Hi everyone! This little bit is about 1,100 words. It’s the beginning of one of the stories I tried to write recently, but got stuck on. It’s Regency. I’m not sure if I will continue it next week or share something else. We’ll have to see if my muse is willing to work with me further on it. 🙂
Fitzwilliam Darcy stood in Hyde Park, watching the ducks at the edge of the Serpentine. Outwardly, his figure was stiff, his mien severe. Inwardly, he was a lonely man.
Darcy had inherited his estate, Pemberley, at two and twenty years of age after the death of his father. In addition to the main estate, he inherited some smaller properties, a mine, and guardianship of his younger-by-twelve-years sister, Georgiana, in conjunction with his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. His father’s decline had been lingering, giving Darcy the chance to learn and become comfortable running the family holdings before they finally became his. He had spent his year in mourning in Derbyshire, the county where Pemberley was located, too grief stricken to contemplate leaving.
He and his father had been very close, and with Georgiana formed a tightly knit family. His mother died when Georgiana was a small child; she could not remember Lady Anne, though Darcy had vivid memories of her. Her death sudden death had cast a pall over the entire estate, and it was only his children that kept her husband engaged in life.
This past summer, just two months ago, Darcy sent Georgiana to Ramsgate with her recently-hired companion. Her sojourn there ended in near-disaster, for in collusion with the companion, Darcy’s childhood playmate convinced Georgiana he was in love with her and that they should elope. Thankfully, Darcy decided to visit his sister on a whim, and when she saw him, she confessed the whole scheme. Her despair when George Wickham confessed in front of her that his goal was her thirty-pound dowry was heartbreaking.
Even now, back in town with her brother and a new and more thoroughly investigated companion, his sister was plagued by melancholy and insecurity. She doubted herself and her ability to make good decisions. Mrs. Annesley, the companion, assured him that with time, Georgiana would return to herself again. He fervently hoped so; he missed his cheerful sister.
There were other reasons for his lonliness. Darcy wanted a wife. He wanted to marry and settle down. Visits to his club were nice, but did not fill the need in his soul. Balls and dinners, while a necessary part of the life of a member of high society such as he, left him wanting something else, something quieter. Never one to carouse, his evening entertainments did not include visits to brothels or mistresses, and so his physical needs remained just that—needs. He knew without experiencing it that relations with someone he was not in love with would leave him just as empty as everything else in his life did.
So, two years ago, he had begun the search for a wife. He danced, far more often than was to his liking, and conversed with more beautiful, and some not-so-beautiful, women than he had in his entire adult life. He found most of them charming to some degree. Some were more intelligent, others less so. Some more accomplished than others. And some were outright mercenary. More than once had he narrowly escaped a compromising situation. Overall, though, the experience had not been a bad one. He had met many women who would make a very good wife, and learned more about what he did and did not want to live with for the rest of this life. However, none of those ladies touched his heart. And that, he had come to realize, was paramount to his happiness.
Turning from his contemplation of the river, Darcy consulted his pocketwatch. Seeing that it was too early yet to return for tea, he sat on a nearby bench to watch the people sharing the park with him.
Almost immediately, he noticed a large group strolling the path. Making up the party was a gentleman, with a lady on his arm and two young ladies walking behind. In the back was a woman dressed in the uniform of a maid, escorting four small children. The couple at the beginning of the group he assumed to be husband and wife based on the way they interacted. He could only assume the children were theirs. Of the two younger ladies, one was a little taller than the other, and blonde and willowy. She was similar in looks to many of the gentlewomen he had been introduced to in the last two seasons—a classic English beauty. The other one was shorter, with dark hair and a curvier body. He wondered who they were.
As he observed them from his seat, the party stopped at a bench several feet from his. Not many minutes later, the oldest of the children were begging one of the young ladies to pay ball with him. She laughingly agreed. Darcy smiled to himself to hear her bargain with the young fellow.
“Yes, James, I shall play hoops with you if you promise to complete your lessons tomorrow with no complaining,” she teased.
Solemnly, the little boy, James replied, “I promise, Cousin Lizzy. I shall complete them all, even my music lessons.”
“Even your music lessons! Well, you must be desperate to play! Come, let us walk out to this large empty area. Can you carry the hoop?”
And so, out they went. Darcy was intrigued by the teasing tone of her voice and by how well she handled him. He wondered if she liked reading, and debating.
Afraid of being caught staring, he looked away from the pair playing, examining the blonde and the rest of the group, then looking the other way to see who might be walking the other paths. The next thing he knew, a wooden hoop had bounced off his foot and landed in his lap. Catching it without thought, he looked around to see the brunette and her cousin running toward him.
Arriving in front of his bench, the lady curtseyed and the little boy bowed.
“I apologize, sir. My young cousin here was not able to keep the hoop straight, as he should have. He is still learning, are you not,” she asked James as she ruffled his hair.
“Yes, ma’am.” Turning to the gentleman on the bench, he apologized, “I am sorry sir.”
Darcy smiled at the boy. He had risen at their arrival to his bench and now bowed to them. “All is well, young man. No one was harmed.” Turning to the girl, he was arrested by the sparkle of humor and intelligence in her eyes. “I am Fitzwilliam Darcy. May I ask to whom I am speaking?”
The young lady curtseyed again as she gave him her name. “Elizabeth Bennet, and this is Master James Gardiner. Thank you for being so kind to my cousin.”
“’Twas nothing. These things happen, you know, when one plays with hoops. They are not easily controlled.”
Copyright 2017 by the author
As always, I eagerly await your thoughts! Love it? Hate it?