Tidbit Tuesday ~ Did we just hear Wickham choke?

Today's excerpt is from my Work In Progress - The Wager.


The officers of the ___shire Militia, also in attendance, presented themselves in a favorable light with polite manners and gentlemanlike behavior. Not much time had passed before Mr. Wickham, a handsome, congenial man to whom almost every female eye was turned, asked for introductions to the ladies of Longbourn and immediately fell into an agreeable conversation with them. Elizabeth was not surprised by this request, nor when the gentleman’s attention became more focused on her eldest sister. Jane’s beauty was a beacon of light that called many to make her acquaintance, but few withstood the pointed questions the sisters had learned to ask in order to determine if a gentleman was worth their attention.

The first thing Elizabeth determined was that flattery, coupled with a winsome smile, was Mr. Wickham’s secret weapon. She surmised even the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the speaker's skill.

How many young girls have fallen for your charm? she wondered. An elevated brow directed toward her eldest sister, who returned her silent query with a slight, elegant shrug of her shoulder, told Elizabeth that Jane was also leery of the officer.

Barely any time had passed before Elizabeth tired of his prattle and decided to begin what she and Jane jokingly called The Inquisition. Over the next quarter hour, they discovered his father had been a steward of a vast estate in Derbyshire, and the master of that same estate was also his godfather. What surprised them most was learning Mr. Wickham’s godfather had ensured his godson received a gentleman’s education, sending him to the best private schools, including Cambridge alongside his own son. More questioning revealed the dapper officer had, for a brief time, entertained the thought of being a barrister.

“I found the law was not to my liking,” Wickham said in a firm voice. “I am an active person and could not bear the thought of being tied to a desk for all hours of the day.”

“Forgive me for being indelicate, but given the great education you received, what enticed you to join the militia at this stage of your life?” Elizabeth asked when he paused for breath.

“It was the prospect of constant and good society which was my chief inducement,’’ he began. “I knew it to be a most respectable, agreeable corps, and my friend Denny tempted me farther by his account of their present quarters, and the very great attentions and excellent acquaintance Meryton had procured them.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jane said in her calm, serene manner. “On behalf of the citizens of Meryton, we hope you will enjoy our society, small and unvaried as it may seem.”

Elizabeth inherently knew her sister referred to Mr. Bingley’s sister’s lamentations of lack of good company in Hertfordshire. 

“Society, I own, is necessary to me. A military life is not what I was intended for, but circumstances have now made it eligible. The church ought to have been my profession. I was brought up for the church, and should at this time have been in possession of a most valuable living, had it pleased the son of my deceased godfather.’’


“Yes, the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presentation of the best living in his gift. He was my godfather, and excessively attached to me. I cannot do justice to his kindness. He meant to provide for me amply, and thought he had done it; but when the living fell, it was given elsewhere.”

Both Elizabeth’s and Jane’s eyes widened at his mentioning the name of Darcy, but Mr. Wickham did not notice as his attention became riveted on some guests who entered the room. His face paled and Elizabeth turned to see who had generated such a response to find herself looking directly at Mr. Darcy, whose own face was flushed an angry red.

Wickham turned to face the sisters. His eyes flicked every which way, as though looking for an escape, his upper lip dotted with a thin sheen of perspiration.

“Pray, excuse me. I must find my friend Denny and make plans for tomorrow’s drill exercise.”

Elizabeth shot out her hand and latched onto Mr. Wickham’s left arm, forestalling his exit.

“May I assume your godfather’s son is none other than Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy?”


Wickham attempted to slither from her grip but she held firm.

“Well then, how fortuitous that we are here with you now, in front of all these guests.”

“How so?” Wickham asked, shuffling as though to hide behind her because Darcy was bearing down on them with the speed of a violent summer storm.

“We must decry your terrible treatment and have Mr. Darcy fulfill his father’s dearest wish.” Elizabeth tightened her hold. “If nothing else, he must give you the pecuniary value of the living. It is only right and just.”

“That is not necessary, Miss Elizabeth. I have learned to forgive and forget.”

By this time, Darcy had reached them. He towered over Wickham, his fists clenching and unclenching. He was – Elizabeth thought with a small frisson of awareness – quite magnificent.

“I invite you to join me outside, Wickham.”

“I am here with my compatriots, Darcy. I have no need to leave the party at this juncture.”

Elizabeth dared to engage the glowering bear.

