Of all the books I’ve written, Darcy Chooses and Darcy Vs Bingley are the two most popular. Darcy Chooses was the most work to write as it was at the beginning of my fiction writing career. But…I think that Darcy Vs Bingley was the most fun to write, especially Caroline Bingley’s setdown by Darcy when she attempted to compromise him.
If you haven’t read Darcy Vs Bingley, I hope you will enjoy this excerpt. And if you have read it, I hope you get an extra laugh and chortle at Miss Bingley’s dismay as Darcy lets her know in no uncertain terms exactly what she would experience as the wife of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Enjoy!
Foreshadow of Things to Come
“Sweetheart, I’m only going to stay for a few minutes, but I wanted to apprise you that my solicitor is drawing up the settlement papers. If I am moving too quickly, please let me know, but I would like to ask your father’s blessing as soon as possible. Bingley mentioned he is quite in love with your eldest sister and wishes to be able to announce his engagement at his ball.”
“Oho, Mr. Darcy. You would ask for my father’s blessing even before asking me? Tsk, tsk.”
And he couldn’t resist those kissable lips and proceeded to brush his lightly over hers until she gently grabbed his face and let him know how she felt.
“I cannot stay, Elizabeth. I would hate for your father to reproach me for not adhering to propriety any more than I have.” Getting on one knee, he took her hand in his and asked, “Will you make me the happiest man on earth by becoming my wife, Miss Elizabeth?”
“My family—and yours, I daresay—will proclaim we are candidates for Bedlam, but my answer is yes. I feel as if I have known you forever, and I don’t believe I could live without you.”
As he pulled her to her feet to give her another toe-curling kiss, the skies opened up pouring rainwater down the front of her dress and the back of his neck despite his cravat. A cloudburst on the scale of the Noachian flood struck both and soaked them within seconds. “Come. We need to get you back to Longbourn.”
“Oh, but not the way we came up. I got caught like this before and slipped as I was descending. There are too many rocks this direction, and I had bruises for three weeks. This way is more of a gentle incline, and if we lose our footing, it is much better for going down. Just mud.” Laughing aloud, she led him to the side of where they had been sitting and through a narrow place in the rocks. “It should be an easy descent if we can stay on our feet.”
“Oh, doubting one. I am very sure on my feet. Take my hand, and I’ll get us down.”
“Oh, no, Mr. Darcy. The footing can be treacherous here, and it would be best if we make our way down separately.”
“I bow to your experience, and I will let you be my guide.”
As Elizabeth started down the slight incline, she could feel her boots start sliding. “Beware, William, it is getting slick rapidly.” She had barely said the words when her feet slipped, and she went down the side of Oakham Mount with a shriek.
“Elizabeth!” Darcy panicked then he went down as well.
Fitzwilliam Darcy had traveled from London earlier in the day and was informed on his arrival that Charles Bingley expected him to attend the assembly in Meryton that evening. Having spent the last few days in completing all his affairs before coming to Netherfield Park in Hertfordshire, Darcy had planned on relaxing for the remainder of the day and retiring early as he was rather fatigued. Instead, he indulged his friend and attended the assembly where he was introduced to a family with five daughters.
Wincing at the comments as he, Bingley, Bingley’s two sisters, and his brother-in-law arrived, Darcy expected to despise the evening. In fact, he even made a disparaging remark— about no one being tolerable enough in looks to tempt him to dance—that he regretted the moment he made it. But he was surprised to find a congenial atmosphere, and the ‘fine eyes’ of the second eldest Bennet daughter caught his attention, enough so that he did ask her to dance. Bingley’s raised eyebrows indicated his shock as his friend readily joined the country dance with Miss Elizabeth Bennet when he usually had to be coerced into doing so.
Caroline Bingley, Charles’ younger unwed sister, glared at the couple as they went through the moves of the lively dance. Unknown to Bingley or Mr. Darcy, Miss Bingley was determined to wed Darcy by hook or crook. Compromising him did not deter her one bit. When she saw the smile on his face as he danced with Elizabeth, she was determined that a compromise it would be, and she planned it for the middle of the night.
