Chance Encounters Series #3
A Pride & Prejudice Reimagining
by Ney Mitch
For a young lady to receive one welcomed offer of marriage is a delight. For her to receive two welcomed offers simultaneously, is the ultimate inconvenience! Proposed marriage by two worthy men, Jane Bennet is torn between choosing Mr. Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Just when the Darcys and the Bennets had to witness this event, there is more struggle in the family, through distant relations. Miss Elena Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s and Georgiana’s cousin, experienced a disastrous elopement, and her immediate family has rejected her. Seeking refuge with her distant relatives, she writes to Georgiana, and Mr. Darcy must make a decision: should he ignore this request and avoid dealing with scandal. Or should he offer familial mercy?
Follow the adventures of these characters in the third book of this series.
Release Date: April 19, 2022
Genre: Historical Romance | Reimagining
A Pink Satin Romance
Riding along the streets of Brighton in his carriage, Mr. John Darcy tapped his hand against his lap, nervously. Indeed, this was the last way that he wished to spend the day, but since his brother had no stomach for the situation, Mr. John Darcy was put in the difficult position of having to save his niece from utter ruin.
This scandal was the last thing that their family needed. It also rendered his late brother’s opinion of his little brother’s ability to do anything right as valid.
Mr. John Darcy was the youngest of three brothers. The eldest, the late Mr. Darcy of Pemberley, naturally inherited everything, as was the eldest son’s right. The younger brothers had the misfortune of being born the second and last, therefore, they had to make their way in the world.
Rather than accepting their less than generous lot in life, the younger brothers executed the only thing that they could: hold their oldest brother in contempt for it, inspired by the jealousy that raged within them.
When they were children, the three brothers were friendly and enjoyed the bonds of sibling loyalty, but as they aged, the difference in their situations in life became known to them. The two youngest Darcy sons realized that they had to take professions and would be relatively poor all their lives if they did not support themselves. The concept of having to work for their living, or marry a very wealthy woman, was too much for their sensibilities and they felt very ill-used. Taking the tragedy of their lives to heart, they never forgave the eldest Darcy brother for his luck in being born first.
But this is not what led to the ultimate discord between all three sons. No. It was merely the beginning in a long line of offenses being committed on all three sides. Mr. William Darcy, who had been close to his two brothers when they were children, could not abide the rift that occurred as they aged. Seeing his younger brothers grumble as he walked past them had led to Mr. William Darcy inevitably hating them back.
But Mr. William Darcy’s fortune triumphed over them both in another fashion. Being the eldest son, ladies in the ton were naturally drawn toward him. In particular, a lovely, wealthy woman named Miss Anne Fitzwilliam. Beautiful, lively, and having a dowry of sixty thousand pounds, she was the perfect woman for the two younger brothers. The second Darcy brother, Mr. Lionel Darcy, fell in love with her and made attempts to court her. He was almost successful at convincing her to take an interest in him until his older brother saw her.
Like his younger brother, Mr. William Darcy fell victim to love at first sight. And Miss Anne Fitzwilliam returned his attentions. For not only was Mr. William Darcy the eldest, but he had been blessed with the best features and figure between the three sons. He also was the best at conversation.
Needless to say, his younger brother, Mr. Lionel Darcy, was enraged. After his older brother’s marriage to Anne Fitzwilliam, the two men never spoke again. Mr. Lionel Darcy found his heiress, married her, and learned to hate her soon into the marriage. After all, how happy can a wedding be without taking the pains to find something about your spouse agreeable? One daughter came out of the union: Miss Elena Darcy. Growing up in a household where neither mother nor father liked each other, would naturally have affected the girl. They showed some affection to her, but not as much as any child deserves. This left a marked impression on her. As she aged, Miss Elena Darcy was so repulsed at her parents’ treatment of each other, that she learned a different lesson than what they expected. She was resolved to never be like them. She was resolved to marry for love and never turn into the bitter creatures that they were. And that was what led to her present situation…
* * *
As Mr. John Darcy’s carriage turned a corner, there was a set of soldiers in their regimentals, being a little roused as they passed his carriage. One of them banged their hand against his carriage’s side. Mr. John Darcy rolled his eyes and grumbled.
“Officers!” He groaned. “Give a man a redcoat and he forgets that he is next to no importance.”
Soon, he reached an affluent hotel, exited the carriage, went to the front desk, and requested to be shown to Miss Elena Darcy’s room. Upon getting there, he knocked on the door, fearing this confrontation.
After all? How do you meet your niece who has run away to elope with someone?
No servant opened the door, but rather it was Elena Darcy herself. Possessing the same Darcy elegance and beauty, her hair was a dark brown, her eyes were blue, her face was round, and she was of medium height. When seeing her Uncle John, she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Uncle John,” she extolled, taking his hand, and encouraging him to come in, “thank goodness! I am happy to see you.”
