And so the cycle repeats, by Cinnamon Worth

And so the cycle repeats, by Cinnamon Worth

Goodness, it’s that time of month again, how time flies. I promised in the comments in my last post to have an excerpt ready for you, which I have done, but only barely. I haven’t written very much since we last visited. I’m torn between two different stories. The excerpt below is from a standard “what if” Pride and Prejudice (P&P) variation, in which Darcy changes his mind about handing Elizabeth that all-important letter. I was reading someone’s analysis of the story, and the author suggested it was neccessary but at odds with Darcy’s character to write something so personal and share it with the woman who just rejected him. It got me thinking how things would have worked out if he hadn’t taken that step. The second story is also a P&P variation but is more of the classic whodunit murder mystery. A mystery would involve a more complicated plot, and I haven’t yet sorted out everyone’s alibis and how the murderer is discovered, but it’s always fun to try something different. What are your favorite types of P&P variations? What things in a variation do you absolutely hate? What is the one thing in the original story you think would have changed the entire course of events had it not occurred as it did?

Chapter 1 of my current work-in-progress

In a world filled with change and uncertainty, Richard Fitzwilliam took comfort in predictability. He could, therefore, be forgiven for releasing a gasp upon entering the library at Rosings Park.

Nothing was as it should be. The curtains were shut, and no candles were lit. Hence, the room would have been shrouded in darkness, save for the blazing fire. This was unusual; however, Fitzwilliam Darcy, who occupied an armchair beside the hearth, was bizarre. His mere presence was no surprise—it was common knowledge he found great comfort in any library. Rather, it was his appearance that prompted Richard’s outburst of shock.

Darcy stretched along the length of a chair, as if it were a bed, with his feet crossed at the ankles. His attire was scarred by deep wrinkles. One arm hung over the seat, and the other was bent and supporting the jumbled mass of dark curls atop his head.

Richard crossed the room, stopped in front of the chair, and cleared his throat. Receiving no response, he kicked Darcy’s boots.

“Go away.” Darcy didn’t bother to look up.

“I will not. Clearly, some terrible fate has befallen Thompson, and I intend to discover what it was.”

Darcy lifted his head. Dark circles framed his eyes. “What are you on about?”

The edges of Richard’s lips lifted, and his eyes twinkled with mischief. “Your valet, Thompson, who is known for his fastidious nature. Had I the means, I would have hired him out from under you. But look at you now. Either he left you to your own devices, which suggests he is ill, or your horse bucked you and, as your stirrups refused to release you, dragged you back to our aunt’s home. What was it?”

“I am in no humor to partake in your witty repartee, Richard. I’ve had a long, sleepless night and have no intention of discussing it.”

Any remaining levity vanished, and Richard said, “Then I suggest you make your way back to your chambers and freshen up.” He waved a hand along the length of his cousin’s frame. “If Aunt Catherine sees you—well, she is not nearly as accommodating as I am.”

With some effort, Darcy rose from the chair. His gaze traveled from the door to the fireplace. The flames shifted and sputtered as they fenced one another. Darcy withdrew two sheets of letter-paper from his pocket.

“What do you have there?” Richard asked.

“Nothing of consequence.” Darcy unfolded the sheets, and his gaze traveled down the page.

Richard shifted his weight, attempting, without success, to peek at the words.

Darcy winced and dropped the pages into the fireplace.

The pages settled on a burning log. It was a letter written in Darcy’s hand and dated from Rosings at eight o’clock. Within seconds, fire consumed the paper.

Pointing to the ashes, Richard asked, “Do you have business you must tend to this morning?”

Darcy rolled his eyes. “Reading my letter?”

“No, but not for a lack of trying.” Richard walked to a chair and sat down. “Actually, since it was inconsequential, maybe you should tell me what it said.”

Darcy arched an eyebrow. “You are really not so different from Aunt Catherine.”

“How uncharitable. You told me you don’t wish to speak of your evening but said nothing of that letter.” Richard tried to appear surprised. “Are the two related? If so, how could I know? Besides, my curiosity is only driven by a desire to ensure your well-being.”

Darcy closed his eyes and messaged his temples. Once he’d finished, he looked at his cousin, his countenance no longer displaying signs of distress. “You needn’t worry about me. I will not reveal the details, but in short, my honor was questioned. I was upset, and I had the fleeting desire to defend my name. Fortunately, I’ve come to my senses.”

“Ah, yes. I see your dilemma.” Richard rubbed his chin. “Anyone who would question your honor has done you an injustice. You have it in abundance. Naturally, such an insult would cause nearly anyone in your position to become defensive. Yet—what is it you say—a good opinion lost is lost forever. If you truly believe that, why would you waste your time attempting to correct someone who is ignorant and doesn’t know you well—especially since nothing you can say will change his mind?”

“Precisely.” Darcy stood and walked toward the door.

