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Darcy and Elizabeth's Story Chapter 1-A
Disclaimer: Duncan MacLeod, Connor MacLeod, Amanda Darieux, Hugh Fitzcairn, Darius, Rebecca Horne, Sarah Barrington, and Deborah Campbell are the property of Panzer/Davis Productions and Rysher Entertainment. I just borrowed them to give Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Mr. Darcy an adventure. They will be put back when I am through, M-C.
The Darcy's barouche pulled up to the townhouse in Grosvenor Square just at four. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy got out and helped Elizabeth, his wife of three months, and Georgiana, his young sister down. They had all come to Town for the Season, and Miss Georgiana Darcy's presentation to the Queen. It had started raining, and Mr. Darcy's footman James held the umbrella for the Pemberley Ladies. Mrs. Elizabeth Bennet Darcy was very excited, for though she had made many visits to Town, they had always been to her Uncle and Aunt Gardiner's house in Gracechurch Street.
This was Elizabeth's first visit to the more fashionable section of London, both Elizabeth, and Miss Georgiana Darcy were to be presented under the aegis of Mr. Darcy's Aunt; The Countess of Matlock. When the Darcys were married, one of the first members of Elizabeth's new family who took her under her wing, so to speak, was her new Aunt. This was easier than it would have been expected, as it turned out that The Countess of Matlock was a former bosom bow of Mrs. Maria Gardiner.
This came as a complete shock to Elizabeth, and her sister Jane. During the Darcys' and the Bingleys' wedding breakfast, the various family members were giving their congratulatory wishes to the new brides and grooms, Lizzie and Jane's Aunt Gardiner was introduced by Mr. Darcy to his Aunt, The Countess of Matlock. "But are you not Maria Martin?" asked the Countess. "I was once. It is Gardiner now." replied a surprised Mrs. Gardiner.
Chapter 1 continued.
Posted on Thursday, 23-Jul-98
Lady Matlock would sponsor Georgiana, and Elizabeth when they were presented at court, and would speak to Lady Jersey about vouchers for Almacks. But first came visits to the most fashionable of mantuamakers. This would all be arranged as soon as the Darcys let her know that they had arrived in Grosvener Square safely. So after a light supper, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy started their correspondences. Georgiana sat quietly at the pianoforte playing some gentle airs as an accompaniment to this pleasurable task.
Grosvenor SquareDarcy sanded, folded, and sealed his letter, rang for the footman. The footman entered the drawing room, Mr. Darcy gave the footman the letters with explicit instructions that they were to be immediately posted. Darcy looked over to the chair where his wife sat to notice that she had fallen asleep. He quietly approached the chair, and gently slipped his arms about his wife and lifted her up to carry her to their bedchamber. As Darcy brought her close to him, She started awake.
Monday, 6, March, 181_
My Dear Aunt Gardiner,
I am writing to inform you of our safe arrival in Grosvenor Square. How are Mary and Kitty getting on? William has not forgotten his promise to take the children to Astley's while we are here in Town. We will call in Gracechurch Street as soon as we are settled in. I am in need of your advice Dear Aunt, but it is of a personal nature and perhaps of necessity I should discuss this in person. Until then I remain. Your loving niece, Elizabeth R. Darcy
Finishing this letter, Elizabeth began a letter to her sister Jane who was also in town for the Season. As Elizabeth was writing to Jane of the journey to Town, Mr. Darcy wrote to his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam:
Monday 6, March, 181_
My Dear Cousin,
Am writing to inform you of our safe arrival in Grosvenor Square. I am in hopes of seeing you at Whites in three days time, or in Berkeley Square sooner to discuss that urgent matter that you wrote me of in yours of 25 February. Has this person been importuning our cousin since you wrote last? I am just as concerned for Cousin Rebecca and the twins as you are. I wish to protect my Godchildren and their mother as much from the importunings of fortune hunters, as I wish to protect them from the childrearing advice of our "Dear Aunt Lady Catherine". For now I hope I will have the chance to have Rebecca and the twins make Elizabeth's acquaintance before you leave for Scotland. Until I see you again, I remain.
Your Cousin, F. Darcy
"William, how long have I been asleep? I must be more tired than I thought; it was a longer journey than I thought." said Elizabeth in a sleepy, but embarrassed voice.
"Not at all Dearest Elizabeth. I am tired myself. Georgiana retired some time ago, and I am ready to retire myself. Mayhap the infernal rain will have stopped tomorrow, then we will be able to pay a call or two." replied Mr. Darcy.
Chapter 1 continued.
Posted on Friday, 24-Jul-98
When Elizabeth woke in the morning, she rang for Anna Rose her abigail, and sent her for a pot of tea and some dry toast. After finishing this, Elizabeth felt more the thing, and was able to dress. For her first morning in Town, Elizabeth chose a cream sprigged muslin morning gown. This was one of the gowns that she had made before they had left Derbyshire. It was a dress she knew to be one that Mr. Darcy said that he preferred.
"Anna Rose, has it stopped raining?" Elizabeth asked the young maid, as she placed her Norwich shawl about her mistress' shoulders.
"Yes Ma'am that it has" replied Anna Rose.
"I am glad of that." replied Elizabeth, as she left her bed chamber to go down to the breakfast room. Mr. Darcy, Georgiana, and Mrs. Annesly were waiting for her.
"Good Morning Elizabeth. How are you feeling this morning? Did you sleep well?" asked Mr. Darcy, as he seated his wife at the table.
" I am feeling well this morning. I did sleep well last night. I believe that the improvement in the weather has lifted my spirits" replied Elizabeth, as she took up her napkin to place it on her lap.
"That is good news Elizabeth. Now you and Georgiana will be able to pay some calls today. Is there anything that you might especially wish for breakfast from the kitchen?" asked Mr. Darcy.
If it is not too much trouble, I would like buttered eggs please, William." replied Elizabeth.
As the Darcys sat at table with their breakfast, a quiet, discreet cough was heard at the morning room door. Mr. Ames, Mr. Darcy's butler at the townhouse stood waiting to be acknowledged. "What is it Ames?" asked Darcy.
"Begging your pardon sir, but this morning's post has arrived." replied Mr. Ames.
"Bring it in Ames." said Mr. Darcy. The butler brought the letters into the room, and placed the salver on the table. There were three letters for Elizabeth, and one letter each for Mr. Darcy and Georgiana.
Elizabeth unsealed the first letter and found it to be a short note from Lady Matlock inviting herself and Georgiana to the Earl's townhouse in Berkeley Square, as soon as they were settled in. Georgiana had one similar to her sister -in-law's. "I will answer this straight away, and mayhap she will receive us today." said Elizabeth setting her letter down on the table. Elizabeth's second letter came from Gracechurch Street, in answer to the letter she had written the night be fore. Aunt Gardiner's letter was full of news of the family.
....and your sisters send you their best love. They are quite anxious to renew their friendship with Miss Darcy. Your cousins are also anxious to see the exhibition at Astley's Amphitheater. Until I see you again, I remain.
Your Dearest Aunt,
Elizabeth's third letter was from her sister in Jermyn Street. Her letter was also full of news of their plans, one of which was to visit in Gracechurch Street that morning, and did Lizzie plan to be there also? Elizabeth was glad that she would be able to see her sister, for she wished to see Jane to share what she had been suspecting with both her Aunt and her sister. She had also wished to see her Aunt's physician to make absolutely sure before she told her husband such happy news.
Darcy's letter was from his cousin, in answer to the letter he sent the night before. He had especially wished to hear of the odious Mr. Damien Hadham who had been importuning his cousin Mrs. James MacLeod with dishonorable proposals, even though she had refused him on at least four occasions. This, even after she had accepted an offer from his cousin Fitzwilliam. At this point only Darcy himself and The Earl of Matlock knew of the betrothal.
Mr. Darcy truly cared for his Cousin Rebecca. He and his sister Georgiana had been made her twins godfather and godmother. Rebecca Fitzwilliam MacLeod had been married to Major James MacLeod, someone who both Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam had known at University. James MacLeod had been killed during the retreat to Corunna. Just before he died, he had asked Colonel Fitzwilliam to be the twins guardian, and take care of Rebecca.
During the spring before he went into Kent, Darcy had watched how this caring for their bereaved cousin turned into something more. Major James MacLeod had not left his widow and children destitute, nor were they uncommonly wealthy, but ever since Rebecca had come out of mourning there had been a number of "gentlemen" willing to exchange their single blessedness for Rebecca's fortune. Then there were those, like Mr. Damien Hadham who only wished one thing, for Rebecca to accept "a carte blanche". Rebecca wished to be no one's mistress. Darcy knew that his cousins were to marry as soon as the Season was over, and then take his new family back to Scotland, to James' estate.
Darcy and Elizabeth's Story Chapter 1I
.....yes I will join you at White. Darcy, this situation with Hadham has become serious, so serious that I am planning to pay a call in Berkeley Square today. I am in hopes that you are planning a call on Mama this morning. Today I received a letter from Rebecca, she tells me that Hadham has been odious in the extreme in his importunings. He is threatening her with all that is perverse if she does not became his mistress. Darcy this all stems back to the Peninsula, and Hadham's actions there. Cousin, what I tell you now must be kept between us, for it has to do with treason. It also has to do with James and his clansman; Duncan, a most enigmatic man indeed, but an excellent soldier. I do not have all the particulars, but James and his clansman were after a ring of traitors, and Hadham was the leader. I do hope that you will be at Mama's this morning. I do think that this must be discussed now for we just can not wait to meet at Whites. Until we meet later, I remain.
