed. The three couples left looked each other over, sizing up the competition.

“Charlotte,” Miss Elizabeth curtsied to her friend, a teasing grin on her face. “Pray do the honors of reading the next clue. I am all anticipation.” She turned to Darcy, her hands clasped together under her chin as she almost bounced in place. She was delightful.

Darcy caught the twinkle in her eyes which caused a reaction in him he had rarely felt before. She is beautiful. How could that be? At the assembly, he had easily overlooked her, only noting her laugh. Yet, in the brief second of time he saw in her something wonderful. Miss Elizabeth was a happy person. She kindly allowed others to go ahead of her, and she had solved the last riddle with a speed he did not have.

From the corner of his eye he spied Bingley reaching for Miss Lucas’s hand. The pair looked at each other briefly and then at Miss Elizabeth, eager anticipation shining from their faces.

He wanted to clasp Miss Elizabeth’s hand in his own. What? How could this be? Fitzwilliam Darcy intrigued by a simple country miss?

At the reading of the next clue (I am a little house full of meat, with no door to go in so I may eat. What am I?), she grabbed him by the sleeve. How humiliating. She had, again, discerned the answer before he did.

Her and Miss Lucas rushed towards a small tray containing cracked nuts. Sure enough, the next clue awaited the victors underneath.

Darcy wanted to stomp. Bingley, on the other hand, enthusiastically and inappropriately wrapped his arm around his partner and pulled her to his side. He was grinning from ear to ear, proud of her accomplishment.

This time, it was Miss Lucas who read the final riddle. Darcy was determined to defeat them all. Setting aside the honeysuckle scent, and the finest eyes he had ever found in a woman, he paid close attention.

First in honour comes Charles Greville. Next is Philip Stanhope. Third is Henry Somerset. Last, but not least, comes Henry Murray. Where are they?

Miss Elizabeth hesitated and so did Miss Lucas. The middle Bennet girl, nodded towards her partner and leaned in to whisper, what Darcy assumed was the answer.

He had this. Turning his back to the others, he stood in front of Miss Elizabeth. Bending down so none of the others could hear, he opened his mouth to reveal his conclusion. All four men were Pages of Honour. A book is made up of ‘pages’ and the one with honorific titles was…

“Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage.” Elizabeth supplied as she spun to leave the room.

Darcy was stunned. How had…? He had not…

“Are you coming along, Mr. Darcy?” Her chipper tone irked his masculinity. Where he typically stood tall, he felt…small. He did not like the feeling at all.

Bingley chuckled as he walked in front of him with Miss Lucas. “Perhaps you will have more success if they have dancing. It takes little knowledge to count the steps from one to four.”

In a daze, he followed them. Miss Mary and Mr. Lucas held the prize, the directions to the treasure It turned out to be a small plate with exquisitely designed chocolates hidden in the top right drawer of Sir William’s desk. Darcy was unsurprised that the man who mentioned St. James as often as Sir William did would have a copy of Debrett’s in his study. Darcy, whose family lineage was well founded in the book could not immediately recall where in his extensive library his own copy was.

His confidence on that night had taken a beating so it would do him well to remember the Darcy position and reputation. Or…he looked at the young lady standing next to him…would it?

Here is the link to Chapter Four: Chapter Four

The Letter of the Law – Chapter 2

Dear Reader,

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

Please do not think I will be posting daily as I will not. However, thanks to Nicole Clarkston’s persistent encouragement, I stayed in my chair far longer than I should have. However, I could not seem to stop. Again, please overlook the flaws and errors. This has not been proofread by anyone except me (and I’m too close to this right now). I hope you enjoy! If you missed chapter one, here is the link: Letter of the Law, Chapter One. 

Chapter 2


Darcy was livid. Not only had Miss Bingley and her married sister, Mrs. Hurst, been late in readying themselves for the assembly, they had complained of the evening plans the whole of the way from their estate to Meryton, where the dance would be held. Every turn of the wheel brought a new complaint. Their neighbors would be unfashionable. It would be a degradation for their London friends to know they faced company that would be considered a degradation. The building would be rustic. The musicians would play rustic instruments. The dances called would be rustic. The food and drink would be, at best, rustic.

Did Bingley’s sisters even know what the word meant?

