Friday Feeling–Frequent Pharmacy Shopper

pharmacy shopper.jpg

I am a frequent pharmacy shopper. Mr. Woodhouse would be so proud of me! Do I win a prize?

We’re not quite to the middle of the month and so far I’ve spent $447 in 8 trips at Walgreens. That doesn’t include the trips in which my medicine was not ready yet. Truthfully, not all of that was medicine. It is all sickness related, though. We need cleaning supplies, more fluids when sick, husband wanted some soup, after the fourth day in a row at the place I was NOT going to Walmart for office supplies. I practically live there and could easily be a walking advertisement for the place.

Toward the last week, I was ill with sinus congestion resulting in dizziness. I didn’t even realize I was congested because it wasn’t in my nose! Once I decided to attack the dizziness with allergy medicine, it lowered from my forehead to my nose and started to drain. I perked up just in time for my husband to wake up sick on Tuesday morning. He insisted that it was no big deal and a good sleep and Day Quill would take care of his raging fever and other aches which he wouldn’t even mention. On Wednesday, both of my kids woke up with stuffy noses and sore throats. As they had no fevers, I sent them to school and said we’d watch it but it was probably just allergies. Around noon, I insisted in taking my husband to urgent care as the doctor had no openings. I expected it was the flu until I got him to actually answer some questions en route. He said his throat hurt but he didn’t have muscle aches. That screamed strep throat to me.

Doctor mom was right.

We get him home and the pharmacy is backed up. By the time the kids get home from school, my husband’s prescriptions were ready. My son also came off the bus with glassy eyes and looking like he felt miserable. A touch to his forehead told me fever and the thermometer confirmed what I instinctively knew–102. My daughter also had a fever but upon hearing her father had strep throat began to insist her throat felt fine. She hates the swab test. I decided to not deal with her fighting at the moment and took my son into urgent care. He was positive for strep as well. By this point, I was pretty sure my daughter also had it. I could not convince her to come to the doctor that night but she did agree to take ibuprofen after I bought three different kinds so she could decide on a flavor and between chewable tablets and liquid. Le sigh.

Teddy slept through the night but it didn’t surprise me in the least that my daughter woke up around 4 am burning up, shivering, and in pain. I gave her some more ibuprofen and when she was due for another dose, I finally convinced her to go to the doctor. I’ll be honest. I LIED. I swore up and down she wouldn’t need to do a strep culture. By utter luck, the doctor agreed just by looking at her throat and knowing that two others in the house had strep that she didn’t have to do the the culture. I tried EVERYTHING to get her into the room before I lied but hey…desperate times. The doctor gave her a firm talking about next time she’ll have to do it. We’ll see if she will agree after being told by the doctor. It was given with a nice side dose of judgment. What’s with that? I’m doing the best I can! I can’t convince her to just handle it. I can’t make her just *not feel* something. She’s not spoiled rotten. We’re actually waiting for results on an autism evaluation for her. If she does have ASD, then she feels pain differently. Something which should not be so distressing can be acutely painful to an ASD child with sensory processing issues. More sighs.

I dropped her off at the house with my husband and son then headed back into Walgreens…again.

So, how am I doing? Well, I think I’m genetically superior for once! I got my tonsils out when I was 12. I have actually had strep a few times since then, but not often. At this point, my husband is feeling better and if I do come down with strep, at least one parent will be capable of running the show. The worst time I think we ever had was when we both had the flu the same week our son learned to walk! It was also over Christmas and none of our relatives could help. Miserable we were but survive we did.

As much as I complain, I know how fortunate we are. I’m thankful for antibiotics and modern medicine. I’m thankful for the convenience of local pharmarcies and wellness goods. I’m exceedingly grateful for the income to go to the doctor and buy supplies. I can never take my readers for granted when they allow me to keep my family healthy!

Illness also makes me think about Marianne Dashwood and Lydia Bennet. I think of Marianne because of her illness in Sense and Sensibility (clipped for brevity).

okabe-3-a

He came, examined his patient, and though encouraging Miss Dashwood to expect that a very few days would restore her sister to health, yet, by pronouncing her disorder to have a putrid tendency, and allowing the word “infection” to pass his lips, gave instant alarm.

