Friday Feature– The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter SECOND EDITION (Chapter One)

I’ve worked on making a second edition of my first book baby, The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter, off and on since 2017. I’ve had plans for a sequel series based off this book, so looking at the original has been necessary. There’s a number of changes I would make now. I wrote in third person omniscient point of view. This can be accomplished without head-hopping. However, I did not succeed in that. That is definitely being fixed now, but I have since then preferred to write in a more limited point of view, keeping matters to how they appear to the hero and heroine. Each one gets one scene or chapter and it often does not reflect reality. Their understanding of situations can be quite skewed. That would mean changing far too much in this story, so I cannot do away with it entirely. However, the head hopping will be contained. It will be also be re-edited for grammar and punctuation. I did my best at the time and had a talented friend proofread. I did not overly fuss over the sentence structure, despite the protestations of a few betas, because I wanted to sound like “me.” I wanted to know how poorly it would be received before I put my first novel (No Cause to Repine) out. Readers liked my voice. They didn’t need me to sound more like Jane Austen etc. So, that is a policy I have kept in all my stories and will remain intact for this edit as well. A few scenes will change as I’m trying to streamline the points of view. However, the essence of the story is the same.

I hope you enjoy this updated version!

Chapter One

September 30, 1811

“Come, Brother, let us rest ourselves for a moment,” Georgiana Darcy beseeched her elder brother. The two settled on a nearby bench.

“I am sorry Sweetling. It is very warm, and I should be more attentive to you. Would you like to go home?” Fitzwilliam Darcy looked at his sister with concern. The sun was shining unseasonably hot for late September.

“No, I am well.”

“I do wish you would come with me to Hertfordshire or allow me to stay behind with you. I do not like leaving you after your ordeal just yet.”

They had arrived in London only two days before, after celebrating the customary Michaelmas feast at Pemberley, their country estate. After the betrayal of the summer and the hustle of the harvest, Darcy looked forward to enjoying a holiday but hated to leave his dear sister behind.

“Really, William, it was not an illness. I have simply had low spirits because of my foolishness.”

Georgiana lowered her voice. “I would enjoy the countryside, but I will take the cowardly way out and avoid Mr. Bingley’s sisters since you offered. You know how difficult it is for me to make new friends and I do not trust my judgment in regards to their sincerity anymore. Therefore I would be trapped with the ladies all day and make you feel guilty for any enjoyment you experience. No, you go. You work so hard. Mrs. Annesley and I shall see you at Christmas.”

After a short pause she added, “Now, I think I shall watch the ducks just down there.”

Mr. Darcy watched his baby sister leave. She had grown into a beautiful young lady while he was unawares. Early in the summer, she had been taken advantage of, her heart broken asunder, by his childhood best friend and very own father’s godson. Swept away by romance she believed herself in love and consented to an elopement.

Learning the man in question only desired her stout dowry of thirty thousand pounds and revenge on her brother made her feelings of guilt even worse than when she understood the gravity of the scandal her actions would have caused. She had not recovered her spirits and was still filled with shame and melancholy.

I was charged to protect her, and I have failed her.

Nearby he heard something wholly unexpected, a full, hearty laugh from a woman. It had been years since he heard a woman laugh so openly, not since his mother’s death. And the tone of this particular laugh was delightful and enchanting. Women of his circle rarely laughed unless they were belittling someone. It was a sad way to live, to be so bitter and angry.

His eyes sought out the owner of the musical laughter and saw a young woman surrounded by four children under the age of ten.

Surely, she is much too young to be their mother but dressed too fine to be a governess. Though apparently, she takes little care of her wardrobe, given the way she romps with the little mites. Refreshing, a young lady not interested in fashion.

He had never seen a woman with such obvious zest for life before. This lady had an inner happiness and was unafraid for the world to see it.

“Again, Cousin Lizzy! Again!” the smallest lad cried demandingly as she took him in her arms and spun around. Setting him down in laughter, two older women approached her.

One stayed with the children, and the other walked with the young lady towards a bench near his. Darcy was shocked by the tugging in his heart. He felt regret in the assuredness of never witnessing a similar scene at his own home. Will my own children be happier than I was?

He had no intention of eavesdropping, but a very familiar name caught his attention. “All Mr. Collins could speak of was his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh,” said the younger lady, ‘Cousin Lizzy.’

She continued, “Thankfully Mama directed him away from Jane to start with, as Mama believes Jane must be saved for an illustrious match given her beauty. Not that I feared she would accept him anyway. You know Jane and I have vowed to never marry but for love and we could barely tolerate his sycophantic ways.

“Whatever came over my friend, Charlotte, to accept him I truly will never understand. But I thank you for allowing me to visit; Mama was becoming unbearable.”

“Of course, dear. We are always happy to have you. And shall you return to us in January?” the older woman asked.

