Reduced to a Tweet. The Lost Art of the Social Call, a Guest Post from Diana J Oaks

Social connection. It’s the pulse of civilization, the foundation of community, and a deeply held human need.  You might have guessed that I’m not necessarily talking about networking with influential people here. I’m talking about friendship, camaraderie, recognition, love, and belonging.  Jane Austen was particularly adept at infusing the relationships in her novels with an undercurrent vibrant with the nuances of social connection. Even the letters, though not face-to-face interaction, are deeply personal, written by the hand of the communicator. The texts, tweets and Facebook posts that are primary forms of interaction today are far removed from their ancient predecessor, the social call.

My thoughts have turned frequently over the past year and a half of social distancing to the once-common tradition of calling on one’s neighbors, friends, and acquaintances in their homes. Social calls were the glue that held Georgian, Regency, and Victorian societies together–at least for the gentry and upper classes. It’s how they tapped into the grapevine, networked, ministered to the poor and sick, navigated new, and nurtured existing relationships.

Consider that In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet was highly attuned to social opportunities that might benefit her daughter’s marriage prospects, and so too, was Mr. Bennet. In that society, an introduction was required for ladies to form an acquaintance, but gentlemen could call on other gentlemen without the benefit of an introduction. In this scene, Mrs. Bennet is lamenting that Mrs. Long has been able to visit Netherfield, but she has not.

Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley. He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he should not go; and till the evening after the visit was paid she had no knowledge of it.

… (fill in here with Mr. Bennet teasing his wife and daughters.)

“While Mary is adjusting her ideas,” he continued, “let us return to Mr. Bingley.”

“I am sick of Mr. Bingley,” cried his wife.

“I am sorry to hear that; but why did not you tell me so before? If I had known as much this morning I certainly would not have called on him. It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the acquaintance now.”

Mrs. Bennet exults when she learns that Mr. Bennet has called on Mr. Bingley.

In Northanger Abbey, we experience with Catherine the pattern of making a social call: Presenting a card at the door to a servant and waiting to learn whether you will be admitted. After being tricked into a social blunder the previous day, she fears she has offended Miss Tilney. Anxious to make it right, she is eager to call.

“Mrs. Allen,” said Catherine the next morning, “will there be any harm in my calling on Miss Tilney today? I shall not be easy till I have explained everything.”

“Go, by all means, my dear; only put on a white gown; Miss Tilney always wears white.”

Catherine cheerfully complied, and being properly equipped, was more impatient than ever to be at the pump–room, that she might inform herself of General Tilneys lodgings, for though she believed they were in Milsom Street, she was not certain of the house, and Mrs. Allen’s wavering convictions only made it more doubtful. To Milsom Street she was directed, and having made herself perfect in the number, hastened away with eager steps and a beating heart to pay her visit, explain her conduct, and be forgiven; tripping lightly through the church–yard, and resolutely turning away her eyes, that she might not be obliged to see her beloved Isabella and her dear family, who, she had reason to believe, were in a shop hard by. She reached the house without any impediment, looked at the number, knocked at the door, and inquired for Miss Tilney. The man believed Miss Tilney to be at home, but was not quite certain. Would she be pleased to send up her name? She gave her card. In a few minutes the servant returned, and with a look which did not quite confirm his words, said he had been mistaken, for that Miss Tilney was walked out. Catherine, with a blush of mortification, left the house. She felt almost persuaded that Miss Tilney was at home, and too much offended to admit her; and as she retired down the street, could not withhold one glance at the drawing–room windows, in expectation of seeing her there, but no one appeared at them. At the bottom of the street, however, she looked back again, and then, not at a window, but issuing from the door, she saw Miss Tilney herself. She was followed by a gentleman, whom Catherine believed to be her father, and they turned up towards Edgar’s Buildings. Catherine, in deep mortification, proceeded on her way. She could almost be angry herself at such angry incivility; but she checked the resentful sensation; she remembered her own ignorance. She knew not how such an offence as hers might be classed by the laws of worldly politeness, to what a degree of unforgivingness it might with propriety lead, nor to what rigours of rudeness in return it might justly make her amenable.

