Monday, April 22, 2013

What Happens After The Knock On The Door

I'm very close to the end of the first draft of Betrothed to Mr. Darcy. Yay! 

I know where the story is going from here but I had a bright idea to add a little twist to the story. I'm wondering if it was a stroke of brilliance or just a nutty act of desperation. 

Let me set the scene. It's the night before Lizzy and Mr. Darcy are to be married (and Jane and Bingley too, but they aren't the stars here). Everyone has gathered at Netherfield and spirits are high. Everyone behaves well and the mood is festive. Until Mrs. Bennet commits a couple of major, and loud, faux pas. 

This scene takes place after the Bennets have returned home and Lizzy is in her bedroom reflecting on the evening and on the morrow. 

But there was no hiding it. There was no avoiding it. No matter how she or Mr. Darcy comported themselves or how far away they might live, she would never be free of the association with her family. She might be able to bear their vulgarity, she had survived this long with them, but what of Miss Darcy? The poor girl had to practically be carried from the room. Colonel Fitzwilliam had his arm firmly around her waist and her feet barely touched the floor as he moved her out of harm’s way.

She recollected the conversation she’d had earlier in the evening with Georgiana about courage. The girl had even made some progress during the party as she interacted with the small group who were gathered. A faint smile touched the corners of her lips as she recalled watching Georgiana and Kitty giggle together at the far side of the room. She suspected that Miss Darcy had not had many friends of her own age with whom to share girly confidences.

In contrast, her mind conjured up the look of sheer terror on Miss Darcy’s face when she said “Pemberley? Is not Pemberley safe from him?”

Lizzy’s footsteps echoed around the nearly empty room as she continued to pace. Finally she collapsed across the bed, lying upon her stomach, staring into the corner of the floor.
A small object caught her attention and diverted her from her thoughts. She left the bed and recovered it.

Her eyes grew wide when she recognized the handwriting and then recalled the contents.
It was the letter Mr. Darcy had given her the morning after that dreadful night in Hunsford when he had proposed to her and she had refused him.

Hands shaking, she unfolded the papers and re-read their contents, though she had nearly committed the entirety of it to memory. Her eyes scanned down the pages and one sentence stood out from all the others, taunting her with its accuracy.

The situation of your mother’s family, though objectionable was nothing in comparison to that total want of propriety so frequently, almost uniformly betrayed by herself, by your three younger sisters, and occasionally even by your father. 

Total want of propriety.

The phrase perfectly described her mother this evening, though she was pleased to note that both Kitty and Mary behaved well and her father had shown surprising interest in his wife and her well-being.

That was little consolation in the face of the utter devastation her mother had created. She could have borne the humiliation of her mother’s conversation with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. Being forced, at high volume and in the presence of Miss Bingley, to recollect the hideous scene her mother had created in London had been degrading, but she would survive it.

What seemed insurmountable was the notion of forcing Miss Darcy to endure such attacks, and in her own home, where she ought to feel safest.

Lizzy hated thinking of her mother as a threat to anyone. In general, she was harmless, simply loud and vulgar. Not ideal characteristics, but overall, she was not ill-intentioned in her statements. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper.

Lizzy sat upon the edge of her bed and looked around the room again. Her trunks were packed and stacked against one wall. This would be her last night in this room, or at least her last as an unmarried woman.

She had spent the whole of her life living at Longbourn, snuggled into the sisterly bosom of her four sisters. As her father often said, the younger girls were silly indeed, but as girls they had all enjoyed bouts of silliness. It was a home often filled with laughter and the lively chatter of girls whose lives were largely carefree.

As they had grown, the girls were not nearly so close with one another, though she and Jane had always been of similar mindset.

She surveyed the bed and recalled the night that she and Jane had sat upon it while she shared with Jane the happy news that she was to wed Mr. Darcy. She smiled at the recollection of Jane’s incredulity. Jane, always properly composed, had been all amazement at her sister’s announcement.

Lizzy’s heart warmed at the recollection of climbing between the covers of her bed that night, after Mr. Darcy had shared his feelings with her, and clasping to her heart the sweet secret of his love for her. 

Could not the power of their love for one another overcome the minor flaws of her family?
She laid her head against the pillows, closed her eyes and remembered that tomorrow she would be Mr. Darcy’s bride. A contented sigh escaped her lips.

Her few minutes of sleep were suddenly interrupted by a pounding at the front door followed by the screams of her mother. “What is it? Are we to be murdered in our beds? Shall I never have a moment’s peace in this house?”

The pounding continued until Mr. Bennet in his night clothes and robe made his way to the front door, while Jane went to calm their mother who was in the throws of a near seizure. “What shall it matter if I am killed in my bed by robbers? It will be a relief to you all, and Lizzy especially since she hates me and never wants me to set foot in Pemberley.”

“Mama,” Lizzy said, exasperated. “Please calm yourself so that we may determine what has caused this disruption.”

The door opened and....

What happens next? Have I written myself down a rabbit hole from which there is no return?  

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