WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #82

Never end your day without telling those you hold dear that you love them. An online friend of mine (funny how the internet has expanded our social circles) lost her husband. News such as this always hurts my heart. Hubby was in the military and we lost many, many friends during his time. We stopped counting at seventeen. It never gets easier. It took me a few days to mourn with her and then I settled back into my writing. I'm working on the final chapter at the drafting of this post.

We left off with Mrs. Bennet worrying about her two youngest making a bad impression on the party from Netherfield Park.

To freshen your memory:

“We agreed, Fanny, the local Assembly was the perfect venue for our two youngest daughters to make their soft come-out. We are among friends here and they can’t get into too much trouble where they are so well known.”

My ten lines:

Mama tapped her fan into the palm of her hand. “Yes, but I did not think the Netherfield party would be so disobliging and they will get the wrong impression of our family.”

“Weren’t you planning on being a bit flighty yourself, to test the waters?”

Lizzy watched as her mother cast an assessing look toward the dour Mr. Darcy, who’d begun to pace the edges of the hall.

“Yes,” she finally huffed out on a sigh. “Very well. Let Lydia have her light flirtation, but we still must take care that her reputation is not stained beyond any hope of redemption. If we are judged by our country manners, then so be it, they are not worth our attention.”

“I am sure, between her sisters and myself, Lydia will not come to any harm.” He squeezed his wife’s hand with great affection. “In case I forgot to tell you – you look absolutely lovely tonight, Mrs. Bennet.”

To continue the scene with the infamous insult:

“Oh, you!”

She flushed and brought up her fan to cool her heated cheeks. Lizzy grinned and moved away, catching sight of the empty chair. With a sigh, she lowered herself onto the lightly padded seat and, while watching the dancers, remembered her friend with fondness. Her silent reverie was interrupted with the advent of Mr. Bingley accosting Mr. Darcy not more than four feet from where she sat.

“Come, Darcy,” said he, “I must have you dance. I hate to see you stand about in this stupid manner.”

“I most certainly will not. You know how I detest the activity, especially if I’m not acquainted with my partner. At an assembly such as this’ – he snorted in derision – ‘it would be insupportable. There are no women in this room whom it would not be a punishment for me to stand up with.”

“Fie, Darcy!” cried Bingley. “I would never be as fastidious as you. Why, there are several here who are uncommonly pretty.”

“You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room.”

Lizzy took note that he looked in the direction of Jane and smiled. At least Mr. Darcy had some good taste.

“Oh! She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld.” Mr. Bingley glanced over Mr. Darcy’s shoulder and seeing Elizabeth, whispered loudly, “One of her sisters, sitting down behind you, is very pretty and I dare say agreeable. Would you let me introduce you?”

“Whom do you mean?” Darcy turned around and looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and said in a voice that would have frozen over the Thames, “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.” At Bingley’s horrified gasp, he continued. “You had better return to your simpering partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #10

THAT WAS WHEN HE KNEW.

HE'D KISS MISS MARY BENNET; THE ONLY QUESTION WAS WHEN.

We left off with:

... if he were honest, he’d never taken notice of her because she always remained in the background, a nondescript little puddle of brown or gray muslin.

Now for this week's three hundred (+) words:

Still unobserved by any of the guests, he took his time to assess the young woman seated at the pianoforte. Her hair was lustrous and dark, similar in color and texture to Elizabeth’s. In fact, she favored her elder sister in many ways, with a heart-shaped face and dark eyes, which at the moment glared at the music sheets as though they’d personally grieved her. Her gown, blue silk, hugged her figure to perfection, and on their own accord, his eyes roamed over what was displayed behind the instrument, skidding to a stop when he reached her… heat licked his cheeks and quickly moved south. No longer decked out in predictable, ill-fitting drab colors, the gown showed her assets to their greatest advantage. Dear God in heaven, Darcy would call him out onto the field of honor if he knew where his traitorous thoughts had wandered. And rightly so.

She struck another discordant note and bit her lip again in frustration. His heart almost thudded to a stop and that was when he knew. He’d kiss Miss Mary Bennet; the only question was when.

“Richard!”

His reverie was interrupted by Elizabeth spotting him. He turned with a smile and advanced toward her, noting in his peripheral vision the slight start Miss Bennet gave when she realized he’d been standing nearby, unobserved.

“Cousin Elizabeth, or should I say, The Honorable Mrs. Darcy, how lovely to see you, Madam.” He took her hand and bowed over it. He was pleased to see her flush slightly.

