So, my friends, here is a little quiz I thought you might all like to try.
Courtesy of The Jane Austen Centre website, I hope you enjoy it.
So, my friends, here is a little quiz I thought you might all like to try.
Courtesy of The Jane Austen Centre website, I hope you enjoy it.
Happy Wednesday everone.
So, I found a fun quiz online via the BBC Arts site and thought I would share it with all my friends.
It is reported to be the hardest quiz online in regards to the story/character of Pride & Prejudice.
Being honest, I only got 14/15, but even the most ardent of fans can slip up. (I’m surprised I got that many)
Devised by the world’s foremost Jane Austen experts Kathryn Sutherland, Professor of English at St Anne’s College, Oxford, Kathryn is also a trustee of Jane Austen’s House Museum.
She has set some tricky questions that will really put your mettle to test.
Just click on the link and away you go. Please feel free to post you score in the comments section.
So, we are already two months into 2020. Although we have had an awful lot of rain, what our winter is missing is an appearance of the fluffy white stuff; Snow!!
However, if you are rained or even snowed in, I thought I would share another snippet of my latest release, Mr Darcy’s Reluctant Wife, to help while away a few minutes..
Darcy watched Elizabeth until she was out of sight.
Fitzwilliam Darcy did not hurry as he made his way back to the Park. Now he was no longer in her company, he could explore the feelings she had roused in him. Feelings he had never experienced before when in the company of a gentlewoman. As a man of the world, he knew his body had reacted to the closeness of a pretty woman, but this was unlike any sensation he had experienced before. Could this country miss, with no fortune or connections of consequence, be the one he had been seeking?
On that long, solitary walk back to Netherfield, Darcy tried to think of the last woman who had made his heart quicken without intimate relations being the source. He could not deny he had enjoyed the ministrations of several lovers over the years, but none had made him feel as Elizabeth Bennet had, and all with just a smile.
Elizabeth was not a society wife or widow looking to enjoy a flirtation with him to add a bit of excitement to their life. She was a maiden, a virgin he assumed, who had not tried to lure him with a well-practised seduction. She was an innocent, and as far as he could tell, totally unaware of the effect she had on men. He recalled the way her dance partner looked at her at the Meryton assembly. Either he was, or had fallen under her spell, yet Elizabeth was unaware of how powerful her innocent charms were.
Could he, or rather should he, let his feelings for this young woman develop? Society had placed a great many expectations on his shoulders, and they would deem it reprehensible should he marry someone they considered below his station. Yet was she? He was a gentleman, and she was a gentleman’s daughter. In that respect, they were equals. Her father’s side of the family had been country gentlemen for many generations, and that must count for something. It was true that her family could not boast of worthwhile connections, whereas he had many relations that held a noble title, or had achieved greatness, or were notorious for their adventures. However, not all of them would be considered presentable or genteel. Indeed, his tutor had explained that one of his predecessors had been a privateer for Queen Elizabeth, and that was certainly nothing to be proud of.
As he slowly climbed the front steps of the house, Darcy decided the only way to clarify his feelings and ascertain if Elizabeth Bennet would make a worthy wife, was to spend more time with her. Only then, when he was confident of his own feelings, could he decide on what action, if any, to take, and the consequences they might bring.
When Mr Darcy had informed young Charles Bingley that he had accepted an invitation for them both at Longbourn, Charles could not have been happier. He was even more so when he learnt that the invitation had not been extended to include his sisters, or Edward Hurst, though the latter would most likely be out shooting, hunting, fishing, or anywhere he could drink copious amounts of alcohol uninterrupted.
“Do you think we should tell Caroline where we are going?” asked Charles.
Darcy briefly glanced up from what he was doing.
“I think not, Charles,” Darcy replied thoughtfully.
“Really?” Bingley questioned.
Trying to hide his exasperation at Bingley’s naivety, Darcy stopped what he was doing and folded his hands behind his back and took up his usual stance.