His friend had done nothing to restrain them. By the time the party had traveled the three miles, Darcy’s ears were ringing from the whining tones. His head throbbed. Would that he had brought his own carriage so he could sit in silence, contemplating his plan to find a woman worthy of his attentions. Hah! As if that would happen in this small community.

Since it would not do to present himself in any way attached to Miss Bingley, he hesitated as she made her grand entrance. She was the same as every single society female he had met over the past six years since leaving university. Her chin lifted elevating her nose into the atmosphere, her shoulders pressed back, her spine stiffened, while her eyes shot superiority over the other ladies in the room. He abhorred pretention and the Bingley sisters were undoubtedly the finest examples in the building, which was, indeed, rustic.

Charles Bingley’s inheritance came from his father’s background in trade. Any gentlemen’s wives and daughters would be a step up from Miss Bingley’s sphere, yet she would not see herself in her proper place. Instead, she had visions of grandeur she could make a reality by attaching herself to the Darcy family. He had been born and bred into the ton. He was the grandson of an earl whose family name and property had been established centuries earlier. She was nothing more than an upstart who he would not ever have given the time of day had it not been for her brother.

They had not taken three steps into the room when he heard it.

“Ten-thousand a year.”

“Handsome features.”

“Noble mien.”

“Ten-thousand a year.”

“Ten-thousand a year.”

“Ten-thousand a year.”

He smirked. If only these matrons knew his true monetary value, they would swoon to the floor. Ten-thousand a year? More like twenty, if the truth was known. Scoffing, he surveyed the press of people who had stopped dancing to stare at the Netherfield group. He was as likely to find a young lady to be his wife here as he would a diamond in a pig’s trough. He wanted to turn around and leave. Before he could follow through, they were approached by a man who introduced himself as Sir William Lucas. Apparently, he was the host of the evening. Tagging along behind was his wife and his two daughters.

The man was as friendly as Bingley, although he must have had a hearing deficit as he spoke loudly over the women’s whispers. Neither of his daughters would have caught Darcy’s interest, particularly the eldest. She was a plain sort with little fashion. Her manners were good. No preening. No sly smiles or thrusting her assets at him. No silently begging for his attention.  Instead, she politely welcomed their party to the assembly and the county. He looked closer at the woman who appeared to be near his own age.

Perhaps he should marry her and be done with it? What was her name?

It both shamed him that he had not paid enough attention to catch it when her father made the introduction which decided him that she would not be the wife for him.

Following the Lucas family was the Bennets with their five daughters, the Longs with their two nieces, the Gouldings with no daughters, thank the Lord, and an assortment of individuals typical to a country setting.

As was proper, Bingley requested the next set with Miss Lucas. Before the query had left her brother’s mouth, Miss Bingley had stepped close enough to Darcy that he could hear her heavy breathing. He moved to the right, realizing he was performing a dance of his own. However, he was following her lead, which he refused to continue.

“Pardon me,” he said to no one in particular before walking to the drinks table. She followed, bringing her shadow, Mrs. Hurst, along with her.

“What a gentleman you are, Mr. Darcy. A cup of punch would ease the irritation from the dust from the road.” Miss Bingley simpered. “These country lanes are intolerable. And, I do believe the dirt from the floor is no better.” With that insult, she no doubt established herself to those within hearing as a snob of the highest order.

Darcy stepped away, taking up his expected perch against the wall in the far back corner of the room, directly across from the seated matrons and wallflowers. Bingley would know where to find him and his sisters would avoid him as his position would not allow the other ladies to observe them as the pinnacle of fashion they assumed they were.

It was all so ridiculous and brought to mind the first time he had accompanied his father to Tattersalls to look for breeding stock for their horse farm. He had spied a handsome stallion that stood tall and carried himself with dignity. His father had allowed himself to be pulled closer as the son praised the regal steed. Nonetheless, upon closer inspection, the evidence of the owner’s attempts to pass off an inferior horse was blatantly clear to the older man, not the son. Bad breath, long teeth, a hollow socket above the eye, a thin dip behind and before the wither, and cracked feet all covered by a carefully arranged mane, forelock, and tail brushed with water, a strategically positioned oversized rug, and wax melted into the split hooves. George Darcy had used his son’s fascination with the horse as an object lesson, that people can make themselves out to be much more than what they really are—that a wise man would use discernment in determining the quality of a man or a woman just as they should take the time and effort to look at the small details before paying good money for a horse. It was a lesson Darcy never forgot.

Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst would be horrified to know his thoughts. From experience, he had no doubt that the local mothers of Hertfordshire taught their own daughters to make the best of their looks to catch the eye of an unsuspecting gentleman. Well, he was not unsuspecting.

Darcy sighed as he observed the movement of the dancers. He abhorred dishonesty, and, to him, the tricks and wiles used by unattached females were deceitful. His sister would never act the part.

Suddenly, he wanted to pound the back of his head into the wall behind him. Of course, she had acted the part. Georgiana Darcy had attempted to hide her intentions of running off with Wickham. Despite it being at his instigation, she, as Richard had repeated to him over and over and over again, had known better.

Had his own mother acted the same? Was that how she had “caught” George Darcy? No! Surely not! Perhaps?

Darcy rubbed his chin. Was there not an honest woman in England? Were they born to flirt and pander to a man’s ego or was there some common training manual the mothers used to instill what they assumed was attractive behavior in their daughters? It was a mean art requiring a man to be able to look behind the artifice to find the true character of a female. Ridiculously impossible!

He heard her before he caught sight of her. The shrill tones heard easily over the din of the music.

“Oh, look! Mr. Bingley may have danced first with your Charlotte, but his eyes are on my Jane.” The garish headpiece of the matron bobbed in time to the tune. “With her beauty, I am confident they will be attached before the festal season.” She flicked her handkerchief. “If only Mr. Bennet was here, the young man could approach him before the night is over. Oh, my nerves! I am all aflutter. One daughter soon to be married.” The harpy scooted closer to the woman she was currently addressing. “She will be able to throw her sisters in front of other rich men. Lady Lucas, I declare that Jane was not born so beautiful for nothing.”

The nerve! Darcy felt his trimmed nails pressing into his palms so forced relaxation to each of his fingers. He wanted out of there. He wanted to ride north as fast as the wind to Pemberley to huddle in front of the warm fire in his study, listening to Georgiana practice her scales, while he shirked the necessity of finding a mate. Although he was loathe to admit it, Caroline Bingley had been correct. In spite of the eldest Miss Bennet’s classically lovely appearance, there was little fashion, beauty, or intellect to be had at the Meryton assembly.

Before he could move from his corner, Bingley approached.

“Come, Darcy,” said he. “I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.”

His anger and disappointment to be suddenly without hope fueled his bitter words. “I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me for me to stand up with them.”

“I would not be so fastidious as you are for a kingdom!” cried Bingley. “Upon my honor, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life, as I have this evening; and there are several of them, you see, who are uncommonly pretty.”

You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room,” said Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.

“Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say, very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you.”

Very pretty? Not likely. As lovely as the eldest sister was, Darcy had not changed his mind about the possibility of discovering a gemstone in the mire. And, with such a mother? Impossible! But, he had to appease his friend.

“Which do you mean?” Turning around, he looked for a moment at one of the other Bennet daughters, until catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

“Darcy!” The look of horror on Bingley’s face pricked his conscience, however, the feeling was temporary.

Decision made, he would perform the duties of a guest by dancing once with Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst then request the carriage to return to Netherfield Park. He required silence. He needed solitude to lick his frayed hopes in private.

He watched as the young lady he had scorned stood and moved next to Miss Lucas. Her step was light and her countenance lively. Foolish girl! Who was she, a farmer’s daughter, to be joyous when he was miserable at failing spectacularly in his quest? She was a nobody, a daughter of that boastful shrew who had undoubtedly sat close to him hoping to gain his notice. Well, she failed just as spectacularly as he had.

It was not until he had danced with Mrs. Hurst and then partnered with Caroline Bingley that a lightning bolt struck from the top of his head to his toes. He felt wretched. He wanted to curl into a ball after pounding some sense into himself.

“There is no fashion, no beauty, no intelligence to be found.” Caroline had complained. “We must convince Charles to abandon this rustic community and relocate to an estate in Derbyshire, closer to your home.”

Her words, so reminiscent of his own recent thoughts had caught him unawares. How could he have disdained the woman in front of him for her poor conduct when his own had been the same? His parents would have been heartily ashamed of him. He had been raised with good principles. Nevertheless, he had applied them to others more than he had himself.

Heat rose from his chest to his cheeks. He deserved the embarrassed countenanced but hoped it would be overlooked by others.

