Thus, without further ado, I’d like to share an excerpt. The working title of this book is “The Bonds of Friendship.” At present, I don’t have a series title, but that should be coming soon. The excerpt is from the first chapter and forms an important event in the lives of our characters and one in particular who has a much different destiny waiting for him than he had in Pride and Prejudice. Please note that it’s still a little rough. I hope you enjoy it!
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“Do it now, William!” exclaimed Anthony Fitzwilliam to his younger cousin.
William, ever a sober child, hesitated, much to his companions’ annoyance. Then, as Anthony opened his mouth again to again instruct him, William dropped his wriggling bundle into the laundry, and the four boys scampered away, hiding themselves nearby, eager to see the results of their prank.
“What a fright Lucy shall get!” snickered George Wickham. “She always was a prissy sort of girl for a maid.”
“If we have any luck, maybe Hettie will be nearby too,” said Anthony.
George did not know what Anthony had against Hettie, but Lucy, he was certain, had tattled to Mr. Darcy the previous week when he had tracked mud into Pemberley’s halls. While he could not, in good conscience, blame her, as it created more work for her and the other maids, it was not as if George had intended to be naughty. This, he thought, was a good sort of vengeance on the tale-bearing girl.
When the girl in question came for the basket of laundry, the results were predictable. Upon being lifted, the frog placed within the basket croaked its displeasure and made its bid for freedom, startling the maid who held the basket. The sight of the slimy creature caused a shriek to issue forth from her lips. The basket flew up, scattering the dirty linens about the hall, covering the unfortunate amphibian, who hopped about croaking, and trying to free itself. The maid’s cry, of course, brought others running to discover the source of the to-do.
This was, of course, the cue for the four boys to retreat, which they did with alacrity. George Wickham, by chance more than design, took a path away from the others which led to his escape without anyone seeing him. After some time of hiding away in an out of the way location within the house, George began to wonder why he had not seen the other boys. That pulled him out at length, as he began to search for them. He found them in the stables.
“You are cleaning out the stalls?” asked George, wondering if his eyes were playing tricks on him.
“I think Papa instructed the stable hands to leave the stalls for a week,” said William with a disgusted look at his shovel, which was caked with horse manure.
“And to drag more in from outside while we are not looking,” added Charles.
“But you must own that it was worth it,” said Anthony. “The look on Lucy’s face when our friend made his bid for freedom will remain with me for some time.”
“Why was I not found and punished too?” asked George.
William shrugged. “Father did not ask if you were involved.”
“And you did not tell him?”
“Of course not,” said Anthony. “Why, if we informed him, you would be watched more carefully. The next time we prank one of the maids, you can be our secret weapon!”
“Oh, do be silent, Anthony,” said William. Turning back to George, he added: “We would not bear tales about you to our fathers, George. You are our friend.”
“But I was involved too!”
“And you escaped punishment!” said Charles. “Enjoy your freedom this time, George, for next time you may not be as lucky.”
The experience was one of profound impact to George Wickham. Though he had always known he was of a lower social strata than his friends, the bonds of friendship between them were strong, sufficient to induce them to support each other without reservation, to treat each other as brothers. Given that bond between them, George decided he could not, in good conscience, keep his silence and avoid the punishment his brothers had received.
Thus, George marched into the house and, upon discovering the location of their fathers, entered the room and strode up to his father and Mr. Darcy. “Papa, I have a confession to make.”
“Oh?” asked his father. Had George been only a little older, he might have seen the knowing gleam in his father’s eye.
“I participated in the prank on the maid. It is not right that William and the others are punished while I remain free.”
Mr. Darcy shared a look with his father, who turned back to him. “That is serious, George. Then you must share in the punishment with the others.”
“I understand, Father. I shall go to the stables directly.”
“Wait a moment, George,” said Mr. Darcy. The gentleman beckoned, prompting George to approach him. “Why did you come to us? You could have escaped without any repercussions if you remained silent.”
“That would not be fair, Mr. Darcy,” said George. “William, Anthony, and Charles are my friends. I would not wish them to suffer for something in which I participated when I remain unscathed.”
Once again, the gentlemen shared a look before Mr. Darcy once again addressed him. “I am proud of you, George, not only for being courageous enough to confess your guilt, but for being such a good friend. Remember this when you become older, for there are few greater blessings than the trust and friendships you retain when you become an adult.”
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy,” said George with a nod.
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Let me know what you think in the comments. This story is far different from anything I’ve ever done before in the variation world, and I’m really excited about it!