“If you wish Miss Bingley to feel slighted by the Bennets for not including her in the invitation, by all means, tell her. Or, perhaps you would like her to come regardless of not being invited and spend what should have been a pleasant afternoon, watching your sister cast disapproving glances at Miss Bennet and her family. The choice is yours, Charles.”
At first, Charles looked wounded by the tone of Darcy’s voice, but as his friends’ words turned into sentences, he saw the wisdom in them and decided that remaining silent was the prudent choice.
“Of course. I had not considered it fully. Thank you, Darcy,” Bingley said meekly.
“A wise choice, my friend,” Darcy replied as he clapped Bingley on the shoulder.
Having decided not to reveal their planned destination to anyone, the footman was told, should anyone ask, that they had gone to inspect the property perimeters and would be gone some time.
The weather outside was still pleasant for late September, and they were in high spirits as they rode the short distance to Longbourn.
Mr Darcy and Charles Bingley arrived promptly at Longbourn that afternoon. Mrs Hill showed them into the best front parlour as the grandfather clock in the hallway struck four.
Mrs Bennet, Jane, and Elizabeth stood and executed their curtsy.
“Mr Darcy, Mr Bingley, how very good to see you again,” said the mistress of the house.
The gentlemen bowed, and when Mrs Bennet gestured for them to be seated, they both accepted her offer.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Bingley took the seat closest to Jane, while Mr Darcy sat in the chair opposite Elizabeth and her mother.
“It was kind of Miss Elizabeth to invite us,” Darcy said evenly.
“Not at all, sir. I was about to invite you myself. You will have to excuse the absence of my younger girls, they have gone to visit Maria Lucas, and they will probably go on into town.”
“It is an excellent day for a walk,” chirped Mr Bingley as he gazed at Jane.
Jane’s cheeks flushed a soft pink as she returned Mr Bingley’s smile.
With his friend completely absorbed with staring at Miss Bennet, Darcy felt compelled to speak for them both.
“And Mr Bennet, will he be joining us?”
“Oh, yes. He is showing the estate ledgers to Mr Collins,” replied Mrs Bennet with a well-timed huff.
“Mr Collins? Ah, yes, your husband’s cousin if I remember correctly.”
“Yes,” she replied and fidgeted in her chair as she concluded, “Mr Collins will inherit Longbourn when Mr Bennet…well…”
Darcy understood that his hostess was embarrassed by this situation, even though it was beyond her control.
“Yes, of course. But let us hope that what will surely be a sad event, will not occur for many years yet.”
Elizabeth felt grateful to Mr Darcy as he eased her mother’s embarrassment, though his remark indicated that he knew at least one of the Bennet girls must make a good match.
The timely arrival of Mr Bennet and Mr Collins saw the dynamics of the room, and the atmosphere in it, change.
Mr Bennet greeted his company and then stood in front of the fireplace as he usually did, but Mr Collins waited to be introduced.
Reluctantly, Mr Bennet did the honours.
“Mr Darcy, this is William Collins, a distant cousin of mine.”
“Mr Darcy, it is a great honour to make your acquaintance. I expect Lady Catherine has mentioned me to you?” Mr Collins said after bowing so low his head almost touched Mr Darcy’s knees.
Darcy studied the strange little man scraping the floor with his knuckles in an exaggerated bow. He had no recollection of his aunt ever mentioning a William Collins.
“And you know Lady Catherine how, sir?”
“Why, I am her new rector, Mr Darcy. I have recently moved into the parsonage that abuts Rosings Park.”
“Her new parson, you say. Her ladyship has not mentioned you to me, but congratulations on your appointment, sir.”
“Are you sure, sir? She often speaks of you,” Mr Collins pressed.
Darcy disliked being questioned at the best of times, and now was no exception.
“I assure you, sir, that Lady Catherine has never mentioned a Mr Collins to me, either in person or correspondence.”
“Well,” Mr Collins said as he dragged a chair from the corner of the room and placed it next to Elizabeth, “when I left Rosings… but two days ago, her Ladyship was in excellent health.”