“Stop that, and I am still your cousin. Come along.” She withdrew her hand, tucked it around his arm, and began directing their steps toward the far side of the room and Darcy. “When did you arrive? I did not see you come in.”

“I admit to sneaking in through the servant’s access, and have been here but a few minutes,” he said. Gazing into your sister’s beautiful face, he didn’t say. Nor did he add, admiring her d├ęcolletage.

“Fitz is most anxious to speak with you about the upcoming ball. We wish to corral Mama before she lets her new title estrange everyone in Meryton.” 


WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #81

What a week! I'm eighteen chapters into this story and have been producing about 2K / day, and I've only just had Lizzy leave Hunsford. So much more to write!

Last week we left with Lizzy joining her parents for introductions to the party from Netherfield. As a recap, I will remind you that the Bennets own Netherfield Park and Longbourn is not entailed away from the female line and the citizens of Meryton are unaware. Also, for my story, Mrs. Bennet is not flighty and vulgar, but to test the mettle of our fair Mr. Bingley, she's willing to put on a show.

And... we're off!

As it turned out, Jane’s head was not turned by Mr. Darcy. Instead, her attentions were captured by the delightful Mr. Bingley. Upon introduction, he successfully petitioned her hand for the next two sets. When asked if he liked dancing, Mr. Darcy flatly stated, ‘No,’ and left their party. Shocked at his abrupt rudeness, Mama gaped after him. Something she hadn’t done in years. She caught her husband’s eye and waved him over.

“What is it, my dear?”

“When you visited Mr. Bingley, did he seem addled in the head?” she said in a low voice so it wouldn’t carry.

And... we have more!

Mr. Bennet took a step back and assessed his wife. “I don’t understand what you are asking me.”

“When a young man of good manners as well as good fortune befriends another man, who is abominably rude to a newly introduced person, does that not also speak to his character?”

“You are speaking of Mr. Darcy.”

“One and the same.”

“Mrs. Bennet, I caution you against making the same mistake as Mr. Darcy. You do not know his character and what he is thinking. His manners might be lacking, but do not take the low road with this, my love. You are better than that.”

Mrs. Bennet huffed and Lizzy choked back a snicker. It wasn’t often that her mother’s feathers were ruffled.

“Fine,” she finally acceded, “but I take leave to not like him.”

Papa kissed Mama’s cheek, disregarding the raised eyebrows at his open affection.

“I give you leave not to like him.”

“Would you check on Lydia and Kitty? They’ve been a trifle too excited this evening and I’m pretty sure Lydia has been flirting with the Westcott boy. I don’t think we should have allowed them to come this evening.”

“We agreed, Fanny, the local Assembly was the perfect venue for our two youngest daughters to make their soft come-out. We are among friends here and they can’t get into too much trouble where they are so well known.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

 


THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #9

...she always remained in the background, a nondescript little puddle of brown or gray muslin.

We left last week with:

By the time he’d changed and reassured the terrified man he would not be sent back to the front lines, it was almost noon before he escaped Town.

Continuing on with this weeks' 300:

When one of the horses threw a shoe twenty miles outside of London, he almost cried defeat and turned back. The only thing that kept him within the posting inn walls was the terrifying fact that Mother had threatened him with an afternoon soiree at Lady Fosscroft’s. The soiree was not what he wished to avoid; it was the lady’s two very eligible, very well-dowered daughters who had no qualms, it seemed, of settling with a second son. Ever since their debut two years ago, he’d been careful never to be alone with either of them. As long as he had his wits about him, there would be no ‘accidental’ compromises forcing him down the aisle.

He nursed a tepid mug of ale while waiting for the farrier and wondered what else could go wrong before the day was out. Most likely, there would be a downpour before he reached his destination. Luckily, the horse was expertly re-shod, and he was on his way in under the half-hour. The sun had begun its final descent when he bade farewell to Grandon at Wilton Manor swung up onto Euros, which had been tethered to the carriage, and cantered up the graveled drive to Netherfield Park.

Because of his many delays, Richard arrived late for Hurst’s dinner party and heard everyone gathered in the front drawing-room. Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he asked the butler not to announce him. Familiar with the layout of Netherfield Park, he hastened toward one of the servant’s entrances and slipped into the drawing-room through a hidden door situated near the pianoforte. Upon entering, he glanced around the milling guests and only paused from going forward when a discordant note was played, followed by a whispered, “Horsefeathers.”

