Here we go!
From today, I’ll be uploading the early chapters of a new Austen-inspired novel (co-written with Ada Bright and publishing in February 2021), and today I’m posting the Prologue as a taster, with more to follow tomorrow.
Mr Darcy’s Persuasion is a crossover of my two favourite Jane Austen novels, Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion. The story begins in November 1811, soon after the Netherfield Ball has taken place and, therefore, three years before the events of the original storyline of Persuasion.
So, with no further ado, here’s the Prologue!!
Mr Darcy’s Persuasion
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, writes to his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam
Mount Street, Mayfair
Thursday, 28 November 1811
I trust you are conveniently situated in Dorset and that your quarters answer for your immediate needs—do not, I beg you, send me further details on the sanitary habits of your regiment. I am well able to comprehend the reality without your explicit illustrations.
Thankful though I am to receive word of your continued good health, I do have a modicum of regret your hearing is not compromised. Following your call upon Georgiana last week, I shall have to caution her to exercise more discretion in sharing the content of my correspondence.
Despite your suggestion to the contrary, no young lady has caught my attention. Georgie’s imagination is rapid. It has leapt from a casual reference to an expression of interest without any justification. (Pray ignore the smudges; my pen blots at will.)
Besides, even with your poor talent for deduction, you will note I have quit Hertfordshire for Town. My friend and his sisters have likewise returned, and I hope this will be the end of Bingley’s—and thus my own—association with the county.
I can picture you now, Cousin, brow quizzically raised as you muse upon the reasons for such a precipitous departure, when I had envisaged being bound to attend Bingley for some months. My motives were two-fold.
Bingley, you may recall, is of an open disposition and has a propensity for rapidly forming attachments, his admiration for a young lady often turning to love before they have exchanged above three words. He had the misfortune to develop such a tendresse in Hertfordshire, concerning a lady of inferior birth and from a most unsuitable family. So blatant were Bingley’s attentions, a marriage was being anticipated by the local populace.
Thus, when Bingley was obliged to return to Town yesterday—the day after hosting his confounded ball—our party hastened after him.
Bingley’s sisters joined me in expressing our mutual disapprobation for the lady’s circumstances, pointing out the evils of such a match. I feared, nonetheless, my friend would not concede to our plea for him to remain in Town for the winter; thus, I was obliged to further persuade him of the young lady’s indifference. In this I am confident, and my assurance carried weight.
My second inducement for leaving the county so swiftly is—be warned, Cousin—of a far more disagreeable nature.
Wickham is now stationed in Hertfordshire with his regiment! My immediate anxiety was for the county’s proximity to London and our charge remaining there unprotected by either of us. What is more, I learned shortly before the ball that Wickham had taken himself off to the Capital.
You can imagine my desperation to return to Georgiana’s side directly. I will own this added impetus to my encouragement of the Hursts and Miss Bingley to join me in following my friend (though I did, of course, speak no word to them regarding Wickham.)
There is one final matter, which I am obliged to set before you. As you know, Georgiana has been suffering in recent weeks under a heavy cold, and the impending winter and present damp weather are preventing a swift recovery. She remains wan and listless, with a persistent cough, and though Mr Wilson assures me there is no danger, it keeps her from repose at night; thus, she is also fatigued.
My intention is to take Georgie west, where the climate and rural surroundings will provide better opportunity for her to safely take the air throughout the coming months. As such, I have secured lodgings in Somersetshire, but forty miles distant from your encampment at Blandford.
Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall has been most obliging, offering a property on his estate for the length of our stay (though I suspect his assistance is for non-altruistic reasons. The rumours in Town are of his being strapped for cash). Rein in your alarm, Cousin. I am quite safe from any hopes the gentleman may entertain regarding his unmarried daughters.
We shall remain there for the duration of the winter, at the least, and hope to return to Town in the late spring. There is an open invitation for you to pass as much of your liberty with us as you can spare from your parents—you will be a more than welcome sight for your two exiled cousins. I shall send the direction as soon as we are established in the county.