Miss Bingley mistook his emotion for ire. “I see you are in agreement, sir. Should we work together, we could be gone on the morrow, shaking the Hertfordshire dust off of our feet for the smooth streets of London before tea.”

He needed to regroup, to regain his footing on solid ground.

“You mistake me, Miss Bingley.” Taking a deep breath, he set his course. “In fact, I have not yet been able to ascertain if Netherfield Park is a viable estate for your brother’s needs. Upon first glance, the grounds look to be productive and the buildings appeared satisfactory. As far as the people of this shire, they are no different than any other country community of any distance from town. I believe you will find that rural life requires more of a female than keeping up with the styles of the day. I know Georgiana uses much of her time tending to the needs of our tenants as well as improving her education. Because she is not yet out in society, she does not act as my hostess. With that said, she does oversee the running of my households to the extent she is able. Rarely do I see her looking at fashion plates or the magazines London ladies seem to have stacked in their drawing rooms. She is more apt to have a book in her hands than a picture of a dress or a bonnet.”

“Mr. Darcy!” Miss Bingley simpered. “I believe it is you who now is mistaken.” The dance parted them. When the movement of the steps brought them back together, she plunged ahead, a picture of anxiety. “I would never insult your sister and I beg your forgiveness if you thought this was my intent. While I would be perfectly contented should my brother marry the type of woman Miss Darcy will grow to be, you have to admit that the current society offers not one person of elevated rank who would smoothly transition into the role of either the Mistress of Netherfield Park or Pemberley.” Her hand swept from one side to the other. “You could examine in detail each female in attendance and never find a hint of what constitutes an accomplished woman, sir. None could possibly surpass what is usually met with in company, at least not here in Hertfordshire. I, personally, have noted a decided lack of a certain something in their air, their manner of walking, the tones of their voices, their address, their expressions for the word to be half deserved—not even in Miss Bennet.”

Darcy smirked to himself. Had Miss Bingley been more cautious with her words, she would have exempted herself from the description of “each female in attendance”. However, she had not, and he could not agree more. Where he looked for intelligence, kindness, and loyalty, her observations displayed a smallness in her thinking. Again, it shamed him that his immediately conclusions had been the same.

“No, Miss Bingley, I am resolved to remain in the vicinity for enough days to help your brother along with the management of the estate. Any other purpose for my staying at Netherfield Park is my own.”

Gratefully, the music ended and his obligation to dance was over. Rather than leave the gathering, he would step back, not judging harshly based on appearances as Bingley’s sisters had done (and he had also done, he admitted).

Richard had been correct. With Miss Bingley being an imitation copy of all the façade London represented, he needed to look to the country for a wife. With this in mind, he had yet to be presented to a local lady who was the daughter of a peer of the realm, a child of a man of position and wealth who it would not be a travesty with which to attach himself. Possibly other portions of the shire had the requisite connected populace, but Meryton seemed without any families of merit. Perhaps he should hurry Bingley along, so he could accept the invitation extended by his former Cambridge roommate, Percy Hamilton. As Viscount Bennington, his country estate would draw the elite of rural culture to his house party which would begin in a fortnight. A brilliant idea, indeed.

With that decision made, Fitzwilliam Darcy chose to make the best of a bad situation. He would remain at the assembly, finding enjoyment where possible. These people…he stopped the thought. These were Bingley’s neighbors and Darcy needed to remember that fact.

A woman’s laugh distracted him from his musings. It was light and pleasing—musically joyous. Glad he was taller than most, his eyes roamed from one end of the room to the other, searching for the source of the sound.

Her. The sister of the Miss Bennet his friend was following like a puppy. The one Bingley had made an effort to prompt him to offer a dance to who had cheerfully walked away. The air rushed from his lungs. She had not heard his harsh words. She could not have and remained unaffected. Though he did not regret stating the unadorned truth, a gentleman would not have said them aloud. No, a gentleman would not have thought them in the first place.

Would anyone notice him attempting to dent the wood paneling with his forehead? Argh! Would he not learn?

He looked at the young woman again and found her eyes upon his person. They sparkled with glee. To his amazement and ire, he realized she was laughing at him.

Chapter Three


New Story: The Letter of the Law

Please keep up! I’m going to delete this story before I publish which will be soon after I post my final chapter.