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy. I enjoyed having you as my partner.” Elizabeth smiled and blushed as Darcy kissed her hand.
“Miss Elizabeth, it was all my pleasure. Ordinarily, I don’t enjoy dancing with someone with whom I’m unacquainted. However, this evening I’m delighted to have had this dance with you and wondered if I might have the last one as well.”
Elizabeth paused. Her first impression of Darcy when he and his friends arrived had been that he disdained being there and was haughty and proud. However, she had discovered on accepting his request to dance with her that he was not only extremely handsome, he was charming, intelligent, and had a most engaging smile. For him to ask for a second dance left her speechless, but not for long.
“I would like that very much, Mr. Darcy.” She curtseyed, and he bowed, and then he accompanied her back to her sister, Jane.
As the two young women watched Darcy head toward the other side of the ballroom, Jane inquired, “Lizzy, what did you do to attract Mr. Darcy?”
“I don’t know, Jane, but I’m not displeased. He’s not like anyone I’ve met before.”
“And you like him, don’t you?”
“Yes, I find I do like him very much. He’s also asked for the last dance.”
Jane reached over with a smile and squeezed her sister’s hand. She also liked the time she spent with Mr. Bingley finding him very amiable and likable. Being the eldest child in her family, she wanted the best for her siblings as well. I wonder if Mr. Darcy will be the one for Lizzy? I’ve never seen her as interested in a young man as she seems to be with him.
Glancing at Lizzy, Jane watched as her sister gazed around the room then suddenly blushed and looked down. When Jane followed the direction of her sister’s look, she spotted Mr. Darcy smiling at Elizabeth, and a knowing smile curved Jane’s lips also.
Caroline Bingley, however, scowled as she noticed the object of Darcy’s interest. Definitely, I need to compromise him tonight before that country chit gets her hooks into him. That will not happen!
As the music for the last dance ended, Darcy took Elizabeth’s hand and led her from the dance floor. He was delighted to note her face was flushed from the exertion, and with her gentle smile, it made her look almost beautiful.
On impulse, he asked, “May I call on you on the morrow?”
Taken by surprise, Elizabeth’s eyes widened at first then sparkled as she contemplated the handsome man coming to see her. “Yes, you may, Mr. Darcy. I look forward to your visit.”
He smiled as she turned a pretty shade of pink. Then taking her hand, he brushed his lips across the back of it as her blush deepened. “The morrow cannot come too soon, Miss Elizabeth.”
Darcy was pleased as he walked away. If he continued to find pleasure in her company, he would consider asking for a courtship. After all, her hand had trembled when he kissed it. I wonder if she is as attracted to me as I am to her? Perhaps, I can find out when I call on her.
Jane and Elizabeth were quiet on the way back to Longbourn, but their mother filled the silence and didn’t seem to notice they weren’t talking much as she exclaimed how pleased she was that both young women had danced twice with the men from Netherfield.
“Just think, girls, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy are such eligible young men. Mr. Bingley has five thousand pounds, and Mr. Darcy has ten thousand pounds per annum. Lady Lucas told me so. Oh, the carriages and the pin money you both will have. I couldn’t ask for more for my daughters. We won’t starve in the hedgerows after your father dies.”
“Mama, don’t even speak of it. Papa is very healthy and should live for many more years. Jane and I don’t have to marry this instant or any time soon.”
“Lizzy, you set your cap for Mr. Darcy. A man in his position and with his wealth will never take you seriously if you don’t. Jane, you too, need to be very amiable toward Mr. Bingley. He had his eye on you all evening. I think he would have danced more than two with you if propriety would have allowed it.”
“Oh, Mama,” Jane exclaimed in embarrassment.
“Mama, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley said they would call on the morrow. Please give Jane and me time to get acquainted with them before you push us to the altar. She and I both would like to have love matches and not marry for wealth alone.”
“You listen to me, Lizzy. You might want a love match, but money is important as well. It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as with a poor man. You, mark my words.”
All this time, Kitty and Lydia were giggling and whispering about the militia returning from maneuvers that had prevented the men from attending the assembly. They were also amused by their mother’s comments to their older sisters. Mary just shook her head at her younger siblings for their silly and hoydenish ways. Nobody noticed when she rolled her eyes at them as well.