Darcy felt his ire rise. The fact that this little man dared to speak to him as if they were equals irked him and his presumption regarding his aunt also annoyed him. But his irritation increased ten-fold when he turned to Elizabeth and patted her hand. This over-familiarity was untenable.
Unable to restrain himself, the words were out of his mouth before he could close it.
“So, you are, in fact, an employee of my aunt?”
The room went still, and an awkward silence hung heavy in the air. But Mr Collins saviour came in the unusual form of Mr Bennet.
“No shame in earning an honest crust and doing the Lord’s work at the same time, aye mother?” he asked, turning to Mrs Bennet.
Mrs Bennet was unprepared to be included in the conversation and tripped over her reply.
“Yes…I mean, no…Oh, it is not traded, not as such, is it? Though it does comes with a salary,” she said, sounding confused.
Bingley looked at Darcy, anxiously awaiting his reply.
Bingley’s father had been a tradesman and had been exceedingly successful, making a vast fortune in a relatively short period of time. Nevertheless, he had been a tradesman. A stigma that society still attached to a person who worked in exchange for money, no matter how successful they were. The only time society conveniently overlooked wealth from trade, was when they married that money in exchange for a title.
Darcy realised he had spoken hastily and felt the pressure of his remark on the room. Even Bingley looked at him with concern.
Though apologising did not come easily to him, he made his best effort to smooth things over.
“I meant no disrespect, sir, I was merely stating a fact. So, how fairs my cousin, Anne? Was she also well when you left Kent?”
Mr Collins rattled on for some minutes extolling the virtues of Anne de Bourgh, and the incident seemed to be forgotten.
“So graceful, and accomplished, as her ladyship reminds me almost daily. Oh, yes, I visit Rosings most days,” added Mr Collins proudly when he saw Darcy’s look of surprise. “Her ladyship also takes a keen interest in the content of my sermons. Often, she makes the odd suggestion…or two, though they are mostly of my own invention.”
Mr Collins felt he had revealed too much and was fearful that Mr Darcy might think he was criticising his aunt. He felt the blood rush to his cheeks, and he quickly lowered his eyes.
The ensuing silence after Mr Collins’ statement was intense. He was no longer an object of ridicule. Instead, he was now universally pitied.
“Lady Catherine’s patronage can, at times, seem like a double-edged sword, can it not, Mr Collins,” Darcy said gently.
This statement seemed cryptic to the Bennets as none of them knew of her existence until recently, but Mr Collins understood perfectly. Having Lady Catherine as his patron had afforded him several privileges, but it had also made him realise that the cost of his appointment had been his free will. Lady Catherine not only expected his compliance in all that he did; but demanded it. In fact, it was due to her insistence, that he was now seeking a wife, and again, it was her ladyship that had steered him in the direction of his cousins in Hertfordshire. It will strengthen your lineage and bring you respect by association from the people in your parish. It was the reason he had come to Longbourn in the first place.
“As you say, sir.” Mr Colling replied quietly.
Mrs Bennet did not like the tone of the conversation. She had hoped to promote Jane and Elizabeth to Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy. It had motivated her to dispatch her three youngest children off to Lucas Lodge, even though Mary had protested most fervently that she did not want to waste her time in idle chit-chat with Maria Lucas.
“Well, now, I think it is time for tea. I am quite thirsty from all this chatter. Ring the bell please, Lizzy.”
Jenson opened the door for the maid who was carrying a tray ladened with plates of small sandwiches, cakes, and tarts, while he wheeled in a trolley with the tea service and crockery on it. After laying everything out within easy reach for his mistress, Jenson exited with a curt nod and closed the door behind him.
There was a little small talk as each person was asked and served with tea and treats until only Mr Collins remained to be served.
“And what will you have, Mr Collins?” asked Mrs Bennet.
William Collins had been reprimanded several times by Lady Catherine for taking too much upon his plate. Gluttony is a sin, Mr Collins. As a preacher, you should know this and set an example. Leave the table hungry if you must, but refrain from making an exhibition of your weaknesses, sir.
“I’ll just have a cup of tea, thank you, Mrs Bennet… and perhaps one small egg custard tart.”