Towards the evening Marianne became ill again, growing more heavy, restless…

Marianne, suddenly awakened by some accidental noise in the house, started hastily up, and, with feverish wildness, cried out,— “Is mamma coming?”

“Not yet,” replied the other, concealing her terror, and assisting Marianne to lie down again, “but she will be here, I hope, before it is long. It is a great way, you know, from hence to Barton.”

“But she must not go round by London,” cried Marianne, in the same hurried manner. “I shall never see her, if she goes by London.”

Elinor perceived with alarm that she was not quite herself, and, while attempting to soothe her, eagerly felt her pulse. It was lower and quicker than ever. And Marianne, still talking wildly of mamma, her alarm increased so rapidly, as to determine her on sending instantly for Mr. Harris, and despatching a messenger to Barton for her mother.

It was a night of almost equal suffering to both. Hour after hour passed away in sleepless pain and delirium on Marianne’s side, and in the most cruel anxiety on Elinor’s, before Mr. Harris appeared.

His medicines had failed; the fever was unabated; and Marianne only more quiet—not more herself—remained in a heavy stupor.

he had still something more to try, some fresh application, of whose success he was almost as confident as the last; and his visit concluded with encouraging assurances which reached the ear but could not enter the heart of Miss Dashwood.

Hope had already entered; and feeling all its anxious flutter, she bent over her sister to watch—

Her breath, her skin, her lips, all flattered Elinor with signs of amendment; and Marianne fixed her eyes on her with a rational, though languid, gaze. Anxiety and hope now oppressed her in equal degrees, and left her no moment of tranquillity till the arrival of Mr. Harris at four o’clock, when his assurances, his felicitations on a recovery in her sister even surpassing his expectation, gave her confidence, comfort, and tears of joy.

'A_Woman_in_Bed_in_a_Sick_Room'_Wellcome_L0075284
A Woman in Bed in a Sick Room, R. Pistoni, 1872

I think of Lydia because she suddenly grew sick in Letters from the Heart:

“Lydia fainted, only she will not wake,” Jane said.

By this time the commotion of the house was so great that Mary and Kitty entered the room as well.

“Thomas! What are we to do?” Mrs. Bennet was growing alarmed.

Darcy approached, “Excuse me, sir, but I think it best to send for the apothecary immediately, and I will send for my physician from Town.”

Mr. Bennet looked at him for a long moment. He was too reserved of a man to say much, but Darcy saw the usual laughing glint in his eye disappear and be replaced with concern. “You think this serious; have you seen this before?”

Darcy slowly nodded and spoke quietly. Only Mr. Bennet and Elizabeth could hear. “My mother. She had an acute sickness strike her. See how Miss Lydia perspires and her breathing is so shallow? My concerns may be for naught, but I think she ought to be moved to a sick bed.”

“I will ready things,” Elizabeth offered.

Darcy managed a very small smile when he saw Elizabeth rise to the occasion. How did he ever think she would be incapable of managing manage his homes? Georgiana was still distressed and Miss Kitty facilitated between believing Lydia was getting too much attention and wailing her best friend’s unknown condition. Jane and Miss Mary went after Elizabeth to help and despite the noise of Kitty, Darcy recognized it was quieter than he expected.

Scanning the room again, he recognized Mrs. Bennet standing over Lydia, who still lay on the sofa. She gently stroked her daughter’s hair. She was entirely silent but tears streamed freely down her face. Mr. Bennet wrapped one arm around his wife and was murmuring something in her ear. The tenderness surprised Darcy and he turned away from intruding on their private moment. He turned his attention to Bingley and they considered the best way to transport Lydia upstairs to the chamber when it was ready.

An hour later, Mr. Jones arrived and examined Lydia.

“It is as Mr. Darcy feared. I have bled her, but I believe this illness is beyond my experience. It is good a physician has been sent for. In the meantime, I must ask that those who are not family leave immediately,” he told the assembled group.

Jane began to cry, and Bingley was at her side instantly. “I will not leave you again, Jane.”

“No! I could not bear it if you became ill, too.”

Darcy interjected, “My friend and I assisted in moving Miss Lydia several times now, and my sister was alone with her when she fainted. I doubt the wisdom of us now leaving.”