“Was the offender someone of influence? Are you concerned their opinion will damage your reputation?”

Darcy paused. “No.” His voice was strained. “You guessed correctly earlier. It was someone who doesn’t know me well. We are unlikely to have future encounters because we are merely—acquaintances. Why do you ask?”

“I just wondered why this has wrangled you as it has.”

Darcy turned. He wore a pinched expression. “Did you not just say my defensiveness was justified?”

“Oh, it is, yes; however, I actually said most people would become defensive. You, however, give little consideration to what others think, especially when they have so clearly missed the mark. The fact you wrote a letter defending yourself—while justified—is rather unusual for you. You are normally quite private and reserved.”

Darcy furrowed his brow. After a moment he said, “Traveling never agrees with me, and while you know how much I enjoy our aunt’s company, I long to return to Pemberley. Perhaps I am simply out of sorts.”

Something in his tone or posture suggested Darcy was not being forthcoming, but Richard sensed it would not do to push further.

“You should try to get some sleep. I will make your excuses at breakfast.”

Darcy nodded and continued across the room. His hand touched the doorknob, and Richard spoke.

“I’ve just had a brilliant idea. This afternoon, we can visit the rectory. You could use a respite from Aunt Catherine and all her efforts to force a union with Anne. Mrs. Collins is delightful, and her guests have proven to be a wonderful distraction. It is fortunate our stays overlap.”

With a heavy sigh, Darcy slumped forward. “Perhaps Aunt Catherine is right. Anne possesses all the characteristics I should consider in a bride.”

Richard uttered something nonsensical as he struggled to find the right words. He had spent enough time in battle to recognize defeat, but had never expected his proud cousin to break. After a moment, he shook his head to clear his thoughts. “Anne does not make you happy. You do not love her.”

“History is littered with stories of the misery caused by love. There are far more important things to consider when choosing a wife. She is refined, her family is well-regarded, and the financial advantages of joining our families are obvious. Further, I know she will agree.”

“And will she do as a mother and as a mistress to run your household? Do you believe our aunt has adequately demonstrated such skills for her?”

Darcy rubbed the back of his neck. “You are right. Rash decisions are rarely wise. Just because it is time I settle down, doesn’t mean I must choose a bride today. I will give the matter more thought.”

Richard smiled. Appealing to Darcy’s rational side had always been an effective strategy. “Maybe when we visit, I will seek Mrs. Collin’s thoughts on marriage. I imagine hers was not a love match.”

“You may do as you like, but I cannot join you at the rectory. I leave for London this afternoon.”

Confused, Richard said, “But when I asked if you had business to attend to…”

Darcy looked over his shoulder and sent his cousin a piercing glance. “Enough! I am going to lie down, and once I am rested, I am leaving.” He opened the door, marched out, and shut the door behind him with a tad too much force.

 

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16 COMMENTS
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Gianna Thomas
AuAu
March 1, 2022 10:41 PM

Excellent excerpt, Cinnamon. I look forward to seeing where you take this story.

Glynis
Glynis
February 27, 2022 11:08 AM

Well! If Darcy isn’t going to give the letter to Elizabeth, Richard should at least visit and somehow reveal the truth about Wickham! Darcy should at least care enough to not leave her vulnerable to that rake!
Thank goodness Richard at least persuaded Darcy against proposing to Anne! Phew!

Kirstin Odegaard
AuAu
February 23, 2022 2:12 PM

Oooh, great dialogue setting up this plot twist. It was painful when Darcy threw that letter in the fire. Nooo! Darcy! It ends up working out that way! 🙂

Very interested to see how Richard revives Darcy and stirs him into action! Great scene and “what if?” scenario.

Jean Stillman
Jean Stillman
February 23, 2022 10:35 AM

I love this excerpt! I do hope you will go with it! And I love Richard in this one! Can’t wait to see what you do!

J. W. Garrett
J. W. Garrett
February 22, 2022 7:20 PM

I am hoping that Richard is able to tell Elizabeth about Wickham. GRRR! That low-life SBRB [scum-bag-rat-bastard] gets on my last nerve. Richard knows something has happened and it is like him to try and get to the bottom of it or else. I hope he can help before Darcy flees Rosings. Thanks for sharing.

Riana Everly
AuAu
February 22, 2022 9:15 AM

Darcy is not in a good state. I wonder if Richard will work out what’s going on and correct somebody’s opinions, as he inadvertently made them worse the day before.
For me, the only necessities for a variation are the characters. They must run true to Austen’s originals, otherwise why not just write something else? The joy (for me, at least) is seeing how these same people would act in different circumstances.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
February 22, 2022 9:02 AM

Great excerpt! Thanks for sharing!

Michelle David
Michelle David
February 22, 2022 8:39 AM

Oh lord is he in a tizzy! I hope he doesn’t do anything foolish

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