This passage makes it evident that much was riding on the crucial question of admittance by the person being visited.  If you’d like to learn more about all the nuances of social signals in the formal call, this article on calling card etiquette is excellent.

The Allens call on the Morelands to invite Catherine to go to Bath with them.

If you think through Austen’s novels, you’ll certainly come up with many references to calls made, since they are full of them. Darcy and Fitzwilliam calling at Hunsford, Lady Catherine doing the same, but for different reasons. Anne Elliot calling at Uppercross, and on her friend, Mrs. Smith in Bath. Emma calling on Harriet, Miss Weston, Miss Bates, and Jane Fairfax, etc. Emma coaching Harriet on the etiquette of paying a call to the Martins. Some of these visits feature what Austen called “cold civility,” while others show warmth and affection. In any case, I think a social call beats a tweet any day, although nowadays if you plan to pay a call, be sure to place a call to make sure it’s a good time. None of my friends have a butler to perform that service.

Anne Elliott calls on her friend Mrs. Smith, an act her father resents because she is expected to call on her titled relations instead.
Harriet pays a call to the Martins.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Have you paid a social call in the past five years or so? Have you ever left a personalized “calling card” that isn’t a business card? Do you appreciate people stopping by to visit? What do you consider proper etiquette for a social call in 2021?

Posted in Austen Authors, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Post, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Mystery and Suspense Month: Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep was originally released by Black Opal Books. Recently, I managed to receive back the rights to this book and have rereleased it, hopefully to new readers, who missed it the first time around. ALL BOOKS FEATURED THIS MONTH ARE ON SALE ON FOR $0.99. GRAB THEM WHILE THE PRICE IS RIGHT.

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep is the first book in the Twins’ Trilogy. The Earl Claims His Comfort and Lady Chandler’s Sister will follow. You will not want to miss this one!!!

HUNTINGTON McLAUGHLIN, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, and being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and ANGELICA LOVELACE is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined ins a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart.

As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury have robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear he intends to claim Miss Lovelace as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit Angelica to align herself with the earldom or to claim the only woman who stirs his heart – and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress as his wife?

We have an excerpt of when Huntington McLaughlin and Angelica Lovelace first notice each other. Chapter 1 

Excerpt from Chapter 3 (The first time Huntington and Angelica meet, but it is far from auspicious…)

Angel cursed the Fates with every soggy step she took. Her half boots sank into the quick-forming mud as she attempted to climb the steep slope. Her cloak caught upon every bramble and every twig, but the rain was too heavy and too cold to abandon the outer garment.

She caught at one of the rough-shaped bushes clinging to the side of the slope, pawing for a finger hold that would prevent her leather soles from sliding down the way she just came. As the rain swelled the river into which her coach had pitched, she refused to turn her head and look upon Lord Mannington’s second coachman, whose body rested against the back of the coach’s box, his life long removed. The broken left side of the coach sat upon Mr. Brothers’s chest, and the man’s neck was bent at an odd angle. Angel had offered prayers of deliverance for the man’s soul as she knelt beside him while searching for a sign of life before she made the choice to leave the man in God’s benevolence.

When the coach dipped over the road’s edge to turn upon its side, she did not scream. Instead, she braced herself against the coach’s backbench to keep from tumbling head first into the air.

With the sound of tumult drowning out her heartbeat, Angel made a resolution to survive, for she knew word of her demise would kill her father. All he would have remaining in the world would be her younger brother Carson, and Car remained in America with Papa’s business partner. So, Angel fought for her entire family.

She knew Horace Lovelace’s nature. He would blame himself for not accompanying her, as if his presence would have prevented the disaster. Her father remained at Fordham Hall because he contracted the sniffles and a slight cough with a low fever.

