Hi friends! I hope you are all doing well! We have a scary hurricane heading towards us at the moment… 😮
But in happier news I have the lovely Jennifer Redlarczyk here for a visit today! Just a few weeks back she released Darcy’s Melody – a book I’m very excited about as it combines my two loves Jane Austen and music! Today Jennifer shares an intriguing scene between Darcy and Elizabeth and in honor of someone’s special birthday today, Jennifer is sharing an outtake from Darcy’s Melody as well!! We hope you enjoy!
Greetings! I am pleased to be back on Meredith’s blog today with my new release, Darcy’s Melody, inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In the year 1811 the war with France continues to rage, sending many injured men home to England where accommodations are limited. Raising funds to build an additional structure at the London Hospital for the wounded has become a top priority for Lady Eleanor Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock. She has not only enlisted members of the ton to assist with her committee, but women who are well-known throughout the trade community. It is within this endeavour that Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana Darcy first meet through a mutual love of music. In this particular scene, however, Darcy and Elizabeth encounter each other under very different circumstances.
From Chapter One
Under the Cover of Books
Tuesday, 21 May 1811
Ballard’s was an eclectic treasure trove of rare first editions and unusual books located on the thoroughfare of Piccadilly. Although it appeared somewhat dingy and dimly lit from the outside, inside the ageing building the atmosphere was inviting, and a vast array of literature beckoned lovers of the written word.
Promptly at one o’clock, Fitzwilliam Darcy entered the bookshop and walked directly towards his favoured section. While paging through a military war journal, he instinctively glanced toward the back of the shop. Even with several patrons milling about the establishment today, Darcy’s eyes were drawn to a young lady who appeared to be examining a small book in the poetry section.
Closing the journal, Darcy ambled over to where the woman stood and began perusing the titles on a nearby shelf. After taking a book in hand, he purposely turned his head towards the young lady. Captivated by her large, dark emerald-green eyes sparkling with mischief, he felt his lips curve into a half smile when she spoke.
Pray, sir, may I trouble you to hand me the book of Cowper poetry on the upper shelf?”
Darcy nodded. “With pleasure. Cowper is an excellent choice.”
As he reached for the book, she continued, “One poem in particular reminds me of Oakham Mount in Hertfordshire. I find I am rather desirous of its solace today if only through the eyes of the poet.”
Handing her the book, he answered in kind. “I understand your sentiments for I, too, am from the country and have longed to return to Derbyshire.”
Arching an eyebrow in his direction, she inclined her head and said, “I thank you, sir.”
You are most welcome.”
As she turned the pages of her selection in search of the poem, Darcy heard the young lady gasp when both of her books slid out of her hands and onto the floor. “Oh dear,” she sighed, stooping down to retrieve them.
Allow me,” he immediately offered. Both reaching for the books, Darcy felt her small, warm hand carefully slip a folded piece of paper into the palm of his own. The young lady had not replaced her glove after perusing her own book, and her skin was soft to the touch. Leaning closer, the faint scent of lavender seemed to strengthen, causing his chest to tighten and his heart to quicken in response.
Feigning innocence, she looked up at him and said, “Again, sir, I am in your debt. Perhaps I should make my purchases before I have another mishap.”
Permit me to carry these to the desk for you.”
Acknowledging his offer with a slight curtsey, the young lady whispered, “Sir, I think we are being observed.” Then speaking louder, she added, “Thank you again. You are most kind.”
Your servant.” He bowed. With his senses heightened from being forewarned of impending danger, Darcy spoke softly in return, “How did you come? I would not have you leave here unescorted.”
There is a carriage waiting, sir. A manservant is nearby and a maid is within.”
Then leave now and be careful.”
~ ♫ ~
I’m sure you have many questions about this clandestine meeting which is for the most part explained during the first chapter of my book. If you haven’t purchased the book, please feel free to check out the first two chapters of Darcy’s Melody in the preview on Amazon.
Now, with today being September 12, Darcy’s birthday, I’ve decided to include a short story which was first posted on www.darcyandlizzy.com where you can still find a few other outtakes from my book. This particular story celebrates the birth of our hero. Enjoy!
Her Most Precious Gift
The floorboards of the study seemed to groan as the master of Pemberley paced relentlessly from one end of the room to the other. His steps were heavy, and his muscles ached from lack of sleep. With each cry that echoed through the halls of the great house, James Darcy’s mind was filled with anguish, knowing his wife was suffering.
Father in heaven, I beg of you, protect her and the life of our child,” he prayed. Although Mr. Purdy, his doctor from London, had been in residence for the past three weeks tending his wife, the man’s presence did not lessen James’ fears. Last year, one of his own tenants had lost a child in the birthing process and then shortly after, the man’s wife perished from childbed fever. “If I were to lose them, I do not know how I should ever survive,” James whispered.