“We are so glad you arrived when you did, Mr. Darcy,” she began.

“You are?” he asked without once removing his gaze from Wickham.

“Most assuredly, for Mr. Wickham shared with us how he was unjustly kept from receiving a living your father, his godfather, had promised to him.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. He was very clear in most details when telling us his version of events.”

Upon hearing the inflections in Elizabeth’s voice, Darcy cut her a quick glance. She was able to wink with either eye and as one side of her face was concealed from Mr. Wickham, she used the left eye to do that very service. Mayhap it was her imagination, but she thought Mr. Darcy’s shoulders physically relaxed. By this time, the viscount and Bingley had joined them.

“Did you inform these fine ladies that in lieu of the living, you asked for and received three thousand pounds, on top of the one thousand pounds settled on you by my father at the time of his death?” Darcy asked, his voice as hard as peaks of Derbyshire.

“You arrived before I had a chance to share that part of history.”

“To be fair,” Elizabeth interjected, the imp of mischief settled firmly on her shoulders. “Mr. Wickham did inform us he had been brought up for the church and having received a Cambridge education I am certain he must have used those funds toward receiving holy orders.”

“I truly must leave. I see my fellow officers waving me over.”

Elizabeth released her hold and Wickham tugged down his new red tunic before giving all of them a polite half-bow. He turned to leave but halted midstride when Mr. Darcy spoke again.

“I shall give your regards to my cousin when I write him tonight,” Darcy said, his tone almost conversational. “Richard is most anxious to make your reacquaintance. You should know he was exceedingly upset that we had just missed you by a few days this past summer.”

Elizabeth thought Mr. Wickham was about to faint, and found it very interesting that the gentleman bypassed all his fellow officers and fled the house completely without saying farewell to anyone.


Snippet Sunday ~ Twin Tentacles of Doom


Sometimes when writing, I surprise myself. In writing this next scene, little did I know I was about to gift the Bingley sisters with a new moniker to proclaim as their own. This snippet is from my Work In Progress, The Wager.


“I understand you have family here in Meryton, Miss Hamilton.”

“I do,” Jane replied. “My mother’s sister is married to Mr. Phillips.”

“How lovely, and is Mr. Phillips busy with his little shop?” Miss Bingley asked before raising her fingers to hide a smile.

“My uncle is an attorney. He is the one who negotiated the lease your brother signed to rent Netherfield Park.”

Miss Bingley pursed her lips at being reminded they did not own the estate where she rested her head at night but rented it from another. Regardless of this annoyance, she continued with her line of questioning, solidifying Elizabeth’s belief she had a nefarious purpose for the unexpected invitation to tea.

“Does this same uncle have his own estate?”

“His eldest brother inherited the family estate in Surrey.”

“Our dear Uncle Phillips is a second son,” Elizabeth interjected, not wanting Jane to reveal their beloved uncle’s father was a baron. “He chose to follow the law instead of taking orders, which brought him to our corner of Hertfordshire.”

“A choice Aunt Martha is very glad of,” Mary added before she took a small bite of her cake.

“Your other uncle,” Caroline continued as though neither Elizabeth nor Mary had spoken. “He is in trade, yes?”

Jane nodded in the affirmative.

“Our uncle is very successful. He and his wife live in London.”

“In Cheapside, I heard.”

“Near Cheapside, on Gracechurch Street.”

“I imagine he lives there in order to keep a watchful eye on his property,” Miss Bingley tittered and slid a sly glance toward Mrs. Hurst.

Elizabeth’s anger began to simmer. What was supposed to be a pleasant tea had turned into an inquisition where the perpetrator believed she had all the answers and only wished to humiliate her guests.

“Speaking of property, remind me again Miss Bingley,” Elizabeth began with false sweetness. “In which county we can find your father’s estate?”

She would have gone further, but Jane laid a warning hand on her forearm.

“Enough, Lizzy,” she said in a soft undertone.

An odd sound came from Mary and both turned their attention toward her.

“Jane,” she said in a small voice. “I do not feel well.”

Mary then doubled over and struck her head hard enough on the floor to render her unconscious. Both Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst emitted tiny screams.

“Miss Bingley, is there any fish in these cakes?” Jane demanded as she hurried to Mary’s side, gently lifting her sister’s head to rest on her lap.

“How would I know?”

“Please find out if there was.”