He turned to see who had whispered such an innocuous saying and saw Miss Mary Bennet seated at the pianoforte, biting a lush lower lip. Time stopped. There was no other way to describe the moment. It simply stuttered to a standstill.

She was beautiful. How had he never noticed that before? He paused in thought and realized that he’d never held a proper conversation with her. Not once in all the family gatherings over the past few years, not even when he taught the ladies how to shoot after the incident at Nathan and Caroline’s wedding ball. He was fairly certain she’d been in attendance at Darcy’s house for the infamous dinner when Adborough reconciled with Georgiana. Still, he’d been too busy glaring at the erstwhile Duke to care, and, if he were honest, he’d never taken notice of her because she always remained in the background, a nondescript little puddle of brown or gray muslin.



WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #80

First and foremost, my apologies to fellow Weekend Writing Warriors. Sunday is the day I hop around the blogs and enjoy your snippets. Unfortunately, real-life intruded and I was distracted. I thank all of you who visited MY blog. You are so appreciated and are welcome to beat me on or about the head and shoulders with a wet pool noodle if I miss your contribution this weekend.

That said, let's continue with Pride & Perception. We are at the Meryton Ball with Miss Elizabeth Bennet and the party from Netherfield Park is about to descend. Are we ready for that??

We left with:

“Eliza, next to such beauties as you and your ethereal sister, Jane, no woman stands a chance of capturing the eye of any eligible gentleman.”

Now, this week's contribution:

“I give you leave to sing the praises of my eldest sister but must stop you when you elevate me into the same sphere of Jane. I am, to my mother’s never-ending horror, a hoydenish rapscallion who cavorts about the fields of Longbourn.”

Charlotte laughed out loud and was about to respond when the doors to the Assembly opened wide. All eyes turned and watched an elegant group of people enter the room.

“Which of the painted peacocks is our Mr. Bingley?” Lizzy whispered to Charlotte.

“The one in the blue jacket is he. Next to him is his youngest sister, then his eldest sister and her husband.”

“And the man with a quizzical look upon his brow?”

“That would be Mr. Darcy.”

“Poor man, he does not look pleased to be here.”

And to give you a touch more:

“Poor he is not, dearest. His estate in Derbyshire is rumored to be worth about ten thousand a year.”

“Well then, poor Mr. Bingley.”

“What do you mean? It is well known he is worth about five thousand a year.”

“When the matrons of Meryton discover Mr. Darcy is worth twice his friend, it will be as if he never existed.” Lizzy bumped her shoulder against Charlotte’s and waggled her eyebrows. “There is hope for you and I yet, Charlotte. Out of sheer desperation, Mr. Bingley may have to pay court to us mere mortals while Jane basks in the attention of Mr. Darcy.”

“Your mother is right! You are a rapscallion.”

With that, Elizabeth moved to join her mother in order to be introduced to the illustrious tenants of Netherfield Park.

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa

THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #8

No one knew how much she esteemed the savvy gentleman

“What say you, Mama, of reacquainting yourself with Georgiana?” Lizzy asked.

Mama swept a glance about the room, stopping when she spied the Duchess.

“She still looks the same.”

“Of course, Mama. Elevated rank does not change a person’s personality. They remain ever so much the same. How people treat them is what undergoes a shift. Something you will learn as you and Papa move forward as Lord and Lady Bennet.”

Mary suppressed a smile at her elder sister’s gentle rebuke. It was apparent that some news had filtered out concerning Mama being none too subtle in her public preening. Being in the company of true nobility might settle her feathers into their rightful place. Even the peacock didn’t strut his feathers every time he walked in Regent’s Park.

The conversation came to a halt when the butler announced dinner was ready to be served.

“Should we ask Louisa to wait a few more minutes for Richard?” Mr. Darcy asked Lizzy.

Mary’s heart skipped a beat at the mention of Darcy’s cousin. She’d had no hint he would be in attendance. No one knew how much she esteemed the savvy gentleman, and knowing full well he needed to marry up, she always behaved as though he were nothing more than a pleasant companion at dinner. Anything more and her fragile composure would shatter.

“I think not. Something must have delayed his departure. I will ask Louisa if their cook can set aside some food in case he arrives within the hour.”

“Very well.”

Louisa Hurst gave Maxwell Kerr, the Duke of Adborough, a slight nod, and he and Georgiana took the lead going into the dining hall.

