I have written before about my penchant for grabbing JAFF story titles straight out of Jane Austen quotes. Here is the quote that inspired my current work-in-progress, Something to Think Of:
“Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions.”
In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet uttered those consoling words to Elizabeth in response to Jane’s disappointed hopes. I love that he went on to recommend George Wickham as the ideal candidate to disappoint Elizabeth’s hopes as well.
Incidentally, my National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2020 project is inspired by the same Austen quote. It is Crossed a Little in Love. If you love reading about original characters as well as serious competition for Elizabeth’s heart, you are sure to love this novel-length story.
As for Something to Think Of, both Darcy and Mr. Bingley will face competition from other gentlemen vying for the two eldest Bennet daughters’ affections.
Here’s an excerpt for your reading pleasure:
Kent, England–Spring 1812
His hands clasped behind his back, a worn leather-bound tome, folded in two and tucked snuggly in the pocket of his long black overcoat, William Collins ambled along the path. What a fine morning for a leisurely ramble. With such wonders of natures stretching before him, how could he not have conjured up what he supposed to be the perfect sermon for next Sunday’s service?
Continuing his solitary trek, Collins silently congratulated himself. Nothing would pierce the morning’s bliss.
Moments later, the fortunate young man of only five and twenty came to an abrupt halt. Every line of his mentally prepared sermon escaped his mind, for just ahead in the lane, stood Fitzwilliam Darcy, the distinguished young gentleman from Derbyshire and nephew of Collins’s noble patroness, the Honorable Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
A fortuitous occasion, indeed.
Collins arched his dark, bushy brow. Had I known Mr. Darcy frequented this particular path, I would have traveled it more often. His first inclination was to speed up his pace to greet the other man. He hesitated.
Mr. Darcy’s agitated state appeared anything but welcoming. His pacing gave one to suspect he bore the weight of the world on his shoulder. Before Collins had too long to ponder what must weigh on Mr. Darcy’s mind, someone else appeared from a distance – a young woman donned in a light muslin gown, a tan spencer, and tan bonnet.
Mr. Collins’s caught his breath. Elizabeth!
A distant cousin whose acquaintance Collins had made several months prior, miss Elizabeth Bennett was now a guest in his humble abode. He had his wife, Mrs. Charlotte Collins nee Lucas, to thank for such a fate, owing to the two ladies being intimate friends. Elizabeth bore the unhappy distinction of being headstrong and a bit imprudent, in Collins’s opinion. Despite his misgivings, he went along with the scheme to welcome Elizabeth into his home—his reasoning grounded in a peculiar self-satisfying concoction of gloating and spitefulness. As a means of healing a long-standing breach in his family, Collins had ventured to Hertfordshire intending to choose a bride from among the five Bennet sisters, whose father’s estate he stood next in line to inherit owing to an entail to the male line. Elizabeth had been his choice, but she spurned Collins’s marriage proposal–a grave mistake on her part that he was unlikely to forgive and one he certainly would never forget.
Half appalled, half curious, he wondered aloud, “Is this the reason the young lady accepted my dear wife’s invitation to visit us here in Kent?”
An even more shocking notion crossed his mind. Is this the reason she refused to go to Rosings yesterday? Is this the reason that Mr. Darcy fled our party soon after learning of Elizabeth’s absence?
The events leading up to Collins’s proposal to his cousin and her steadfast rejection of his proposal took on new meaning. This explains Mr. Darcy’s singling out Miss Elizabeth the evening before that fateful date at the Netherfield ball.
Collins’s cautioning words to his cousin crossed his mind: “My situation in life, my connections with the family of de Bourgh, and my relationship to your own, are circumstances highly in my favor; and you should take it into further consideration, that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small that it will, in all likelihood, undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications.”
His being a man of the cloth, the thought of spying on the couple was unconscionable. However, with his own reputation at stake, he could hardly turn a blind eye to such impropriety. Needing to be sure of what was unfolding before his eyes, Collins stooped down, and bolstered by a long stretch of hedgerows to shield his presence, eased a little closer. Though unable to hear what was being said, he saw Mr. Darcy extend his hand bearing a missive of some sort. Making matter worse, Elizabeth accepted it with nary a moment’s hesitation.
A young woman alone in the lane with a single young man was scandal-ridden in and of itself. Her accepting a letter from him – a man with whom she had no publicly acknowledge arrangement – was beyond the pale.
And this was the woman whom he had invited into his home. This woman whose propensity to flaunt proper decorum and who had so recently regarded his own noble patroness with such undignified impertinence had subjected both Collins and his dear wife to censure and shame.
Does she have no consideration for my standing in the community, my place upon my parishioners?
He always knew his cousin to be a selfish person who only acted in accordance with her own interests. Her rejection of his marriage proposal was proof enough of that. He never supposed that her selfishness might be the means of his own undoing—the loss of his esteem in the eyes of Lady Catherine and the world owing to such a connection.
Collins watched in wonder as Mr. Darcy bowed and walked away after Elizabeth accepted the letter. He could only speculate on what such behavior signified. Perhaps this brief encounter was merely the precursor to another rendezvous—some place more secluded.
Determined to find out, Collins trailed his cousin from a careful distance. He watched in wonder as she tore open the missive and read its contents. He thought he detected more vexation than pleasure in her countenance as she perused the pages.
Had Mr. Darcy written to put an end to their forbidden liaison? He was engaged to marry Miss Anne de Bourgh, after all. Collins knew this to be correct, for Lady Catherine always spoke of it as being the favorite wish of her family.
Collins did not know whether to feel sad for his cousin or glad for this turn of events. Had she not invited such heartbreak upon herself by aspiring to a station in life so far above her own as to be laughable?
Uneasiness washed all over him. This is no time to rejoice, for there still exists the possibility of Lady Catherine’s learning of my cousin’s brazenness.
Upon following his cousin for almost an hour, Collins resolved to return to the parsonage. Soon enough, Elizabeth was bound to come back to the house as well.
To his manner of thinking, there was but one way to guarantee an agreeable outcome for himself in the wake of his cousin’s scandalous behavior. He would be the one to inform his noble patroness. But first, he needed to get his hands on the letter that Mr. Darcy had given Elizabeth.
After I read Mr. Darcy’s letter to my cousin, I shall know and understand exactly what I must do.
Here’s something to think of: How do you think Collins will carry out his plan to get his hands on the letter? If successful, what do you suppose he will do next?
Something to Think Of is being posted on my Patreon page. I invite you to follow along as the story unfolds. Plus, check out all the benefits in store for Patreon supporters for as little as $1 per month.
Starting November 13th, one of my most endearing book babies will be 99 cents worldwide in preparation for an upcoming BookBub Featured Deal. The designated title is He Taught Me to Hope. It’s book one in the Darcy and the Young Knight’s Quest series. Here are the new covers for all the books in the series:
If you haven’t read the story, this is the time to grab your copy. What’s more book two, The Mission, is only 99 cents, and book three, Hope and Sensibility, will be reduced to $2.99 (or its worldwide equivalency).
If you’re an audiobook lover, you will love the companion narrations for the three books in the Darcy and the Young Knight’s Quest series. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the title of either of the three stories in the subject line–whichever one you desire. Subject to available quantities of US and UK promo codes, I will send one to you as soon as can be. I simply need you to claim your awarded code upon receipt due to their limited supply.