Did you miss the other posts about the Mr. Darcy’s Impertinent Daughters universe? Check them out here:
Will John successfully apologize to Angelica? We also meet a character from The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter. I’m including inspiration pics for the minor characters mentioned…because I enjoyed finding them so much. 🙂
Lavinia Hurst, 23
Angelica held her breath until Mr. Ward arrived in front of her. Why did he seem more handsome to her each time she saw him? Before luncheon, she was so embarrassed by her realisation that she had to avert her eyes from him for the remainder of the meal. With so many other guests, it was easy enough to find someone else to speak with. Now, she had no reprieve, and her heart skipped a beat at his small smile as he approached.
“I must apologise—” she said just as he spoke.
“I am sorry—”
They shared a light laugh.
Angelica was quite aware of the attention from her younger siblings. She suggested, “Perhaps we ought to continue our discussion in the hallway?”
Mr. Ward followed her out of the nursery. She squeezed her hands together in front of her. Apologising had never come easily to her. She was told by her parents that she was doomed since it was a trait they both shared. Still, Angelica prided honesty and honour, and so when amends must be made, she swallowed her pride to do so.
“I jumped to conclusions about you, sir. For that, I ask your forgiveness. I called you names and assumed you had a mean character before knowing the facts of the situation or anything about you.”
Mr. Ward’s smile grew. “I am guilty of the same. Of course, I forgive you and ask for yours as well. May we begin again?”
“I should like that.” Angelica felt a prick of sensation when he took her hand in his to bow over it.
“I am John Ward, the younger son of Patrick Ward. I am a guest of your brother’s and am pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Darcy.”
Angelica curtsied. “And I am Angelica Darcy, the eldest daughter of Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley. It is an honour to meet a friend of my brother’s. Which brother do you know?”
“I know both but am closer friends with George. I think you may know that he has been to my home several times, but this is the first opportunity that I have had to visit his. I am afraid that I have begun by making a poor impression on his family.”
“I do not know what you mean,” Angelica said. “We have just met. Unless you have offended my parents in some way…” She winked so he would catch her meaning. She truly meant to put their first encounter behind them.
“You are very kind, Miss Darcy. Thank you for putting my fears to rest.” They stood, staring at each other for a moment. Suddenly, he seemed to realise the awkwardness of the situation. “Will you allow me to escort you to dinner, ma’am?”
“I would be most pleased.” She took his extended arm.
“You were correct earlier,” he said as they made their way down the hall. “We have just met. We were both in error to make assumptions about each other. However, I would like to amend that. It is what a house party is for, is it not?”
“I suppose you are correct.” For some inexplicable reason, she did not feel as though this were any ordinary meeting. Perhaps it was merely because she was out now. She felt unaccountably shy.
“Would you care to pick the topic?”
“The topic for what?”
“The basis of our friendship.”
He smiled down at her, undoubtedly intending to put her at ease, only her heart beat faster. Feeling moisture gather in the palms of her gloved hands, she searched for a topic that seemed safe. She needed a subject that would establish a friendship, as he desired, but would not encourage romantic notions or make her speak too much about herself.
“You had a very natural way with my young siblings just now. I was sorry to hear about your sister, and I have met your elder brother. Do you have any younger brothers?”
“No. Phoebe and I were twins, and my mother died bringing us into the world. Father never remarried.”
“Oh. I am sorry.”
“Do not be. I am told boys do not need mothers as much as girls do.”
Angelica wrinkled her brow. “I do not know if that is true for all boys. My brothers all seem to enjoy time with Mama. However, I am glad you have not felt it a very acute loss. I suppose each family is different in any case.”
Mr. Ward chuckled. “Indeed. I would conjecture every family feels distinct from others. Although, it is my observance that no other family appears as close-knit and genuinely cares for each other the way yours does.”
“Yes. I do not know any other debutante who would go rushing off for the sake of her brother without a care for her attire.”
Angelica’s cheeks grew warm. “I suppose I seemed very childish to you.”
“Not at all. I thought you a devoted sister.”