“It is all my fault!” Georgiana wailed. “She would not believe me about Mr. Wickham, and I was too forceful!”

Everyone hastened to tell her that could not be the case, and Elizabeth attempted to console her. When the apothecary amended his statements that everyone should stay confined to Longbourn, Elizabeth took the sobbing Georgiana to her room.

A storm began, delaying the physician until morning. The house was still and sombre, the various ladies of the house were reduced to mostly silent tears. They all retired early and the situation was grave enough Darcy managed to give little thought to the fact that he was once again only a few doors down from a sleeping Elizabeth.

The next morning arrived with dark clouds in the sky, though the roads proved passable for the physician. He scarcely had more information to give but he did have additional medications to try. They had little effect. Lydia lay abed insensible to everything, with a high fever and symptoms of delirium.

Elizabeth, Jane and Mrs. Bennet took turns remaining at Lydia’s side. The gentlemen consoled the ladies as best they could. Mary and Kitty took to keeping Georgiana occupied. Elizabeth had scarcely been able to comfort her. Georgiana still blamed herself entirely.

On the second night of Lydia’s illness even Elizabeth’s spirits began to slip. Darcy sat with her hand in hand next to Lydia’s bedside. The door was open for propriety although it was unnecessary. Elizabeth wiped her sister’s brow and in what Darcy believed was a fit of exhaustion began to weep uncontrollably. He pulled her to his chest and pressed kisses in to her hair until she calmed. Then she looked up to him with reddened eyes.

“I never gave her enough attention. I was content to merely scold or laugh at her. And now…”

“No, Elizabeth. I will not allow you to despair. I have seen the deathbed. Look, her cheeks are still rosy.”

She looked more hopeful but still did not quite believe him. “But you said your mother…”

“Lydia is stout and young. My mother was always frail. Nor does Lydia cough. The physician tells us not to fear yet.”

She laid her head against his shoulder again and said, “I will try.”

“Dearest, you are a very affectionate sister. Would you still have come to Netherfield if it was Lydia who was sick instead of Jane?”

“Of course!” She wrapped her arms around his waist. “I am so thankful you are here with me.”

 

For Lydia and Marianne, their illnesses served as the jolt of awareness they needed to re-examine their lives. The same could be said for Tom Bertram in Mansfield Park. I don’t think my family will be given to such deep reflection as we recover but it is interesting to consider how a serious illness can change a person’s outlook–whether it be fiction or reality. What is the sickest you have ever been? Did you ever have near death experience which allowed you to see life clearer?

Friday Feature–Letters from the Heart

LFTHEvery few weeks, I’ll be posting an excerpt from one of my back list of previously published stories. I tend to like to be organized in my head (even if I can never remember how many books I have out) so I’m just going in order. Maybe once that’s over I can think about themes or series or exciting things. Last month’s post was The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter. This week’s excerpt is Letters from the Heart. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Here’s the (current) blurb:

The line between love and hate has never been closer.

 

Memories of Elizabeth Bennet torture Fitzwilliam Darcy during a winter in London. Resenting his love for her, he writes a cathartic letter intended to release his repressed feelings. When it is mistakenly mailed, there is only one thing he can do.
In Hertfordshire, Elizabeth’s mind returns again and again to the exasperating enigma of Mr. Darcy. Distraught and confused, she journals her hatred for the man but soon misplaces the letter never meant to be read.

When others presume an engagement, their paths seem sealed. However, rather than bringing about a marriage, their words of regret and anger threaten to separate them forever.

A stand alone novella in the Jane Austen Re-imaginings series, Letters from the Heart is for all who need a heartfelt Darcy and Elizabeth fix. Treat yourself to a romantic read from Rose Fairbanks.

 

Well, let’s give my faithful blog readers a treat and let you see Darcy’s letter!


Monday, December 9, 1811

Darcy House, London

 

Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth,

Are you shocked at the forwardness of my address? I should hope not, for I dearly love calling you Elizabeth. You will always be my Elizabeth.

In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Have I shocked you again with my declaration of love? I assure you it is a true, constant love. I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. 