James T. Fitzwilliam
After breakfast, Elizabeth and Georgiana went back upstairs to change into gowns more suitable for paying calls. Elizabeth chose a most tasteful willow-green muslin with a darker green sprig, a kerseymere pelisse of willow green and her favorite Gypsy hat tied with an emerald green riband. Georgiana chose a pale blue muslin, a celestial blue kerseymere pelisse, and a cottage bonnet tied with matching riband. Elizabeth entered Georgiana's bedchamber so that they could walk downstairs together. "My dear sister are you ready to make our first morning call? I wonder who will be in your Aunt's drawing room today," asked Elizabeth, as she retied the riband on Georgiana's bonnet to a more jaunty angle.
"She will not have Miss Bingley, or Mrs. Hurst, if that is what you are wondering Elizabeth. Do you think that my Cousin Fitzwilliam will be there? I have not seen him since yours and my brother's wedding. William says that he has had some very important business in Town. I think has to do with our Cousin Rebecca, and her twins. She will be out of mourning this spring, and William hopes that you will be able to meet her and the twins before she returns to Scotland. Then William will wish to speak with Cousin James," said Georgiana, as they descended the stairs.
Mr. Darcy was waiting at the bottom of the stairs for his Lady, and his sister. A quiet gentle smile spread across his lips as he caught his first glimpse of Elizabeth at the head of the stairs. Here was the bright ray of sunshine that fate had brought to his life, and he was not going to lose it again.
Darcy and Elizabeth's Story Chapter 1-J
When Elizabeth and Georgiana reached the foot of the stairs, Darcy proffered both arms, to escort his wife and sister out to the town carriage which awaited them. He handed both ladies into the carriage then joined them. "Berkeley Square." Mr. Darcy told John Coachman, and they were soon off to pay a call on Lady Matlock. In a short time the carriage arrived at The Earl of Matlock's townhouse. Aaron the second footman went up to knock on the door. Ainsley, the unflappable steward of Matlock House answered the door, took Darcy's card, and went to discover if Lady Matlock was receiving. It was soon ascertained that Darcy's Aunt was receiving, and had asked that the Darcys join them in the drawing room.
"Aunt how lovely to see you again," said Darcy, as he bowed over his Aunt's hand. Elizabeth and Georgiana made their curtsey.
"Ah nephew thank you for bringing these lovely young Ladies to brighten my lonely morning." replied Lady Matlock.
"Your Ladyship is most kind to receive us this morning. My Aunt Gardiner sends you her greetings. We go on to Gracechurch Street after we take our leave from here." Elizabeth said as Lady Matlock indicated that the ladies take a chair.
"When you see your Aunt, please send her my greetings, and that I shall join her when you visit Bond Street. I shall ring for tea, and we shall speak of your journey hither." replied Lady Matlock, as she rang the bell.
Darcy and Elizabeth's Story Chapter 2
Posted on Wednesday, 05-Aug-98
As they waited for the tray, Lady Matlock and the Pemberley ladies spoke of plans for the grand ball that was planned to celebrate Miss Darcy's come out. "Gunther's does the best suppers. He does not stint. Then Grafton House for new drapery for the ballroom. Oh! I will so enjoy sponsoring you. I have waited for the day that my goddaughter came out, for I have always longed for a daughter. I love my sons, but to have a daughter to raise and train for life is something I have missed. Tomorrow we will make our "assault" as the Colonel would say on Bond Street. There is a new mantuamaker's shop that I have been hearing good things about, and I would like to pay Mademoiselle Henriette's shop a visit. They say she was Madame Clotilde's star pupil, and she has just started up her new business with Madame's blessings. Ah! Here is Sarah with the tray." said Lady Matlock, as a young house maid entered the drawing room, and placed her tray on the table in front of the sofa where her mistress sat.
"Cook said as she thought the young ladies might like some of her fresh biscuits, Ma'am." said Sarah.
"Thank you Sarah, and tell Cook that the ladies also say thank you." replied Lady Matlock.
Lady Matlock had just begun to pour out, when Ainsley announced the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam. "James! How delightful, I was not expecting you today. I thought your business here in Town is keeping you busy in Curzon Street. Here are your cousins to pay a call on their first day in Town. I suspect that you must have known that I was expecting them, besides you wish to speak with Darcy on that matter that keeps you and your Father locked up in his study for hours on end. Yes I know that you and your cousin would like to meet in private." Lady Matlock said, as Colonel Fitzwilliam entered his Mother's drawing room, crossed it to the sofa to kiss her proffered cheek.
"Mama, as always you look radiant. I trust you are feeling well, for I fear that sponsoring not one Lady, but two will be a difficult campaign, more difficult than any I met on the Peninsula to be sure." said the Colonel as he bowed over his Aunt's hand.
"You are a shameless flatterer, James. Now do go and speak with Darcy, while we ladies have a nice comfortable chat." Lady Matlock told her son. Darcy and his Cousin left the drawing room and went to the Earl's library where The Colonel offered Darcy a brandy, poured two glasses and brought them to the tables by the fire, where Darcy had all ready taken one of the chairs and Colonel Fitzwilliam took the other.
"Mama was correct in knowing that I would come to visit today. Knowing that you would be here Darcy. This has become more serious than I reported in the letter you received from me this morning. I am most anxious to have this business over and done. I do not wish to call Hadham out, but I will if I must. Yet I do not wish to see Rebecca's name dragged through the mud as Hadham has threatened to do. He is cowardly and I know that if it had not been for the actions of James and his clansman, the whole Regiment would have been slaughtered through Hadham's treachery. I am sure he acted the traitor on many occasions, though there were some attempts on the Regiment, but these were foiled by James and his clansman; Captain Duncan MacLeod, but Hadham has escaped punishment for his actions thus far. Captain MacLeod was acting in a spy's role when he joined the Regiment, and knew of Hadham's treachery, and James was assisting him. James told me before he died, that the final evidence of that was went to Rebecca, but we have not found it yet. James told me that it was Hadham who shot him. James told me that when we found the evidence to make sure that Captain MacLeod receives it, for he would make sure that it is sent to right hands. I would also wish Rebecca and the twins out of harms way. You will help me, will you not, Darcy." asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Yes Cousin, I will join you. When have you planned to pay a call on Rebecca?" asked Darcy in an extremely concerned tone.
"I was hoping today, if it was convenient for you, as I was hoping that you would accompany me to Curzon Street, or were you going on to Gracechurch Street? I must warn you it is of the utmost importance that that evidence is found and found soon. James clansman Duncan warned me of this ." said Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"It sounds as though time is of the essence Cousin. Mayhap we should leave now." said Darcy.
"Cousin, I do not wish to bring this up, but as evil as Hadham is, and though you wish for Rebecca and the twins to make Elizabeth's acquaintance before we leave for Scotland, I believe that we should not bring anymore family into this than is possible, besides Darcy, I have seen this with my own eyes. Hadham and Braxton are thick as thieves and I know how you feel about him. Hadham would more than likely threaten the rest of our family, because we are helping James' clansman. I know you do not wish to lie to either Elizabeth or Georgiana, but the less they are aware of any this the better." said Colonel Fitzwilliam in a deadly serious tone.
"If this will keep Rebecca and the twins safe, then I will accompany you to Curzon Street today. I will tell Elizabeth that I must see my man of business and I will join her and Georgiana in Gracechurch Street later." replied Darcy.
"Thank you Darcy. I knew that I could count on you to help me in this. As Captain MacLeod's letter states time is of the essence, I do believe we must leave for Curzon Street as soon as we can." stated Colonel Fitzwilliam, rising from his chair.
"I will just stop in the drawing room and explain to Elizabeth and Georgiana of this change in our plans to go on to Gracechurch Street together. I do not wish to keep secrets from my Elizabeth and Georgiana, but to keep our family safe from Hadham, we will do what we must." replied Darcy, as he also rose up from his chair. The two gentlemen left the library and returned to the drawing room.
Darcy and his cousin reentered the drawing room and joined the ladies. "Forgive me Elizabeth, but while we were speaking, I received a note from my man of business. He wishes to speak with me on an important matter, my cousin is going in the same direction, I will be leaving with him shortly and I will rejoin you in Gracechurch Street later. I would not do this but that it is most urgent that I see him now." Darcy told Elizabeth as he came to stand by her chair.
"I understand William. If you must go now, Georgiana and I will also take our leave." replied Elizabeth, rising to her feet. Lady Matlock thanked the Darcys for their visit and would Elizabeth convey her greetings to Mrs. Gardiner, when they called in Gracechurch Street. "I will most certainly do that, Your Ladyship," replied Elizabeth.
Lady Matlock clicked her tongue, and shook her head at this. "One day you will get over this reticence about referring to me as anything other than Your Ladyship, and call me Aunt Rebecca as Darcy and his Sister does, Elizabeth. I know you wish to be proper, but I get tired of being Your Ladyshipped to exhaustion." said Lady Matlock.
The footman returned with the ladies pelisses and bonnets. Darcy helped Elizabeth and Georgiana on with their pelisses. When Darcy thought no one was looking, he gently kissed Elizabeth on the cheek. The parties soon left the Earl's townhouse, where the Darcy town carriage was waiting.