Cousin Lizzy snorted. “You know very well I never want another London Season. I do not care for Town at all but for the theatres, museums, and bookshops. After turning down Mr. Collins, Mama has despaired of me ever marrying and has decided to send Kitty in my place. I am not sure if Mary should feel disappointed at being overlooked or relieved!”

She laughed and then sobered a little. “Truly, I believe Mama is correct. No man shall have me for none respect me. I have practically no portion, a vulgar family, no connections and am certainly not handsome enough to tempt one otherwise.”

“Now, Elizabeth, you have not met very many men and are only twenty. This smacks of bitterness.”

“Oh, Aunt Gardiner, I just feel as though I do not fit in anywhere, never valued for myself. I am impertinent and wild and do not wish to change.”

“Some gentlemen prefer outspoken ladies with frankness, and you are never improper or mean; indeed there is a playful sweetness about you. And wild? I have never seen evidence of that.”

“Well, I did walk three miles to Netherfield in the mud to check on Jane last month.” Glancing down at herself she told her aunt, “I arrived looking very much like this now, and I know Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst held me in contempt for it. But Jane was ill and needed me, and the carriage was not to be had. I have yet to have the patience to truly master riding, and so I walked.”

Darcy had been fascinated by the conversation before, but he recognized the name of the estate she mentioned as the very one leased by his best friend. The very place he intended to travel to on the morrow. Hearing her care for her sister resonated with his heart.

If I ever marry, I would want her to be a true sister to Georgie, with affection like this young miss has for her sister.

He then stole a look at her, given the fact that she knew his best friend and believed his sister hated her. He had no difficulty agreeing with her assumption. Caroline Bingley hated most people.

Elizabeth’s face was bright and animated by the exercise and conversation. Her eyes were vibrant and danced in the sunlight.

Her aunt replied, “I would never call those actions wild, though perhaps unwise. As for Mr. Bingley’s sisters, I am sure you can handle them with all the grace and poise you exhibit in the hostile environment of London drawing rooms. Some of the ladies I must visit are terribly dreadful, and you are never improper.

“Additionally, you explained Mr. Bingley took the sudden lease at Netherfield instead of going to a fashionable resort for the month of August. His sisters were likely to be displeased by everything out of sheer disappointment.”

Patting her niece on the hand, she continued, “Now, let us speak of better things. Will you come with us on the lake journey next summer?”

“Yes, you know not how I anticipate it.”

“Excellent. Among other stops, we plan on visiting my childhood home in Lambton.”

Darcy could scarce believe his ears. This young lady knew his best friend, his aunt’s parson, and her aunt grew up a mere five miles from his estate. Additionally, she would be visiting the area the following summer.

“You will want to see Pemberley, I am sure. I believe Derbyshire to be the finest of all the counties and Pemberley’s house is my favourite. But the grounds! Lizzy, we will have to drag you away.”

Elizabeth laughed at this, “I do look forward to it then! Tell me more about Derbyshire. Does uncle still plan to buy an estate there soon?”

Darcy frowned; although both ladies were dressed finely, she apparently was in trade. It mattered not; surely he had no intentions towards a stranger. Though when I arrive at Netherfield, she will no longer be one…

“Yes, we could have earlier, but the continued war with Napoleon makes him want to wait so he can better manage his affairs from afar.”

“I think it so brave of you and uncle to have taken the Import/Export opportunity.”

The lady chuckled. “Not everyone agreed with us at the time! Did you ever know your great-grandfather at all? Although son to a gentleman, he disliked Town and chose to become a country lawyer. The usual lot of second sons did not appeal to him. Your uncle came so late to your grandfather’s life the law practice was already promised to Mr. Phillips after your other uncle’s unexpected death. Still, your grandfather railed at his son entering trade.”

She paused for a moment and added, “I think we both know that your uncle is far happier in his current profession than he would be as a country attorney.”

So, a second son of a second son, that is…respectable.

“And what of you? Surely the Greenes expected you to marry a gentleman,” Elizabeth asked.

“And so your uncle is! I do not hold with the belief that because he manages a business instead of land he has lost his rank due his birth.”

Elizabeth nodded. “Besides, we make too much of birth. No one is born with superior behaviour, one is taught it through education and many tradesmen these days can better afford expensive schooling than peers,” she ended with gusto.

Darcy reeled at the words: astonishing, unpopular and thought provoking. She did not sound like a revolutionary, only a pragmatist. Is not my friend Bingley proof of this? Not to mention my aunt, born daughter of an earl, can be quite vulgar.

Elizabeth began speaking again. “The world is changing. The tradesmen are propelling technology and industry which is creating capital needed to fund the constant wars and colonisation, which is not as entirely profitable as the lords would have us think. Meanwhile, people are leaving the estates, and instead of making goods in their homes, they try their luck at wealth in the cities.

Sobering a little, she added thoughtfully, “Fortunately few of our tenants have left, but I worry for those that do. The cities are cruel, and there is no one to aid them. Our estate is not vast or very profitable, although I attribute at least some of that to my father’s indolence as he hates the entailment. At any rate, what we do have we owe to our tenants, and in turn, we treat them very well.”

