I’ve been settling into a new routine after my move and surgery in early spring. Once my health allowed, I began working on an old abandoned story called The Set Down. The premise picks up with Mrs. Bennet’s statement to her husband in the original Pride and Prejudice
Not handsome enough to dance with! I wish you had been there, my dear, to have given him one of your set-downs. I quite detest the man.
I decided to add an even greater twist to the scene. While Mrs. Bennet might have imagined that her husband would scold Darcy for snubbing Elizabeth, I imagine that Mr. Bennet would have found amusement in the scene somehow.
Instead of posting the story on my blog, I chose to post the story solely for my Patrons, but I will set aside a few free copies for my blog, email, and social media followers. In the future, some stories will be posted in both places, and some will be rewards for my Patrons. You can become one here: Patreon
Here’s the cover!
I really like this model for Darcy. What do you think?
How about an excerpt?
Inhaling quickly and making a proper bow, Darcy spoke before he could think better of it. “Miss Lucas, Miss Elizabeth, good evening. Miss Elizabeth, if you are not otherwise engaged for the next set, may I have the honour of your hand in the dance?” Darcy noticed a few eyes upon him, including several of the young men.
Smiling charmingly, Elizabeth replied. “I am honoured, Mr. Darcy …”
Darcy made a quick bow and nearly fled, not realizing she had not finished her speech. Darcy passed the intervening time as he had the last three months — brooding over his troubles.
Just before the next set began, he approached Elizabeth, only to see another man take her hand and escort her to the dance floor.
Believing the other young man had ignored her negative reply, he called out reproachfully. “Miss Elizabeth, this is our dance.” His tone brooked no room for arguments.
Glancing back at him, she replied, “My apologies, Mr. Darcy, but you left before I could explain that I was engaged for this set.”
She could make no other reply before the music began. Mortified and incensed, Darcy went back to a corner of the room.
Darcy could hardly believe what had occurred. She must be the only woman he had ever met that would not throw over another gentleman to dance with him. It was not only arrogance that fuelled his thoughts. He had often asked for a set with a lady, after pressure from some relative of hers, only to later learn that the lady had already promised the dances to another man. Of course, all that was before his character had been destroyed.
On further reflection, Darcy realised he admired Elizabeth for her choice if she had no notion about his poor reputation. He always hated it when women broke propriety and threw over a dance partner just for a chance at his deeper pockets. He watched her dance and realized her figure was light and pleasing and remembered the way her beautiful eyes sparkled in her reply to him.
Seeing the set was almost over, Darcy shook his head to clear his thoughts. It would not do for him to appear rude or hurt, especially as the error was his own. However, it also would not do for the Master of Pemberley to be denied a dance with what was undeniably a pretty and intriguing woman.
He approached Elizabeth again and confidently began, “Miss Elizabeth, allow me to apologize for my earlier presumption. May I have the pleasure of your hand in your next available set?”
Her eyes danced with mirth as she replied, “I am sure I do not know the date of the next assembly, but if you are still in the country, you may claim a dance then.”
“Your card is full?” He could not keep the incredulous tone out of his voice. He had not seen many men approach her, and they were only a few dances into the evening. Darcy’s thoughts were interrupted by a young gentleman coming from the refreshment table.
“Miss Elizabeth,” said the new gentleman, “pardon the interruption, but I fear I must beg off our dance. Maria is feeling poorly, and Father has requested I take her home.”
Genuine concern etched across Elizabeth’s face as she searched the gentleman’s countenance. “I do hope she is not ill!”
“I do not believe so, merely a headache. All should be well tomorrow, I am sure.”
Elizabeth sought out her friend’s face across the room and then turned back to the other gentleman and only replied, “Indeed.”
After a bow, the young man left, and Elizabeth gave Mr. Darcy a small smile before archly beginning, “Well, I suppose you may now have the last dance, sir. Please, excuse me.” She dropped a quick curtsy and headed towards where Miss Lucas now sat with two other ladies, one old enough to be her mother and one that might be a sister.
Darcy watched and wondered just how the evening had gone this way when he heard a low chuckle behind him. Upon turning, he found Mr. Bennet.
“I suppose you have come to laugh at my embarrassment,” Darcy stated with more than a hint of reproach.
“Perhaps, but you cannot blame an old man for wanting some amusement. I daresay, you did your part admirably.”
A small smile began to crack Darcy’s face at the ridiculousness of it all. “So, you planned to thoroughly put me in my place, then?”
Chuckling again, Bennet replied, “A father’s prerogative.”
Nodding in understanding, Darcy replied. “So, tell me. Is Miss Elizabeth’s card always full? Your party arrived after my own, and it does not seem as though she has had enough interactions to have all her sets claimed in person.”
Bennet explained, “Elizabeth often has her card full before arriving. A few gentlemen have an agreement with always dancing a certain set, such as John Lucas — always the last. I told you before, she is witty and clever — an excellent conversationalist. Her manners are playful and pleasing; she makes for a good dance partner. As for other reasons why her card was full as soon as the report went around of Netherfield Park being let by a single gentleman of considerable means, I am sure, as her father, I cannot say.”
Silence lapsed over them as Darcy was caught by the scene he saw. Elizabeth’s eyes appeared incandescent as she spoke, obviously with humour, an arch teasing smile followed by a full grin that left him nearly breathless. Her slender arm rose and fell in the movement of the dance while her skirt swirled around her. Her partner seemed quite enchanted. While she was obviously enjoying herself, it did not appear she realized her power over the opposite sex. Taking a quick look around the room, Darcy realized he was not the only one looking in her direction with approval. She was a great favourite.
“Well, Mr. Darcy,” Mr. Bennet’s voice interrupted his companion’s reverie. “I believe I have had enough sport with you for one evening. I do apologise, but I think it has done you some good to laugh at yourself and has seemed to take you from your earlier unpleasant thoughts.”
Darcy nodded his head, internally amazed that his troubles were briefly forgotten.
His world has already irrevocably changed, what difference can one dance make?
Recently embroiled in a scandal in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy seeks respite from the salacious whispers of the ton by visiting his friend in Meryton. He also expects the assembly there to be as tedious as all the other balls he has attended. Unfortunately, he is wrong on both accounts.
A brief conversation at the assembly makes him view his new neighbours, especially Miss Elizabeth Bennet, in a new light. For how can he refuse to acknowledge that everyone has a deeper story when he has one himself?
Having had his eyes opened by the ton’s willingness to believe the worst about him, he recognizes Elizabeth’s worth. Regrettably, he also knows he has little hope that such a magnificent and sensible woman would willingly attach herself to a family as tarnished as his.
Will Darcy leave the area in silence, or will he use his change in standing to seize love? Can his pride withstand rejection if Elizabeth is not willing to have her reputation questioned by being tied to him?
The Set Down is a heartwarming tale told entirely from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. If you enjoy honorable heroes and love stories with tender moments between the couple as they overcome obstacles together, grab your copy today.
What do you think Darcy’s scandal is and how will there be a happily ever after for our dear couple?
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