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What if he apologized at that ball?
What if they rubbed along for a while until Lizzy’s pride and temper got in the way?
And what if Wickham falls in love for the first time in his profligate life? What will he do, and how will he react when the young woman doesn’t return his feelings?
Pride and Prejudice: Darcy Chooses, the first novel in the Darcy and Elizabeth Series – has amusing moments, plenty of angst and family interference that mimic that found in the original Pride and Prejudice. Follow along with the highs and lows of one of the most romantic couples of all fiction history. And, please remember that reaching the destination is only part of the story. The journey along the way can be just as much fun and as exciting.
“Caroline, I don’t care if you want to be fashionably late or not. You need to hurry up as we are already late about a quarter hour,” Bingley shouted. He was eager to get to the assembly and was looking forward to meeting new people, especially some of the pretty women that he had heard lived in the area. Caroline was not trying to be fashionably late; she wished to be the center of attention from all the other attendees. Being late allowed that to happen, and Charles Bingley realized that Caroline would get her wish.
Bingley, Darcy and the Hursts had been waiting for several minutes when Caroline deigned to appear. She wore the latest fashionable gown, but the orange color clashed a bit with her red hair. Caroline was oblivious to that fact and came down the stairs with a superior expression on her face and ostrich feathers in her hair matching the color of her gown.
“At last,” remarked Bingley hustling them into the carriage. Caroline just smiled because she knew that all of them would receive the attention she felt that they deserved this evening.
All the party realized that they were probably the last attendees to arrive as no other carriages were behind them. Each of the party descended from the carriage and proceeded up the steps to the assembly room.
“Louisa, the place even has an odor to it,” whispered Caroline to her sister with a sneer and wrinkling her nose. Louisa refrained from answering, gave her cape to the footman and took her husband’s arm. When all had divested themselves of coats and capes, they stood in the entrance to the assembly room. Although, a dance was in full swing, when their party appeared, the band ceased playing and the dancers stopped dancing. And everyone stared. Caroline was pleased and gave one and all a haughty stare as they proceeded into the room with Mr. Darcy in the lead. It was no matter to her if her dress was too fancy for a local assembly; she wanted to make sure that she outshone all of the other attendees, most especially, the women.
The other attendees were not sure what to make of the party. The tall man in the lead had a harsh demeanor, the handsome young man behind him had a smile from ear to ear, the ladies looked very haughty and the man with one of the women just looked bored. A pin could have dropped and been heard from one end of the room to the other. Then, the musicians and the dancers picked up from where they left off and conversation continued as if nothing extraordinary had happened.
Darcy was mortified as he picked up bits and pieces of conversation. “The man with the smile…£5,000 per anum.” “£10,000…the tall, proud man.” “The ladies gowns…height of London fashion don’t you know.” “Let Netherfield…Bingley.” The only satisfaction Darcy had was that gossip had his annual income incorrect. It was much more than £10,000, but he would not disabuse them of that fact. He kept his mask of disdain in place. It was going to be a long, unpleasant evening.
Recently knighted, Sir William Lucas came up to welcome Bingley’s party and begin introductions to some of the other residents. The crowd was larger than usual, for the spring and fall assemblies drew in others from further away. This meant that room to maneuver in the throng was at a minimum. After some of the introductions, Darcy, in no mood to try and converse with people he was not acquainted with, moved to stand at a wall. Caroline and the Hursts came to join him. Bingley appreciated Sir Lucas’ offer of introductions and was more than willing to meet more in the area and realized that he was very willing to meet the blond beauty standing in front of him.
“Mr. Bingley,” began Sir William, “this is Mrs. Bennett and two of her daughters, Miss Bennet and Miss Mary Bennet. Mrs. Thomas Bennet, Miss Jane Bennet and Miss Mary, this is Mr. Charles Bingley, new to our neighbourhood and has let Netherfield Manor.”
Bingley bowed to the ladies with a big smile on his face, and the ladies curtsied to him. Bingley and Miss Bennett had smiles and a light blush on both faces. Bingley didn’t realize it but Miss Bennet was to become more than just an acquaintance to him very soon.
“Miss Bennet, my apologies for my party’s late arrival. It is my hope that your dance card is not yet full. Would it be possible for me to ask for the next dance?” Miss Bennet noted Bingley’s dismay when she said the next dance was taken but let him down gently when she mentioned that the one after was available. “May I have that dance, Miss Bennet?”
“Yes, you may,” said Jane with a smile.
Elizabeth, who studied people and their actions and reactions, observed with curiosity, from across the room, the exchange between Mr. Bingley and her sister Jane. Her beautiful sister had many admirers, and although she enjoyed the company of some, showed no partiality to one individual. Perhaps Jane will find in Mr. Bingley the man she could develop a tendre for? I need to pay attention to both of them and know what happens. Elizabeth smiled to herself as she wished for Jane to find affection with the man she married. Elizabeth wanted her to find a true love match and to be happy. Would the future be kind to her loving sister?
Caroline kept hinting at Darcy to ask her to dance, but Darcy was in no mood. The harsh reality he knew was that he would dance with her before the evening ended, although he dreaded it because he was assured of Caroline’s subdued insults for all attending the assembly. She kept sneering at the “country bumpkins in all their finery” and all the eager mamas and their daughters gossiping about the prospects of the young men and women. And then, Darcy thought about the Bennet family. The eldest daughter was a beauty and comported herself well, but her mother was a loud, obnoxious woman who kept referring to his and Bingley’s incomes. He had also noted that the two younger Bennet sisters were acting like hoydens, noisy and unrestrained in their actions and speech with no sign of dismay from their mother. The middle Bennet sister had played the pianoforte but had no talent for it. He understood that there were five daughters, but he had yet to see the fifth sister. He was disgusted at what he had seen of the Bennet family so far. Apparently, the father was not interested enough to even come to the assembly. Darcy’s proud disdain was apparent to all attending the dance.
Later in the evening Bingley approached him and said, “Darcy, I would have you dance. Why are you standing around in this stupid manner? You must dance.”
Darcy closed his eyes for a second, then informed Bingley that he had no intention of dancing this night and not to press him on the matter.
“Darcy, there are any number of pretty girls here tonight. There are more girls than men, and you should not be standing here idle.”
“Bingley, I have no desire to dance with someone that I am unacquainted with or who has been slighted by other men.” At this comment, Elizabeth, who was sitting down behind them and letting some of the other girls have a chance to dance, pricked up her ears to hear what would be said next.
“You have danced only with Louisa, and you need to let the families here know that we are friendly and wish to know others in the neighbourhood. Behind you is Elizabeth Bennet, a dark-haired beauty you should ask to dance.”
Darcy glanced behind him and turned back to Bingley to inform him that he did not feel friendly this night, he saw only those who were tolerable but no one to tempt him. Two seconds later, he felt as if Windstorm had kicked him in the stomach. BENNET! ELIZABETH BENNET! My God, she is here. The girl in my dreams and from the accident is here, and I just insulted her. Why is she here? What am I to do?
Elizabeth did not know that Mr. Darcy was part of the Netherfield party as she had been repairing her torn hem, at the beginning of the assembly, because someone stepped on it. Her jaw dropped when she saw him and realized that the man who had helped at the accident and had been appearing in her dreams was here. Mr. Darcy was here, and she did not know what to do. Then she heard his comment about her being only tolerable. A crease appeared between her eyebrows, her mouth pursed in anger and, then she laughed.
Darcy startled when she laughed and then was mortified when he realized that she had overheard his rude remark. He wiped his hand down his face, excused himself from Bingley’s presence and approached Elizabeth.