Hello! I hope you have been healthy and happy during my absence. My newly replaced hip is doing remarkably well so I am FINALLY able to sit in a chair long enough to get some words down on paper. I’ve been so anxious to get back to writing something new. I will be entirely honest, there are multiple stories begging to be written. I chose “The Letter of the Law” to write first. Here’s a basic description:

Upon his father’s death, Fitzwilliam Darcy had been overwhelmed with the responsibility of becoming Master of Pemberley and guardian to his young sister. Thinking he had plenty of time before his ten-year-old sister turned sixteen, he pushed to the background the codicil in his father’s will that either he or his co-guardian, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, be wed by the time Miss Georgiana Darcy started preparations for her debut into society. Now, the date loomed in front of the two gentlemen like an ax ready to fall. Rather than lose her care to his cantankerous aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy decides to accept an invitation to help his friend manage his new estate close to the farm community of Meryton in Hertfordshire in hopes of finding a country-bred lady to become the Mistress of his heart.

Elizabeth Bennet was not impressed with the gentleman. His stoic demeanor and harsh criticisms of herself and her loved ones set him as the most despised man of her acquaintance. When he continues to seek her out, she wonders at his purpose. Will they ever be able to move past their rocky start? Can love grow from such horrible beginnings? Will they both end up desiring to follow the letter of the law?

I’m attaching the cover and the first chapter and will post succeeding chapters here. Although I’m planning to give my full attention to this story, it may take a bit to get back into the swing of things. I will not be posting on any of the fan fiction sites. Nor will there be a password you need to access the chapters. As always, I’d love your opinion on what you read here. Please do keep in mind that this is unedited and has not seen the eyes of a proofreader. This is my writing in its most natural state. I sure do hope you enjoy this tale of Darcy and Lizzy. Like all my stories, they will find their happily-ever-after. Guaranteed!



“How in the world could either of us forget something so important to Georgiana’s future?” Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam paced from one end of Darcy’s study to the other. His hands were fisted, and his stride was almost a stomp. “She will be sixteen years old on the fourth of January which gives us about four months for one of us to find a bride, court her, and marry her.”

“Ninety-seven days.” Fitzwilliam Darcy watched his cousin from his perch behind his desk. He was equally as livid, although, as was his usual want, he kept negative emotions tucked away behind his stoic exterior. “Barely over three months, Rich.”

His visit that morning with Mr. Samuel Haggerston, the Darcy family’s long-time solicitor, had been exceedingly unpleasant. The reminder of the codicil in his father’s Last Will and Testament had jarred him from head to toe. If neither of his sister’s guardians were wed by the sixteenth anniversary of her birth, her guardianship would automatically be transferred to their aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh—an entirely horrifying thought.

“Why would your father do something like this, William?” The colonel ran his hands through his hair. “His confidence in our abilities to care for his youngest child was unquestionable. He knew the sort of men we would become. My commission had been purchased and you had received a lifetime of training to become the Master of Pemberley who already had a reputation for protecting the Darcy name and assets. What could have possibly motivated him to add this to his Will?”

Darcy had wondered the same. Nonetheless, the older man’s reasoning had been made clear by Mr. Haggerston. Miss Georgiana Darcy would require female guidance through her presentation to the Queen and her debut season. On paper, it was a sensible requirement. Both of her current guardians loathed the petty details required by female society, discussions of silks and lace, and the thought of endless hours of practicing the moves necessary to be successful at court. He cringed at the thought and inherently knew his cousin would do the same. Richard could navigate a battlefield and the tenuous position of being caught in the middle between two opposing superior officers with ease. Darcy could do the same in matters of negotiating difficult legal contracts and all aspects of estate management. Yet, to ready his sister for her debut? Neither man felt qualified.

“But, Aunt Catherine?”

Both men shuddered at Richard’s question. Lady Catherine de Bourgh intimidated sweet Georgiana Darcy. She was a hurricane force bent on gaining her way, leaving behind those who would not bend to her will, uncaring whether they were left broken or damaged. As the older sister of the long-deceased Lady Anne Darcy, her claim to be the closest living relative to Fitzwilliam and Georgiana had given her permission to poke her fingers into the Darcy’s lives. Her quest to unite her estate, Rosings, with the much more substantial property at Pemberley was legendary in the family.