Mrs Bennet considered herself a consummate hostess and serving a guest with only one small tart was unheard of.
“One egg tart! Nonsense, Mr Collins, you shall have two at least, sir. And one of these delicious cream puffs.” When the gentleman made to protest, Mrs Bennet raised her hand and said a rather stern voice, “No amount of protesting will make me lessen your serving, Mr Collins. Now, eat up and have a second helping if you like.”
Mr Collins took the plate that was thrust upon him, now almost covered with small dainties. Not to accept would appear ungrateful, he rationalised, and besides, he could not risk offending his hostess.
After almost every morsel had been consumed, the serious business of conversing resumed. The ladies chatted about their latest purchases with an enthusiasm that the men could only admire. Mr Bennet then steered the conversation around to more manly pursuits, such as hunting, fishing, and riding. The men seized this topic with alacrity, leaving the womenfolk wondering why on earth they became so excited about killing animals.
Finally, as propriety dictated, it was time to end their call, and Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy rose to leave.
Mrs Bennet, on the other hand, was not prepared to let two prospective husbands leave without putting up some resistance.
“Well, it has been such a pleasant and jolly afternoon it seems a shame to end it,” and she looked to Elizabeth for support.
“Oh, yes. It has been most entertaining,” Elizabeth said with some embarrassment.
“Well, Mother,” said Mr Bennet, “if Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy have no pressing engagements, why not invite them to dine with us? I will relieve you of their company while you speak with Cook. I am sure she will find a way to stretch whatever delicacy she is serving us tonight. What say you, gentlemen, are you in a rush to return home?”
Each, for his own reason, was eager to accept, and, much to the delight of all the ladies present, they both said they would be delighted.
“Good, I will write a note to Miss Bingley this instance. Now, you gentlemen run along and leave us women to make all the arrangements,” cooed an excited Mrs Bennet.
So, Mr Darcy, Mr Bingley, and Mr Collins, all followed Mr Bennet to his small but well-stocked library.
Mr Bingley and Mr Bennet stood before the long bookcase chatting as they browsed the shelves for something to read.
Electing to sit and collect his thoughts for a moment, Mr Darcy waited while the two men made their selection. He doubted if Bingley had even picked up a book since he had left Cambridge, but it amused him to see his friend trying to impress their host. Next, Mr Darcy watched as Mr Collins quickly selected a book at random, and then surreptitiously moved towards him. Finally, he was so close, Mr Darcy felt compelled to bid him sit with him. It was only later that he cursed the man for his boldness and total lack of common sense. If he had any of the latter, he would have surely known that his next words had shocked Mr Darcy to the core.
“I am here at the insistence of Lady Catherine,” Mr Collins whispered in a conspiratorial tone to Mr Darcy. “Her ladyship has expressed a desire to see me married. I must set an example to my parishioners, you understand.”
“And that is why you have come to Longbourn?” Darcy asked stoically.
“It is. I have already spoken to Mrs Bennet, and she has indicated that both she and Mr Bennet would be happy for me to marry one of their daughters. In fact,” he said, leaning a little too close, “I am going to ask Mr Bennet for his permission to address my future bride directly after breakfast tomorrow.”
“Really? You have made your choice already? I thought you had known the family but a few days, sir?”
“That is true, sir, but from the moment I set eyes on my intended, I knew she was the one for me. So vivacious and entertaining.”
“You are a fortunate man, Mr Collins. I have yet to find my soulmate.”
“Yes, I am indeed a fortunate man, Mr Darcy,” confirmed Mr Collins with an air of smugness.
“May I ask who is to become the future Mrs Collins? Miss Mary Bennet perhaps, or Miss Catherine?” Darcy asked, thinking Lydia too young even for his consideration.
Mr Collins gave a low laugh.
“Heavens, no!” he exclaimed, “my cousins Catherine and Lydia are far too exuberant to suit my needs, sir.”
Darcy felt a tight ball form in the pit of his stomach. With the three youngest Bennet girls out of the running, that left only Jane and Elizabeth. Surely this man could not think him the equal to either of them.