How have you bewitched me? I have seen the beauties of the first circle and have remained unmoved until I was captivated by your fine eyes dancing not in candlelight, but in mirth and obvious joy. I have listened to the most exalted performers in the land, yet it is your performance that plays again in my mind. I have conversed with women educated by the finest masters at the best schools, but not one of them has your unique combination of intelligence, honesty, wit and sweetness. I know many women whom are lauded for their kindness, but I know none who would walk three miles after a storm to nurse a sick sister, or forebear Miss Bingley’s insults with such civility. I have been hunted in ballrooms since my youth, and you are the first woman of my acquaintance to refuse to stand up with me, and certainly the first to not seek my approbation. 

This must be the answer. I love you because you are genuine and unaffected. You do not simper or seek to flatter. The ladies of my acquaintance may be draped in the rarest silk and costly gold trinkets, and tout many so-called accomplishments, but they can only repeat my own opinion. They are not authentic. You are the most delightful woman of my acquaintance, the only real woman of my acquaintance, as the others are mere figments of fashionable society.

But to one of these insipid ladies I will have to shackle myself one day to serve my duty to my family. Your connections in trade and the improper behaviour of your family could never find a place in London society. Though I care little for it, I must protect my family’s position for the sake of my sister and my future children. And the ladies of the ton would be most unkind to you. I should hate to see you abused or regret a connection to me, though I rather think you would laugh at their folly instead.

In moments like these I must confess I would gladly cast aside my concerns about your family and connections, if only you showed me some encouragement. Instead you have fallen under Wickham’s spell of charming manners. Tell me, what is it young ladies find irresistible about the reprobate? His ability to gamble away three thousand pounds given in lieu of a valuable living—at his request—in the course of two years? Or is it his attempts to seduce young heiresses into elopement, as he tried with my sister? 

I should be angry with you. I should be angry that you are foolish enough to believe his lies, and foolish enough to doubt my honour. You destroyed the pleasure of our dance at Netherfield, which was supposed to offer me a lifetime of memories.  Instead you brought up that cad. But I cannot be angry with you. He has deceived many, myself included. I love you entirely, even if you suffer from some misjudgements. I know you by heart – your errors are just further proof of your affectionate character.

I should be angry that you cannot leave my mind for a moment. You have invaded my senses, my every waking hour and each night as well. I want peace and respite from this, Elizabeth! Yet I cannot blame you. It is my weakness that leads me to love a lady unsuitable for my standing. You are not charming, intelligent, witty and beautiful by design. Your enticements are wholly natural and intrinsic.

I am alternately angry and relieved that Miss Bennet does not hold my friend in the same esteem he holds her. If they had married, would I meet with you frequently? Would it be enough to simply keep an acquaintance with you and to satisfy myself with a few lively conversations a year? Would I be forced to see you marry another and bear his children? Or would I claim the honour? And should I try, would you deny me even as you have denied me a dance?

I have made a mess of things, Elizabeth. I cannot see myself through this, though I pride myself in my superior judgment. Since I cannot see clearly, I have run like a coward, hoping the distance would remove the need to find answers, but it has not. You are here with me, Lizzy. You are in my heart.

Perhaps this letter may serve as a balm, and I can regain my composure. Perhaps after this confession I will be able to close my eyes and not see yours laughing at me. It may be that after I conclude this note I will stop searching for your face everywhere I go, remembering your words, and faintly smelling your fragrance.

It may be. I pray it is. And yet my heart tells me there will be none but you residing in it.

Forever yours,

Fitzwilliam Darcy


What would you do if you read such a letter? What do you think Darcy does when he realizes it’s been mailed?

This letter is still one of my favorite things I’ve written. When I posted it on a forum, I had a reader say it reminded her of a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. I absolutely love that movie so I took it as high praise!

http://youreon.net/wonderful-life-phone-scene/

Buy links: (I am still loading the new cover on the other sites)

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

December Plans

December looks like a packed month  for me! Well, Letters from the Heart is published and I have blog tour plans and I’m also hosting two authors on the blog this month!!