“Remember, cousin, that Aunt Catherine was much more restrained in her conduct while Father was still alive. It was only after his death that she became demanding and domineering. Father never saw her as she is today.” When the colonel started to speak, Darcy held up his hand. He continued, “Before my mother had been gone one week, our widowed aunt left me in no doubt that she saw herself as the next Mistress of Pemberley, replacing the sister she claimed to love, as wife to George Darcy. Her ambitions were made clear to me then. I have no doubt that she hid this from father. Instead, she would have done everything within her means to garner his sympathy and his affections.”

“Which she failed to do.” Richard stopped his pacing and dropped into one of the leather chairs facing his cousin.

A cold chill raced up Darcy’s spine, making the hairs on his arms stand on end. He had been twelve years of age when his mother had died giving birth to Georgiana. Lady Catherine and her sickly daughter, Anne, had arrived in Derbyshire to attend Lady Anne during the last month of her confinement. She had taken charge of her sister, banishing both Darcy males from the mistress’s chambers as if the rooms were her own domain. Darcy had been forced to sneak into her private chambers to see his mother late at night. He would sit by her bedside, reading to her or simply gazing at the most important female of his acquaintance with love in his heart, grateful she was his mother and not his Aunt Catherine.

Richard’s father, Hugh Fitzwilliam, Lord Matlock, used to tell the boys scary stories when they camped outside in the woods surrounding Briarwood, the Matlock family estate. Typically, his eldest sister, Catherine de Bourgh, nee’ Fitzwilliam, was most often the evil villain, inspiring sheer terror in the pre-adolescent males. It appeared everyone other than George Darcy knew what she had always been, selfish and mean.

“Which explains why Aunt Catherine started pushing you and Anne together soon after your father died. What she failed in with one Darcy, she attempted to do with the other.” Each word from the colonel’s mouth dripped with disgust.

“Which will never happen. Anne is a younger version of her mother and I will not be manipulated into offering for her to retain guardianship of my sister.” Darcy stated matter-of-factly. “I would sooner marry the milkmaid than bring either viper into my home.”

“Then I suggest you chose the comeliest of the dairy workers because time is short.”

“Me?” Darcy slapped his large hands on the surface of the desk. “Why not you?”

“Ha!” Richard’s laugh was bitter. “Not only do I not have the inclination to marry, I do not have the circumstances.”

“If you are speaking of money, I could…” Darcy could not complete his offer before he was interrupted.

“Enough!” The colonel stood to resume his pacing, his countenance completely unsettled. When he stopped at the window overlooking the garden, his chin dropped to his chest as his shoulders drooped, a loud sigh coming from the depths of his soul. Without looking at Darcy, he spoke. “I received my orders this morning. I leave on the tides in fourteen days.”

“Where?” Darcy forgot to breathe.

“I will meet General Wellesley in Spain.” His voice was barely above a whisper.

Darcy wanted to both sob and crush the life of the military decision-makers in the palms of his hands. His cousin, Colonel Richard Malcolm Fitzwilliam, was the best man he knew. Working himself up through the ranks, rather than relying on his father to purchase his current position, he fought loyally alongside the lowest ranks, caring for the men under his command as if they were his own kin. He gave the same level of care to Georgiana, although it was much more tender than he showed anyone else.

The battles on the continent were fierce and the risk of losing his closest friend was real.

“Oh, Lord, no.” His chest hurt.

After a moment, Richard stood erect and turned back towards him.

“Yes, these are my orders. So, you see, I cannot bear the responsibility of finding a wife. Not even a milkmaid would have me with only a fortnight before I leave.” His chuckle reeked of bitterness.

“I am sorry, Richard.” Darcy could think of nothing else to say. This assignment was a heavy blow. He relied on his cousin for far more than sharing guardianship. After his father’s death, the colonel had been the only man who had sought Darcy’s advantage, not his own. He had offered sage advice and a listening ear, rather than grasping hands and manipulative schemes.

“Do not be. This is why I chose military life.” Richard smirked. “I mean, honestly, Darce. Could you see me preaching sermons or arguing law?”

“I have no difficulty at all seeing you arguing anything, cousin.” Darcy smiled. Just as Lady Catherine was a force to be reckoned with, so was Richard Fitzwilliam—although his approach to family was much gentler.

He would do nothing to discourage his cousin, so kept his desire to rage against these orders to himself.

“Thus, you will need to wed, and you will need to do it soon. The thought of having Georgie in Aunt Catherine’s hands is untenable. You will need to find someone who will care for you and my young cousin who is trustworthy and who will not judge your sister adversely for her actions this summer with Wickham.”