Miss Bingley continued to gape and cast panicked glances toward her eldest sister. Mrs. Hurst seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation and hurried to the bell pull. Only when a footman stepped into the room did Miss Bingley snap out of her stupor.

“You there,” she demanded and pointed at the footmen. “Have Mrs. Nickers attend us and send a maid to ask the cook what was in the cakes she sent up for our tea.”

The footman cast a quick glance at Mary lying on Jane's lap before hurrying from the room. Elizabeth heard Mrs. Hurst murmur to her sister, “Her name is Mrs. Nicholls.”

“Oh, who cares. She is just a housekeeper.”

At that moment, the butler entered the room. Most likely to investigate why some of the ladies had screamed.

“What may I do to help, Ma’am,” he queried, addressing Jane, not Miss Bingley.

“Send Jeremy for Mr. Jones, he is the fastest rider of all the footmen. Tell him Miss Bennet is having one of her reactions and we need him post haste.” The butler turned to do her bidding, stopping when Jane called out again. “Cardston, after that, please find Mrs. Nicholls and tell her I need water for drinking as well as to wipe Mary’s face, it will help cool and relax her.”

Cardston withdrew to do her bidding, completely ignoring the gaping mouth of his temporary mistress.

“Who do you think you are, to order about our servants as if they are your own?” Miss Bingley demanded. “It is not as though your sister is dying.”

Jane’s eyes flashed with anger upon hearing such a callous comment. Elizabeth was not at all surprised by her sister’s reaction. She and Jane could and did withstand the barbs and insults of ignorant people, but woe betide the person who attacked her family. Fortunately, for Miss Bingley, Mary stirred and her eyes fluttered.

“Relax, dearest,” Jane soothed as she gently stroked her sister’s cheek. “You hit your head on the floor and were rendered unconscious.”

“Jane…” Whatever it was that Mary wished to say would never be known because she promptly rolled to her side and vomited onto the carpet.

The outraged gasps of Miss Bingley would sustain Elizabeth for days, but only after her sister recovered. Any further outbursts were stymied by the arrival of Mrs. Nicholls, who bustled into the room with a couple of maids, bringing water and clean rags.

“Thank you, Mrs. Nicholls,” Jane said, overriding any comment Miss Bingley or Mrs. Hurst may have made. “Prepare the green guest room for Mary and have Cardston direct Mr. Jones there when he arrives.”

“Right away, La−, Miss Hamilton.”

“Who are you to give orders to my servants?”

“I have neither the time nor the inclination to answer your questions, Miss Bingley.” Jane caressed Mary’s brow with tender affection. “My sister’s recovery is my only priority.”

Although she wished to lend comment, Elizabeth stayed quiet. This was Jane’s fight, not hers. Two hours later, an exhausted Mary lay sleeping in one of the guest rooms after a thorough examination by Mr. Jones. Fortunately, she had only taken a bite of one small cake.

“Will she be able to come home tomorrow, Mr. Jones?” Jane asked, her attention riveted to the still form of her sister lying in the bed. Elizabeth sat by the side of the bed, holding Mary’s hand in hers.

“Miss Hamilton, your sister has suffered one of her Idiosyncrasy’s. It is as I told you when she had her last spasmodic symptom, her body reacts in a different manner to some foods. The last time it was lobster. Do we know what she ingested today?”

“Miss Bingley learned some of the cakes had crab in them,” Elizabeth offered in reply.

“Ahh…this is good to know. It seems Miss Bennet must avoid ingesting any type of fish.” Mr. Jones paused, as if in deep thought. “Has she ever reacted to lake trout?”

“Not that I am aware of,” Jane said. “We have trout regularly during the summer months. My Uncle Gardiner is an avid angler and loves to fish our stream, allowing us to enjoy the spoils of his labor.”

“Fascinating. It seems Miss Bennet only reacts to oceanic species of shellfish,” Mr. Jones murmured. “I will write one of my friends in Town and see if he has any further insight into these types of maladies.”

“So, Mary can come home tomorrow?” Jane asked.

“As far as her reaction to food, she is fine. However, she struck her head quite hard, which is the reason she became violently ill. She must rest quietly, and it is imperative she is awakened every four hours.”

“I shall stay with her, Jane,” Elizabeth offered.

“Are you certain?”

“After your little dust-up with Miss Bingley, I believe a strategic retreat is called for you to regroup your serenity.”