Darcy breathed out a sigh of relief. She was a gentleman’s daughter after all. Clearly not one of any importance, as he knew of no one noteworthy that resided near his friend’s estate, but they were…equals. Yes, equals. My relations might be nobles, but I am not.

The older woman nodded, as though this was all commonplace conversation, and stood. “Very wise, as always, my dear. But come, let us gather the children.”

Darcy was struck with their conversation and was dwelling on the prospect of a pair of very fine eyes in the face of a pretty — and very astute, intelligent — woman. All worries for his sister slipped away, for the first time in months.

*****

Georgiana Darcy left her brother on the park bench and made her way to the pond. While watching the ducks, she said a silent prayer. She desired a friend, a true confidante and perhaps a sister. A good wife for William and a sister for me.

She spied four children and their governess frolicking and tossing a ball when it went astray, near her. She bent to retrieve it and walked towards the group of children.

“Here you are dear,” she spoke to the youngest boy.

“Thank you. Are you an angel?” the little one asked.

“Master Michael!” The governess chided.

Laughing, Georgiana intervened, “No, he is charming. No, little one, I am not an angel. What makes you think so?”

“Your hair is made of gold! Even prettier than Cousin Jane! What is your name, Angel?”

“Master Michael, such poor manners!” the governess reprimanded again.

“But my name is an angel and so is Gabe’s and the girls are named after Grandmama and Grandmother and Mama says they are angels watching us from Heaven and all of our cousins are named for other angels in Heaven…”

Georgiana laughed again, “Actually, Master Michael I am named for my mother and father, George and Anne Darcy, and they are both now angels in Heaven too.”

Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth approached with every intention of chiding Michael as well and overheard Georgiana’s last statement. Mrs. Gardiner could not contain her delight upon hearing who conversed with her children.

“Excuse me, did I hear correctly? Are you Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley?” At Mrs. Gardiner’s approach the governess walked towards the other children.

Startled and shy speaking with the ladies instead of the child, she looked at her feet and spoke softly. “Yes, I am.”

From his bench Darcy happened to view the scene and began to move in their direction.

Mrs. Gardiner tried to ease Georgiana’s embarrassment. “Forgive me, I do not mean to make you uneasy. You see I grew up near Lambton and remember meeting your family a few times.”

Georgiana’s head jerked up in delighted surprise, “Really? You met my father and mother?”

“Yes, a sweeter woman who loved her family and tenants I have yet to meet. And you, dear, are just as beautiful.”

Mr. Darcy reached Georgiana just then. “Georgiana, are you well?”

“Oh, yes, William! She was just telling me about Mother!” Georgiana beamed at her brother.

He attempted to conceal his excitement at a reason to speak with the pretty young lady. “How delightful. Could you introduce me to your new friends?” At this his sister reddened in embarrassment.

Mrs. Gardiner intervened again, “Forgive us sir. I happened upon Miss Darcy as she was speaking with my children and was too delighted to make an acquaintance from my childhood home to remember the essentials! I am Mrs. Edward Gardiner of Gracechurch Street. My husband owns Jameson and Sons India Wares on Oxford Street. Perhaps you have heard of our tea?”

Quite surprised Darcy’s eyebrows rose. “Indeed, Madam, my favourite in fact.”

“I thank you sir. And this is my niece, Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn in Hertfordshire.” Darcy forgot to breathe as Elizabeth bestowed a beautiful smile, blinding him almost like the sun.

Georgiana remembered her role. “And this is my brother, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire.” Darcy bowed and all the ladies curtsied.

Elizabeth replied, “A pleasure to meet you Mr. Darcy.” He broke into a wide smile as she spoke. Elizabeth felt breathless at the sight of his dimples.

 “Likewise, Miss Bennet.”

Georgiana was oblivious to the tender moment. “Hertfordshire! Is your home anywhere near Netherfield Park? My brother’s best friend, Mr. Bingley, just leased it.”

“Why, yes, Longbourn is but three miles. What a coincidence! I lately had the pleasure of making Mr. Bingley’s acquaintance; he is quite popular in Hertfordshire. I will be leaving tomorrow, in fact, to return.”

“Tomorrow! What another coincidence. My brother and I,” Georgiana stressed the last two words for Darcy to catch, “will be leaving tomorrow as well, to stay several weeks at Netherfield.”

Georgiana spoke with sudden determination. “Mrs. Gardiner, we would be pleased for you and your husband and niece to dine with us this evening. I would dearly love to hear more of my mother.”

It was not the usual order to extend a dinner invitation before developing the acquaintance through standard morning calls but the young lady was so endearing and excited. Additionally, she would not have a chance, possibly for months, to speak with Mrs. Gardiner again. Exchanging glances the older ladies agreed and a time was settled upon for their next meeting.

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