Colonel Fitzwilliam's curricle was also waiting. Darcy handed Elizabeth and Georgiana into the carriage before joining his cousin in the curricle and both parties were on their way to their destinations. Colonel Fitzwilliam's curricle soon arrived in Curzon Street, where they observed a young urchin walking a magnificent chestnut gelding. "That is Captain MacLeod's horse, Darcy. He mentioned in his letter that he would also be here. He has offered to help us search for James' papers." Colonel Fitzwilliam told his cousin, as they got down from the curricle.
Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy went up the walk to their cousin's door. Darcy knocked on the door and Worth, Rebecca MacLeod's butler, answered the door. "Good morning Worth, please take our cards in to our cousin." said Colonel Fitzwilliam as he and Darcy took cards from their cases.
"As you wish sir, but I was told to expect you and Mr. Darcy. The Major's cousin is also here today. He is with Madam in the drawing room. Just step this way gentlemen." replied Worth, as both cousins followed Worth up the stairs to the drawing room. "Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy, Ma'am," announced Worth.
"Thomas! Darcy! It is wonderful to see you again. Darcy, how are Elizabeth and dear Georgiana? How are Lady Matlock's plans going for the presentation and Georgiana's come-out ball?" asked Rebecca MacLeod as the gentlemen entered the drawing room.
"They are well Rebecca. Elizabeth thanks you for your gift. Our Aunt's plans are going well." replied Darcy, bowing over his cousin's hand.
"Rebecca, I am glad to see James' cousin here with you," Colonel Fitzwilliam said, as he brought his betrothed to her feet and embraced her warmly.
"Forgive me, for my manners have gone begging. Darcy, this is James' cousin; Captain Duncan MacLeod. Duncan, this is my cousin Fitzwilliam Darcy," said Rebecca.
Duncan MacLeod was tall, about an inch taller than Darcy who was accounted to be the tallest of the three grandsons of the Old Earl of Matlock. Today he wore a blue coat, buff riding breeches, a white marcella waistcoat, white lawn shirt and neckcloth tied in a simple knot. The one odd thing about MacLeod was that he wore his hair long, but not powdered, neatly tied back with a curiously designed fastener, not the black leather ribands of old.
"Darcy, I am pleased to make your acquaintance. Jaimie always spake highly o' ye." said MacLeod, taking Darcy's hand, after getting up from a somewhat undignified place on the floor, where he had been playing with his cousin's children.
"I am pleased to make your acquaintance also." replied Darcy, shaking Macleod's hand firmly.
"Meggie, Jamie, here are your cousins." said Rebecca, as the twins rose to come and stand by their Mama. The twins made their bows and curtseys to their cousins. James Alexander Fitzwilliam Darcy MacLeod was the image of his late Father, Darcy thought as he took the boy's hand, and shook it soberly. Margaret was the image of her Mama, Darcy noticed, as she curtsied and reached up to hug her cousin. The twins were all of five years old.
"Oh Cousin Darcy we have missed you for such a long time. When will we see Cousin Georgiana and our new Cousin Elizabeth?" asked the twins in one voice.
"You will see them soon. Most likely before you leave London at the end of the Season. You will like your new cousin, she likes to tell stories and makes up new games to play." replied Darcy, remembering the time he had spent in Gracechurch Street, when he was arranging the business of the wedding of Wickham and Lydia Bennet in the late summer. The Gardiner children had remarked on their Cousin Elizabeth's abilities with games and stories.
"Do you mean like Cousin Duncan tells stories?" asked Margaret in a quiet voice.
Darcy had noticed that his goddaughter had inherited the Fitzwilliam reticence around strangers, yet he also knew that Elizabeth would bring both of his godchildren out of themselves, to have them laughing in the same way she made him laugh. This was one of the reasons he had wished to introduce Rebecca and the twins to Elizabeth before the family left for Scotland at the end of the Season.
"Now that you are here, would you like some refreshments while we start to search again? I believe that Cook has just put the kettle on and has some freshly baked biscuits." said Rebecca, as she rang for the tray.
The tray was soon brought in and Rebecca poured out for her visitors. The twins were each given two biscuits and Fiona, their nurse, shepherded her charges back to the nursery, after MacLeod had promised to come up to the nursery to tell them a story. When the children were gone from the room the two trunks that were going to be searched were brought into the drawing room. They started with the outside of the trunk to see if there were any secret drawers or panels on or in the trunk. Exhausting this search, Rebecca took the key from around her neck and unlocked the trunk.
The trunk contained all James' linen. It was carefully removed and laid aside. They again began to search the inside of the trunk for secret panels or drawers, again the search was in vain. "I know the evidence is in one of these trunks, or that was the impression James gave me before he died." said Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Perhaps it is in the next trunk." suggested Darcy, as Rebecca replaced the contents of the first trunk.
"There are coats in here" said MacLeod.
They began to search the trunk carefully inside and out. The trunk did indeed contain James' coats. Each coat was carefully removed and the pockets were searched. Colonel Fitzwilliam had just taken his late cousin-in-law's favorite greatcoat from the trunk and noticed a crackling coming from the coat lining. He was just about to investigate this, when MacLeod started up and a very watchful look came to his face. "Duncan! What is it? It is Hadham again, I know it is. That is the look that comes to your face whenever he comes here. Please be careful Duncan." said Rebecca in a concerned tone.
Worth entered the drawing room. "Ma'am, Mr. Hadham has arrived. I told him that you were from home as you have told me to do, but he insists that he must see you." said Worth.
Colonel Fitzwilliam started to rise up from his chair, but MacLeod placed his hand on his arm and pushed him back down into the chair. "I will deal with Hadham. Colonel, I canna let ye do that. This is my fight and has always been my fight. I willna let ye be killed in a fight that is no' yours." Macleod said in a very determined tone.
MacLeod excused himself from the drawing room, went downstairs to the entry hall, where a tall thin man stood. He wore a corbeau coat, buff breeches, a white lawn shirt, and a white waistcoat with narrow green stripes. "Ah MacLeod, I knew you were here. That will make this all the more easier to finish. I have all ready killed your Clansman. I will kill his widow and his children, then take your head." said Hadham in a low menacing tone.
"No' here ye willna. Our fight is no' for their eyes. We will fight Hadham. Ye ken who and why we will fight and there can be only one." said MacLeod, as he opened the front door and pushed Damien Hadham out.
MacLeod closed Rebecca's front door forcefully behind him, as he turned to return back to the drawing room, he found his Clanswoman standing at the foot of the stairs. "Duncan that was Hadham. I know you told me about him. That he is evil and he has a grudge against all members of the Clan MacLeod. I know that you are the only one here who can fight him and kill him. Please be careful, not for my sake but for the twins." said Rebecca.
"Becca, it is you who must tak' care. Ye must tak' care o' yersel' and Jamie's bairns. Mind ye recall what I told ye about Holy Ground, Hadham canna harm ye there. Hadham kens the rules even though he doesna follow them. Colonel Fitzwilliam wants tae fight Hadham for ye but I canna let him. Becca ye ken that this is my fight. I willna let Hadham kill ye or the bairns. Forgive my plain speakin' Becca, but this is a matter for plain speech. I will protect ye with my life because that is all I can give to ye. Ye are my Clanswoman until ye wed wi' Colonel Fitzwilliam. Then he will have the right to protect ye. He will be able to tak' care o' ye as soon as ye return to Scotland." said MacLeod, as he and Rebecca returned to the drawing room.
Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy were waiting for them. Rebecca picked up her late husband's greatcoat from the chair where she dropped it, when she went downstairs after MacLeod left the drawing room. "I felt something like papers crinkle under the lining of Jamie's coat." said Rebecca.
It was true, as Rebeccahad picked up her late husband's coat from her chair, a crinkling sound came from the lining. MacLeod reached down to take a small knife from his right boot and gave it to Rebecca. "Oh how I hate to do this, but if the evidence is here we can put an end to this and we will be able to return to Scotland in safety. Thomas, just to know that Hadham will never harm myself or the twins again is all I wish." said Rebecca in an earnest tone.
"I wish that for you also my dear, but MacLeod takes too much on his shoulders, too much of the responsibility that should be mine now. You are my betrothed and I will protect you from Hadham." said Fitzwilliam reaching out to take Rebecca's hand.
"Colonel ye will tak' care o' Becca after ye wed wi' her, 'til then she is still my Clanswoman. I will tak' care o' her 'til Hadham is dealt with. I am the only one who can fight him and I willna let ye fight him. Hadham is evil and I am the only one who can kill him. When Hadham and his compatriots on the Peninsula are also dealt with, ye will be able to wed wi' Becca and tak' good care o' Jamie's bairns." said MacLeod, as he watched Rebecca cut the lining of his Clansman's coat.
As Rebecca cut the lining of the coat a packet of papers fell out onto the floor. Joyfully, Rebecca swooped them up, only to discover that they were a packet of letters that she had written to James. "Blast! If they are not here. Where could they be? This is perplexing, if only James had told me where he hid those papers." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, pounding his fist on a table in frustration.
Darcy, having quietly sat watching this finally asked."Rebecca, are you positive that these are all of James coats? Did you not give a coat to someone who came here last summer?" asked Darcy in an extremely concerned tone.
"Angus!" exclaimed Rebecca. "Angus MacClaren, Jamie's batman, I gave him an old coat of Jamie's to remember him by. Duncan, do you think you can find Angus, before Hadham does?" asked Rebecca, in a now hopeful tone.
"Corporal MacLaren! I thought that he was dea...." Colonel Fitzwilliam began to say, when MacLeod interrupted him.
