Yippee! My husband fixed my computer! I’m not sure what the problem was. 😦 Thanks so much to everyone who read along and commented. I need to do some edits and then send it to the editor and then more edits before publication. I’m guessing March now.
I’m hoping to start posting the companion story: Love’s Second Chance, in March. It will fill in the holes in Arlington, Anne, Caroline, Truman, Richard & Belinda’s stories. And I’m planning a sequel for the fall that will follow the younger girls on a Season in London!
Also, I’ll be re-writing this story and working it into my original romance series, just because the timeline fits soooo well with what I’m already doing. It will be clearly labeled as such. There will be differences as we leave the Austen world, but the essential story is the same. I think non-JAFF readers could enjoy the story of
Darcy and Lizzy Nate and Ellie with Luddites.
Now, on to the epilogue!
“Oh! Mr. Bennet! Can you believe it? Two daughters married!” Mrs. Bennet’s effusions exclaimed over the crowd in the Netherfield ballroom.
“Did you see the lace on Lady Arlington’s gown?” Lydia asked.
“No l—” Mr. Bennet paused in mid-sentence. “I will leave you ladies to talk about lace. Remember, however, if you wish to buy the finest lace we will be waiting to shop until we go to London after Easter for the Season.”
Lydia began to pout, but her father raised his eyebrows, and she stopped. “Oh, there is Georgie!” She grabbed Kitty by the hand and ran to Georgiana’s side.
Elizabeth and Darcy had watched the scene with bated breath, but it seemed Mr. Bennet was sincere about the changes made in the Bennet household in the last few weeks. Darcy required a few days of recovery at Lundell Castle, and then the newlyweds travelled to Pemberley. They gathered now at Netherfield after Jane and Bingley’s wedding. Then they would journey to London until Easter. Both Anne and Charlotte requested Elizabeth visit Kent, and she could not deny them.
Elizabeth’s anger had given way at her friend’s choice. She was especially curious how Charlotte faired with a husband such as Mr. Collins. Elizabeth perceived his treatment toward her came from strong opinions of subservience. Having met Lady Catherine, Elizabeth now understood her cousin’s mixture of humility and self-conceit that induced anger at those who did not afford him the respect he deemed necessary. However, he was raised with humility and was young. Elizabeth hoped Charlotte would influence Mr. Collins understanding of the world.
“Do you wish we had waited instead of having our rushed ceremony?” Darcy whispered and interrupted her revelry.
“How can you ask that? I am far happier as Mrs. Darcy than I have been in my life. What a cruel husband you are to want to deny me the pleasure of that for several weeks.” She laughed as she looked into his eyes.
Smiling at her jest, he shook his head.
Belinda and Richard came to their side. They had married in a quiet ceremony the week before. He resigned his commission, resolving not to care what some may say about honour and duty or favoritism from his father. He had more than served his country. There would always be gossips; there may not always be time to celebrate life.
“What is she teasing her old, sour husband about now?” Richard asked.
“Have a care, Richard,” Darcy replied with a twitch to his lips. “You are even older than I.”
“This is true,” Richard said while chuckling. “Then we must both have it better than James,” he nodded to his brother on the other side of the room in conversation with Sir William Lucas.
Belinda shook her head. “No, you cannot tease them. I would not have believed it possible, but do you see how they can silently speak to each other?”
The group watched as Arlington and Anne’s eyes met from different corners of the room. They made simultaneous excuses to those they conversed with and met each other half way. Devotion and admiration shone on their faces.
Belinda and Elizabeth both let out a little sigh.
Richard started. “William, I daresay that our wives are dissatisfied with us already.”
“You must be mistaken,” Darcy said. “I have done nothing that could merit displeasure. Surely they are both annoyed with you.”
Elizabeth pinched his arm. “He said dissatisfied not displeased. And you must see how Arlington goes out of his way to romance his wife.”
Darcy stroke his jaw. “Ah, I see. And I lack in that department?”
“Well, he is not the only one who is attempting to woo his lady. There is Bingley,” Elizabeth replied.
“It is unfair to compare a man to Bingley.” His lips twitched. Had they not had this debate before?
“And there is Truman,” Belinda said. They watched as he wrote his name on Caroline’s dance card as she beamed.
“I suppose this is the real reason you are at Bingley’s wedding during your honeymoon?” Darcy asked Richard.