Once Mary rested quietly, the remaining sisters returned to the drawing room. Jane to say her goodbyes to Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, and Elizabeth to see her safely off and confer with their hostess about what Mr. Jones had requested regarding food and drink for Mary. The doors to the drawing room remained partially open and the strident tones of Miss Bingley clearly carried into the hall.

“What did Miss Hamilton mean? Ordering our servants around like this was her own home. I declare those Bennet sisters are the main reason I wish to quit this horrible place.”

Quick footsteps could be heard and a low murmur from Mrs. Hurst.

“I do not care, Louisa. They are below us, practically dirt farmers with two impoverished step-daughters and their estate entailed away. We must get Charles away from Miss Hamilton. She will drag him down into the mud with her and ruin my chances of making a successful marriage.”

Elizabeth not only felt Jane stiffen but saw her draw back her shoulders.

“Do nothing you will regret later, Jane,” she cautioned. “Words may pierce our pride and sting our memories but they cannot change who we are and the life we will lead once Trenton comes home.”

“While our lives will alter when our brother returns in a few short weeks, I am tired of the snide remarks and underhanded comments that perpetually spring forth from Mr. Bingley’s sisters.” Jane turned cerulean blue eyes toward her sister and smiled wide enough to crinkle their corners. “I believe it is time for those two ladies to be schooled in proper etiquette.”

“As you know, there is no love lost between Miss Bingley and me, and in most circumstances, I would wholeheartedly agree, but – think on this – if you reveal our rank, are you prepared for that woman and her sister to grovel and toady for your attention.”

“Now that I am aware of their true sentiments, I have no desire to acknowledge them in any form.” She paused and her expression turned thoughtful. “Unless I continue to accept Mr. Bingley’s attentions.”

“Is his affection worth the twin tentacles of doom waiting for us in the next room?”

“I confess I am uncertain.” Jane took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I suppose we shall find out over the next few weeks.”

Snippet Sunday ~ I hope you choose the liquid punch

During this banter, Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary continued to the main drawingroom, quickly finding Charlotte, and joining her to catch up on all the latest news from Meryton. They had barely taken their seats when Mr. Bingley and Viscount Ashton joined them.

Jane had been uniformly silent about her two beaux. The viscount usually made an appearance at Longbourn in the morning, often joining them for breakfast. Mr. Bingley attended whenever anyone from Netherfield came for tea. It was during these visits Mr. Darcy also came tither and politely sat with Elizabeth, much to Miss Bingley’s chagrin.

Her musings were interrupted by a gasp from Jane, who laughed softly and tapped the viscount sharply on his forearm with her fan. The embers of Elizabeth’s sense of humor were stoked as she watched Mr. Bingley come to a slow realization his hunting field hosted another predator. Mr. Darcy showed no reaction, solidifying Elizabeth’s belief he was fully aware his cousin had been beating a path to Longbourn’s door.

She wondered why he did not join the viscount. Surely, if Viscount Ashton could lay claim to a familial connection – the reason he gave for his first surprising arrival just as they sat down to breakfast – then so could Mr. Darcy. He was as much a part of her father’s family as the viscount. His great-aunt, Lady Minerva Fitzwilliam-Hamilton, was her and Jane’s grandmother.

Awareness shivered across the back of her neck and she slowly turned to find the gaze of Mr. Darcy resting on their group. It would be foolhardy to imagine his attention was focused solely on her, even though he intimated as much at the assembly. Perhaps he was bored and she and Jane, along with the viscount, were the only people of rank he felt he could associate with.

Her brow furrowed.

That line of reasoning did not hold water as the taciturn gentleman was a good friend to Mr. Bingley. Granted, Mr. Bingley was very wealthy, but still… his roots were deep in trade. Her inner conflict was put into abeyance when Mr. Darcy joined them.

“Good evening, Miss Hamilton, Miss Elizabeth.”

“Good evening, Mr. Darcy,” she and Jane said in perfect unison.

Mr. Darcy turned to Mary.

“Pardon me, Miss Bennet. I did not see you. My cousin blocked you from my view.” He gave her a polite half-bow. “Good evening to you, Miss Bennet.”

Mary smiled in her own shy way and returned the greeting before saying, “I am going to ask Charlotte if she minds me playing some music in the background before we dine.”

“That would be lovely,” Elizabeth enthused. “I do hope you play the piece you have been working on this week.”