"I will find him Becca. Dinna worry. Excuse me Colonel, Darcy, I need to go check on my horse, then I will be right back to tell the bairns their story." said MacLeod, as he rose from his chair. He left the drawing room and hurried downstairs, picked up his hat from the hall table. Worth opened the door and MacLeod ran down the stairs to the street. Looking across the street, MacLeod saw the "urchin" holding his horse suddenly turn to look at him. a look of relief came over the "urchin's" face. MacLeod walked over to his horse, patted his head and addressed the "urchin".
"Hallo Amanda, I need ye tae do something for me. I need ye tae gae tae The Three Crowns, give these to the innkeeper. Then I want ye tae watch out for Angus MacClaren and tell him that Captain MacLeod wishes to see him. Amanda, MacClaren is one of us, but has only just become Immortal. He was my Clansman Jamie's batman on the Peninsula. He has only started to learn about himself. Dinna get into a fight wi' him." MacLeod told the Immortal thief that was his friend, but tended to turn his life upside down at times.
"MacLeod, that was Hadham. He is hunting you." said Amanda.
"Aye he is huntin' me, that is why I need ye tae bring Angus tae St. Margaret's Church. Tell Angus I need him tae bring what he is holdin' for me. Angus will ken what ye mean by that 'Manda. Tak' care o' yersel' Dinna let Hadham see ye. He kent that ye wre one of us when he saw ye holdin' my horse, but he isna huntin' ye. He want tae kill Jamie's family, but I willna let him. I willna let him brake the rules again." said MacLeod, as he gave Amanda a handful of coins.
"You know me MacLeod, I am a big girl I can take care of myself." said Amanda, bringing her sword up and around to hold it at MacLeod's neck.
"I do know ye Amanda. Tak' care just the same." said MacLeod, as he hugged his friend . MacLeod smiled to himself as he returned to the house. He always had a soft spot in his heart for the Immortal thief who had the distressing ability of shocking him into laughter with her antics and schemes that sometimes unfortunately involved him. Schemes that more often than not went awry and when he would lecture Amanda about it she would only say that he loved it, taking the risk, that is. He did have to watch his purse now and again as he should have been. "I'll have it back Amanda." MacLeod thought to himself as he went back inside the house.
Upon reentering the house and returning to the drawing room, MacLeod found that Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam were just preparing to take their leave of Rebecca. "Rebecca, let us know as soon as you can that you have that coat back." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he gave his betrothed an unobserved kiss on the cheek.
"I am glad I was able to make your acquaintance, MacLeod. It is a good thing that you are helping in this." said Darcy.
"It is the least I can do for one of my Clansmen. Dinna underestimate Hadham, he is verra evil and dangerous. He has made a friend in government, Braxton is his title." said MacLeod, as he left the drawing room to go to the nursery to tell his cousin's bairns a story. Leaving the house, Darcy remarked that it looked as though Rebecca was in good hands now.
"Yes Darcy it does look that way, but as I told you, MacLeod is a most enigmatic man. I watched Angus MacLaren die during the Retreat to Corunna. This is very puzzling." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, shaking his head. As they were starting off for Gracechurch Street, a barouche was just turning into Curzon Street.
The four passengers of that barouche just caught a glimpse of the curricle's passengers. One of the passengers of the barouche smiled to herself, mainly because Darcy did not see them, for this barouche belonged to Mr. Basil Hurst, and the passengers of the barouche were: Mrs. Hurst, Miss Caroline Bingley, and their protegees; Miss Priscilla and Miss Harriet Atherton, two not-so young ladies in their third Season. "Sister, is that not Colonel Fitzwilliam's curricle, and was that not Mr. Darcy with him?" asked Caroline Bingley, with a positively feline smile on her face.
Darcy and Elizabeth's Story Chapter 3
Most of the events of this chapter take place at the same time as the events of Chapter 2 beginning with the arrival of Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam in Curzon Street.
The Darcy's town carriage soon arrived in Gracechurch Street. Aaron went to knock on the door. Mrs. Williams, the Gardiner's housekeeper answered the door and Elizabeth and Georgiana were ushered into Maria Gardiner's drawing room. When the two ladies from Grosvenor Suare entered the drawing room, Elizabeth noticed that true to their word, the Bingleys were in the drawing room along with Misses Mary and Catherine Bennet and the Gardiner's children: Amanda Jane, Edward Jonathan, Maria Elizabeth, and Caleb Andrew. Elizabeth's four cousins all gathered around her for a very big hug. Elizabeth smiled as she noticed that Georgiana was included. Elizabeth hugged all of her cousins back at the same time, obviously making a game of it. Georgiana was perplexed at this unusual manner of greeting until Elizabeth gave her to understand that this was the way the Gardiner children greeted her and the way she greeted them back, and that she must join in the game, which Georgiana did with great enthusiasm, or as much enthusiasm that a usually shy young Miss could muster.
Elizabeth was about to greet her sister Jane and her husband, when little Maria Elizabeth piped up. "Lizzie, you forgot to hug M'randa."
"Why so I did." replied Elizabeth, as her youngest girl cousin handed her an obviously well loved rag doll. Elizabeth hugged her tightly and returned the doll to her cousin.
"Cousin Lizzie made M'randa for me." Maria Elizabeth confided to Georgiana proudly.
"I had a doll that I loved very much when I was your age. She was called Deborah and if I tell you a secret, will you keep it? Deborah still sits on my bed at Pemberley and I still tell her my secrets." said Georgiana, smiling at her sister-in-law's youngest cousin.
Her cousins thus greeted, Elizabeth and Georgiana entered more fully into the drawingroom, where Jane sat on the sofa with Mr. Bingley, speaking of all the new furnishings that they were purchasing for Netherfield Park. Kitty was adding a new trimming to her "old" bonnet. She had smiled at what her Aunt had written that morning, of how Kitty had fussed over the fact that she had forgotten her "new" bonnet. Elizabeth knew that there were times when the old Kitty would come out. Mary was reading as usual, but as she came closer, Elizabeth noticed with some great shock that it was not her well worn copy of "Fordyces Sermons", but a it was a book of poetry entitled "Childe Harold" by someone named Byron.
Elizabeth decided to ask her next younger sister if she enjoyed her book and how did she came to choose it during the visit that was made to Hatchard's with Kitty and Aunt Gardiner. "Mary, do like your book?" asked Elizabeth.
"Oh yes! I do Lizzie. I did not think that I would like any of the new poetry until the clerk at Hatchard's told me that this was just published and it was already very popular. Oh Lizzie! what do you think, while we were at Hatchard's there was the strangest man. He had dark curly hair and walked with a limp, but as Aunt has taught us not to stare at people who are crippled I had just finished paying for my book, turned to leave. I must have turned too quickly and I accidently bumped into him and knocked three books off the stack of books in his arms. I picked them up for him and he saw the book I just saw bought and he asked if I would like him to sign the book for me. I said yes. Just look Lizzie it says 'Byron'. Lizzie, I have never met a real poet before. He told me that he hopes that I like the book." said Mary, in an excited for Mary Bennet tone.
Elizabeth smiled to herself, as she wondered how the already infamous Lord Byron would react to what her next younger sister would more than likely use his book for, unless she actually was reading the book. She knew that her sister-in-law's influence on both her sisters was a very positive thing. Kitty tended to be less silly and selfish and Mary, well Mary was another story. She wished that she could explain to her sister that she did not need to be so bluestockingish while they were here in Town. She would miss her next younger sister's bluestocking ways, but then she also knew of Mary's secret.
After Elizabeth had finished greeting her younger sisters and her Gardiner cousins, she turned her attention to her eldest sister, brother-in-law, and her Aunt. "Dearest Jane!, Charles! It is wonderful to see you again. Aunt Gardiner it seems like such a very long time, instead of just a few months. Christmas was made even more special since you, Uncle and my cousins were able to join us at Pemberley." exclaimed Elizabeth, as she embraced her eldest sister and favorite Aunt warmly.
"How was the journey from Derbyshire, Lizzie?" asked Maria Gardiner of her favorite niece.
"Long Aunt. Very long. Yet I enjoyed the scenery along the way." replied Elizabeth.
"Lizzie, you mentioned in your letter that you seek my advice. What sort of advice do you seek?" asked Maria Gardiner.
"Aunt, would it be possible for us to go to another room where we might speak privately. I wish Jane to come with us, for I have some news that I wish for her to hear." replied Elizabeth. The three women removed to the morning room.
"What advice do you need, Elizabeth?" asked Maria Gardiner.
"Aunt, I do believe that I need to see Sir Edwin Penrose, for I have come to suspect that I am increasing, but I wish to make absolutely sure before I tell William." replied Elizabeth, as the joy in her voice almost made it crack.
"Lizzie! What wonderful news. I will just send off a short note to Sir Edwin this minute. I am sure that he will make time for you." replied Maria Gardiner, giving her niece a rather large hug.
"Oh Lizzie we will become aunts at the same time, for I had the same happy news to report to my Aunt. Charles is ecstatic." said Jane hugging her sister tightly.
"Jane, until I am absolutely sure please do not tell Charles about me, for I am sure he would tell William right away." Elizabeth asked her sister.
"I promise Lizzie." replied Jane.
Mrs. Gardiner wrote a short note to her physician; Sir Edwin Penrose, asking him to see her nieces. This was such happy news that they had brought to her. Elizabeth and Jane spoke of the plans for Miss Darcy's come-out ball. The planned visit to Bond Street to the mantuamaker's shop for new gowns. The two sisters were just re-entering the drawing room, as they were mentioning the shops and Miss Catherine Bennet heard the shops being mentioned.
"May I accompany you to the shops, Lizzie?" asked Kitty.