“It pleases my wife,” he said as Belinda and Elizabeth sighed again.
“What now?” Darcy said.
“They have loved each other for ten years and were separated by so many things. They are finally engaged again. Is it not the very height of romance?” Elizabeth asked.
Richard cocked his head. “Do you know, William vowed to James that he would never marry if he could not have you. He was going to wait his whole life until you were free again had you married…” he left the sentence unfinished as they all knew he meant Wickham.
Elizabeth blushed. “I did not know.”
“And I believe Richard has planned a surprise,” Darcy said as the orchestra played the strands of a new song.
A murmur went through the crowd. “Is this a…a…waltz?” Elizabeth asked.
“It is all the rage on the Continent,” Richard said. “And gaining popularity here, if not in London. Shall we?” he extended his hand to Belinda.
“Is it true what they say?” she asked.
“Come, dance with me. Our first dance will be you in my arms,” Richard said to Belinda, which caused her to blush. “We must make this the fashion in England since I will never again dance abroad.” He whispered something in Belinda’s ears which made her blush deepen.
Darcy held out his arm as well. “May I have the honour, Elizabeth?”
“Your arm…” Elizabeth said even as he eyes showed her eagerness.
“The doctor pronounced it perfectly healed yesterday morning.”
“I do not know the steps,” she said weakly and looked at her feet.
“Will you prove now that persuasion between friends means nothing?” Darcy whispered, and Elizabeth’s head popped up at the reference to one of their long-ago conversations. “I promise to guide you. I will not let you look a fool.”
She smiled and placed her hand in his. “What an accomplished gentleman, you are,” she said as he guided her through the steps.
He smiled at her amusement. “I practiced with Richard all morning.”
Elizabeth could not contain her laughter. When she calmed, he noticed her breath caught, and her eyes seemed glassy.
“What are you thinking, my love?”
“That I hate gloves,” she whispered and squeezed his hand.
“I hate a good deal more than that,” he said.
“Will,” she whispered and blushed. But in her eye, he saw enough to know that she was pleased with his efforts.
He saw, too, proof that Elizabeth’s love would remain constant through their lives. For now, it did not matter that he knew tomorrow the men from his club would introduce a bill making frame breaking a capital offense. Nor did it matter that Napoleon still had control of the Continent or that disease and death could take a loved one at any time. He had Elizabeth’s love. Darcy needed no more encouragement than that to know they would have a blessed life.
This story has been a work of fiction but rooted on very real historical events.
Luddite activity in manufacturing towns in the north of England picked up in November 1811 and escalated until around January 1813, although some attacks continued until 1816. A town called Huddersfield in West Riding of Yorkshire (now a defunct county) did see a Luddite attacks but in April 1812. It is most famous for the assassination of the mill owner, William Horsfall on April 28, 1812, but I based the incident in this book on an earlier encounter on April 11th at Rawfolds Mill, owned by William Cartwright. Knowing an attack was imminent, Cartwright had hired guards and several Cumberland militiamen defending the mill. The Dragoon unit known as the Queen’s Bays, recently returned from the Continent, were only a few miles away but the bell meant to alert them to the attack was not rung due to the rope breaking. A soldier did refuse to fire upon the Luddites and was referenced as cowardly in a Leeds newspaper article and was also sentenced to 300 lashes but only 25 were delivered, as Cartwright intervened—although by some accounts he had a reputation for cruelty.
On February 14, 1812, Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer Spencer Perceval, Home Secretary Richard Ryder, Attorney General Sir Vicary Gibbs, Solicitor General Sir Thomas Plomer and three MPs from Nottinghamshire introduced a bill that made the crime of frame breaking a capital offense. It was considered an emergency endeavor and rushed through the House of Lords and gaining royal assent, passed into law on March 20, 1812. While it passed with an overwhelming majority, there was some resistance. Most notably, Lord Byron’s maiden speech in Parliament was in opposition.
Additionally, the fourth Earl Fitzwilliam truly was the Lord-Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire Militia. As evidenced by Cartwright’s use of the Cumberland Militia, the West Riding Militia was unavailable- having received orders to journey to Cork, Ireland. For the purpose of the story, I used the Derbyshire Militia as many Austen historians have suggested that it was the Derbyshire Militia in Meryton. Some additionally suggested Darcy’s acquaintance with the officers was his reason for accepting Bingley’s invitation to Netherfield and that he may have even served in the Militia himself in the past.