“And a harridan?”
Mr. Ward ceased their walking just before they turned the corner to the main stairway. “It was only my foolish anger talking.” He stared into her eyes. “Please, believe me, I meant no slight against your person. You are quite lovely.”
Now, Angelica’s cheeks grew warm in a pleasant way and the heavy beating of her heart no longer confused her. Mr. Ward’s hand raised to her cheek, and he brushed a curled tendril aside.
“I noticed you had changed your hair before luncheon.” His hand touched the corner of a scratch she had covered with the hair. “Does it hurt?”
“Only a little.” The moment seemed too heavy like she was being pulled underwater, yet she had little desire to be saved. She determined to ask the question that had been burning in her since Tommy had first mentioned the apple falling on his head. “Why were you in the tree?”
“Ah, there you are, John,” George said from further down the hallway. He hurried his steps and met them in a moment. “I trust you found the nursery.” George glanced at Angelica. “You look swell, Angie. Beware, Lavinia Hurst’s claws will be out.”
“I am not afraid of Lavinia,” Angelica said.
George chuckled. “No, and she ought to remember the last time she teased you. I knew those boxing lessons I gave you would be good for something.”
Mr. Ward smirked. “You taught her to box?”
“A lady must be able to defend herself,” George said with a proud nod. “Here, Angie,” he extended his arm, and they walked off.
Behind her, Angelica thought she heard Mr. Ward mutter to himself something that sounded like, “That explains everything.”
It did not go unnoticed by Angelica during the evening meal that she was the source of several glances from others. Perhaps other debutantes would expect such a thing and, indeed, be pleased by them. However, a guilty conscience plagued Angelica’s mind. Her parents looked at her now and then with all too familiar expressions on their faces. Even worse, they seemed to hold a silent conversation with each other despite the table’s expanse and their many guests. It might testify to their union’s strength, but it decidedly did not bode well for Angelica.
They knew. Someone informed them of their eldest daughter’s unladylike escapade from the morning. There were too many possible culprits to worry about pinning the blame. Of course, they would argue that she ought to have confessed it all to them already. She could practically hear her mother’s speech about disappointment already. Even worse, her father would merely stare silently and gravely at her. Mr. Darcy rarely spoke a harsh word to his children. Still, it had always devastated Angelica to displease her father in any way. Mrs. Darcy often said he was too lenient on their daughters, but one look from Mr. Darcy could command more censure and remorse than all the lectures from their dear mama.
Angelica sighed as the final course was brought forward. She hardly knew if she wished the meal to end quickly or to slow it. She had a feeling that her reprieve would not last long. Would her parents issue their judgement before bed this evening? Or would they calculate that the added anxiety would make their punishment more effective?
Such thoughts almost distracted Angelica from the realisation that she garnered steadfast looks from more than merely her parents. John Ward looked at her a good deal. So did one of Malachi’s friends whom Angelica had met several times over the years. One person with an amused look on his face was her mother’s cousin, Michael Gardiner. What made him smirk? She did not know he was to arrive. The last she heard, none of the Gardiner children would be coming to Pemberley this summer.
Surprisingly, instead of separating the sexes after the meal, Mrs. Darcy invited the gentlemen to join the ladies in the drawing room. It would seem that Angelica’s trial might wait until the morning, although she hardly welcomed the news.
Lavinia Hurst and Olivia Hervey, both cousins of the Bingley children, bickered over who would first perform on the pianoforte. Angelica rolled her eyes. They hoped to attract eligible suitors with their skills. Still, to Angelica’s mind, no gentleman worth having would be able to overlook their behaviour. Mrs. Darcy ordered card tables to be set up, and small groups gathered around them. Angelica elected to sit out a turn. She was joined by Michael.
“You appeared amused by something during dinner, cousin,” Angelica said.
“Indeed, I was. You seemed to be the focus of much attention.”
“Well, there was more than one young man who seemed taken with your beauty. Then there were the looks your parents gave you.” He paused before smirking. “What have you done?”
“Why do you suppose I have misbehaved?”