On December 8 I’ll be hosting an excerpt and giveaway for The Muse by Jessica Evans.

musetourbanner(1)

Other stops for The Muse

12/2: Review at Songs & Stories
12/3: Guest Post & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged 
12/4: Review at Wings of Paper
12/5: Excerpt & Giveaway at Laughing with Lizzie 
12/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm 
12/7: Guest Post & Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen 
12/8: Excerpt & Giveaway at Stories From the Past 
12/9: Review at So Little Time…
12/10: Review at BestSellers & BestStellars
12/11: Author Interview at Wings of Paper 
12/12: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
12/13: Review at Fairy Jane Tales
12/14: Excerpt at The Calico Critic 
12/15: Review at Warmisunqu’s Austen
*****

LettersFromTheHeart-Ebook-1a

Letters from the Heart blog tour dates:

12/19: Guest post and Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm

12/20: Spotlight at My Jane Austen Book Club

12/21: Excerpt at More Agreeably Engaged

12/23: Excerpt and Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice

12/27: Excerpt and Giveaway at My Love for Jane Austen

12/28: Guest post at Leatherbound Reviews

*****

to refine like silverOn December 22 I’ll be hosting an excerpt and giveaway for To Refine Like Silver by Jeanna Ellsworth.

In the middle of the month I have vacation plans and am compiling a reading list to bring along, plan to finish writing Undone Business and possibly even start on edits for No Cause to Repine. What are the top 5 books on your December reading wishlist?

Letters from the Heart- Excerpt and Giveaway

LettersFromTheHeart-Ebook-1aWell, November just flew by between editing Letters from the Heart and participating in National Novel Writing Month, throw in some car repairs, kids checks ups, allergic reaction/skin infection, surprise moving and I think I could sleep for the next month straight!

But enough about me. Letters from the Heart went live on Kindle about 24 hours ago and it’s already doing great.The paperback on Amazon will be available in a few days.

I originally planned on it coming out on December 7th, which was perfect as it’s “Letter Writing Day” which was the “Wacky Holiday” I chose when this story began as a challenge piece on an online forum. Now, I offer a giveaway on that day!

I must have needed sleep more than I thought last night because I forgot the blurb!

Resolved to forget Elizabeth Bennet during a winter in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy writes a letter in bitterness of spirit. Frustrated by her growing obsession with the arrogant man, Elizabeth commits her thoughts to paper. But angry people are not always wise, and secret thoughts do not always remain secret. Compelled to face their selfishness and fears, their actions encourage those dearest to them to change as well.

You can read the full first chapter as a sample on Amazon. Here is an excerpt, only available here, from Chapter 2.

*****

Elizabeth Bennet crept up the servant’s stairs to her bedroom. The last thing she wanted at present was to be discovered by her mother. She had been unusually troubled this morning before her walk and took little heed of the mud puddles she walked through. My petticoats are six inches deep in mud again, Mr. Darcy.

Elizabeth shook her head; she must stop thinking of that arrogant, annoying, frustratingly beautiful man. She chose not to reprimand her thoughts for describing him as beautiful, for it was as true as any description of him. Opening her bedroom door, she had every intention to burn the letter she wrote the night before. Indeed, as she should have after she finished writing. No, I never should have written it at all.

Her eyes grew wide with foreboding when she saw her letter stack gone. The maid must have taken her mail to be sent. Attempting to stave off the alarm rising in her breast, she assured herself that no matter how agitated her mind was last night, she would not have left it on her desk. She must have absently tucked it in a drawer. She had not even sealed it and so there was no mistaking it for a letter to be sent, certainly.

For good measure, she recounted her motions before bed last night. She had sealed and addressed four letters. That fact was entirely perfect, as she had written four letters. No, No, No! She wrote four letters, but only three were meant for the post! Flying down the stairs, she asked the maid if the post had been sent.

“Aye, Miss Elizabeth, and the master has all the letters that came today in his study.”

“Elizabeth!” Just then her father called from his study, before she had a chance to give in to the despair that must naturally follow the situation.

“Yes, Papa?” she asked from the doorway.

“Shut the door and be seated.” Elizabeth looked at her father in confusion and consternation. His tone had a sharpness she seldom heard; it was as though she was being reprimanded for some grave error.

Mr. Bennet looked at his favourite daughter expectantly, but when she said nothing he decided to begin. “It has come to my attention that you have been involved in a secret correspondence with a gentleman of our acquaintance, though I am uncertain he deserves the title gentleman.”