Arriving at Longbourn, the young women disembarked the coach and headed upstairs after giving their outer garments to Mr. Hill. Nobody wanted to listen to Mrs. Bennet rant about them marrying and saving everyone from starving in the hedgerows. And they were exhausted after a lively evening at the assembly.
Jane and Lizzy stayed up for a while and discussed the merits of the two men from Netherfield. And when they finally slept, both dreamed pleasant dreams of the morrow.
Darcy was pleased. Instead of experiencing a horrible evening with those beneath him, he’d found the company more than tolerable, especially Miss Elizabeth. He was dazzled by the twinkle in her eye as she teased him, and she had made him laugh for the first time in a long while even since before Ramsgate and the devastating event of his sister’s near elopement with George Wickham. The dastard had convinced her she was in love with him. His poor sister had still not recovered from Wickham’s declaration that he was only after her thirty thousand pound dowry.
Then he smiled when he thought of Miss Elizabeth. Her liveliness was such that if they did marry, she would be good for Georgiana and he might get his sister back.
Exhausted from his travels that day and the assembly that night, Darcy stripped and fell into bed and immediately succumbed to sleep unaware he would have an early morning visitor.
Caroline Bingley quietly tip-toed down the corridor to the guest wing and soon arrived at Darcy’s door. Turning the knob she had oiled earlier, she silently moved to the opposite side of the bed from where she surmised Darcy slept. Stripping off her nightgown, she slid under the covers and touched Darcy’s bare back.
For a moment, nothing happened except for Darcy’s continued light snores. Then they stopped, and he catapulted out of the bed. “Who’s there?” Half asleep, he staggered toward the chair with his banyan knowing he was as naked as the day he was born. In the process, he banged his knee on the chair which made him swear profusely as he covered himself.
“Mr. Darcy. Come back to bed,” Caroline crooned.
“Mr. Darcy. Can I help with anything?” Darcy’s valet came out of the dressing room where his cot was placed. The light of his candle illuminated part of the room, and when Caroline saw him, she screamed.
Bingley—who couldn’t sleep—was heading down to his study for a nightcap when he heard his sister’s scream. Running to Darcy’s door, he threw it open and demanded to know what was going on.
“I believe, Bingley, that Caroline has tried to compromise me.” Turning to Higgins, he said, “I don’t want one word mentioned about this, do you understand?”
“Mr. Darcy, I never saw a thing.”
“Good man. I knew I could rely on you.”
“Caroline, what’s the meaning of this.” Bingley’s eyes grew wide. Shocked, he demanded, “Are you naked?”
His sister pulled the sheet up higher, a fiery red blush rising into her cheeks.
By this time, Darcy’s fury had risen to the point that he would put a stop to Caroline’s machinations forever. Glaring at her until she dropped her eyes, he moved until his knees touched the bed. He remained silent until he felt like he could refrain from throttling her if she said anything. Then he opened his mouth.
“Miss Bingley. Is it your desire to marry me?”
“Oh, yes, Fitzwilliam. I have long wanted to marry you and become mistress of Pemberley.”
“Why?” Darcy ignored her using his Christian name, but only for the moment.
“I love you, of course.”
Darcy laughed and continued to laugh until Caroline got the point he thought she was ridiculous.
“If you truly did, I would handle this differently. But since the only things you love are my money, my status, my home, and yourself, I will say what will happen to you if we did marry.”
“Oh, Mr. Darcy, I know you would make me an excellent husband.”
“You think that, do you?”
“Oh, yes.” Smiling and fluttering her eyelashes at him, she tried to make the best of a situation that was rapidly going awry.
Darcy stood quietly for a moment with his eyes narrowed and his arms folded across his chest. “Well, let me apprise you of how it would actually be should we marry. First of all, there would only be a small wedding before a parson with a special license. I have no interest in bragging about marrying you.”
Bingley’s sister gasped at the sarcastic note in Darcy’s voice.
