Getting Out of Our
Hope for Mr. Darcy Excerpt
I have to tell you I’m a little giddy right now! We are nearly finished doing round one edits on my next book, Hope for Mr. Darcy, the first of three books in the Hope Series. This series follows three of our favorite characters into their happily ever after. Each of these characters, Mr. Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Georgiana, all start with no hope for finding love, but eventually, they learn some valuable lessons. One must hope for love, and then, and only then, do you gain perspective and see what is in front of you.
I hadn’t realized it until I sent the books to be edited, but there are no specific villainous characters in any of the three books and I wondered if that would be a problem. I decided that in reading, some of the best written angst does not require an actual villain. Sometimes our foes are within ourselves. Sometimes misunderstandings, or assumptions, or our fears give us the biggest problems.
How often do we get in our own way? How often do we let our weaknesses trip us repeatedly? How many times do we need to learn to swallow our pride and allow life to be infiltrated with blessings?
I have decided to share an excerpt of Hope for Mr. Darcy, one that occurs at the beginning of chapter 2. At this point in the book, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy were both summoned to the parsonage but only the colonel heeded the call because not more than 24 hours before, the wretched Hunsford proposal occurred where Elizabeth refused him. What Darcy assumes is that Elizabeth wanted the Colonel to validate the contents of the letter; what he does not know, is that Elizabeth is sick, very sick. The colonel stumbled upon information that indicates that Darcy had proposed and Elizabeth had refused him. Let us see if Mr. Darcy can get out of his own way or if he will let his weaknesses trip him repeatedly. Forgive the length of the excerpt but I had to include the whole scene to make my point.
“We need to talk,” Colonel Fitzwilliam ordered with an air of authority.
“I am busy right now, Fitzwilliam, and I have no desire to discuss anything but these estate books. They are in such disarray that I shall be hard-pressed to make them balance before our morning departure.” Darcy had been trying his hardest to focus, but it was for naught. His mind and heart were a quarter-mile away at the parsonage.
“Yes, about that. Perhaps we should delay our departure for a few more days.”
“I cannot. As much as I enjoy listening to Aunt Catherine’s dictations on the subjects of my future nuptials, Anne’s imaginary talents, and the cost of the chimneys at Rosings, I must leave as planned.”
“Really? How interesting that none of that stopped us from postponing our departure twice already this visit.” Darcy made no reply. “Darcy, listen to me. You need to go to the parsonage. Miss Elizabeth is ill, and she is asking for you.”
Darcy’s lead broke as a pressure infused his hand and body at those words. He took a shallow breath and tried to suppress the desire to ask about her. He had told his cousin that he did not want to discuss her. “I am sorry to hear that. Please send my condolences.” He took out the knife and started to mend his pencil. When his hands began to quiver, he nonchalantly turned his back on Richard and leaned over the wastebasket to hide the shaking. Silence fell on the room, and the whittling noises echoed loudly.
What did Richard mean that she was ill? Ill like one of those headaches ladies employ when they want to be left alone? Yes, surely that was it. “The last man in the world . . .” He had to distance himself emotionally from anything that had to do with Miss Elizabeth. He had no choice. He could ill afford to demonstrate any interest in her welfare. Even if he were still desperately interested. More than anything, he wanted to know whether his letter had helped to refute the two accusations she had spat at him yesterday. But was there really any hope of that? No. There was no hope; not for Mr. Darcy.
But just as he wore away at the pencil, the man standing behind him was wearing him down with that blasted patient silence. He tried to calm himself. Mending a pencil took steady hands and clear eyes. He could not afford any tears now with Richard just standing there as if it were only a matter of time until Darcy broke down. Minutes passed.
The pencil was as sharp as he could get it, and he reluctantly returned to the desk and attempted to again assess this particular tenant’s supposed expenses and earnings. A new plow horse? Hadn’t he seen another tenant claim the same thing? He flipped the estate book back a few pages, eyes scanning for the entry that seemed familiar, when Richard silently reached over and shut the book.
“Look at me, man. I said that Miss Elizabeth was ill.”
Darcy let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and looked up at Colonel Fitzwilliam. “Have they sent for the apothecary?”
“Then what else is there to do? I cannot make her well by simply calling on her or extending my stay. What would it look like?”
Richard’s upper lip turned up slightly. “Yes, what would it look like?”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Well, despite the lack of any verbal confirmation on the situation, anyone with eyes can already see what things look like.”
Darcy could see that there would be little peace on the matter until he disclosed the facts. “Sit down, Richard.”
The colonel sat down. Darcy took the pencil and twirled it between his fingers, rolling it from pinky to the next and finally to the thumb, and back again. It was a nervous habit but one that helped buy time as he formed his thoughts. It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought about what to say to his cousin—he knew what he would say by heart now. He knew exactly which speech would appease him, and with his carefully worded statement, he felt confident that Richard would back down and let the issue drop. Or so he hoped.