With Lady Anne’s next cry, James could endure the agony no longer. Flinging the door against the wall, he rushed from the study. Taking the stairs at a run, he climbed two at a time before striding down the hall to his wife’s chambers. Arriving at the entrance to her room, James nearly bumped into his ever-faithful housekeeper who stood porter at the door. Demanding entrance he bellowed, “Stand aside, Mrs. Reynolds. I must see my wife.”
Sir, I am sorry, but you cannot enter. Mr. Purdy has requested that you adhere to what is expected and remain outside of the birthing room until he sends for you.”
Stepping back, he glared at the small woman who dared to defy him. Though James Darcy dearly wished to ignore the societal expectations of a gentleman during a woman’s confinement, he also knew that it was his duty to abide by proper decorum. Regaining his composure, he asked, “Tell me, will it be much longer? I fear for her life and that of our child.”
The kindly woman smiled, “Mr. Darcy, trust me, all will be well. Lady Anne is tired, but her pains are coming closer now, and soon the babe will be with us.”
Thank you.” He nodded in compliance. “Please tell Lady Anne my prayers are with her and the child.” With that, James turned and walked in the direction of the nursery.
Entering the room, James briefly allowed himself to be distracted while he proudly examined all that his wife had done in preparation for their child. Decorated in pleasing hues of sunny yellows and greens, the room was cheerful and inviting.
Picking up a small wooden horse carved by one of his tenants for the babe, he unconsciously rubbed his fingers back and forth over the smooth wood as he walked about the room. Throughout his estate, Lady Anne was known to be an avid horsewoman and a lover of all nature. Thus, many such gifts had arrived as of late. Continuing to hold the figure, James took a seat in the corner rocking chair. Ever since she had felt the quickening, he had often found his wife sitting here, singing and talking to the babe she carried.
Looking about the room, it seemed as though every corner displayed something that would delight a child. Still, it was her personal touch which gave him the greatest pleasure. On the table lay a journal filled with pictures of animals Lady Anne had illustrated for the purpose of teaching their child as he grew. Directly across from where he sat, she had hung one of her larger drawings, a picture of the pond.
Dearest, you have loved that old pond for as long as I can remember. Even when your family came to visit during the summer months, it was a rare day that I did not find you there.” He chuckled with the recollection.
It was at the pond where James Darcy, a young man of one and twenty, first took notice of Lady Anne Fitzwilliam. From early on, Lady Anne had been fascinated with nature and was determined to catalogue nearly every kind of plant, bush and tree existing between Matlock and Pemberley. On that particular day, she had been sketching plants growing at the water’s edge and had accidently soiled her dress in the process. When he happened to come upon her, his first response was to criticise her carelessness. To his surprise, she chose to return his rebukes with one of her own.
Lady Anne, I do not understand you at all,” he chided. “Why must you always come to the pond whenever you visit Pemberley? I seem to recall that young ladies of your age should be netting purses and embroidering handkerchiefs, or better still, practicing their instruments.”
“Mr. Darcy, you may be the next heir to Pemberley, but I cannot help wondering if you are truly appreciative of the treasure which lies at your feet. Please forgive my impertinence, but in my opinion, unless you understand this land and embrace all it has to offer, you will never be a proper caretaker.” Lady Anne quickly turned away and began to collect her sketch books and pencils with the intention of returning to the manor house.
While James had difficulty identifying with Lady Anne’s passion for nature, he was taken aback by her implication that he would never be a proper caretaker. No one had ever questioned his suitability to be the Master of Pemberley on any level. Not willing to be so easily dismissed, he proceeded, “Lady Anne, I would like to know your meaning.”
“Forgive me, I have said too much.”
Not wanting to end the discussion, he asked, “Will you not continue to share your opinion with me?”
Lady Anne looked at him with curiosity. “If you wish,” she shyly smiled.
“I do,” he said looking into her sparkling blue eyes. It was the first time James had ever noticed their vibrant colour, and he could not help but smile.
Very well then, I shall be happy to show you some of my work,” she answered. In doing so, he not only developed a new appreciation for the essence of the land which he had often taken for granted, but he found himself very much impressed with a certain young lady.
My dearest love, I have been a fortunate man to see my legacy through your eyes as I manage our vast estate,” he murmured.
Continuing to study the picture, James had to admit that the pond area had also become his favourite refuge, since it held many treasured memories of time spent there alone with his wife. More recently, during the late spring and much of the summer, James and Lady Anne had often picnicked there when they felt the need for quiet and solitude.
On one such day, the happy couple had taken to that very spot. Knowing how much his dear wife loved country wild flowers, James had set out to pick a small bouquet for her pleasure while she rested beneath a large shade tree. Upon his return, the vision presented before him was overpowering.
