Miss Bennet & Mr Bingley
‘Darcy, what do you think of my new home?’ Mr Bingley enquired anxiously as he ushered his guests into the entrance hall where the staff were lined up for inspection.
His friend looked around, and nodded. ‘It will do, Bingley. It is exactly as you described it. The situation is ideal, not too far from town, and what I have seen of the grounds they have been well maintained. This entrance hall is spacious, no doubt the other rooms equally so.’
His sister, Caroline, immediately fluttered to Darcy’s side. ‘Mr Darcy, how right you are to say so. It is nothing compared to Pemberley of course, there is nothing so beautiful as your estate in Derbyshire. Hertfordshire is nothing compared to that. However, I am sure we shall all be very comfortable here, Charles. As long as we have each other we shall not be starved of acceptable company.’
The housekeeper stepped forward and curtsied politely. ‘Shall I show your guests to their rooms, sir? There will be a cold collation served in the small dining room at noon. Cook thought you might wish for something after your journey.’
He nodded and smiled amiably. ‘Thank you, Nicholls, I am sure you have everything as it should be. Caroline, Louisa, if you care to view your apartments, Darcy, Hurst and I shall stroll around the grounds until you return.’
‘Bingley, I am a trifle fatigued after the journey, I think I shall find somewhere to put my feet up for a while.’
‘Hurst you are a lazy devil. Come, Darcy, surely you are not tired? Nothing so trifling as a carriage ride from town will put you out, I am sure.’
Darcy laughed. ‘Show me the interior first, my friend, if the ladies are to return in half an hour that shall not be time enough to view the grounds.’
Bingley led him through the drawing-room, the smaller parlour, the breakfast room, the dining room before arriving at the billiard room. ‘Shall we play a frame or two whilst we wait, Darcy?’
‘It would be better to leave it until after we have eaten, we would scarce have got into the game before we would have to leave it.’ He strolled across to the long windows that opened on to the terrace. ‘I cannot tell you, Bingley, what a relief it is to be out of town. Although it is empty of society I still feel myself pursued every time I appear in public. Do you not find every matchmaking matron on your tail hoping to entice you to offer for their daughter?’
‘I do agree. It is what I most dislike about being there. Here in the country people are more natural, are prepared to walk from place to place regardless of the weather.’ He joined his friend to gaze out on to the well manicured park. ‘The deer and sheep that keep the grass looking so smart are leased to me, along with the house. I have already made myself known to the principal families in the neighbourhood, I shall introduce you at the ball tomorrow.’
Mr Darcy yawned. ‘No doubt we shall both be fawned upon; I am certain that news of our circumstances will have been much discussed. Sometimes I am tempted to offer for the first eligible young woman and be done with it. Pemberley needs a hostess and Georgiana would benefit from a sensible female in her life.’
‘Is your sister still at Pemberley with her companion?’
Mr Darcy nodded. ‘She is almost an adult and I believe I must make different arrangements for her soon.’
‘Bring her here for a visit some time. My sisters dote on her.’ He frowned as he considered Darcy’s last remark about marrying for convenience. ‘I shall not marry for practical reasons, I intend to marry for love.’
The sound of the ladies in the distance cut short their conversation. ‘I am intending to enjoy myself here, and I know that both my sisters are looking forward to dressing in their finest and impressing the locals. Come, Darcy, let us join Caroline and Louisa. This afternoon we shall ride around the park and you must give me your opinion of the farms. I might consider purchasing Netherfield if you think it suitable.’
I'm delighted to tell you all that my 'Miss Bennet & Mr Bingley' story is now up on www.regencyreads.com . I love the cover done for me by Jane Odiwe - and I know this has prompted several readers to buy the book.
I will be appearing with Maureen Lee, Jean Fullerton, Fay Cunningham and Sheila Norton at the Essex Book Festival on March 17th, at 2.pm, at Halstead Library. There are still tickets, so do please come along if you live in the area. We are the Essex Writers' panel and will be talking briefly about our work and ourselves and then answering questions from the floor. We will then be signing books for anyone who wishes to buy a copy.