Picture copyright Francine Howarth
Just occasionally wicked stories come to mind, and with the plethora of Jane Austen Fan Fiction novels, in particular those associated with Pride & Prejudice. Subsequently, all those spin-off novels - or if you prefer follow-on P&P novels, all rather sweet in context, the wicked devil in me couldn't help but wonder who Darcy may have flirted with before he met Elizabeth. Thus, what of the dire consequences of one long-lasting friendship, or could it be more?
Below I give you a taste of the story that unfolded, and there is a fair bit of mystery attached to it, and for any reader who has read my Georgian or Regency murder mysteries, will know nothing is as it seems. Thus, when Elizabeth becomes suspicious of Darcy riding out with some regularity, and irregularity in another quarter, namely the bedchamber, she happens upon a letter, and although momentarily shocked and uncertain in what to do, she garners strength from letters back and forth between her sister, Jane, and duly sets out to discover where Darcy goes and who he is meeting in clandestine manner. Oh lordy!
Two days at Pemberley with his new bride, the rigours of marital obligations had taken its toll on Darcy. His ability to concentrate on estate matters so sorely neglected for several weeks, were quite overshadowed by the delights of Elizabeth in his bed. ‘Twas, as he reflected, the natural consequence of marriage and the ever unencumbered delight of indulging carnal pleasures at will. Whilst it was true to say life at Pemberley would be wholly different than prior unfettered existence, timely observance of his wife’s needs would ensure against misapprehensions, would it not? Heaven forefend worst case scenario involving cataclysmic personality clashes would occur, for the very thought set him on edge. There was no doubting he had indeed married a firebrand of sharp wit and clever retort in tongue, and to a great extent, affronted by the arrogance of the inner man, why then had she sought to wed him? What was done could not be undone, and marriage was no excuse for ignoring the wont of a third party, or that person’s unstinting loyalty. Thus, having excused self from his wife’s company, he hastened to his private study, a little prick of conscience causing him to unlock a drawer in the desk and peruse a copy of his last letter dispatched to Farthingly.
I shall endeavour to pay visit as soon as can be set in place, and explain more. It is with sincere regret I have to inform you wedlock to a Miss Bennet has transpired. How talk of marriage arose remains somewhat as baffling as my stupidity in frequenting Longbourn in company with Bingley. Damnation –as one would say in person– for my impeccable hide is finally besmirched by insanity. The sheer joy of walking out in company with others, I had avowed to self as the safest measure in likelihood of compromise for the ladies. No onlooker could surmise the devil’s hand at play. Why then did I dawdle in pace and indulge in one young lady’s fanciful notions, my own vague utterances thence part taken out of context? I shall not mince words, for that damnable Wickham is the cause of my present dilemma. If you will forgive me for this rant I shall bear your scorn with fortitude when next I am able to attend upon you at Farthingly. Alas, I am now looked upon as akin to a ridiculous gallant of old from within Morte de Arthur, or some such nonsense tale. What can I say in despairing of this situation from which there is no escape? Dash it all, for now committed to a Miss Bennet, it is unconscionable for a gentleman to renege on betrothal. To say I barely recognised the juncture whereby it was presumed I had offered for Elizabeth, and so rapidly announced to all and sundry afterwards, I trust you will understand marriage will in no way curtail my visits to Farthingly. Be assured, the love we share will be no lesser than the past four years of indulging Bonnie at every given opportunity. After all said and done, Farthingly is but a short ride from Pemberley.
With sincere affections,
Secreting the letter once again to the locked drawer, he then rifled through a stack of letters awaiting perusal, and there, as hoped, a reply from Belle. With speed he unlatched the wafer and there to his consummate pleasure was:
My dearest Fitz,
How could you think I would be other than forgiving, albeit informed of your betrothal after the event? Whilst marriage has always been a rather contentious issue, for you, I never expected otherwise. It is the way of life and to continue as a bachelor when you have Pemberley; and as your aunt proclaimed on several occasions– you are sorely in need of an heir. So dearest man, aside from any sense of immediate guilt that may arise as you settle to your new life, you will embrace the new found existence with a deal of familiarity in no time at all, and on occasion utter despair when things go awry as they do in marriages. It is expected your wife and events will curtail planned excursions without notice, thus I shall miss your company dreadfully on those days though never to the extent of making life difficult for you. Should I ever have cause to send for you in haste, I shall dispatch a stable hand with a perfectly innocent errand of seeking your advice on a matter of equine interest at Farthingly. Whilst responsibility for Bonnie rests solely upon my shoulders, and at four years she is quite the handful, I am much in admiration of your generous allowance for all her needs. There is no cause to prevaricate on the bond we both share from the day she was born. It exists, and will in the years to come deepen, I feel sure. Love the magnitude of which you bestow upon her gladdens my heart, for with each day that cometh she ceases to amaze me with her beauty. Evidence of her sire is apparent from the moment of setting eyes upon her, as our mutual acquaintances oft remark with knowing nods from the gentlemen, and much fluttering of fans by the ladies. So my dearest Fitz, I shall bid a fond adieu until next I see you.
Your affectionate confidante,
OK ladies and Gents, there is more, but should I finish the novel, or do you think it will garner hate mail?