Trying to switch my brain back into writing mode, this plot bunny just bit me. I can’t say I know too well where it is going yet, but it seems like a bit of fun. I will have chapters posted here as I get them done and also at BeyondAutsen.com. You really ought to go check them out by the way. They are brand new this week! Congratulations Ladies!
What follows is more or a less a rough draft, but it is a bit different.
Main page: It Only Stands to Reason
It Only Stands to Reason Chapter 1
“I do not see how you can disagree, Fitzwilliam.” Lady Catherine bounced down on the overstuffed chair and folded her hands in her lap. Her features settled into well-worn creases, lips pressed tight, eyes narrowed and staring down her nose. She settled her shoulders into the soft cushion.
Fitzwilliam Darcy sighed. When his mother-in-law wore that expression, only a fool would attempt to argue.
“Why if my dearest Anne were still with us, she would agree—”
“What would she agree with?” Richard Fitzwilliam poked his head in the doorway.
Darcy jumped and wrenched around in his seat. “I swear you will drive me barking mad if you do not stop doing that!”
“Doing what?” Richard sauntered into the room. His heavy boots barely whispered against the carpet.
“Sneaking up on me! I swear one day I will—” Darcy rose and crossed his arms.
“Balderdash!” Richard smirked. “You would do no such thing and even if you did, you would stand no chance—”
“Yes, yes I know, against a retired colonel of His Majesty’s army. I know. You have said it only a hundred times.” Darcy pinched the bridge of his nose.
Richard chuckled and dropped onto the settee. He stretched out his long legs. “You are just unhappy that George and David have learned from their uncle, the hero. What have they done this time?”
“He spilled the inkpot all over his desk and his precious papers when the boys snuck up on him.” Lady Catherine leaned forward. “Really, Richard, I do not think you should be teaching my grandsons—”
“They are boys, madam, and if I have anything to say about it, they will be permitted to act like boys.” Richard crossed his ankles and his arms, leaning deeply into the corner of the settee.
“Your Lady Mother never—”
“No, she did not and I vowed never to see the same inflicted upon any boy in my influence. In fact I think it is high time I taught them to fence.” He grinned and winked at Darcy.
She groaned and pinched her temples.
“So then, Aunt, what is it you insist Anne would agree with you about?”
Darcy grumbled and sank back into his chair.
“Yes, that is right.” She sat up a little straighter. “I am sure you will agree with me as well. After all, it only stands to reason—”
“No, madam it does not.” Darcy leaned toward her and braced his hands on the arms of his chair.
“What stands to reason?” Richard licked his lips.
“A widower in possession of children and an estate—”
“And a good fortune.” Darcy muttered under his breath.
“Well of course a good fortune, that goes without saying.” Lady Catherine’s lips wrinkled into a peculiar little frown.
“What about such a gentleman?” Richard stroked his jaw with his knuckles. The corners of his lips twitched.
“Well, he must be in want of a wife of course.” Lady Catherine sprang from her seat and wandered to the large picture window on the far side of the room. “A retired Admiral of the White, a Rear Admiral Thomas Bennet, a widower with four children, two daughters and two sons—”
“And five thousand a year.” Darcy snorted. He glanced at Richard and rolled his eyes.
Lady Catherine shot him a look certain to sour milk. She turned her shoulder to Darcy and looked at Richard. “He has purchased Alston Hall. I am told he will move in this week.”
“Ah, so that was the to-do I saw on the road today,” Richard said.
“You saw him?” Lady Catherine rushed to the sette and looked over the back at Richard.
“Indeed I have. Spoke with him myself. Seems a most amiable gentleman, for a sailor that is.” Richard turned to stare at Darcy with a raised eyebrow. “Though I know you do not approve of the navy, something about it bringing people of obscure birth into positions they do not deserve.”
Darcy huffed and muttered something untoward under his breath. Richard never was one to forget any comment he could use out of context.
“What a very fine thing for our family.” She clapped her hands softly and turned to Darcy. “You must visit him of course. As soon as can be arranged.”
“How is this a fine thing for our family?”
“You must think of the boys and Georgiana. You sister pines for the company of other young women and you yourself have complained how there are none in the neighborhood fit for her to keep company with and here this Bennet fellow has two daughters. Your boys are desperately in need of playmates their age to go do…well boy-things with and now two are come into the neighborhood.”
“And how, madam,” Darcy pulled himself up from his seat, “precisely do you know that any of this family are fitting company for the Darcy’s? For all you know this admiral could be a shopkeeper’s son with tawdry morals and a mouth like…like a sailor.”
“You are simply impossible Fitzwilliam. I do not know what has come over you. You will go and visit our new neighbor or I swear to you I will do so myself without you.” She harrumphed and stomped out of the room.
Both men stared after her.
“She was right about one thing,” Richard said. “What has come over you?”
Darcy blew out a deep breath and dropped back into his seat. “I have already met the man.”
“I believe it was shortly after you encountered him. George and I were riding and encountered their coach stuck in the mud. We helped them loose it and gave him directions to his estate on roads more passable.”
“And I found him a very amiable gentlemen. Both his sons were well-mannered youngsters who will make excellent playmates for George and David.” Darcy sighed.
“So then why the kerfluffle you just created with…” Richard glanced toward the doorway.
“He still grieves his esteemed wife. He lost her and a daughter in that flu outbreak last winter. He does not deserve the machinations of my mother-in-law.” Darcy raked his hair. He could hardly think of any man who deserved the dedicated attentions that well-born and once wealthy widow might afford him.
“And his daughters? Are they pretty?” Richard wagged his eyebrows. “What of their dowries?”
“I do not know. I did not meet them.” Darcy grumbled under his breath. “Besides, I do not believe, ‘Hello, I am pleased to meet you. Are your daughters suitably attractive or do their dowries make up for their facial deformities?’ is considered a polite way to make an introduction, even here in the wilds of Derybshire.”
“How could you fail to assess the—”
“Enough Richard, enough. You will be able to see for yourself soon enough.”
“So you are going to visit them?” Richard guffawed and slapped the pillow beside him.
“No.” Darcy pushed himself up and strode toward the window. “Alston Hall has been closed down for some time. It would take a full staff two weeks at least to make the place livable. Their housekeeper stayed with their former residence. They only brought two man servants, a governess, a maid, a driver and a groom with them.”
“So, I invited them to stay at Pemberly. Mrs. Reynolds and Mr. Wickham can help them hire a proper staff.”
“You did what?” Richard sprang out of his seat and in two strides was at Darcy’s side.
“They did not accept the invitation yet. But after they have visited Alston Hall, I am certain they will come on to Pemberly.”
“You invited them to stay? Here? A stranger and a sailor no less?” He craned his neck around to try and catch Darcy’s eye. “What has come over you? You are not a great lover of company, particularly that of strangers.”
Darcy turned his head toward the window. A young shepherd drove a small flock of lambs along a nearby path. “We have both read of his exploits, his pedigree and his reputation. To call him a stranger is hardly fitting.” He shrugged and snuck a quick glance at Richard. “Besides, he reminded me of Father.”
Richard shook his head. “I’ll be damned.” He chuckled. “I’ll go let Mrs. Reynolds know to expect company. I think Aunt Catherine could use a surprise though.”
I’d love to have your comments!
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