~~oo0oo~~

Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam walked toward the posting inn and slapped his riding glove against his leg in frustration. Everything that could go wrong on this trip to Hertfordshire had gone wrong. He’d left late because his brother, Viscount Ashton, descended upon his lodgings the evening prior and dragged him to White’s, at which point they’d imbibed in far too much brandy, followed by a visit to Madame Fournier’s establishment. He’d awakened in one of her many bedrooms, sheets wrapped around his naked torso and legs.

His cursed brother was nowhere to be found and so he’d hailed a hack back to Matlock House in order to prepare for his departure. The lingering effects of too much drink and lack of sleep made him dizzy, which caused him to bump the washbasin his batman used for shaving water. Both he and Grandon had watched, mute, as the porcelain bowl tipped and sudsy, whiskered water drenched his new fawn breeches. By the time he’d changed and reassured the terrified man he would not be sent back to the front lines, it was almost noon before he escaped Town. 



WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS #79

I can't believe how this story is taking off. As most of you know, I'm a slow writer. Having said that, the germ of this story was planted Dec 13, 2020, (I keep all plot bunnies and 'what if's' in my OneNote), and that was the day I pondered the 'what if' Elizabeth Bennet overheard the other insult Mr. Darcy said during his time in Hertfordshire. It was a reply he made to Miss Bingley's amazement that Eliza Bennet had been declared such a beauty by all the citizens of Meryton. Mr. Darcy's reply: "Her a beauty? I'd as soon call her mother a wit!" And my plot bunny came to life. I'm about 40K into this story and have reached the mid-way point.

Holy Writing Goals, Batman!

We left off with:

More than once, during the night, her gaze flew to the chair the citizens of Meryton left empty in honor of their dearly departed friend.

And now for today's selection:

“Are you and your sisters anxious to meet Mr. Bingley and his party, Eliza?”

Miss Charlotte Lucas, one of Elizabeth’s dearest friends, had come alongside and handed her a welcomed glass of punch.

“Not anxious, per se; more curious, I think.” She took a sip of her punch. “You have met the gentleman, what is your opinion?”

“He’s amiable and quite young. Well, younger than me, although, these days, most gentlemen of marriageable age are.”

Elizabeth looped her arm through Charlotte’s and gave it a squeeze.

“You are too hard on yourself. My aunt Gardiner was about your age when she met and married my uncle, and look how happy they are.”

“Eliza, next to such beauties as you and your ethereal sister, Jane, no woman stands a chance of capturing the eye of any eligible gentleman.”

Weekend Writing Warriors is a fun blog hop where authors share eight to ten lines from a Work in Progress. If you'd like to check out some other author's writing, please click on this link: WeWriWa



THURSDAY THREE HUNDRED ~ MARY #7

Now was not the time to disabuse Mama of Lydia's reality.


She and Georgiana moved onto other topics, stopping when Jane glided in on Bingley’s arm, while a very pregnant Caroline and Lord Nathan followed a step behind. Mama was in absolute raptures over her family gathered under one roof and began to weep. Mary quickly rose and hurried to her side, handing her a handkerchief.

“Thank you, Mary. I am overcome.”

“Do you wish to retire to a private room to compose yourself, Mama?” Lizzy asked, resting her hand upon Mama’s forearm.

“Good heavens, no. ‘Tis nothing. It will pass.” She dabbed her nose and tucked the soiled linen into the cuff of her sleeve. “Mr. Jones said this is perfectly normal. Thank goodness. Why the other day, I spotted the first fall leaf in my garden and wept. Your Papa told me I looked beautiful and wept. I declare, our horse could throw a show, and I’d weep.”

Lizzy laughed and hugged Mama, her own eyes glistening.

“Mine was Georgiana playing a lovely piece while we waited for your arrival.”

Mama gasped and stepped back, assessing her daughter.

“Are you…?”

“Yes. We didn’t write because we wanted to surprise you. Imagine ours when you arrived in all your glory.”

They dissolved into more laughter, then as suddenly as she began, Mama stopped.

“Oh, how I wish my dear Lydia could be here for all this good news.”

“I have not heard from Lydia in over three months,” Kitty said, coming alongside Mama and giving her a warm hug. “I fear my sister and husband do not have the blunt for travel. She wrote, begging for more funds in the last letter.”

“She has such high spirits and is such a favorite of all the officers in Newcastle. It is no wonder they exceed their income. It is quite expensive, entertaining in your home.”

All four sisters shared a knowing look between them. It wasn’t entertaining at home that drained the coffers of the Wickham household. However, this wasn’t the time or place to disabuse Mama of Lydia’s reality.