"Of course you may accompany us Kitty, but I do think that Mary should also be asked to come along." replied Elizabeth.
Miss Catherine Bennet was now in a quandary, she really did not wish to have her next older sister along with them to the shops. It almost seemed that Mary did not care about pretty dresses or things like that. It seemed to Kitty that all Mary cared about were her books or playing the pianoforte, yet Miss Darcy, as shy as she was, was going to make her come-out and was to be presented to the Queen. She really should be more gracious. "Yes Mary should also accompany us if she really wishes it." replied Kitty.
"Mary, would you like to accompany us to Bond Street, when we go to the shops?" asked Elizabeth. "Yes Lizzie, I would like to go to the shops with you. I would like to find a few new walking dresses to wear when we go sightseeing." replied Mary.
While Elizabeth, Jane, and their Aunt Gardiner were speaking in the morning room, Mary, Kitty, and Miss Darcy were speaking of the sights they wished to see. Mary had evinced a wish to go to visit the Egyptian Hall to see the Red Indian artifacts she had read about. Mary enjoyed seeing and hearing about anything that had to do with America, for it brought back memories of her very favorite cousin and even now she had reason to believe that said cousin and his brother were no doubt all ready here in England. Mary had decided to trust God and keep believing that she would soon see Lucas. There was only one other person who knew just why she might have seemed more than willing to come to Town at the invitation of their Aunt and Uncle, now that she knew that Lucas and Daniel were to be journeying to England.
Of course they were going to visit St. Paul's Cathedral and the theatre. They were also to go with the young Gardiners to Astley's Amphitheater. Miss Darcy had told them of the two genuine Gypsy riders who were to be on the program the night that they were to go. They spoke of many places that they had wished to see. Mary also knew that when they returned to Hatchards she would find all manner of traveler's journals about America.
For the next half hour the three young ladies discussed their sightseeing schemes. In the midst of the conversation, the reply to Mrs. Gardiner's note to Sir Edwin Penrose arrived informing her that he would be able to see her nieces on the twelfth. Shortly after the arrival of the letter, Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam arrived. They were greeted warmly by the Gardiners and the Bingleys. The young Gardiners were especially glad to see Mr. Darcy for they were looking forward to the promised treat of a visit to Astley's Amphitheater.
Mrs. Gardiner ordered a fresh pot of tea and a tray of biscuits for her new guests. As soon as Mr. Darcy had taken a chair strategically next to his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth, little Miss Maria Elizabeth and M'randa came to stand by his chair. When the little girl looked up at this tall, kind new cousin of hers with the same fine dark eyes as his dearest Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy could not resist picking up Maria Elizabeth and sitting her on his lap.
"How do you do Miss Maria Elizabeth? How is Miss M'randa today? She had the measles when I was last here, did she not?" asked Mr. Darcy in a serious tone.
"She is ever and ever so much better now, but she did break her leg after you left. I took very good care of her and now her leg is all mended." replied Maria Elizabeth, as she smiled a slightly toothless smile for her new cousin.
While Mr. Darcy sat on his chair entertaining Maria Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam actually sat on the floor, a most undignified place indeed for an Army Colonel and war hero to be, yet he did sit on the floor with Masters Edward Jonathan and Caleb Andrew and played with their soldiers. As they played, Colonel Fitzwilliam told the lads very cleaned up stories of the battles he had been in. Since accompanying his cousin here in the summer when he was dealing with the wedding of Miss Lydia Bennet and Wickham, he got to know the Gardiner Family and like them. He found that he liked them even more when he had discovered that his mother was a close friend of Mrs. Gardiner. He liked the children very much. Their personalities were somewhat similar to at least two of the Bennet sisters. Miss Amanda Jane was the most like the former Miss Bennet. Today Colonel Fitzwilliam observed the young lady sitting quietly with the Bingleys sewing on her sampler. Master Edward Jonathan was the most like his father, alike in name and his practical personality. Miss Maria Elizabeth had the same fearless, independent character as her cousin Elizabeth, she even had similar looks. Master Caleb Andrew also had the same character, with some mischieviousness added.
Sadly, all too soon it was time for the Darcys and Colonel Fitzwilliam to take their leave of the Gardiners. The Darcys were returning to Grosvenor Square and Colonel Fitzwilliam had planned to go to the Horse Guards to do some work and then he would return to Curzon Street to have dinner with Rebecca. Perhaps, he would be able to talk some sense into James' stubborn cousin, Captain Duncan MacLeod. It was now his responsibility to care for Rebecca and the twins. It was his place to champion his betrothed against Hadham.
When the Darcys returned to Grosvenor Square there was a letter waiting for Mrs. Darcy. Its direction was Berkeley Square but it was not from Lady Matlock. Darcy recognised the handwriting as belonging to his Aunt's neighbor; Lady Jersey, the most inveterate gossip in all the ton. It had been the bane of Darcy's bachelor existence that Sally Jersey was his Aunt's neighbor, for he had always been in a way obligated when she came to Town. Every Season Lady Jersey held a soiree at the Jerseys' townhouse, besides the gatherings in King Street.
Elizabeth opened her letter and read the following:
My Dear Mrs. Darcy,
Please accept this kind welcome to Town on behalf of myself and my six compatriots. We would be pleased if you would do us the honour of receiving us in Grosvenor a fortnight from Wednesday.
Your humble &c,
"William, what do you make of this? I have heard of Lady Jersey. She has even patronised My Uncle Gardiner's warehouses, but why would she be writing to me?" asked Elizabeth in a curious tone.
"Lady Jersey is the foremost gossip of the ton and is also one of the seven Lady Patronesses of Almacks. I think she is paying this call to see if the rumours that were probably spread about by Miss Bingley are true or not. She probably would like us think that the Ladies are coming to meet Georgiana, but I know that is not true, but do not worry Elizabeth, I think if you ask, my Aunt will be able to come to Grosvenor Square to lend you support.
All the church bells in London were announcing that it was three o'clock and a young couple could be observed hurrying through the streets. The young lady wore a rose coloured kerseymere pelisse, with a pastel pink walking dress and matching jean half boots and a stylish conversation bonnet tied with a rose silk riband. The young man wore the regimentals of an Army corporal. A slight bulge at the young lady's waist and the fact that the couple were hurrying towards St. Margaret's Church would give anyone who observed the couple the impression that they were a silly couple who had anticipated their wedding vows and now there were consequences and the young man was bound for the Peninsula, hence the portmanteaux carried by both. Though the couple gave all impression that they were in a great hurry, they were not in such a great hurry to notice a funereal-black curricle, pulled by two matching black horses following close behind. The couple with a burst of speed gained the front door of St. Margaret's Church. The lady opened the door and the couple hurried inside. Within the dimness of the church a figure could just be made out. Yet this was a bit misleading to say the figure was seen first. In actuality the figure was felt first. "I'll no get used to that," said the young man.
"Give it a few centuries, Angus." said the young lady who threw herself into the tall figure's arms. "Duncan, Hadham was right behind us. I have brought your friend, now will you tell me what this is all about?" asked Amanda in a heaving breath.
"Angus did ye bring what I asked ye to keep for me, lad?" asked MacLeod as he came out more into the light.
"Aye Cap'n MacLeod. Here 'tis." replied the young man who had come into the church with Amanda. He gave his portmanteau to MacLeod. Opening the portmanteau, MacLeod removed a carefully folded grey coat that looked somewhat worse for wear.
"A coat! A coat! I risked losing my head, I even pretended that I was increasing so we would escape Hadham's notice for an old coat? What would Hadham want with an old coat?" said Amanda in an outraged tone.
"Manda, it's no the coat, it's what's sewn inside the coat that Hadham wants and is willin' to cheat and kill mortals get it. Hadham is in Bonaparte's pay along with four others on the Peninsula and someone high up in the government is helping. Jamie had discovered this with my help. We gathered the evidence and when we had all we needed, Jamie and I formed a plan to get the evidence to The Horse Guards. He had Angus sew up some old letters Becca had sent him in his favorite greatcoat and the evidence in this old coat. These things were shipped back to Becca. 'Manda, when I first met Angus I knew that he was one of us. Hadham killed both Jamie and Angus. I promised Angus that I would help him learn all he needed to know to fight and survive as an Immortal, if he would help me stop Hadham." replied MacLeod.
"Duncan, just what is between you and Hadham? Why do you want his head so badly, and why does he break the rules and kill mortals?" asked Amanda, from behind a screen as she changed her clothes.
"Amanda, Hadham doesna just kill any mortals, just members of the Clan MacLeod. For me, just before Culloden I was protectin' a Macleod lass named Rachel, as a promise I had made to her brother Ian. I thought that she was safe, but Hadham found her and killed her. I vowed that I would avenge her death. Twice I cam close to it, but he escaped. Now he has killed another mortal member of the Clan MacLeod. This time Hadham willna escape. We will meet and I will tak his head. I will tak it for Rachel, Jamie, and all the men who died on the Peninsula because of his treachery," replied MacLeod in an emotionally charged tone.
"That is my MacLeod. Always the Clan chieftain's son." said Amanda teasingly to her love.
"Dinna speak tae the Cap'n like that woman." said Corporal MacLaren in a shocked tone at the audaciousness of the woman who had met him at The Three Crowns to bring him to his Captain.
"I have known your Captain for almost two hundred years. That is much longer than you have known him," replied Amanda, as she came from behind the screen, dressed in a very revealing riding habit.