Seeing her so desirous for help softened his heart and he felt all his speeches on immorality give way and give in.
“And I am happy to see that you are well, my dear,” he assured her as she closed the door behind them. Standing there, looking at her, he saw that she was bearing her situation as best that one may.
“Well, Elena,” he began, “I do not know whether to scold you for getting yourself into this situation, or to praise you for bearing this all with such strength.”
“What I have done, I admit to it, and you do not have to mince words with me: father is still upset with me, isn’t he?”
Uncle John Darcy looked down at his hands, folding them in front of him.
His silence said it all. Elena moved away from her uncle and sat down by the fire.
“So, the question is now me, isn’t it?” Elena asked. “It’s about what are you all going to do with me and the scandal that will ensue?”
“That scandal still can be remedied by you,” he insisted, sitting down. “I have heard the particulars, and it seems like the man that you ran away with is willing to marry you.”
“He is more married to the idea of my money than really interested in marrying me,” Elena retorted. “When we first arrived in London together, he said that we stopped there simply to inform his relatives that we were going to Gretna Green. Then I stumbled upon a letter in his purse that he was going to send father, claiming that he will marry me, expecting my father to supply me with a large dowry. The implication was clear: he was telling my father that if he supplied me with a large amount of money, he would marry me and make sure that no scandal would arise. He was charming, and he deceived me. I believed myself to be in love, but all the while, he was acting on bribery, blackmail and being mercenary.”
“And your father is willing to give you all your dowry and much more for the marriage to take place.”
“My father has now only one concern: avoiding scandal. He has never cared for my happiness.”
“Now, Elena, come now…”
“He loves me because he is obliged to. But like my late mother, there was always a distance there. As well as there being a distance here. It has not escaped my notice that he sent you to talk to me, because he cannot bear the sight of me. He is more concerned with covering up the fracas than of my happiness. For how could he expect me to marry a man who is clearly a fortune hunter?”
Mr. John Darcy was appalled with her attitude toward it all.
“I am ashamed of you, Elena!” He gasped, standing up. “Do you not see that you got yourself caught up in this?”
Elena looked away from him and into the fire, preparing for a speech where she was informed how she let everyone down, and lacked any sense of self-contempt.
“You were the one who ran off with a worthless libertine, becoming prey to his wanton ways, allowed yourself to be deceived, and then were shocked when you discovered that you were wrong about everything. So, you left him immediately and now live in a hotel, on your father’s account.”
“I could not stay one moment longer in the house of that man!” Elena spat.
“The man that you ran away with. That abominable officer, who uses his redcoat to hide his deceptive nature. Oh, and what was his name?”
“Mr. James Wilson,” Elena clarified, “and that will be the last time that I utter that. After this hour, I am determined to never mention his name again.”
“But don’t you see?” he countered. “You are determined to forget the experience and act like it never happened. Our name and fortune do not buy you the excuse to forget your past actions and erase them. But rather, our family’s reputation—”
“Yes, I know,” Elena cut in, “we are Darcys, and our family cannot abide any sort of scandal. For if we do, then the sophisticated thing would be for us to banish the person who caused the scandal from our family. Believe me, I have no intention of forgetting my past actions, but nor am I going to walk the halls weeping and pretending to be the fragile woman when I am not. My mistake was committed days ago, and I am determined to move on from that instant. But I will not do it by marrying Mr. Wilson. He fooled me once, so shame on him. But to fool me twice, then shame upon me. I will not be shamed twice, nor will I pretend to be a delicate creature. I mean to move on from all this.”
“If you don’t marry Mr. Wilson,” Mr. John Darcy persisted, “then rumor will spread of your flight with him, I assure you.”
“I will face it all in my own way,” Elena persisted, “and I was hoping that my family would forgive and support me in all this, but now my father is not speaking to me. Therefore, you are one of the sources that I appeal to. Uncle, Father may not wish to speak to me now, but I want to believe that you are kinder to me. Can I stay with you at your estate, Holden Hall, until this scandal ends? Soon, people will not care about my scandal, one way or the other, because they will find something else to talk about. Therefore, will you help me? Can I stay with you and Aunt Agnes?”
Mr. John Darcy’s eyes widened in alarm.
* * *
This request clearly was not what Mr. John Darcy was expecting. He was, as he reasoned, a perfectly proper sort of gentleman: the sort whose familial affection only spread far enough to send gifts at Christmas, agree to attend fancy dinners and large parties, but never exert himself to anything that would inconvenience his life.