“Wickham!” Darcy hissed. The miscreant, who had grown up at Pemberley as the son of George Darcy’s steward, was a gambler and a rake. His attempts to convince innocent Georgiana Darcy to elope in order to gain her dowry of thirty-thousand-pounds to stave off loan collectors and live the life he aspired to, had been stopped cold when Darcy had arrived in Ramsgate a day earlier than expected. When Georgiana realized the rogue had played on the tender affections she held for her bother’s former playmate, it had almost broken her spirit to comprehend the destruction that could have been wrought had she acted on her desires.

When Richard grabbed for the sword he usually wore at his side, Darcy clearly understood they were in complete agreement as to what George Wickham’s fate would be had he been in the room. Neither would mourn as he drew his final breath.

The colonel growled, then looked directly at his cousin. “I could always ask Mother for a list of young females who she felt would qualify as your wife. Or, you could check with Bingley for those he deemed worthy of his love. Surely, he has a pile of rejected ‘angels’, one of whom might please you enough to take as a wife.”

Darcy scoffed. Charles Bingley’s ability to quickly fall in and out of love was legendary. In the two years since he left Cambridge, there had been nine young ladies who had been deemed worthy of his hand, only to find someone else more beautiful to capture his heart.

“He has a discerning eye, you have to admit,” Richard smirked.

“Where his eyes land, his heart soon follows.” Darcy found Bingley’s amiability appealing. However, his propensity to engage the attention of one lady after another was a character weakness he endeavored to caution his friend against. Increasing expectations without an offer of a courtship were unkind. Nevertheless, it was not maliciously done. Bingley’s intentions were noble.

Rubbing his hands over his face, Darcy harrumphed into the silence of the room. In the three hours since he had returned form the solicitor’s office, his mind had considered one option after another to resolve the current catastrophe.

“Cecily Hargrove.” The colonel blurted.

“Recently engaged to Lord Winston.”

“Millicent Blackmoore.”

“Suddenly removed from society almost four months ago whereupon no one has heard from the family since.” Darcy rolled his eyes. “If rumours are to be believed, it would seem we will not see her or her family in society again until after the babe is born and placed in some farmer’s household.”

“Mary Smythe?”

“Apparently, she has knowledge of only one topic of conversation—lace.”

Both men shuddered.

“Gillian Northcutt?”

“Her father approached me for a loan to provide her dowry, which he had gambled away, so I could marry her and be repaid my own money. Never! I easily refused him both the loan and his offer of his daughter.”

Richard threw his hands into the air. “Then, who?”

“I do not know, cousin.” Darcy ran his hands through his hair. “I have mentally reviewed every family of the first circles with an unattached daughter currently seeking a husband.”

“Were none agreeable?”


Richard shifted in his chair at the same time Darcy did in his.

“Then, you will need to look outside of London, which might be just the ticket.” Sliding up, he sat erect, grabbing the arms of the chair with his beefy hands. “Since you prefer the country, you would do well to find a country born and bred gentleman’s daughter who would love Pemberley as much as you do.”

“But, will she love me?” Darcy had not meant to speak his concerns aloud.

“Ah, now that is a sticky subject for consideration, Darce.” The colonel pondered before he spoke. “You know it to be a truth that there are few love matches in our society. Not even my own parents have deep affection in their marriage, although they appear to respect each other’s place in the home.” He shook his head. “No, I would not even begin to call it love.”

Darcy sighed, admitting defeat. “There is nothing for me in town, so I will leave in the morning for Hertfordshire. Bingley is leasing an estate and has asked for my help in making the adjustment to management.” Dropping his chin into the hand he had propped on his desk, he stared at a point behind his cousin’s shoulder, focusing on nothing but his future. “Despite loathing a country dance, he shared that there would be an assembly in the small town of Meryton. I should attend in hopes of meeting someone I could have beside me for the rest of my life.” Rolling his eyes at his own ridiculousness, he again looked at his cousin to find him doing l the same.

“There is always Caroline Bingley.” His cousin suggested.

“Bite your tongue!”


By the time the Darcy carriage pulled in front of Netherfield Park, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s frustration had reached its limit. His cousin, who had agreed to accompany him had, instead, been called to army headquarters and given a list of tasks that would eat away at his final weeks in England. Business matters had consumed his own hours to the point that he had to bring much of it with him as he would never leave matters undone. And, a heartbreaking missive had arrived from Georgiana that morning where her self-loathing for her actions that summer came through in every written word.