I know you care as deeply for Georgie as I—indeed, you are as another brother to her. Let us hope this will aid in the improvement of her health, for her spirits, as you know, are still not recovered fully from the events of the summer.
I remain, as ever, your loyal servant.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet writes to her aunt, Mrs Gardiner
Friday, 29 November 1811
My dear Aunt,
How are you and the family weathering this inclement season in Gracechurch Street? Be thankful for your pavements; the rains seem never-ending in Hertfordshire, and we have mud and disruption all about.
But oh, dear aunt, if these were the only things to despair of. When I recollect the catalogue of misfortunes I related in my last—was it but two days ago?—I had no notion things could worsen beyond my imagining!
How, I hear you say, could they worsen, my disappointment in Mr Wickham not attending the ball being so profound—and all through the insufferable Mr Darcy’s influence? How could they worsen more than the ignominy of being obliged to dance the first set with my cousin Collins—his skill in the activity warranting as much respect as his character—and then his having the temerity to propose marriage to me? How could they worsen for Jane, who—after an evening of such delights—knew Mr Bingley’s travelling to Town the following day would prevent his calling?
This is how. Word has come, by Miss Bingley’s hand to Jane, of the whole party’s removal to London and giving no indication of their return. Further, she claims her brother’s attention is all upon Mr Darcy’s sister—a match she says the families anticipate with pleasure.
I doubt there is truth in what is said about Miss Darcy or that Mr Bingley will not return. His inclination was too pronounced, but Jane will not heed my words and has taken this letter in all faith. Nothing I say will sway her to the contrary.
And now for the worst of it. You will recall my relief at escaping such a fate as being shackled to Mr Collins. Sadly, it had not long to endure.
In the light of Mr Bingley’s defection, and with all her schemes for seeing Jane settled at Netherfield come to naught, Mama is encouraging my beloved sister to accept the hand of our cousin instead! To prey upon Jane’s sweet, obliging nature when she is so low in spirit is cruel indeed, but Mama will not let up and Jane is now giving it serious consideration.
Mr Collins thankfully left us today, for he is obliged to return to Kent, but he has avowed his intention of returning in a fortnight to press his case, and Mama is so set upon making it happen, I fear the worst.
I beg you will be able to talk some sense into Jane, for I know there is little point trying to instil any in my mother.
Jane says it matters not whom she weds, with Mr Bingley gone from her life. My heart breaks to see her so disillusioned, but she will not be drawn into my way of thinking. How thankful am I that you will be here within a week of Mr Collins’s return to pass the festive season at Longbourn.
May I petition for an invitation for Jane to accompany you and Uncle Gardiner to Town directly afterwards, that you may give her respite from the pressure being brought upon her? If fortune blesses us, she may even cross paths with Mr Bingley.
I beg an early response, my dear aunt. Send me some solace as I continue my efforts to open Jane’s eyes.
Your affectionate niece,
P.S. Despite the above, I would not have you believe I have kept to my room in a fit of pique at not gaining my point! Indeed, quite the contrary, for I have made a new acquaintance.
A Miss Anne Elliot has come to stay at Lucas Lodge. Charlotte informs me Sir William was introduced to the lady’s father, Sir Walter Elliot, at St James’. She seems a genteel lady, a little older than I, but we appear to have much in common. I find I like her very well.
We are to dine at Lucas Lodge this evening, and I look forward to furthering the acquaintance before Miss Elliot is obliged to return to her home in Somersetshire
You can read Chapter One HERE!
When the book is published, there will be giveaways of the book, as well as a few other little gifts, and anyone who leaves a comment on a chapter will be entered in these draws (every chapter you comment on will equal one entry, so the more chapters you comment on as I keep posting, the more times you name goes into the hat, increasing your chances of winning a prize)!
More information on the giveaways will be shared nearer to publication.
Copyright © 2020 Ada Bright & Cass Grafton