“And your choice, sir, who is it you have decided on?”
“Why, I thought I had made my selection obvious, Mr Darcy. It is Miss Elizabeth, of course.”
As you can see, I have been very busy with my next novel, Mr Darcy’s Reluctant Wife.
It is a sweet story about the journey Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet take to reach their HEA.
However, do not be fooled by my description, everything is not plain sailing for this couple.
Mr Darcy’s Reluctant Wife is available on Amazon at a special pre-order price.
The official release date is 5th December 2019.
But, as a preview is not available until after the release date, I am posting a few paragraphs of the first chapter here, for my friends and followers.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt, and if so, please tell your friends and family. Remember to order your copy today and take advantage of the special pre-release price.
This is the link to Amazon.co.uk.
And this is the link to Amazon.com.
Mr Darcy sighed as he stood before the assembly room doors. Attending a country dance in rural Hertfordshire did not fill him with any other emotion than dread.
When Charles Bingley, his host and friend, had asked him if he had any plans that evening, he had made no mention of his intention to drag him to the local dance. Yet here he was, about to enter the Meryton Assembly rooms for an evening of tedious country dancing, and inane chatter. What made it worse was that Charles knew he liked to select which social events he attended himself, choosing each with the utmost care and discernment.
All who knew Mr Darcy intimately would agree and forgive him for possessing such a cynical outlook on life. As one of society’s most eligible bachelors, he was invited to every event in the season’s calendar. Yet his experience of society since he had come of age had been one continuous round of ambitious mammas thrusting their simpering daughters at him in the hope of making a match. Rather than engaging him in stimulating conversation, they would display no thoughts of their own, merely repeating phrases they had rehearsed parrot fashion with their mothers. Either that, or they would titter shyly behind their fan at any benign or ridiculous remark he chose to utter.
Upon his father’s death, when he became the sole owner of the Darcy estates, the constant pursuit of his person and wealth had increased expeditiously. Although he had no title of which to boast, Fitzwilliam Darcy was one of the wealthiest and most eligible men in the country.
His father and grandfather had made wise investments during their time as master of Pemberley, seeing the family coffers swell considerably. Yet Darcy had not rested on their laurels. He too had invested wisely, in the production of metals and machinery, farmers and weavers, property and shipping. His investments in land management, both here and abroad, plus his property portfolio, had seen his yearly income rise above ten thousand pounds a year. All this, together with his ancestral home in Derbyshire and a large townhouse situated in London’s Grosvenor Square, made Mr Darcy the focus of every unwed daughter, calculating mother and lonely widow alike.
But the desire to capture the attention of Fitzwilliam Darcy was not restricted to spinsters and widows alone. Many a married lady had swooned over his handsome features, athletic body, and skill in all the social graces. He patronised many charities, never drank too much, or gambled excessively. Neither did he brag about his companions in the bedchamber. And although his silence was guaranteed in this area, one certain wealthy young widow, who had once sworn never to marry again, had let it be known that Fitzwilliam Darcy was a thoughtful, thorough, and exciting lover. Rather than staining Mr Darcy’s character, this widely circulated piece of female gossip had merely made him more desirable. He was the embodiment of the word ‘gentleman’.
Looking over at his companion, Mr Darcy could see by the broad grin on Bingley’s face, that he was not only looking forward to the dance but was as pleased as punch for getting Darcy there too.
Darcy made a mental note to deliver a mild reproof to Bingley for his deception later.
At that moment, Mr Darcy felt a hand slip through his arm and turned to see who had claimed him.
Miss Caroline Bingley, Charles’ unwed sister had fixed her attentions on him, staking a claim on him based on a previous acquaintance of some years.