Mary ducked her head at her sister’s praise.

“I am not prepared to play that piece in public. Mayhap on our next gathering.”

“You enjoy playing the pianoforte, Miss Bennet?” Mr. Darcy asked.

“I do.”

“My sister, Georgiana, also loves to play that instrument. Have you had any instruction from one of the masters?”

“Papa invited Senor Giovanni to Longbourn last Autumn. He came for a few weeks to assess my ability and then I stayed with our aunt and uncle in town to further my instruction from him.”

Mr. Darcy’s eyebrows rose upon hearing the name of Mary’s music master.

“Senor Giovanni? My sister has longed to be tutored by him. You must have a rare talent, Miss Bennet. He is very particular in his choice of students.”

“I am aware and very humbled. He inspires me to work hard.”

“And, her diligence has benefited us,” Elizabeth added. “Our family is treated to a concerto nearly every day.”

“I must make an effort to attend one of these impromptu musicales,” Mr. Darcy teased, never removing his gaze from Elizabeth.

She blinked and lowered her eyes to study the pattern of Lady Lucas’s rug. Confused by his sometimes cold then sometimes warm manners, she decided to take each day as it presented itself and look no further. Today saw a congenial Darcy at her side. Tomorrow he may revert to the gentleman who had no time, nor patience for the citizens of Meryton.

It was exasperating, these attempts to discern his moods. She was beginning to believe it easier when she thoroughly disliked him. Black and white. No gray areas to blur the lines, especially when he smiled, as he was at this very moment.

Vexing man!

Then…, with the smallest of touches, his hand brushed hers. Her startled gaze flew to his face, surprised to notice his full attention seemed to be focused completely on Jane and Mr. Bingley. Had she imagined the feather-like graze of his fingers? She, too, turned her attention to their small group when the back of her hand was brushed again. Immediately, she looked down and caught him ‘red-handed,’ so to speak.

With a subtle flick of her wrist, she took her fan and tapped him smartly on the fingers, while clearing her throat at the same time so no one would hear the soft ‘whack’ of her fan.

“Miss Elizabeth,” Mr. Darcy said, not missing a beat. “Would you care for a glass of punch?”

She leveled a stern look, reminiscent of her first governess in his direction. He had the grace to gift her a small smile, confirming he was very aware of his flirtatious behavior.

“A glass of punch would be welcome. Thank you.”

“Allow me to escort you to the refreshment table. Then you may choose which punch you prefer.” As they walked away, her hand lightly resting on his forearm, he said in a low voice only she could hear. “I hope you choose the liquid punch and not a solid left hook to my jaw.”

She could not help herself; she laughed out loud. What was she to do with this most frustrating man?


Tidbit Tuesday - You require watching

 From my current Work in Progress ~ The Wager

Lydia leaped to her feet, grabbed Maria Lucas by the hand and tugged her out of the room, followed by a giggling Kitty.

“Your Lydia is so full of energy, Mrs. Bennet.”

“She is. Mr. Bennet and I have found a good school for her and Kitty. There just isn’t enough here to keep her occupied and we all know the wicked one will find work for idle hands.”

“Your Lydia would not do anything bad.”

“Not intentionally,” Mamma said before taking a sip of her tea. “But, with the expectation of the ____shire militia quartering here in Meryton, I am not willing to place her in the way of temptation. She is at that age where she will see romance in everything, even if a gentleman sneezes, she will think it is because he is trying to gain her attention.”

“I think we all were silly when we were younger,” Lady Lucas said then smiled wide. “Do you remember when Mr. Goodman’s nephew came to visit when we were about five and ten?”

“I do. I very nearly died when he smiled at me at church.”

Elizabeth and Jane looked at one another with wide eyes. They had never heard Mamma reminisce about anything before she had wed their father. At times, they forgot their mother had been a young girl whose heart fluttered upon seeing a handsome man, or boy.

“But no one was more handsome than Colonel… oh dear, what was his name?” Lady Lucas asked her longtime friend. “He rode in front of his men when the militia came to town the following year.”

“Colonel Miller.”

“Yes, Colonel Miller.” Lady Lucas closed her eyes and sighed deeply. “He sat his horse very well. Very well, indeed.”

She cracked open her eye and looked at Mamma, who blushed slightly before they both laughed heartily.

