Is it just me or does time move faster this time of year? I can’t believe it has been a month already. Maybe it’s because the days are getting shorter. Still, this is my favorite time of year. I love the smell of autumn (even though I’ve been allergic to the molds for as long as I can remember) and the crispness in the air. It makes it hard to remember that my current work takes place in the spring. lol
Speaking of which, here is another excerpt from my current WIP. For those of you just joining or wanting to reread the prior posts, here are the links:
What if?, What if? Part II, The Letter, Elizabeth’s Perspective, A Walk at Rosings, A Walk at Rosings Part II, What to Do About Wickham, Return to London, Meet the Gardiners, Meet the Gardiners Part II, and Meet the Gardiners Part III.
When we last left Darcy, he was resigning himself to the fact that he had to return to Meryton to deal with Wickham. Let’s see how he does. (Please forgive any typos – this has not been formally edited.)
Darcy and Philip slowed their steeds as they approached a crossroads a short distance from Meryton.
“Sir William’s home, Lucas Lodge, lays a mile down this road to the right and Meryton is directly ahead. Will you accompany me or seek out Colonel Forster?” Darcy asked his cousin.
Philip stroked his chin. “Perchance I will stop in the tavern and see if I stumble across our old friend.”
“My only request is you do not cause him to act in desperation.” Darcy held him in a firm gaze. “We do not want him to cause any further harm.”
“Agreed,” Philip responded with a nod. “Are there any urchins about that might maintain an eye upon him?”
Darcy frowned. “I fear I do not know. Certainly, there are children in every town who might enjoy earning a coin or two, but I had no need to notice during my previous stay in the area.”
“Which speaks well of the town. There are no beggars on main street so the poor must be well cared for.”
Having not given any notice previously, Darcy now had to agree with his cousin. Though mostly confined to larger cities, he had seen children begging outside many an inn during his travels throughout England, but not in Meryton.
The cousins parted ways, and Darcy followed the road leading to Lucas Lodge. Sir William himself opened the door as Darcy approached the house. “Mr. Darcy! What a pleasant surprise.”
“Sir William,” Darcy said with a bow. “I was hoping to have a moment of your time.”
“Of course, of course.” The gentleman led Darcy down a short hall to his study and ordered tea to be delivered at once. Upon motioning to a chair, he addressed his guest. “How may I be of assistance, sir?”
“I was recently in company with Miss Elizabeth Bennet during her visit to your daughter’s home.”
A smile spread across the gentleman’s features. “Ah, Miss Eliza. Delightful lady.” He cocked his eyebrow. “As is her sister, Miss Jane Bennet. Your friend’s departure from the area last autumn was a surprise.”
Darcy fought the urge to tug at his cravat. “Mr. Bingley and I had the pleasure of seeing Miss Bennet in London yesterday. I believe he was to take tea with her and her aunt this afternoon.”
After a fleeting look of surprise, Sir William’s smile grew. “Capital! Capital!” He leaned forwards. “Mrs. Bennet will be pleased to hear of it.”
Darcy grimaced. He had not considered the possibility of this news reaching the Bennet household. Now better guarding his words, he cleared his throat. “I am certain her daughter will alert her should there be any newsworthy developments.”
“Quite right, quite right. Mustn’t raise hopes again if there is no guarantee of their fruition.” He sat back in his seat and appeared about to speak when there was a knock at the door. “Enter.”
A servant followed his order and sat a tray upon the closest table, poured a cup of tea for each of them, and left again.
“Miss Elizabeth and I were discussing a mutual acquaintance and I realised I may have information that would benefit the populace of Meryton.”
The gentleman eyed Darcy. Lifting his cup, he paused before taking a sip and asked, “Would this acquaintance be Lieutenant Wickham?”
Darcy nodded but did not have the opportunity to respond.
“Everyone noted the man’s interest in Miss Eliza which was rapidly switched to Miss Mary King upon her receiving her inheritance. Fishy business, there.”
“Have you the ear of the lady’s guardian?”
“Like that, is it?”
“I fear so. My experience with Mr. Wickham is of many years, and I have frequently been called upon to settle his debts once he departed an area.”
The knight’s eyes widened. “That is information the merchants would appreciate knowing. I am surprised you left the area without sharing this knowledge, sir.”
Darcy blushed. “It was poorly done on my side. My relationship with Mr. Wickham has been trying and I preferred to not become involved, but Miss Elizabeth hoped I could ensure her family and the neighbourhood would not suffer for his presence.”
“How may I be of assistance?” Sir William asked as he set his cup and saucer upon his desk. “May I suggest we visit Miss King’s uncle. He is visiting from Liverpool at the moment.”
Having planned on simply passing on his information to Sir William and returning to London, Darcy was surprised the man would expect him to accompany him while he carried out the task of spreading the word regarding Mr. Wickham’s shortcomings. Seeming to sense Darcy’s wariness, his host continued.
“I am certain Mr. King will have questions I shall be unable to answer, while you are more familiar with Mr. Wickham’s history before his arrival in our small village.”
Darcy nodded. “Certainly. Do the Kings live in Meryton or on a property outside of the town? Perhaps we could speak to the merchants as well.” He took a sip of tea. “I should tell you; my cousin is currently visiting Colonel Forster. It seems the militia is to spend the summer at Brighton and, as a member of the regulars, Colonel Fitzwilliam wished to suggest Colonel Forster ensure his troops left the area without debts to the local merchants. It would reflect poorly on the His Majesty’s army.”
“Quite right, quite right. Shall we?”
Darcy nodded and set his cup and saucer aside.
“I would call for my carriage, but it is a beautiful day and a short walk. It will enable us to speak to my neighbours as well.”
Straightening his shoulders, Darcy agreed and they made their way towards town.
I know, this one was a bit short but it was the best place to stop before the rest of the scene. Poor Darcy, he’s being forced out of his comfort zone much more than he would like. Just wait until he has to convince a certain young lady that her favorite isn’t what he appears. hmmm
For those of you in the states, have a happy Thanksgiving Day! Try not to eat too much. 😉