"Verra nice 'Manda," said MacLeod in a similar teasing tone, smiling the smile that in Immortal circles Duncan MacLeod was known for.
"Very funny MacLeod. Why am I dressed as nothing more than a cheap lightskirt. I was never cheap and you know it MacLeod." said Amanda in a mock outraged tone.
"We are goin' tae the docks 'Manda. I promised Angus that I would send him tae the monastery so he could continue his lessons with Darius. I need ye tae keep watch for Hadham while we are there. If ye see him, 'Manda set up a diversion in the way that only you can. We are helpin' Angus." replied MacLeod.
"You know I will help you MacLeod. I have seen Hadham at "Lady Montcliffe's", and I know what he is like. He knows that you would go after anyone who would hurt a member of your Clan. When we met again at Astley's you told me that Jamie was a good man, a man after your one heart, honourable." said Amanda, as they left the church by a side door that led to the churchyard. Tied next to the lychgate were three likely looking horses. The three mounted and headed for the docks. As before, Damien Hadham's curricle followed closely behind them.
Since two of the three had a very old knowledge of the twists and turns of the streets of London they arrived at the docks quite some time before Hadham and his curricle, since he would have had to maneuver his way through the narrow lanes and allies that MacLeod, Amanda, and Angus MacLaren had taken on their horses. It was Amanda's task to keep watch for Hadham, while MacLeod saw the Angus MacLaren on board ship. "Mind ye Angus, ask for Darius. Tell him that you are a friend o' mine. Ye will learn much from Darius." Macleod told the young man.
"Aye Cap'n MacLeod. I will mind what ye told me." said MacLaren as he went up the ramp to his ship.
"Fare ye well, Angus MacLaren. May the winds be with ye." said MacLeod, who just became aware of the presence of not only Amanda, but Hadham also. This was in part because of Amanda's diversion, which started with very loud shrieks, as she began running towards him.
"Please sir, oh 'elp me sir. There's a man whats chaisin' me. A man what droives a black cur'cle whats pulled boi tew black 'orses. Please sir, don' let 'im tike me back tew Muvver Brown's. Oi don' wants ta work for Muvver Brown. Oim a 'spectable girl Oi am. 'Elp me oh please 'elp me. Oi'll never ferget ye." said Amanda, as she ran up to MacLeod, to throw herself with what appeared to even the most casual of observers as no shame into MacLeod's arms.
MacLeod reacted immediately. "There, there lassie I'll no let the mon get ye. Cam wi' me lassie I'll protect ye. ('Manda ye're overdoin' this a wee bit.) Just cam wi' me. I ken I have a horse for ye," said MacLeod, as he led the apparently troubled young girl away.
The two Immortals mounted their horses and were soon hurrying away from the scene. "Thanks 'Manda, Hadham didna get close to us. We need to get back to Holy Ground and fetch the papers from Jamie's coat and see them to The Horse Guards. We can go back to The Three Crowns. I hope you didna spend a' the money in my purse while ye were waitin' for Angus. I'll be needin' it back," said MacLeod in a teasing tone.
"How dare you think I would. Besides it was about to fall out of your pocket, MacLeod. I took it with me to keep it safe," replied Amanda, murmuring something about not forgiving him for risking her life and head for an old coat.
"What was that 'Manda?" asked MacLeod, knowing full well that he had heard just what his friend had said.
"I said is that an old coat, MacLeod? You really ought to purchase a new one," replied Amanda, as the two Immortals laughed all the way back to St. Margaret's Church.
Arriving at the church, MacLeod and Amanda hurried inside. MacLeod retrieved the papers from inside the lining of the old coat, while Amanda changed back to her "urchin" clothes again. "Amanda, when ye cam tae the Horse Guards ask directly for Colonel Fitzwilliam, an' gie him the papers. Tell him they cam wi' my compliments. I'll meet ye back at The Three Crowns. Tak care o' yerself 'Manda." said MacLeod as he sent Amanda on her way.
"I'll take care of myself MacLeod. I'm a big girl." replied Amanda as she hurried away on her horse.
"Now it truly begins Hadham. Ye'll no' awa' this time," MacLeod thought to himself, as he hurried in the oppisite direction.
Arriving at the offices of The Horse Guards, Amanda hurried up the stairs, knocked on the door and waited for an answer. The door was opened by a sergeant. "State your business, boy," he inquired of Amanda.
"Oi 'as somethin' fer Colonel Fitzwilliam. Oim ta put it direckly inta 'is 'ands. Oi can't gives it ta nobody else," replied Amanda.
"Well I am not to let anyone inside. You wil just have to give me this message for the Colonel. Whom should I say it is from, boy?" asked the sergeant.
"Oi can't gives it to nobody but the Colonel. Moi master says so," replied Amanda. ( "MacLeod you owe me for this." muttered Amanda.) as she tried to convince the sergeant to let her inside.
Amanda was about to sneak by the sergeant when she sensed the presence of another Immortal. She carefully looked around and noticed Damien Hadham and another man who was obviously a mortal sitting in Hadham's curricle. Just as carefully Amanda slipped away. With the swift feet of the professional thief that she was, Amanda hurried as fast as she was able back to The Three Crowns, where she snuck up the back stairs and slipped in through one of the windows. "If MacLeod doesn't get Hadham I will. I could have gotten past that idiot if he had not shown up," muttered Amanda, as she slipped out of her "urchin's" clothes and into a shift. When she had finished undressing, she fluffed up a pillow on the bed, turned back the bedclothes and slipped under them. Amanda lit the lamp on the table next to the bed, picked up her book from the table, found her place and began to read. Amanda was fairly involved in the story, when she felt the presence of another Immortal. She was all watchfullness and was about to reach for her sword, when the door opened to reveal MacLeod.
"Hallo 'Manda." he said quietly.
"Did ye get the papers to Colonel Fitzwilliam, 'Manda?" asked MacLeod, as he slipped out of his coat.
"I couldn't get past the sentry at the door. Then that bastard Hadham arrived, so I had to leave," replied Amanda, looking up from her book.
"I will tak' them to the Colonel later tonight," said MacLeod as he removed his waistcoat and undid his neckcloth, rolled up his sleeves, pulled off his boots and bounced onto the bed next to Amanda.
"What is this ye're readin' 'Manda? No' another one of those ghastly Minerva Press novels ye like tae read," asked MacLeod, teasingly.
"No Duncan this is not a Minerva Press novel. This is different. This is a fairly new novel. It was published last year. It was written by A Lady. It is funny, but it is not like a Minerva Press novel. This is about two sisters who have different characters. The elder believes in being practical and keeping her own counsel, even though this witch is trying to steal her man. This witch has the temerity to tell the elder sister that she has been secretly betrothed to him for some time. This witch was especially cruel in that she tells the elder sister this in confidence. The elder sister's man is just the silly kind of man that can be held to his word. So the witch is making the elder sister's life miserable. The younger sister tends to wear her heart out on her sleeve and is going to make her life miserable by throwing herself into the arms of a complete rogue," said Amanda, as she described the plot of her book to MacLeod.
"Tha' sounds verra familiar, 'Manda." said MacLeod with a laugh.
"Hah! a lot you know. The only rogue's arms I threw myself into belonged to a 221 year old rogue from the Highlands of Scotland," shot back Amanda in a mock outraged tone. That effectively stopped anymore discussions of novels, good, ghastly or otherwise.
Half an hour later, Amanda woke stretching like a cat and nudged MacLeod with her elbow to get his attention. "MacLeod, do remember when we met at Astley's, and you promised that you would help me with anything, if I help you get Hadham?" asked Amanda, "innocently" finding something interesting to watch on the other side of the room.
"What did ye do now, 'Manda?" asked MacLeod in the tone that always prefaced a lecture.
I didn't do anything MacLeod. My partner at Astley's had a slight accident. No MacLeod I didn't cause it, you saw how clumsy he was. I need someone I can trust as a partner. I promised I would find a partner to be my Prince Mikhail. You will be wonderful. We can watch even watch for Hadham, if he happens to show up. It will be only for one night. I promised, honestly I did. Come on MacLeod, you love it," said Amanda, a very mischievous smile spreading across her lips.
"I'll help ye 'Manda even though I ken I will regret doin' it. I am goin' back tae Becca's for dinner. Where will ye be if I need ye in a hurry?" asked MacLeod.
"I will be at 'Lady Montcliffe's'. Just send me a message and I will be there," replied Amanda, as she got up from the bed and began to dress in the dress she wore as a dealer for 'Lady Montcliffe's' gaming house, while MacLeod dressed in another dark blue coat, black pantaloons, a white silk waistcoat with thin blue stripes, an immaculate white shirt and neckcloth again tied in a simple not. Tonight he had chosen a more elaborate fastener to tie his hair back. Amanda snuck down the backstairs, while MacLeod left in the more conventional way, out the front door.
Arriving in Curzon Street, MacLeod noticed Colonel Fitzwilliam's curricle in front of the house. MacLeod hurried up the front steps and knocked on the door.
At MacLeod's knock, Worth let him inside. "Madam is in the drawing room with Colonel Fitzwilliam, Captain MacLeod. I will just let them know that you have arrived," said Worth.
MacLeod thanked Worth, who then went upthe stairs to the drawing room. He soon returned to inform MacLeod that he should go right up to the drawing room, where he was warmly welcomed by his Clansman's widow.