“Martha Whitby Lucas, you are a naughty woman.” Mamma cut a quick glance toward her three daughters who watched, their mouths slightly agape. “We were young girls who thought all officers were handsome and charming and Colonel Miller was everything a gentleman and an officer ought to be.”

“Sadly,” Lady Lucas brought pulled out a handkerchief, and pretended to wipe away a tear, “He was happily married and broke our tender hearts.”

“My heart was not too broken, as Mr. Hamilton had just arrived at Longbourn and soon, all I saw was him.”

“That is true. He was a lovely man and now you are blessed with another wonderful man. Mr. Bennet still thinks the sun and moon revolve around your whims and fancies.”

‘He is a good man, and I love him dearly.”

“I am glad to hear that, my dear,” Papa said upon entering the room, the Netherfield party following behind. “I am too old to find this Colonel Miller and challenge him to a duel.”

“Oh, Mr. Bennet!” Mamma said with a gasp. “You will make our guests think you are a terrible rogue with talk like that.”

“No, they will think I am a man who still finds his wife pretty enough to protect from other rakes and scoundrels.” Papa kissed her on the cheek and then turned to look at the male guests from Netherfield. “You have been warned, gentlemen. Mrs. Bennet is my lady fair.”

To Elizabeth’s surprise, it was Mr. Darcy who responded.

“I concede the field to you, sir.”

“You require watching, I think,” Papa mused out loud. “Do you play chess, Mr. Darcy?”

“I do.”

“Come tomorrow and we shall enjoy a game of strategy.”

“Shall we also play chess?”

Papa laughed outright.

“Oh yes, you definitely require watching.” Papa turned to Mary. “Will you ask Hill to bring in some more tea? I am certain Mr. Bingley and his guests would enjoy that new blend your uncle from town sent us last week.”

Deleted Scene ~ We did a very bad thing

If you have read Longbourn's Angels, you are aware Mrs. Bennet knew of Elizabeth and Jane's friendship with the Duke of Belmont's family. However... the first draft had everyone keeping this tidbit from her and at the end of the book, at Jane's wedding to the Earl of Holcomb, everything comes to a head.

We start with Mrs. Frances Bennet's introduction to the duke at Jane's wedding breakfast.


"I am pleased to meet you. I am certain Lord Holcomb is glad you attended his wedding."

"We did not come as the earl's guest, Mrs. Bennet. We came in honor of Jane," the duke said.

"Not the earl?" Fanny looked to Elizabeth. "How can that be? We are not friends with any peers."

She saw Elizabeth  glance at the duke's family and after a slight nod from his grace, Elizabeth led her mother away a few steps.

"Jane and I have known the duke's family for over eleven years."

"You and Jane? Eleven years!" Fanny could not help herself, her voice rose with each staccato sentence. "How? Why was I not told?"

During all this, Elizabeth had been steadily removing her from the room and down the hall toward her husband's study.

"Mamma, I will explain all. We will have some privacy in Papa's study."

They entered the room and Fanny marched to her husband's desk and turned to face her daughter, her hands fisted against her hips.

"Please explain to me how it is that a duke's family has honored my eldest daughter in such a manner, and I do not even know their names."

She listened as Elizabeth explained how she had saved the duke's daughter and how the friendship with Lady Susannah grew from there. When she went on to explain she and Jane had visited the duke's estate every summer, Fanny thought her heart would break. That her family thought her so capricious and fickle, they could not even tell her of this, was a blow to her self-esteem. What else had they kept from her? Was she even a part of this family? Would they even notice her gone if she ran away as Lydia had?

When her middle daughter had finished relaying all the pertinent information, Fanny was silent for a moment, absorbing it all and not liking how it made her feel. She finally sighed deeply and stepped past her daughter to exit the room.

"Thank you, Elizabeth. Please excuse me, I have guests to attend."

For the rest of the day, she behaved as an exquisite hostess, shattering any preconceived notion others may have held for her. Through it all, she conversed, listened, and advised – and spoke not one word to her family, other than to Jane when she and Henry made to depart on their wedding trip. Fanny kissed her eldest daughter on the cheek and said, her tone earnest, "I wish you every happiness and will pray your husband treats you with the respect you so richly deserve."

Later in the day, given the studied looks her husband kept shooting in her direction, she knew a conversation was to take place. She managed to avoid him until all the guests were gone, save Mr. Darcy who lingered in the drawing room with Elizabeth and her brothers.