Caroline Bingley was not unpleasant to look at, with her clear complexion and grey eyes, but she was not what you would call a classic beauty. In contrast to most young ladies that were out at present, Miss Bingley was a trifle too tall for most men, although, alongside Mr Darcy, who could still boast of being four inches her superior, she appeared average height. Her figure was slender, which conformed to the fashion of the day, though some might say it lacked the required number of curves to make her universally appealing to the opposite sex. Having said that, she had many accomplishments that a gentleman would find attractive. She could sing, she sketched, and she played the pianoforte quite well. She spoke French and German and sewed a decent sampler. As well as all this, she walked with an air of confidence, and though always elegantly attired, some of her more flamboyant outfits were not to Mr Darcy’s taste. Burnished copper and deep emerald greens were more widely worn by the dowagers and matrons in society, not unwed females.
“I am sure, Mr Darcy, you are dreading this provincial little soirée as much as I am.”
Darcy moved his head just enough to confirm Miss Bingley’s assumption.
“Sir, would you think me terribly forward if I claimed you as my own?” Caroline Bingley cooed somewhat too close to his ear.
“Miss Bingley?” Darcy replied in a questioning tone as he moved his head away from her face.
“Oh, I meant for this evening only, Mr Darcy, until we return to Netherfield Park.”
Darcy again inclined his head slightly.
“Of course, Miss Bingley. Shall we?” Darcy indicated with his free hand that they should follow Charles, who had already breached the open doorway.
A cloud of vapour escaped through the open doors, a mixture of scented candles and tobacco smoke. Most would have deemed it a not unpleasant smell, but Darcy disliked this growing trend for men to smoke tobacco in the presence of ladies. Much better to confine this habit to that time after dinner when the men partook of a glass of brandy and spent a welcome half hour enjoying the absence of the womenfolk.
The small party of two ladies and three gentlemen entered the Meryton Assembly rooms. Louisa Hurst and her husband Edward had accompanied her sister Caroline to Netherfield Park, eager to give their opinion on this new property their brother had leased.
The group quickly became the focus of attention. A hush slowly spread over the happy revellers, and the musicians ceased to play.
All of Meryton knew that a gentleman from the town had leased Netherfield Park, but few had seen him in the flesh, let alone have the privilege of meeting him. And now, here they all were, come to join the regular participants at Meryton’s weekly dance.
Sir William Lucas was the only resident of Meryton to have spent any length of time in Mr Bingley’s company, mainly because he had acted as his guide when he came to view Netherfield Park. Therefore, it seemed only right that he should be the one to make the necessary introductions, ensuring Mr Bingley and his party were not without acquaintances while staying in the area.
“Ah, Mr Bingley,” Sir William said with an outstretched hand, “we are honoured that you have found the time to come and join us tonight. Mr Darcy, Mr Hurst, ladies,” he said as he bowed his head to acknowledge the party.
The newcomers returned his salute, and then Mr Bingley took the lead.
“How very kind of you to invite us, Sir William. There is nothing I like more than a country dance,” Mr Bingley said while glancing over his shoulder at Darcy. “Though it is an age since I attended one,” he added.
Darcy chose to ignore this pointed remark aimed directly at him.
As they began to move deeper into the room, Mr Bingley had no doubt that his friend was scowling at him most heartily. He could almost feel the heat of Darcy’s displeasure burning into his back. But the truth of the matter could not be denied. Darcy did not like to mix with large crowds or talk to people he had no prior acquaintance with, and as his friend, Charles also felt obliged to refrain from attending many of the balls and soirées he would have otherwise enjoyed.
This is absurd, Darcy thought, as he watched the throng of revellers part before them. It was like the parting of the Red Sea, and Darcy dreaded the moment when the mass of bodies would close in behind them, cutting off his retreat.
“Smile, Mr Darcy, if we are to be thrown to the lions, let us at least do so with a smile.”
Miss Bingley was right, but the smile he offered came across more as a tight-lipped grimace than a friendly grin, and it did not go unnoticed.
Elizabeth Bennet stood with her sister, Jane, their arms linked as they reached up onto their tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the Netherfield party.
“Oh, Lizzy, how grand they look,” said Jane breathlessly.
Elizabeth turned her focus from the red-haired gentleman with a broad smile and stared at the other members of the group.