"Good evenin' Becca, Colonel. I have good news for ye. I have the papers that Jamie an' I put together about Hadham and his fellow traitors including Lord Braxton. I will gie' them to ye tae keep until I deal wi' Hadham. After Hadham is dealt with the papers must be ta'en tae Horse Guards. As Hadham was the leader, it will be all the more easier tae catch his comrades on The Peninsula." MacLeod told Colonel Fitzwilliam. "I will send ye a message to let ye ken that I have dealt wi' Hadham. The papers should na be ta'en tae Horse Guards until then." said MacLeod.
In the time before dinner, MacLeod went up to the nursery to tell his Clansman's children another story. While he occupied himself telling the twins a story about Connor, Colonel Fitzwilliam and Rebecca MacLeod were having a conversation of their own.
"Rebecca, you know that I love you very much. It seems so strange coming so soon after James died. It must have always been in the scheme of things that we would eventually come together. I guess that is what comes of taking one's responsibilities seriously, but I cannot even do that if James' cousin insists that you are his responsibility, that he is the only one who can fight Hadham. Why Becky, why does that stubborn Scot insist that? I am good with a sword," said Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Thomas, it is not for me to say. I gave my word about this. If you wish to know why, you are just going to have to speak with Duncan. He told me and Jamie, but he gave us to understand that this was in confidence. I wish I could tell you, but all I can say is that Duncan is correct when he says that if you try to fight Hadham, he will kill you. I will not lose you in the same way that I lost Jamie. I know and you know that Hadham murdered Jamie on The Peninsula. I would go to Rosings and give Jamie and Meggie into Lady Catherine's care before I let you fight Mr. Hadham. I have come to love you also. I have come to love you very much. Too much to let you fight with someone like Mr. Hadham, he is way too dangerous for you to fight him. Duncan is not trying to take me from you. He is Jamie's cousin and that is all he is to me, but he is a Clansman and until we are married, you will have to trust Duncan to deal with Hadham. You are just like Darcy, you do not like to have secrets kept from you. If you wish know why, you will just have to speak with Duncan," replied Rebecca, as MacLeod returned to the drawing room and Worth was just about to announce dinner.
As the three entered the dining room, Colonel Fitzwilliam could just be heard to say to MacLeod. "We must talk, MacLeod."
Following dinner that evening, after Rebecca had left the two gentlemen to their port. Colonel Fitzwilliam and MacLeod were able to speak.
"MacLeod, I was speaking with Rebecca while you were up in the nursery. She tells me that I must speak with you, if I am to know why you insist that you are the only one who can face Hadham. Please do not make me order you, but I will if I must. I take my lessons at Le Mont's every week and am a good swordsman. Other than the fact that she is your Clansman's widow, why must you insist that you deal with Hadham alone? If he can kill me, I am sure that he would kill you," asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Colonel, if I tell ye why, then I must tell yer Cousin Darcy, since he is helpin' us. Ye must no' let this go further than the two o' ye, but this is no' the time or the place," replied MacLeod.
"Darcy and I are to meet at Whites soon, perhaps you might tell us then," suggested Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"I will agree to that. As for what Becca mentioned at table, she is verra canny and wise to say that ye must act as if there is nothin' out of the ordinary. If ye wish tae tak' the twins tae Astley's, ye should. They will be safe there," said MacLeod.
"Thank you MacLeod. I was planning to escort Rebecca and the twins the same night that my Cousin Darcy is taking his wife's cousins to Astley's," said the Colonel.
MacLeod smiled at this because his thoughts went back to Amanda and how she had tried to convince him to be her Prince Mikhail at Astley's. It actually was a good plan, because together they would be able to feel Hadham's presence. He also smiled at the memories of the time he had spent with the Gypsies, riding fast through the countryside. He and Amanda could also do their knife throwing act--an act that her clumsy partner would never have been able to do.
Finishing their port, the gentlemen left the dining room to join Rebecca in the drawing room, where the twins waited to say good night to their guardian and their cousin, Duncan. The two gentlemen each took their leave of Rebecca MacLeod and her children. Duncan had planned to go to "Lady Montcliffe's" gaming house to meet Amanda, for something was bothering him about that. For the last two weeks something was giving his love very bad dreams. He was sure it had something to do with "Lady Montcliffe's". He and Amanda would have a talk the way he and Colonel Fitzwilliam had spoken. As it was, it was going to be very difficult sharing what was the most deepest secret about himself he had ever shared with a mortal. It was easier when the mortals were his Clansmen and were familiar with the legends of both himself and Connor.
Lizzie read and reread the letter she had received from Lady Jersey, as she sat at her writing desk after dinner. She put the letter down after coming to a decision. She took up pen and ink to begin a letter to Lady Matlock. Lizzie was sure that Darcy's Aunt would understand her dilemma, as Lady Jersey was both Lady Matlock's friend and neighbor, even if she was the most inveterate gossip in all of London. After Darcy had read the letter, he had told her that it was his belief that Lady Jersey and the other Ladies from King Street were interested in discovering which parts of the gossip surrounding the betrothal and subsequent wedding of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy Esq. of Pemberley and Miss Elizabeth Bennet were true, and which were merely created out of whole cloth.
"......and so I am asking your Ladyship's assistance when I receive your neighbor and her friends in Grosevnor Square.
Elizabeth R. Darcy
Lizzie sanded, folded and sealed her letter to Lady Matlock, then rang for Anna Rose. When Lizzie's abigail came to her bedchamber, Lizzie asked the young maid to take the letter to James. "It is to go to Berkely Square immediately," said Lizzie, as she gave the letter to her abigail.
"Yes Ma'am," replied Anna Rose, with a curtsey.
After Anna rose left her bedchamber, Lizzie began to ready herself for bed. Her first full day in Town had been tiring, but she suspected that had something to do with the fact that she was probably increasing. When Mr. Darcy came to his wife's bedchamber, he found her brushing her long dark brown hair. That was one of what he considered one of the more delightful aspects of his marriage to his Dear Elizabeth, the right to see her with her hair down and unbraided. During the time they had shared before the wedding, she had told him of having scarlet fever at the age of nine, and how the fever was so bad that they had, had to cut her hair off very short. This, she had told him had hurt her father very much, and she had promised him that she would never cut her hair.
Darcy crossed the room to stand behind Elizabeth, as she sat at her dressing table, brush in hand. Darcy loved the feel of his wife's hair, it felt to him, to risk a tired old cliché, like silk, dark brown silk. Elizabeth's brush slipped out of her hand and fell to the floor. She was about to reach for it, but Darcy picked it up first.
"Allow me to do this Elizabeth. I am very good at this as you know," said Darcy, as he began to draw the brush through his wife's hair.
"I have noticed that, William and have often wondered how you became so efficient at brushing a woman's hair," said Lizzie in a playful tone.
"Actually dearest Elizabeth, as I was growing up, my Mother suffered from very bad migraines. She found that having a brush run thro' her soothed them. I sometimes did this for her, as did my Father. Now you know another deep dark secret about your husband," replied Darcy, as he began to brush his wife's hair. This hair brushing soon began to turn to something else, as Darcy pushed Elizabeth's hair aside and began to kiss her throat, the spot just below her ear and soon his mouth found Lizzie's. Gently, Darcy picked her up in his arms and carried her to the bed and placed her there. Carefully he blew out all the candles in his wife's bedchamber until there was only one still lit, this was the candle that stood on her bedside table. Quickly, Darcy slipped out of his dressing gown, blew out the candle and joined his wife in their marriage bed.
The days went by and the Ladies from Grosvenor Square and the young Ladies from Gracechurch Street spent many wonderful mornings together, shopping, visiting Mademoiselle Henriette's shop for fittings and trying on new gowns, going to Hatchards and sightseeing. The young Ladies enjoyed many of the places that were visited. Mary especially loved the Panorama's view of Niagara Falls.
"Lizzie! It is just as my Cousins have described it to be. Do you remember what Cousin Lucas told us about it?" said Mary, her eyes shining at the thought that she was finally seeing something that her Cousins in America had seen and had written to her of.
"I remember Mary. I remember how he told us that it was a very impressive sight. I suppose that you have not given up hope of seeing it first hand have you, Mary?" asked Elizabeth, smiling at her next younger sister. Though she and Mary had not been as close as they could have been as they were growing up, as she had been friends with Charlotte Lucas and Jane, and Mary kept mainly to herself, Lizzie had known and kept secret Mary's fondest wish. She remembered the summer and autumn that their Cousin Lucas Collins had visited from America before he returned to begin college at Harvard. Lizzie also remembered how the young man had made a very deep impression on Mary. Lizzie smiled to herself as she thought how much different Lucas had been in comparison to his first cousin Mr. Collins of Hunsford Parsonage. She remembered the morning her Father had received the fateful letter from Mr. Collins informing him that he would be paying Longbourn a visit. After breakfast that morning, Lizzie had visited her Father in his library to ask why they had never met the older branch of the Collins Family, when he had enjoyed the letters from his cousin in America. He had told her of the split between the two Collins brothers, as Samuel had heard the Wesleys at University and had decided to go to America to start his mission, instead of taking a living in Kent that would turn out surprisingly to be the living at Hunsford*. He had told her that he had sided with and supported his cousin in his decision and had actually helped him finance his mission. Mary had, as she knew, been corresponding with the older two of Lucas' sisters. A set of twins called Naomi and Ruth, who were three days younger than Mary.
