The Plight of the Darcy Brothers

BOOK: The Plight of the Darcy Brothers
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Copyright © 2009 by Marsha Altman

Cover and internal design © 2009 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

 

Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.

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FAX: (630) 961–2168

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Altman, Marsha.

The plight of the Darcy brothers / Marsha Altman.

p. cm.

I. Austen, Jane, 1775-1817. Pride and prejudice. II. Title.

PS3601.L853P57 2009

813'.6--dc22

2009017531

 

Printed and bound in the United States of America
VP 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Contents

Dedication

Chapter 1: The Master of His Realm

Chapter 2: Dark Clouds at Brighton

Chapter 3: The Sad Tale of Mary Bennet

Chapter 4: Storm at Chatton

Chapter 5: The D'Arcy's of Normandy

Chapter 6: The Account in Question

Chapter 7: The Invitation

Chapter 8: The Last Monks of Mont Claire

Chapter 9: The Royal Ball

Chapter 10: His Royal Highness

Chapter 11: Appointment with a Doctor

Chapter 12: The Longest Night

Chapter 13: Proper Discipline

Chapter 14: Going to Chapel

Chapter 15: Fire and Lies

Chapter 16: Stumbling Block

Chapter 17: Pilgrimage

Chapter 18: The Would-Be Priest

Chapter 19: Brian Maddox Rides Again

Chapter 20: The Last Journey

Chapter 21: The Long Way Home

Chapter 22: The Sad Tale of Mrs. Reynolds

Chapter 23: The Worst Kind of Call

Chapter 24: The Last Bennet

Chapter 25: The Darcy Brotherhood

Chapter 26: Requiem

Chapter 27: Sympathy for the Devil

Chapter 28: Epilogue

Historical Inaccuracies

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Dedication

 

To Mary Anne Dietrich, my sixth grade English teacher,
for believing in me.

 

And

 

To Kelly, Madison, and Hannah Scott,
for being really understanding when their mother disappears
behind the computer to edit for me.

 

 

 

 

THE MASTER OF HIS REALM

LOOKING OUT ON THE lands of Pemberley and surrounding Derbyshire as a king would his kingdom, and surveying all that was within his grasp, Fitzwilliam Darcy would normally breathe in a deep sigh of relief that all was under his control. He was the master of his own fate. He had been a loyal son, a diligent student, an excellent outdoorsman, a suitable gentleman, a good friend, a loving husband and brother, and now was a caring father as well. He handled every situation that had arisen, no matter how trying, usually with the utmost civility and control—not always, but usually.

Darcy supposed, with what little emotional distance he had left in him, he could look back on the matter and say that one who tempted God forced the Lord's hand to prove that Mr. Darcy of Pemberley and Derbyshire was
not
, in fact, the master of his own fate. He just wished it could have been done in a manner that was a bit more… subtle.

“Brother?”

He didn't turn to address Georgiana properly when he heard
her voice. That would have required him standing, and he did not have the inclination to move. Manners would just have to suffer. Manners were gone from him entirely. “Yes?”

“Do you want something?” she stammered. “I mean, may I get you something? You've—you've just been out here a long time.”

Her,
serving
him? Didn't he have a well-paid staff for that?
No
, he remembered, he'd shooed them all away. “No, thank you. Is she awake?”

“No.”

Good. “
I'm fine. Thank you for inquiring.”

She took that as a dismissal, which was good enough for him; he was not interested in having a conversation with his sister, or anyone for that matter besides Elizabeth, and then he had no idea of what to say. There hadn't been a course for this at Cambridge.
What a waste of time; studying literature when it all amounted to nothing.
He should have gone to medical school. He should have had a profession as a doctor and not been a uselessly idle gentleman who could do nothing of any worth in a crisis.

Georgiana had returned, because he felt her soft touch as she put a blanket over his shoulders. There was a chill in the evening air, but so far his mind had been elsewhere. “Just so you don't catch cold,” she said, and disappeared again. Maybe she didn't know what to say
either
. Not that the situation didn't merit excessive confusion or sorrow. That it had been unexpected, however, just proved fools of them all.

Elizabeth's courses had descended on her when they shouldn't have, four months into her term. He could only think “courses” because that seemed a less vulgar way to describe it than just bleeding, which was what it was. And pain. She had been a
little stoic at first, but she did nothing to hide her alarm and rang for the most knowledgeable woman on these matters on the grounds, which was Mrs. Reynolds. Elizabeth was dismissive of his worries, perhaps fearing they would eclipse her own, and might have tried to ignore her condition entirely if it hadn't continued, and if pain hadn't set in. By the time the doctor arrived, their child was gone, though the doctor insisted on not calling it that, or having them call it that.

This was not the first time, but it was drastically more painful. Elizabeth's first term after giving birth to Geoffrey had also ended quite abruptly, and though that was startling, they had remained upbeat about her future prospects. The second term proceeded further along, so much so that Darcy would swear to her he could see a difference in her, even if she could detect none, and would whisper encouraging words to her at night.

That the Darcys' hopes for a second child had disappeared again for no apparent reason and in a chamber pot hit them both at a level they hadn't expected. Elizabeth was a normal woman and, in the course of their marriage, could expect to miscarry, perhaps as often as she carried to term. That her mother had never done so was a wonder unto itself, with all of the emphasis on the lack of sons in the Bennet family, Elizabeth admitted, between sobbing and being forced into bed from exhaustion.

This was not a formal mourning; no one had died, and there was every temptation to close ranks, at least for the moment. Nonetheless, from the very first look he had at the amount of blood she was losing (and where she was losing it from), Darcy had called for Dr. Maddox, who very unfortunately lived in Town and, therefore, could not appear in Derbyshire at a moment's notice. They had to settle for the local doctor, who
was perfectly competent and on whom they had relied in the past, but Daniel Maddox still seemed a magical wonder who could save everyone and do no wrong. He had, in the space of three months, saved both Darcy's and his own brother's lives. But no, Dr. Maddox was in the south, and the message would not have reached him before all was over and done. If he did apply to Pemberley, it would only be to give his regrets as a relative for the unhappy circumstances.

Elizabeth had to tell Jane; of course, everyone would have to be told, because everyone had been told Elizabeth was with child some time before, but there was an order to imparting the news, and letters could not be formally set out like party invitations. It was more that Elizabeth demanded no one see her and then finally cried for her sister, leaving Darcy to fill in the order of the correspondences. In the shortest note and with his most precise and ordered handwriting, betraying nothing of what he felt, he wrote to Longbourn with the unhappy news and left it entirely to the Bennets' discretion as to who would come. Mary Bennet was still on the Continent, and Lydia was still the wife of George Wickham and, therefore, did not enter into his thinking.

He wrote to the Gardiners even more briefly, barely more than a line. The Hursts he would leave to Bingley, to whom he had applied by courier. The Bingleys had arrived within the hour. The only reason Darcy was willing to leave Elizabeth's side was because her sister had joined her. Whether they were talking or not was none of his business.

He was genuinely both happy Bingley was there and not in the mood to have a conversation with him, something he had made known mainly (he hoped) by inflection when he addressed Bingley, and then by disappearing onto the balcony outside
his rarely used bedroom. He remembered through a haze that gentlemen did not show their tears, and that much stuck with him enough that he took the privacy afforded to him by Jane's arrival to disappear.

BOOK: The Plight of the Darcy Brothers
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