Wickham! How he hated that man. Why he had restrained Richard from running him through and ending his sorry life, he would never know. Had he only allowed his cousin free reign, they would never need to mention the name again, nor think upon the harm he had caused.

Determined to put such negative thoughts behind him, his eyes roamed across the landscape surrounding the large stone edifice sitting at the top of a rise. The soil looked rich and the crops soon to be harvested appeared healthy. A stand of trees behind the house had to have been planted within the past five and twenty years as their height did not yet tower over the back of the building. The prospect was good, and he was pleased his younger friend appeared to have made a wise decision despite taking but a few moments to do so.

The heavy wooden door opened at the front of the house before his carriage came to a complete stop. Bouncing out of the doorway was his host, the grin on his face welcoming him more than words. Immediately behind him was his unmarried sister, Caroline, a white handkerchief waving in the breeze. The predatory gleam in her eyes warned Darcy that she was still on the hunt for his fortune. He would need to be extraordinarily cautious to avoid whatever traps she hoped to use to ensnare him. She would never do for a wife. She scared Georgiana nearly as much as Aunt Catherine.

“We are happy to welcome you to Netherfield Park, my friend.” Charles Bingley pumped Darcy’s hand with his typical joyous enthusiasm.

Miss Bingley shouldered her way in front of her brother, her hand extended, her intentions clear.

Grateful his leather gloves were thickly padded with fleece as hers were covered with scant pieces of lace, he barely touched the tips of his fingers to hers as he bowed over her talons. “Miss Bingley.” He stopped far short of his lips touching her skin. He would save that privilege for the woman he would wed.

Cold crept up the nerves of his spine at the thought. A wife. Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mistress of Pemberley. He wanted to run his hands through his hair. Where on earth could he find a woman he could stand having beside him in so short a period of time.”

Bingley’s chattering interrupted his intentions. “…an angel…this evening’s assembly…the woman of my dreams.”

Again? Bingley had been in residence less than a se’nnight. How does the man fall in love so quickly?

“Mr. Darcy,” Miss Bingley purred like the feral cat she was. “My brother has a responsibility to the neighborhood. However, as hostess, my responsibility is to my guests. Therefore, I will gladly remain at Netherfield with you this evening, so you can avoid a gathering of provincials lacking the social mores you are used to in town society.”

“No!”  Darcy interjected. “I would never slight my friend’s hospitality by not attending.”

In truth, he despised large gatherings where he knew few in the room. He had not the gift for engaging in trite speech and rarely could catch the hidden meanings of someone he did not know well. Nevertheless, he would rather eat Hertfordshire soil for his next meal than spend an evening alone with Netherfield’s hostess. Much better for his own comfort would be soaking in a hot tub to wash the dust of the road off his person followed by an hour or two in private conversation with Bingley while sipping French brandy before a well-tended fireplace.

He harrumphed to himself. Instead, Parker, his valet, would scramble to have his dress clothes ready for tonight’s entertainment.

Darcy detested dancing with young ladies he did not know.

He despised how quickly rumors of his income would circle the gathering.

He loathed being the subject of attention.

But, he needed a wife and he needed her quickly. He must not lose sight of his reason for being in Hertfordshire.

NOTE: Chapter two is now up. Here’s the link: Letter of the Law – Chapter Two 

Black Wednesday??? Price Reduction

BLACK WEDNESDAY??? From today until December 5th, the price for my Christie Capps collection, (yes, all four books in one) has been reduced to $3.82. Why? Why not, I say.

Giveaway Time!

Today I received some Jane Austen ten-pound notes from a great friend in England. I’ve also been cleaning my office. What does this have to do with giving gifts? Oh my goodness! You can’t imagine how many treasures I’ve found. Pemberley t-shirts, Pride & Prejudice scarves, Jane Austen candles, tea, Pride & Prejudice peacock edition notebooks, journals, Jane Austen ink & pens…and the list goes on.

I’m going in for surgery this next week to get a new hip (I’m thrilled). After the recovery, I plan to box all the goodies up and send them off to individuals selected from my mailing list. Yes, I ship internationally.

This is EXCITING!!! (Are you signed up? If not, look to the right of this post for the link, please.)

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