"Oh Lizzie I would love that more than anything." Mary had whispered back. The young Ladies had also enjoyed the lecture that was given by David Morgan-Jones who had lived among the red Indians for three years. The visit to the Egyptian Hall had been a bit trying when Mary did show the curator the small collection of artifacts her Cousins in America had sent her. The ladies mornings had been filled with many various and diverse activities. Yet it had been tiring at times for Elizabeth and Jane, for Sir Edwin Penrose had confirmed their suspicions that they were increasing, and both sisters were going to give birth at approximately the same time. It was hard to keep this from her husband, for she had wanted to wait for just the right time to tell him. Yes it was hard, especially in the mornings. This was a difficult time for her, yet it was still heavenly to wake up in her William's arms after a night of warm passion.
All too soon it was the night that Mr. Darcy had promised to escort Elizabeth, Georgiana, Misses Mary and Catherine Bennet and the Gardiner children to Astley's Amphitheater for the latest exhibition of Equine Acrobatics. The Darcys would arrive in Gracechurch at half past seven, Mary and Kitty were in the drawing room, while they waited for their sister, her husband, and Miss Darcy. Kitty was a little nervous and could not sit still, so she spent her time primping in front of the drawingroom mirror. Mary sat quietly reading what appeared to be her well worn copy of "Fordyces Sermons". The hall clock began to strike the half hour and a carriage was heard pulling up in front of the Gardiner's house. A knock was heard at the front door and soon the Darcys were shown into the drawing room. The young ladies greeted their sister, brother-in-law, and Miss Darcy.
"Will you please excuse me, I promised to help our cousins with their wraps," said Mary, as she closed her book and attempted to place it on the table next to her chair, unfortunately, the book fell to the floor with a crash, as Mary hurriedly rose to her feet. Mary left the room and hurried up to the nursery.
Mr. Darcy reached down to pick up Mary's book and as he attempted to pick up the book, something fell out from between the pages. Darcy quickly caught the thin volume before it too fell to the floor. When Darcy turned the slim volume over, he read the following title: RIVER JOURNEY: Being a True and Actual Account of a Brief Sojourn on the Mississippi River, by A Lady.
Mr. Darcy was a little surprised by this, for he knew his sister-in-law to be something of a bluestocking. In fact she was known to take her bluestockingishness to what he had seen embarrassing extremes. It was a surprise then for Mr. Darcy to discover that Mary Bennet hid travelers journals behind the weighty philosophical tomes she appeared to enjoy.
"Elizabeth, should I return this to your sister?" asked Mr. Darcy in an enquiring tone.
Elizabeth put her finger to her lips and shook her head. "Let me return this to Mary, William. I am afraid you will embarrass her, for you have discovered her secret. It is my sister's fondest wish to travel to exotic places such as: China, Arabia, India, and Western Pennsylvania, where our Cousins live.
Cousins in America, why have you never told me about them, Elizabeth?" asked Mr. Darcy, as he gave his wife the journal Mary had been reading.
"William I am sorry to say, that it is very complicated. My Father and Mr. Collins' late Father had a falling out when they were young men. It had to do with Mr. Collins' Uncle Samuel Matthew. He heard the Wesleys at University and he decided to go to America to start a mission. His mission is in Western Pennsylvania, is married and has five children. Two sons; Lucas Isaac and my Father's godson; Daniel Jonah, and three daughters; the twins; Naomi and Ruth, they are three days younger than Mary and the youngest girl; Hannah Grace. Their mother is my godmother. That is where I had my second name; Rachel, from.
"When our Cousin Lucas was seventeen, he came to Longbourn for a visit. Before I forget, Jane and Lucas are the same age. Jane is a month older than Lucas. This visit our Cousin Lucas made a very good impression on Mary. Please do not mention anything about this in front my sister, it would embarrass her. Mary has worked extremely hard to cultivate this image of a reclusive bluestocking, because I do believe her destiny lies away from England, I am sorry to say," replied Elizabeth.
"She has not found anyone to compare with Mr. Lucas Collins of Western Pennsylvania, America, has she my loveliest Elizabeth?" asked Mr. Darcy.
"No I believe she has not and to own a truth, a truth that must not go any further than between us, William. When Our Cousin Mr. William Collins came to visit from Kent, even Mary did not like him very much. The differences between the two were so obvious to My Sister that she remarked on them to me. I know that I should not speak like this about a family member who is both my Father's heir and a worthy clergyman, but the differences made even Mary shun his company and go climb her favorite tree and read there.
"Elizabeth, you mentioned that your cousin was seventeen when he visited you. Could you describe as much of him as you can remember. You may think that this is an odd request, but there is a method to my madness so to speak. Dearest Elizabeth, we have been aware of each other since that fateful assembly at Meryton and I am still discovering deep dark secrets about you, well I am about to reveal another deep dark secret about myself, that is I will reveal it after you give me a description of your cousin, if you please," said Mr. Darcy.
"Lucas, as I recall him was tall, I believe that you and he are they same height. He has rich reddish brown hair. He wore it long, and he tied it back. I suppose that is the way on the frontier of America. He was kind, genuine, he was always able to stand up to my Mother and her matchmaking schemes. As I recall it, as he will be taking over for his Father one day, all the mothers of young girls in Lucas' Father's congregation were scheming to make a match Lucas and one or another of their daughters. Lucas made light of this by saying something to the effect that, "Everyone knows that a good minister needs must have a good minister's wife." You probably can just guess what My Mother had to say on that subject. Lucas was the kindest to Mary. He was also very brave. He helped my Father and our Vicar solve the problem of vandals who had been stealing Roman artifacts," replied Lizzie.
"Then I have made the acquaintance of your cousin from America. I aided him, as unfortunately the bane of my whole existence was the London confederate of the leader of the group who was stealing those artifacts. Your cousin saved my life on one occasion." replied Mr. Darcy.
"It was you! You were the strange young man I observed on at least four occasions riding through the district. In fact as I was returning home from one my long walks, you decided to make sure that I arrived home safely," said Lizzie, in a playful tone.
"Is it any wonder that we were so attracted to one another at the fateful assembly in Meryton," said Darcy, as both he and his wife began to laugh together.
"Elizabeth, as I have previously made the acquaintance of your Cousin Lucas and know of his worthy attributes, you know that I would not be adverse to reacquainting myself with that young man if he ever returns to England." said Mr. Darcy.
"I am not sure if that will ever happen, William. One of my Father's delights over the years has been his correspondence with his Cousin in America. He was always in raptures whenever he received a letter in the post from America. He would read them at table, I must say it always added a little something extra to the conversation. In one letter, Father's Cousin explained how he rode something called a circuit. That I believe means that he rides between what are referred to as settlements to have services. In one of my Father's most recent letters from America, his Cousin mentioned that Lucas has begun to take over the more of his taxing duties at the mission, so I really do not think that we will see Lucas, even if to own a truth even I would like to see that young man again for my Sister's sake. Mary has also been sharing a correspondence with Lucas' sisters; Naomi and Ruth, and I know that she would love to see first hand some of the places that they have described. Then Lucas' younger brother; Daniel has been west of the Mississippi River with Messrs. Lewis and Clarke, he is a mapmaker and was very helpful in the expidition. William, please do not mention any of this, or say that I was the one who told you, because I have been keeping this a secret for many years. Mary knows she must marry, but none of the young men that were introduced to her over the years will outshine Our Cousin Lucas in Mary's eyes. She wishes to see exotic places, and the most exotic place to my Sister is Western Pennsylvania." replied Elizabeth, as the drawing room door opened to admit the young Gardiners and Mary. The four young Gardiners excitedly hugged Lizzie and she hugged them back. "Lizzie! I buttoned my pelisse all by myself" announced a very proud and excited Maria Elizabeth.
"I can see that," said Lizzie, as she very gently rebuttoned her little cousin's pelisse. At this Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner entered the drawing room to wish the party a gay time at Astley's. The party exited the house and went out to the carriage.
Mr. Darcy handed all the ladies into the carriage and then the gentlemen soon joined the ladies. Darcy told John Coachman, "Astley's if you please."
John Coachman replied "Yes sir." as he gave the horses the office to start. Very soon, Darcy's carriage arrived at the famed Equestrian Circus for the evening's exhibition. When all the party disembarked from the carriage, a very quick counting of heads was done by Lizzie, for just the night before Lizzie had told Darcy about an unfortunate incident that had happened the last time that the Gardiners had taken their children to Astley's. Maria Elizabeth had somehow been left in the carriage and missed the whole of the exhibition.
"Well there will not be any such incidents tonight, Elizabeth. Miss Maria Elizabeth would you like to sit upon my shoulders so you do not lose your way in the crowd?" asked Mr. Darcy, as he went down to lift the little girl.
"You do not even need feel afraid that you might fall, for you will be very safe I assure you, for my Brother would let me sit upon his shoulders when I was a little girl." Georgiana told the little girl, as she looked a bit apprehensive at the thought of sitting way up there.
"Yes sir, please, I would like to sit way up there." replied Maria Elizabeth. Mr. Darcy smiled at this for he saw in Miss Maria Elizabeth a great deal of his dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. Darcy gently picked up the little girl and sat her upon his shoulders. When the party was all accounted for, they entered Astley's. Mr. Darcy showed the doorman the tickets, who then let the party through. They soon found their box and took their seats. Mr Darcy made sure that the littlest Gardiners sat close to the front of the box so that they would be able to see the whole of the performance without missing a thing. The young ladies, even though they did not let it show, were as excited as the children.
The evening would be a very unusual one, indeed, for a number of our party thought they observed some familiar faces. Indeed this night for seeing familiar faces was not excluded to the parties from Gracechurch Street and Grosvenor Square.
*See my story "A Family Feud" at the BoI Archives