"Fanny, might I have a word with you – in my study?"


They traversed the hall side by side and after he had opened the door and allowed her to precede him, Thomas moved to take one of the chairs near the fireplace. With a wave of his hand, he invited her to also take a seat, which she did. Silence stretched between them, becoming more awkward the longer they sat. She gave a start when the clock struck the half hour.

"Elizabeth told me she explained her relationship with the Duke of Belmont," he finally said, breaking the strained silence. "Have you nothing to say? Any questions?"


"Because the duke was so very grateful to Lizzy for saving his daughter's life."

"No. Why was I not told?"

Thomas pinched the bridge of his nose. A habit he had formed from childhood, indicating acute frustration, or an unwillingness to speak the unvarnished truth, no matter how much it hurt.

"It was done in an attempt to keep gossip at bay."

"Gossip. What gossip?"

"You and I both know that whatever you know, your sister Margaret knows as well." Thomas fell back in his chair and waved his hand in the direction of Mrs. Phillips' house, over a mile away. “She would never have kept this secret, and both Jane and Lizzy did not want our neighbors to treat them differently. They are good girls, Fanny. You did a marvelous job raising them. No one can take that from you, and because of your kindness and love, our girls will have a wonderful life. Do not let this overshadow the joy of this day.”

“Mr. Bennet, I am well aware our girls are everything that is lovely. You still should have told me. If you had asked, I would never have spoken a word of it.” She blinked rapidly, a feeble attempt to delay her tears. “I did not realize how low I had fallen in your esteem.”

“Fanny, that is not true.”

“No?” She straightened and drew back her shoulders. Her chin lifted in defiance, reminding him where their daughters had learned dignity. “I shall not trouble you further, Husband, with my flights of fancy. Let no one ever say Frances Bennet does not learn from her mistakes.”

She stood and gave her husband a full curtsy and after a quick pivot on her heel, quit the room. Bennet let out a heartfelt sigh. That had been badly done. Trite apologies would not soothe his wife’s hurt feelings. They had kept this secret from her for no other reason than they thought her silly, and it also fed his capricious sense of humor. The advice his own respected father had shared with him the night before he wed Fanny came to mind. He had come to Thomas’ room, Holy Bible in hand, and read from Proverbs.

Bennet reached for that same Bible, laying safely on the bookshelf behind him, and turned to the familiar passage. Tears filled his eyes as he read through the chapter, halting on the verses which he chastised himself for forgetting.

 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 

Fanny was a good and virtuous wife and she had trusted him, but that trust had not been returned. Not in things that mattered other than faithfulness. He had made her look the fool. He closed the book and clasped his hands on the cover, bowing his head. He asked forgiveness from his Lord, then asked for guidance on how to approach his wife. After a good half hour, he blew out the candles and ascended the stairs. He knocked lightly on his wife’s bedchamber door and his heart melted when she cracked it open, revealing big blue eyes, red-rimmed from crying.

“Ahhh, Fanny. I am so sorry. Can you find it in your heart to forgive a foolish man?”

She said not a word but left the door open before returning to a chair near the fireplace. He closed the door behind him and did not leave the room until late the next morning.


"Your father and mother have not yet come down to break their fast?"

Darcy paced the family parlor, shooting glances at the door in hopes Elizabeth's father would miraculously appear. He finally had gotten her to say she would marry him and now he was being stonewalled in trying to approach her father for his consent and blessing. Granted, the family had been very busy with the wedding, but… surely things would revert to normal now that all the bustle had died down.

"We have not seen Mamma or Papa since late yesterday when Jane and Henry departed." Elizabeth began to wring her hands and joined him in pacing. "I told Mamma how and why we knew the Duke of Belmont and I do not think she took the news well."

"Your mother did not know the duke's family? How many years have you been friends with his daughter?"

"Over eleven years."

"Eleven…" he paused in thought. "Your mother must have been very hurt over this."

"She did not give the appearance of being hurt."

Darcy cut Elizabeth a hard glance.

"I watched your mother most carefully and what I thought was nervous energy I now realize was a woman holding everything together to keep others from seeing her anger."


Darcy snagged Elizabeth's hand and tugged her toward the couch. After they sat, he faced her.