“Yes, their attire is of the latest fashion, but if you look past their clothes, Jane, I would venture to say that they are not all happy to be here. Look at the second gentleman and his companion.”
Jane turned her full attention to the second couple. The man’s eyebrows were drawn together, and his lips were pulled into a straight line, while the lady, with her superior height, looked down on everyone she glanced at. They looked most ill at ease.
“Could they be unwell?” ventured Jane.
“No, Jane, I do not think them unwell, but I do not think they are pleased to be here either.”
“Oh, hush Lizzy, we do not know that.”
“I expect we are too provincial for the stern-looking gentleman to give us any consequence,” Elizabeth said, then turned her attention to Miss Bingley. “And the lady who clings to him, she looks as if she has walked into the cow barn instead of an assembly.”
“Lizzy!” exclaimed Jane, though she raised her hand to hide her smile.
Elizabeth watched as the latecomers walked past the spot where she stood.
The tall woman, who clung so possessively to the scowling man’s arm, flipped open her fan and waved it frantically in front of her face. Unfortunately, this unexpected action caused the gentleman to jolt his head to one side, lest he receives a blow to the face.
Elizabeth could not help herself, and a ripple of laughter escaped from her upturned mouth.
Darcy’s scowl had grown even deeper with this near miss, and to make matters worse, he heard someone laughing at his misfortune.
Snapping his head to the right, he searched the sea of faces for the source of the laughter.
He did not expect the culprit to be a young woman and an attractive one at that. Instead of delivering a burning glare of contempt as he intended, he found his eyebrows rising in surprise.
The initial fierceness of the man’s glare would have left many a person quaking in their boots, but Elizabeth was not to be cowed and stared back at him defiantly. Then she watched as his expression changed as it registered with him that it was, she who had laughed.
The truth was, she could not help herself. They saunter into the dance way beyond being fashionably late and acting all superior and aloof to their company. And then this happens. It was too funny for words.
Elizabeth returned his gaze, but before this battle of wills could be resolved, something halted Elizabeth’s mirth and caused her to look away.
It was a voice she knew only too well.
“Lizzy, Lizzy, come here, child.”
Elizabeth turned and scanned the room until she located her mother. She stood with Lady Lucas and her eldest daughter Charlotte.
Though Elizabeth was in no hurry to join her mother, she was eager to speak to Charlotte, and so answered the summons with alacrity.
Closing the distance between her mother and herself, Elizabeth’s intention had been to link arms with her friend, and then together they could slip away and observe the proceedings from some secluded spot.
Unfortunately, Mrs Bennet had other ideas. Before Elizabeth could bring her plan to fruition, her mother caught hold of her outstretched hand and propelled her to her side, rather than Charlotte’s.
“Come, Lizzy, Lady Lucas has agreed to introduce us to Mr Bingley and his friends.”
“But Mamma, Charlotte and I were…” Elizabeth began to protest.
“Nonsense. I desire you to do as I ask, Lizzy and let Lady Lucas introduce us to Mr Bingley and the other gentleman. This is a great opportunity for us all, especially Jane.”
Having refused to look away when the gentleman caught her laughing, Elizabeth hardly wanted to now be introduced to him!
Elizabeth turned to Jane with pleading eyes, hoping for her sister to support her, but Jane’s gaze was firmly fixed on the young man with the strawberry blond hair and a warm smile.
“Why must we be paraded about like a prized heifer, Mother? I have no desire to join the queue of simpering misses waiting to be introduced to a man who clearly does not want to be here!”
“You say that now, Lizzy, but you can not be a tomboy all your life. Do you know who that is with Mr Bingley?”
With no time to reply, Elizabeth listened as her mother began to reel off the newcomer’s names.
“Mr Bingley, the gentleman who has leased Netherfield Park, has brought his two sisters with him and a Mr Hurst. He is the rather stout looking gentleman at the back of the group and is married to the elder of Mr Bingley’s two sisters. And the fine-looking gentleman at Mr Bingley’s side . . .”