“Second, I will own you, and you would stay at Pemberley. No trips to London, no seasons, no fancy dresses or anything connected with the ton. If I have business in London, I will go alone.”
And Bingley shut up. In a moment, he began to realize what Darcy was doing.
“Third, your dowry of thirty thousand pounds will go into Pemberley’s account for the benefit of the estate and the tenants and servants connected with it. You’ll not see another farthing of it.”
Caroline was livid and yelled at him, “You can’t do that.”
“Oh, yes, I can. I will be your husband, and I will tell you what you may do.”
By this time, tears began to flow down Caroline’s cheeks, and she was beginning to understand that what she started, Darcy was going to finish.
“Fourth, you will receive only one hundred pounds pin money.”
“A quarter?” Miss Bingley asked.
Caroline’s mouth dropped open as she just stared at him.
“Fifth, you will not be allowed to make any changes at Pemberley. The running of Pemberley is set in stone as far as you are concerned. Mrs. Reynolds does a marvelous job of handling the affairs of my house. You will not be allowed to redecorate, change the furniture or anything in my house except for your own quarters, which I will never enter. And you will not be allowed in my rooms either.”
Darcy leaned forward and roared in her face, “I did not give you permission to use my Christian name, Miss Bingley.
Even though she quailed at his shout, Caroline stiffened her spine. “But you will need an heir for Pemberley.”
“But I don’t need you or a male heir,” Darcy spat. “Pemberley is not entailed, and I will leave everything to Georgiana should anything happen to me. Should the worst happen, you will have to move back with Bingley or the Hursts.”
“No buts. Sixth, if you ever create a problem for Georgiana, I will file for divorce. I will survive it, but I’m not sure your reputation will.”
“Divorce? You would divorce me?” she squeaked.
“In a heartbeat.” Darcy’s scowl left nothing to Caroline’s imagination. She knew he meant it.
Bingley just stood on the sideline and tried not to smile. He had a small twinge of conscience, but he knew his sister deserved this. For several years, Darcy had been his best friend and treated the Bingley family well. For his sister to do his friend this way was abominable. So, he appreciated what Darcy was saying.
“Lastly, married or not, if you ever mention any of this to your sister or her husband or anyone else, I will be apprised of it. My aunt, Lady Matlock, knows everything that goes on in London. She will find out, and she will apprise me as well. And I will inform all the ton of everything you did this night, every single detail.”
Caroline blanched at this as she knew details of this night’s debacle would definitely ruin her as far as society was concerned. She also knew she had lost the battle as well as the war for mistress of Pemberley. It would never be no matter what she did.
“So, if you insist on marrying me, I will make your life miserable.”
“No,” she said with a sigh. “No, I will not insist, and Charles will not either. I didn’t realize you disliked me so much.”
Softening his tone, Darcy said, “I didn’t intend to dislike you, Miss Bingley. But I do dislike your cattiness and disdain for others. I do hate your selfish attitude and your bullying of Charles and your sister. And I despise the fact that you will act in an unloving manner to get what you want no matter how badly you have to behave or whom you have to hurt. I had known you not even a month before I realized that you were the last person on earth I would ever marry.”
Bingley and Darcy both hoped when all was said and done that Caroline would learn a powerful lesson and become a better person. Only time would tell.
Pulling herself together, Miss Bingley asked the men to give her some privacy so she could dress and return to her bedchamber. And they complied.
After she left, Bingley turned to his friend. “Darcy, you did what you had to do. I hope my sister takes this to heart.”
Darcy just nodded then closed and locked the door when Bingley left the room. Going to the dressing room, he started to thank Higgins when the man instead said, “Do you wish for me to sleep in front of the servants’ door in case she comes back?”
“Perhaps, that would be best.” Darcy sighed. He was not a cruel man, and he wished this night hadn’t been necessary. However, Bingley’s sibling had surprised him, and he wouldn’t allow it to happen again.
The more he thought about Elizabeth Bennet, the more he wanted to know about her, and he could picture her at Pemberley as well.
Darcy took off his banyan and crawled wearily under the covers wearing nothing but a smile and had the most pleasant dreams he could ever remember about a pretty lady and her very fine eyes.