“Because I have known you all your life,” Michael chuckled.
Angelica sighed. “Is my reputation so awful?”
“Probably only within the family. It is hard to forget your antics as a child. However, I will say that Raphaela has you surpassed.”
“Does that mean there is hope for me yet?”
“I think it might,” he said. He glanced around the room. “Ah, you have admirers noticing us.”
Angelica’s heart skipped a beat, but she kept her face impassive. “I am in no hurry to marry. They may look, but I am determined to do nothing to encourage any gentleman.”
“I applaud your decision. Our family is much too marriage-minded.”
“Did your mother pester you to join us? Is she still set on finding you a match?”
Michael sighed. “Sadly, yes. I wish she would give up on it. I do not know that I will ever settle down, but if I do, it will be in my own time.”
“Well, I hope you may enjoy yourself. For what it is worth, most of the ladies who are most interested in finding a match have their caps set on my brothers’ friends who are either wealthy or have connections to peers.”
“That is excellent news. I have little to fear then and can enjoy my visit.”
Their conversation ended as there was an opening at one of the card tables, and Angelica was invited to join. She sat with her cousin Alice, John Ward, and the other gentleman that had stared at her during dinner.
After some time of general conversation had passed, Mr. Leighton addressed Angelica. “I did not recognise the gentleman who sat with you a few minutes ago.”
“That was Mr. Michael Gardiner. He is my mother’s youngest cousin.”
“What is Mr. Gardiner’s occupation?” Mr. Leighton asked. “I believe his elder brother is the one that inherited the father’s business.”
“Michael does have a share in the business, but Gabriel makes all of the decisions. Michael is currently a clerk for my Uncle Phillips. Uncle says that he will leave the practice to Michael, but I am unsure Michael wants it.”
“Does he have another profession he would prefer?” Mr. Ward asked.
Angelica played a card, smiling when she won the set. “Oh, he would rather travel the world. However, I do not know that there is a career which offers that as an option.”
Alice chuckled. “Angie shares Michael’s wanderlust.”
Mr. Ward looked at Angelica thoughtfully. “I would recommend that he enter the railway business if he would prefer to travel as a career. It is the way of the future, and soon every nation in the world will be eager for the newest technology.”
Mr. Leighton frowned. “I despise trains. They are loud, dirty, smelly things. Additionally, they are dangerous. I suppose everyone here remembers when Mr. Huskisson was killed by a train when they opened the rail line between Liverpool and Manchester a few years ago. His will hardly be the last death.”
“Are not people killed in carriage accidents as well?” Mr. Ward asked. “Mr. Huskisson’s case was hardly typical. He ought to have stayed in his carriage and to have known better than to stand on the tracks. Besides, additional safety measures are being added all the time. Now, all trains are equipped with brakes. I daresay that is safer than trusting an animal to heed your commands.”
“Perhaps it is safest to stay at home or only go where your own legs can carry you,” Alice said before biting her lip.
Uncertain if Alice’s unease was over the topic or from the cards she held in her hand, Angelica, sought to relieve her cousin’s nerves. “I do not mean to be hindered by dramatized accounts. One can die in their bed. I will not sit idly by and refuse to live my life.”
“Hear, hear!” Mr. Ward said with a grin.
“I hope what you say is true, Mr. Ward. I mean to travel the world one day and would much prefer trains as ships make me seasick.”
Alice giggled. “You do not know if you like trains! You have never been on one!”
The others joined in her laughter. “True enough. However, I believe I will risk it.” Angelica played her final card, clapping when she had won the set. “Ah, here are the coffee things. I shall have to serve. I wish you all good luck on your next round.”
As Angelica served coffee and tea to the guests, she noticed continued looks from Mr. Leighton and Mr. Ward. Twice, she saw Michael smirk as his eyes darted from Angelica to the gentlemen. Ignoring his silent teasing, she focused her attention on chatting with the ladies for the remainder of the evening.
What did you think of John’s apology? How do you think things will go over with Mr. and Mrs. Darcy?