"Think about it this way. Let us assume Jane never once told you about Lord Holcomb and continued to see him, be courted by him, and accept his proposal without once taking you into her confidence. Then, by telling half-truths, she convinced you to attend church on a Tuesday morning, whereupon you find all your family and friends gathered to celebrate her marriage. How would you feel about that?"

"First of all—"

"No, my love. Accept the premise exactly as I presented it."

"Very well, I would be very hurt she had not trusted me enough to share her good news."

"Multiply that deception by eleven and a half years. Can you now understand why your mother is hurt?"

Tears filled his love's eyes.

"We did a very bad thing to Mamma."

"Yes, so what are we going to do about this?"

"Beg forgiveness, over and over until she accepts."

"Good starting point, but I do not think that is enough."

Friday Kiss ~ June 23

 #FridayKiss ~ This week's word is LIKE

His uncle stared at the ceiling, seemingly deep in thought. “Were you not leery something like this might happen when she asked you to join her outside?”
“She did not request my presence, I followed,” he explained. “I thought she would catch a chill.”
Uncle Robert snapped his attention to him.“You followed her.”
It was a statement, not a question.
His uncle began to laugh. Brow furrowed, Darcy could only watch and wonder what was going on in his uncle’s mind. Finally, the earl stood and held out his hand. Surprised, Darcy put down his drink and accepted the handshake.
“I wish you well in your marriage, Darcy,” he said before exiting the room. “You are going to need it.”

Compromise & Consequence
Available exclusively on Amazon #KindleUnlimited

Tidbit Tuesday ~ The cut direct!

#TidbitTuesday is from my current work in progress ~ The Wager

What if... Mr. Darcy insults our intrepid heroine Elizabeth and the tables were turned on the taciturn gentleman?
First, the image above is of Trenton Hamilton, the Earl of Tiverton, and his sisters, Lady Jane Hamilton and Lady Elizabeth Hamilton.

First, the insult:

Elizabeth Hamilton followed her Aunt Sarah, Lady Courtland, into the crowded ballroom. Fascinated by the sheer number of candles used to illuminate the room, she was not paying attention and bumped into the back of a tall, broad-shouldered gentleman. About to apologize when he half-turned and stared her down, the words stuck in her throat for two reasons, the first being he was absolutely the most handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. The second was because the look he bestowed upon her could have frozen over the Thames River in the middle of July.
"Must I now expect every brash young woman to throw herself at me before the dancing has even begun?" he asked his equally tall companion, disdain dripping from every syllable.
The other gentleman looked at Elizabeth and said, "You could not ask for a prettier trap to be caught in, Darcy. Shall I seek an introduction?"
The man, Darcy, gave her a hard, sideways glance.
"She is tolerable I suppose, if one has a preference for ordinary garden flowers, but she is not handsome enough to warrant an introduction."
"I say, that is most unkind. You have no idea who this young lady is."
"And I have no desire to learn her name or antecedents. Let us remove ourselves from this crush. I have already had more than I can stand of this company."

And now, the fallout. Enjoy

Uncle John half turned and held his hand out to Elizabeth. She took it and allowed herself to be brought forward. "Have you met our niece, Elizabeth?"
"No, I have not had the pleasure…"
A flicker of disgust first crossed his face upon seeing her, then he paled when he realized she was the niece of Lord and Lady Courtland, not some lowborn girl he could dismiss.
"Fitzwilliam Darcy, I present to you, Lady Elizabeth Hamilton."
Mr. Darcy quickly recovered and gave her a polite half-bow.
"Lady Elizabeth."
She waited for him to straighten and look her in the eye. When she was certain she had his undivided attention, she turned her back on the gentleman. Upon hearing the soft gasp from her aunt, she almost relented and turned to greet him properly, but then his words, 'she is not handsome enough to warrant an introduction,' echoed in her memory and her courage rose.
"Elizabeth, what is the meaning of this?"
Uncle John demanded an explanation.
"Your horticulturally minded acquaintance does not believe us poor garden variety flowers warrant introductions."
Before any of them could utter another word, she turned on her heel and quit the room.
"Fitzwilliam Darcy, what have you done?!"
He has a very big trench to climb out of once he removes his foot from his mouth.

This work in progress will not be available until early Autumn. 

Funday Monday

, courtesy of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

"It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill."

"That will not do for a compliment to Darcy, Caroline," cried her brother -- "because he does not write with ease. He studies too much for words of four syllables. --Do not you, Darcy?"