Having removed her bonnet and gloves, his lovely wife sat upon a large rug, reclining against the trunk of a tree. Several long curls no longer bound by their pins, beckoned him to her side as they lazily blew about in the gentle breeze. All was quiet save for the intermittent sound of water splashing against the shoreline and the simple song of a thrush who accompanied his wife as she hummed a familiar lullaby. There she sat with her eyes closed and her hand tenderly caressing the swell of her body where their child was growing.
My darling,” he quietly spoke, not wishing to startle her when he placed the flowers on the rug and sat beside her. “Never, have I seen you looking lovelier.” He kissed his wife on the cheek, whispering how much he loved her as he covered her slender fingers with his large hand. To his delight, James Darcy was rewarded with the miracle of life, when mere seconds later he felt the babe quicken for the first time.
Anne, is this our child which I feel stirring here, beneath my hand?”
Yes, my love, it is.” With eyes misting, she fondly returned his smile. “Our child grows stronger with each passing day.”
Again he felt the quickening. “Does it feel uncomfortable?” he asked in wonder.
No, not yet, the babe is too small. The movements will become stronger as I continue to increase. For now, I am content, and I find the quickening of our child is very comforting.”
I am glad to hear it.”
Interrupting his reverie, James’ senses became heightened by a sudden quiet which now pervaded the house. Though his wife’s painful cries had stopped, he had not yet heard the crying of the babe. Filled with panic, James bolted from the room and ran down the hall.
Hang propriety, I shall see my wife this instant!”
At the moment he thrust open the door, James became aware that all was not well. Mrs. Reynolds was holding his wife’s hand and wiping her tear stained face while Mr. Purdy along with the midwife, both huddled over the child who had yet to make a sound.
James,” she sobbed, reaching for him with outstretched arms. “The babe does not cry.”
Not wasting a moment, James was at Lady Anne’s side embracing her and whispering words of endearment and reassurance into her damp hair. Although he expected the worst, he tried not to show his fear as he comforted her.
Seconds later the doctor slapped the babe on the backside once again. Without delay, a loud cry was heard by all. Still holding the babe in his arms, Mr. Purdy turned to the couple exclaiming, “Mr. Darcy, Lady Anne, I offer both of you my congratulations on the birth of a healthy son!”
Thank God,” Mrs. Reynolds murmured, quickly moving to initiate the cleaning of the babe and her mistress.
May we see our son before he is bathed?” Lady Anne nearly pleaded.
Of course, My Lady.” Without hesitation, the doctor quickly wiped some of the mucus from his reddened face and body before wrapping the crying child in some clean linen. Carrying him to his loving parents, he carefully placed the boy in Lady Anne’s waiting arms.
Oh my precious child,” she cooed, kissing the top of his dark, matted hair. Her voice was calming, and the babe ceased his crying as she continued to talk to him in her soothing voice.
Curiously pulling back the cloth to inspect his newly born son, James choked with pride upon seeing his son’s long body, lean and strong. “He is perfect, my love, just as you are. Oh, how I love you both, my darling.”
What shall we call him?” she asked never looking away from the face of her beloved son.
I believe your surname, Fitzwilliam, would be fitting, as is often the custom. It is a strong name and one that will be worthy of his position in society when he reaches manhood.”
Smiling, she looked up at her husband while saying, “And if I may, I would like to add James, after his dear papa.” He nodded in approval. “Then, if you do not object, I would add yet one more. In honour of your younger brother who is no longer with us, I would like to call him Alexander.”
I am pleased, my love, a very fitting name. Fitzwilliam James Alexander Darcy, the next heir of Pemberley.”
Yes, the next heir of Pemberley.”
Oooh! Such an intriguing encounter between Darcy and Elizabeth, I cannot wait to learn more about their clandestine encounters and what it all means!
And such a touching sequence about Mr. and Mrs. Darcy – I love that Mrs. Darcy was outspoken and had a fondness for natures, sounds like she would have gotten on famously with Elizabeth Bennet!
Thanks again to Meredith for hosting me today. Readers, please leave your comments below to be entered in my giveaway for two eBooks (International) and for one print book accompanied by a Darcy’s Melody tote bag. While you’re at it, I’m sure Darcy wouldn’t mind a birthday wish or two, although I would prefer it if you sent me your favorite cake since I do virtual eating very well. Then if you have time, please check out my YouTube channel where I’ve recorded all of Lizzy’s songs along with a book trailer. Also, do stop by my Pinterest page and take a look at my chapter by chapter posting of Darcy’s Melody in pictures. Good luck! Jen Red ♫
~ Connect with Jennifer ~
Today Jennifer brings with her some lovely prizes for me to give away in celebration of her new release!! TWO ebooks of Darcy’s Melody (open internationally) and ONE canvas book bag with a print copy of Darcy’s Melody inside (open to US residents) will be given away to some lucky winners!!! Woot woot!!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Jennifer!
- This giveaway is open worldwide (ebooks only). Thank you, Jennifer!
- This giveaway ends September 19th!