Elizabeth gasped and began to refute the claim, but he interrupted her. “No, Elizabeth, I have indisputable proof. Now, normally such things would point to a secret betrothal, which would be concerning enough, but in this letter—written in your young man’s hand—he denies such a marriage will take place. I must say, for all that we have heard of him and observed, I never believed him so dishonourable as to correspond with a single lady with his name blatantly signed all over it. I suppose he does not have to worry about his reputation, and he must have no fear that I can demand satisfaction.”

“I have not the slightest idea who you mean. I am not corresponding with any gentleman.” The slight blush to Elizabeth’s cheeks betrayed her as she recalled her mislaid letter.

“Do not lie to me.” He pulled out the now-opened letter addressed to his daughter and waved it at her. “Here is the letter from your man, and your maid confirmed a letter to him was sent this morning.”

Elizabeth’s astonishment was beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted and was silent. Mr. Bennet considered this sufficient encouragement to continue, “Your mother knows of this and I am uncertain I can keep her silent. At least one maid in the house knows of your correspondence. Heaven only knows what the postman and his clerk have said. I cannot make sense of it. I thought you disliked him, which might explain his actions, but you wrote him. He vows he will not marry you, yet he publicly compromises you.”

After a lengthy pause, he asked very quietly, “Have there been other compromises?”

Elizabeth cried, “Papa! How can you think it of me?”

“What am I meant to think, child?”

Elizabeth still could not credit what she understood from her father’s words and chose to continue her denial, “You have no proof of my alleged letter aside from the maid’s testimony, and I have not read the letter in your hands. I cannot fathom who you mean.”

Her attempt at deceit could not prevail, for her father knew her too well. “I will not play your game, Elizabeth. Now tell me, do you truly hate him, for I think I must appeal to his honour.”

Elizabeth gulped deeply and spoke to her folded hands. She could not meet her father’s eye. “No, I do not hate him. I only wish I could.”

“Very well, that gives me some peace.”

“Papa…surely you have heard how he has treated Mr. Wickham, and I know he has taken Mr. Bingley away from Jane. We cannot hope he will do the honourable thing. If this is known, what shall become of me, of my sisters? How cruel of him!”

“You mailed a letter as well!”

“But I did not mean to!”

“And why not?”

“I cannot respect him! I like him against my will and all reason!”

He laughed heartily and added, “It seems you both love each other against your will.”

Elizabeth’s head sharply lifted at such words, and her eyes flew to the letter Mr. Bennet still held. “Here child, I have kept you in suspense long enough.”

Her hands greedily reached for the letter, and her eyes spoke her thanks. She ran upstairs to her room to read in solitude.

 

Giveaway

I’m giving away one paperback and one kindle copy of this book, both open internationally. Please leave a comment below with which format you prefer and make sure the email address you enter is a good one to contact you through. Giveaway ends December 7, 11:59 pm EST.

Letters from the Heart

I have exciting news! My next release, Letters from the Heart, is off to the editors and should come out in December 2014. I’m even more excited because I finished my editing and additions a few days before my October 31st cut off date.

hungrywords2Letters from the Heart has been through the works a few times. I originally posted the story as “The Best Laid Plans” about a year ago. The total word count was 7,999 words and came from Beyond Austen’s “Wacky Holiday” short story prompt. There were a series of suggested holidays and I chose “Letter Writing Day.” The word limit was 8,000 words and I did not plot the story well and really hit the limit. Dissatisfied with the rushed nature of the closing I pulled it back out in April. I doubled the length and allowed betas to work their magic, posting it as “Knowing You by Heart.” When I considered publishing it a friend reviewed it and really suggested that I extend it even further. And so we have Letters from the Heart at 36,067 words- before final edits. So, it’s been a lot of additional writing. Nearly all of the original work was put in the first three chapters.

Here’s the tentative synopsis: Resolved to forget Elizabeth Bennet while wintering in London, Fitzwilliam Darcy writes a letter in bitterness of spirit. Annoyed at her growing obsession with the arrogant man, Elizabeth journals her thoughts. Unfortunately, tormented minds are not always the clearest.

 

And as a special treat to you, I am including a new excerpt from Chapter 4.