With her mother’s half-finished sentence left hanging in the air, Elizabeth felt compelled to ask.
“That, my dear, is Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley. It is widely reported that he has an annual income of ten thousand pounds a year!” exclaimed an excited Mrs Bennet.
Elizabeth resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
Oh, so that is why he looks so satisfied with himself!
With the Longbourn estate yielding as little as two thousand a year, and with the Bennets considered quite the wealthiest family in the district, it was no wonder that Mr Darcy thought them beneath his notice. The truth of the matter was, had they been poorer, they might have been worthy of his charity, or perhaps if they had been richer, he might have courted them as acquaintances, but as they were neither too poor nor wealthy enough, he was under no obligation to give them any consequence at all.
The Grand Tour was the custom of a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by upper class young when they came of age. (21) European gentlemen of sufficient means and rank would take a close family member with them to act as a chaperone. To ensure they suffered no hardship, they would often take their own Valet, Coachman and even a cook with them.
This custom first started around 1660 and continued until approximately the 1840s. Considered a rite of passage for all wealthy young men, the Grand Tour was initially undertaken to enhance their education and improve their language skills.
With nearly unlimited funds, aristocratic connections and no real desire to work, many a young gentleman stayed away from home, touring France, Italy and occasionally Greece for months or even years. Though the main cities to visit were in Italy, being Venice, Rome, Naples and Pompeii.
They would often commission paintings, buy marbles, coins and medals on their travels and have them shipped back home.
The primary value of the Grand Tour lay in its exposure to the cultural legacy, along with the opportunity to forge important connections, (which we know was most desirable in the Regency era) with the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of Europe. In addition, it often provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. To ensure they did not miss anything of worth, they commonly hired a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor.
A popular book, An Account of Some of the Statues, Bas-Reliefs, Drawings, and Pictures in Italy published in 1722 by Jonathan Richardson and his son did much to popularize these trips.
The legacy of the Grand Tour lives on to the modern-day, still influencing the destinations that tourists choose to visit today.
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, also known as the Royal Palace of Brighton, and later as Brighton Pavilion, was built as a seaside retreat in 1787 for the then Prince of Wales, the future Prince Regent, (1811-1820) and George IV.1820-1830
It was built in three stages and work was not completed on it until 1823. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic style, prevalent in India at the time.
The Prince of Wales first went Brighton ages 21 in 1783 on a visit to see his uncle, Prince Henry, The Duke of Cumberland. Prince George, who suffered from gout due to his opulent lifestyle, was advised by his physician that living near to the sea, and taking the waters, would improve this painful condition. Unfortunately, his excessive eating, drinking, gambling, and womanising only increased when he was away from the London courtiers who tried to curb his excesses.
Indeed, he often took his mistress, Maria Fitzherbert to stay with him. He is reported to have married Maria in a secret ceremony but it was deemed not valid as she was a catholic.
Initially, Henry Holland, (he designed Carlton House in London for the prince) was commissioned to extend a house, adding a breakfast room, a dining room and a library.
Then, in 1801-2, it was extended again, adding a new, larger dining room and an extensive conservatory, all constructed and decorated in the Neo-classical style.
At this time, the Prince Regent also purchased land surrounding the property. During 1803-1808 a grand riding school and stables were built in the Indian style. Designed by William Porden, these stables could accommodate 60 horses.
By now, the Royal Palace dwarfed the Marine Pavilion, the other major building in Brighton.
It was extended for the final time in 1815-1822 by the then famous architect John Nash. He added the distinctive domes and minarets that giving it the Taj Mahal look we can still see today.
Unique for its Indo-Saracenic exterior, it does not disappoint on its interior decoration.
The fanciful interior, primarily designed by Fredrick Crace, was aided by a little-known decorative painter, Robert Jones. Jones was heavily influenced by both Chinese and Indian fashions, and this is reflected by him turning away from the mainstream taste of the Neo-classical designs prominent in the Regency era.
Sadly, The Prince Regent, who was by now King George IV, only had seven years in which to enjoy the finished building, dying in 1830 aged 68.