“As you know, I met Miss Elizabeth in Hertfordshire, where I was my usual self. How is it you put it? Ah yes, as warm and inviting as a wintery midnight in Nova Scotia. Soon after, Miss Elizabeth met Mr. Wickham, who was stationed there as a militia officer. Given Miss Elizabeth’s poor first impression of me, she fell easily into the lies and deceits of that man. I think she may have even taken a fancy to him. I could not allow a nice lady like Miss Elizabeth to find herself in a compromising position. So in order to protect her and her sisters, I disclosed in a very private manner the story of how Wickham had used his charms to manipulate my sweet Georgiana into thinking she was in love. And since she did not hold me in very high regard, I offered your testimony as corroboration. I assume that is why she summoned you. But as I said before, I care little for her opinions. Now, may I have Aunt Catherine’s estate book back? I was very busy with an issue that needs my attention.” Darcy took a deep breath and prayed that it did not sound too rehearsed. He looked at his cousin, who gave him the disapproving look he saved for his insubordinate officers. He had not fooled him one bit. There was no satisfying that man.
Colonel Fitzwilliam walked over to the front of the desk and eyed Darcy’s hand, which he hadn’t realized was firmly gripping the corner of the desk. Darcy quickly moved it, but Richard eyes locked onto him. Darcy felt his conscious prick him as he remembered his father’s counsel—“Deceit of any form is the devil’s snare, Fitzwilliam. As soon as one abandons the path of truth, one gets lost in a world where up is down and down is up.” But he reasoned that he hadn’t actually lied; he had simply left out some of the more private parts of the story. Meanwhile, the colonel leaned back against the edge of the desk and patiently crossed his ankles.
After a few irritating and uncomfortable moments of silence, the colonel offered, “Since you will not ask, she is feverish and quite delusional. I only talked with her for a few minutes before returning here. She rambled and murmured about things that seemed impossible. Irrational, in fact. Do you care to hear what she had to say?”
“No.” It was the truth. “The mutterings of a feverish person should never be listened to. One never knows why they say the things they do.” Darcy continued to nervously pass the pencil from finger to finger mindlessly. “No doubt you found something amusing in her words.”
“Well, she said nothing of Wickham. But you were mentioned.” A smug look came upon the colonel’s face when he saw that Darcy had flinched.
“I suppose many people mention me in conversation every day. What makes Miss Elizabeth so special?”
His cousin grinned widely. “Yes, what does make Miss Elizabeth so special? Perhaps we could discuss this a bit.”
“Perhaps not,” Darcy countered. “Now, please give me the estate book, unless you plan to take up the duties of an estate manager. I would be happy to hand over Rosings to you. Pemberley keeps me plenty busy.”
“So busy that your two week visit to Hertfordshire turned into two months? Very peculiar if you ask me.”
Darcy was a little nervous with this line of questioning. “I do not recall anyone asking you. And in my letter, I explained my concerns. I felt it was unwise to leave Bingley alone in the neighborhood.”
“Yes, something about matchmaking mothers, if I recall,” Richard chuckled. “But Bingley is a grown man. If he fancied himself in love, then what does it matter that the mother wanted the match? Was the family really as disagreeable as all that?”
Darcy fidgeted in his seat and heard his own words from yesterday. “Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections?—to congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose conditions in life were so decidedly beneath my own?” Had he really said such a thing during a proposal? For the first time, he saw how truly brutal his words were. Honest or not, they must have wounded Elizabeth greatly.
“I say many things that are not necessarily of importance,” Darcy remarked. He stood and poured himself another drink.
Colonel Fitzwilliam walked up to his cousin, took the glass, and swallowed the entire contents. Then he slammed the glass on the table. “I will not do this, Darcy. I follow you to Rosings so that you can stomach the company of our aunt. I make excuses for you in London so you can leave parties early. I even watched over Georgiana when you insisted on traveling to the continent to look into that trade investment after you left Hertfordshire. But I am not a blind man. We will go see Miss Elizabeth,” he commanded. “I have already informed Aunt Catherine that we will be staying three more days. And I have told Poole to unpack your trunk. We will go see her now, and we will not even wait until Poole shaves you. No more estate books, no more mending pencils, no more drinks. You, me, the parsonage, now!”
Darcy felt an inkling of guilt at the colonel’s words. If Miss Elizabeth were feverish, she might not even remember that he came to see her. He could simply pay his respects, satisfy his cousin, and be done with it.
He nodded and took his great coat off the desk chair. He could do this. If she was ill, he could pay his respects. And as much as his heart ached to see her again, he would try not to get his hopes up. He was probably the last man on the earth that she wanted to see. In fact, he knew he was. He had heard it from her very lips yesterday.
So? What do you think? Was Darcy his own stumbling block? His wounded pride certainly was a hurdle. I’m so excited to share the Hope Series with you. For those of you who have not liked the Facebook page for the Hope Series, please make sure to do so. It can be found on www.facebook/prideandprejudice.HopeSeries.com. Right now we are looking at publishing all three books in 2016 starting in June with Hope for Mr. Darcy, then followed by Hope for Fitzwilliam 3 months later, and finally Hope for Georgiana in late December. I am sure you will hear more about them through the next coming year but if you want the latest, please follow the Facebook page.
Have you ever had a time when you were your worst stumbling block? Do you have a favorite weakness that has repeatedly caused you problems? Are you your worst hurdle? What has been the hardest thing you have overcome, the effort of doing so resulting in finding a level of happiness and fulfillment that could not have been found otherwise? I have loved being a part of Austen Authors because the discussion in the blogs have been so incredible! Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
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