With such disheartened thoughts Elizabeth entered the drawing-room, and soon thereafter Mr. Wickham and some other officers entered to call on the ladies. Wickham began his familiar complaints about Darcy, but Elizabeth could not stand for it.

“I wonder, Mr. Wickham, that you were not able to find another parish.”

He shifted his eyes uncomfortably and paused before answering. “My only contacts were through Darcy, and his malice was so strong he would not see me settled anywhere.”

“Surely he cannot have such power over the entire kingdom, sir. Perhaps when my ordained cousin, Mr. Collins, returns in a few days he might have a recommendation for you.”

Wickham winced, and Elizabeth continued. “I only thought, sir, it would be a shame for you to waste your education and what must assuredly be a vocation for you. If you have the opportunity to give sermons and get some bit of your just due— after all a clergyman earns more than a militia officer— then it must be worth any pain to your pride.”

He gave her a glare at the reminder of his income.

“For you would have spent three years studying for ordination and two years since awaiting orders somewhere, I believe.”

Wickham’s friend, Denny, perked up then. “Ordination? I know I met you three years ago when you lived at Lincoln’s Inn.” Denny stifled a howl as Wickham stomped on his foot. His exclamation of pain brought the notice of the room.

Wickham attempted to explain as all eyes focused on him but sounded unconvincing, “Darcy had made it plain at his father’s death, just as I was finishing at Cambridge that he would deny me the living. I sought to study the law instead.”

Elizabeth hid her smirk at how fast his story changed. “That would have been a very great thing for you, indeed! But whatever happened? How could you afford it in the first place?”

“I was given a bequest of one thousand pounds.”

 “I am glad to hear Mr. Darcy was not so hateful after all, to not give you anything from the will and that you were able to study. Such a sum must have covered all your costs.” One thousand pounds to study the law was just sufficient but an additional three thousand pounds was more than enough for educational and reasonable societal pursuits alike.

“There is that…but the living ought to have been mine.” He clearly chose not to address the fact that apparently he did not face the bar and could only blame it on his poor understanding or running low on funds and not finishing his education.

“I rather recall you mentioning it could be treated as conditional only, as Mr. Darcy claimed you rather extravagant.”

 She paused, and Wickham gaped, searching for something to say.

 “But then, we cannot think so generously of Mr. Darcy. Instead, let us consider the good fortune his father bestowed upon you by ensuring with every lawful means you received the one thousand pounds, to give you such a start in life.”

 “Yes, I will forever be grateful for the kindness of the father.”

 “It does you credit that you have not forgot him.”

Elizabeth gave Wickham a knowing look, and she could tell he understood her perfectly. Not many weeks ago he had vowed to never say a negative word of Darcy unless he could forget the good of his father.

Having heard the officers from his library, Mr. Bennet came and sat with them. Elizabeth cast worried looks to him, and soon he pointedly engaged in monopolizing Wickham’s time exclusively for the remainder of the call. Lydia seemed displeased, but was easily consoled with attention from others.

 When they had left, Elizabeth followed her father into the library.

 “Papa, in light of Mr. Darcy’s information on Mr. Wickham, what do you plan to do?” He did not look up from his book.

 “Plan to do?”

 “He is a rake and a gamester, surely a threat to our community.”

 At his silence, she persevered. “Please, Papa. I was so mistaken in Mr. Darcy’s character and so willingly spoke against him even more so in the last week. Please, some redress is the least I can do.”

 Mr. Bennet sighed and finally focused on his daughter. “What would you have me do? Mr. Darcy did not authorize us, or I should say you, to say anything about Wickham – if he even meant to send that letter at all. He left the area without concern for us, surely he must consider Wickham no great threat to us.”

“Perhaps…but he also had no connections in the area. It would be quite impertinent for him to tell the area’s residents how to protect themselves from such an unworthy man. Nor could he say anything on Wickham’s dalliances without risking too much about his sister. The whole area is very prejudiced towards him. It would be the death of half the good people of Meryton to find out that Wickham is a cad and from Mr. Darcy’s own mouth. Yet, you they may believe.”

Her father groaned, and Elizabeth hastily spoke. “You need not be direct, after all you have no information of your own, but you are clever and well-respected. You can plant the seeds of doubt. How much is he spending, and how much does he earn? Is he known to treat the ladies respectably? Use his words against him. Why, just now I just found many holes in his story about Mr. Darcy denying him the living with a few simple questions!”