He did love his niece, but in the way that he was raised to love: logically and not always emotionally. Therefore, the very concept of taking in his unfortunate niece had presented two images in his mind:
First, they were family, and she wished for help. His chivalrous side was stirred to assist.
Second, yes, they were family, but her coming to stay with them was the worst possible thing he could imagine. Especially since he worried that her presence would cause a corruption for his daughters. And therein was the solution to his dilemma.
He wanted to help his niece, but his daughters’ safety and security from scandal was paramount—and this was how his logical mind worked.
Looking uneasy, he mumbled something that was incoherent.
“Sorry, uncle,” Elena pressed, “I did not understand what you just said.”
Fumbling about, he decided that he had to come straight to the point.
“My poor niece,” he began, “my poor poor niece! You know that I care for your welfare and that I pity your state. But right now, my eldest daughter is involved in a courtship to Sir Ellington’s son, and the other daughter has just come out. I worry that having any scandal in their home might hurt their chances at obtaining such matches. I shall do everything in my power to help you, but having you stay at Holden Hall is quite out of the question.”
Elena was not perturbed by this at all. In fact, she had known that this would be her uncle’s reply the entire time. Their family was one that had great pride in the Darcy name, but that pride often slipped into vanity. Their chief aim in life was maintaining a good name, and their self-consequence turned into being a little too occupied with how they were viewed. Elena always despised this, because it may have led to outward popularity, but behind closed doors, it led to familial emptiness and intolerance to human frailty. Therefore, Elena was not surprised that her uncle’s wishes for her good fortune would only extend so far as words, but not with actions.
“I understand and sympathize with your predicament, Uncle,” Elena replied, confidently and unaffected. “After all, your daughters—and my cousins—happiness in marriage is paramount. And the men that court them may have deep affection for them, but not so much so that they can weather my cousins’ connections to me. Their unfortunate relationship to me would ruin my cousins forever, and those men have no choice but to abandon all hope—yes, these are the right sort of men for my cousins to marry.”
“Your thoughtfulness does you credit,” Mr. John Darcy said, relieved.
Elena briefly closed her eyes, amazed at her uncle’s stupidity.
“And as such,” Elena continued, “I took the liberty of considering another alternative.”
“Oh,” Mr. John Darcy said, surprised and with his eyebrow raised. “What alternative do you speak of?”
Elena stood up, went over to a desk, and took out a letter.
“I have written to another relative of ours.”
“My other cousins. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Georgiana of Pemberley.”
When hearing this, Mr. John Darcy was overcome, to say the least. His face distorted and he looked as if he was in the midst of an apoplectic fit. He fumbled around as he stood in place, shocked.
“Calm yourself, uncle,” Elena advised. “It is only a letter.”
“A letter?” He gasped. “A letter to your cousins?!”
“The cousins of my late brother.”
“Yes, Uncle John.”
“The brother who went to his grave with a feud between him and your father.”
“Yes, my late uncle, Mr. Darcy.”
“You wish to connect with his children?”
“The cousins that you have never met a day in your life?”
“Actually, that part of the story is complicated.”
“Oh, Uncle John, there is no reason that you have to trouble yourself,” Elena urged, “first, I have not sent the letter yet, so I do not know if they will accept my request. Especially since I do not care about the feud that my father had with his older brother. For just because two brothers despised each other to the bitter end, does not mean that their children ought to do so. Since I have nowhere else to go, I shall take my chances.”
“Your father will be very angry that you went to your uncle’s children.”
“As I am angry that my father will not let me into his home now that I am disgraced. He has put me into this desperate action. If this door is closed to me, then I will have nowhere to go. Therefore, pray for me, uncle. Pray that the current Mr. Darcy of Pemberley and his sister, Georgiana, are willing to have enough compassion to overcome any doubts that they have on that score.”
“Elena, I urge you,” Mr. John Darcy pleaded, “do not send that letter.”
“My situation urges me to. I am short of friends, and I need them, now more than ever. I never valued the idea of not knowing my cousins just because you three brothers have let the apple of discord occur for so long. So, I esteem you, Uncle John. But in this case, I shall be guided by my own reason.”
Mr. John Darcy stood up and paced back and forth. At last, he picked up his hat.
“And there is nothing I can do to convince you otherwise?”
“Forgive me, uncle, but I am adamant.”
Resigned, he put on his hat and cloak.
“Very well,” he said, “I pity you, Elena. I was hoping, when I came, I could convince you to be reasonable.”
“With all my heart, I also had made wishes on how our meeting would result, and I can say that I know how disappointed you must feel.”
With that, Mr. John Darcy left. Elena called in the servant and ordered the letter to be sent.
When alone, Miss Elena Darcy sat down and looked out the window, concerned.
“Georgiana,” she said to herself, “I hope that I was not deceived in you.”