“Did you now?” he asked with pride.

Elizabeth smiled, “Indeed! I cannot think of how foolish I was to fall for it in the first place. If he was prepared for ordination then he would have done the necessary studies and been able to find work somewhere. If he did not study then what did he do between his godfather’s death and when the living fell vacant and how could he expect Mr. Darcy to give him the living unqualified?”

“Quite right.”

“Just now, after a friend gave him away, he declared that he realized upon graduation from university that Mr. Darcy never intended to give him the living, and so he chose to study law instead.”

Mr. Bennet’s eyebrows shot up in silent query, and his daughter continued. “Of course, how could a penniless steward’s son afford that in the first place? He confessed to receiving a bequest of one thousand pounds which ought to have been sufficient to study. I did not bait him further by asking him why he was not a lawyer, or telling him I knew of the additional three thousand pounds Mr. Darcy gave him, but I did subtly remind him of his declaration to me weeks ago, that he would not besmirch the Darcy name out of loving memory for his godfather.

“So you see, we just need to make some statements like so, and he will lose all credibility. Hopefully the merchants will not extend him so much credit that they are hurt when he leaves the area, and when others know he is not to be entirely honourable, they will hopefully defend their daughters.”

“You might be correct.” He paused for a minute. “And we have a special advocate amongst us.”

Understanding him, Elizabeth suppressed a chuckle. “Do you think Mamma would like to visit my Aunt Phillips?”

Mr. Bennet laughed heartily.

“What is so amusing?”

“I certainly do know she desires to visit your aunt and tell her all about your supposed engagement as she saw your letter.”

Elizabeth gasped.

“She only saw the opening declaration and then skipped to find the name of the author before shrieking in hysterics. She knows nothing of his other words.” Elizabeth’s cheeks burned scarlet. “I am uncertain we can hope she will not spread it abroad, but perhaps if we distract her with discounting Wickham in an effort to raise the community’s opinion of Mr. Darcy that will work for the afternoon. After all, he may be as ‘good as a Lord’ as she put it, but she would certainly want you to be the envy of the county and not just for his riches.”

“Father, he may not offer for me and there may be no need otherwise…”

“Fine, fine. Have it your way, but I find it excessively amusing that we may rid the county of Wickham and save your Mr. Darcy’s reputation through the silliness of your mother.”

He meant it as a jest, but Elizabeth could not help but recall Darcy’s rather just accusations of the impropriety of her family and blushed again. “Father, as useful as that trait will be in this case, you must see it is not always so. My mother means well but can do material harm to our credit, especially as my youngest sisters are allowed to go unchecked. I cannot but think that if he had not so despised our family’s behaviour he might not have counselled Mr. Bingley on leaving the area. Even if they both believed Jane indifferent, her affections might have been won or even deemed bearable if not accompanied by such vulgar relations. No, it was not her modesty which is to blame, but the actions of her own family, myself included.”

“Such squeamish youths.”

“Squeamish! Men of sense do not want to be connected to a family prone to disaster. Were we not just speaking of the misfortunes that could befall a lady that accepts Wickham’s attentions? Do you really believe your daughters somehow immune from such charms? And not just him, but any man willing enough to give them the attention and affection they find lacking elsewhere?”

Suddenly realizing what she implied, she quit speaking. She expected to see her father angry, but instead saw sad acknowledgement, resignation and guilt on his face.

“Forgive me, father.”

“No, no. I have at last seen that I must be cautious. I will speak with your mother, and we will begin a course of improvement.”

Humbled that he could take her opinion so readily, Elizabeth gazed at her hands. “Thank you.”

“Now, I am certain you will wish to accompany your mother, so round up your sisters while I go and explain to her why we must save your young man’s reputation.”

“Papa, please. No more teasing. You read his letter. His senses were addled. If we can prevent the gossip, then there is no reason for him to marry me. I do this only because it is required of my honour.”

She left the room and did not hear her father mumble, “I recall perfectly well being in love against my will five and twenty years ago, my dear. Make no mistake about it, he does love you and will come and take you away from me.”