“I will wait with you,” Angel had insisted.

“No,” her father protested. “To be invited to the Duchess of Devilfoard’s house party will translate into your acceptance among the beau monde. You cannot give insult by not arriving when expected. I will follow in a few days. I sent a note to your mother’s dear friend, Countess Gunnimore, to explain my delay. Lady Gunnimore will assume your chaperoning until I arrive. Lord Harrison showed us a great service in procuring an invitation for his family’s fête. We must not disappoint.”

As the Manningtons were invited elsewhere, Angel set out for Warwickshire with only a maid in tow. Unfortunately, at the last stop, Mari claimed a like illness as to what struck Angel’s father, and so she had sent the girl home with the single footman to escort her.

“Thank Goodness only Mr. Brothers suffered,” she grunted as she clawed her way up the hill, bit by bit. “This situation could be much worse. Mari and Dono could also have been killed.”



Hunt cursed his decision to send Etch and his carriage ahead. The rain came down so violently, he could no longer see the road. He was now riding purely from instinct. There was not a dry thread upon his body, but he meant to reach The Yellow Hen, which was less than three miles if he guessed correctly. He thought himself near Halford, still some ten miles to Shakespeare’s reported home of Stratford-on-Avon and many more to his home outside of Bedworth. From the corner of his eye, Hunt could make out the muddy approach of the River Stour flowing over its banks. The Stour to the Avon to the Severn, he thought, but that would take him to the west, when he needed to reach the River Anker instead.

Fingers of watery rivulets joined the standing water upon the stone road. He began to wonder if, while racing the approaching storms, he had made a wrong turn. The sheets of water streaming over Alibi’s neck convinced him to act without caution, and although Hunt thought himself still in Oxfordshire when the rain caught him, perhaps he had achieved Warwickshire. If so, The Yellow Hen was long since forgotten.

He gave his head a good shake to clear both his vision and his thinking, and Alibi mimicked Hunt’s actions. As if entranced by the mighty horse’s movements, Hunt did not see the attacker’s approach until it was too late!



Angel pulled herself over the lip of the stone roadway before collapsing into a cold muddy puddle. Several inches of water stood upon the odd-shaped stones while the excess cascaded over the edges sliding down the slope to meet the rising stream crawling its way upward. If the rain continued for much longer, one would not be able to tell where the road ended and the water began. Pulling herself to her knees, Angel rose slowly, exhaustion claiming its due. She did not hear the stranger’s approach over the rumble of the thunder and the beating of her heart pounding in her ears.

It was only afterward that she realized her sudden appearance frightened the man’s horse. The beautifully powerful animal rose up on his hind legs to paw the air above Angel’s head. On impulse, she covered her head with her arms. She heard the man attempting to calm the animal and the shrill cries of the beast in counterpoint to the continued war with nature. She shuddered, but before she could respond, a hard thump announced one of the battles was lost.

Without considering the consequences, she bolted into action. Accustomed to being around horses, Angel caught the animal’s reins before it ran off into the shadowy mist.

“Easy, boy,” she pleaded as the animal jerked its head to free her grip. “Easy.” She stroked the stallion’s neck to quiet its fear. “I shan’t hurt you.” The horse showed its teeth, but it did not bite her. Her hand traced the animal’s neck to its shoulder. “Permit me to see to your rider.” Gently, Angel patted the steed’s neck before dropping the loose reins and praying the animal was trained to remain in place when the reins went slack.

Lifting her rain soaked cloak and gown, Angel sloshed her way toward where the man lay upon his side in the muddy water.

“Sir?” she said with true regret. “How badly are you injured?”

Angel prayed this stranger did not share Mr. Brothers’s fate. She could not bear another innocent’s death upon her conscience. The thought of the kindly coachman brought tears to Angel’s eyes, but she had no time for grief. The stranger offered no response nor did he move beyond a single breath escaping his lungs.

Carefully, she edged the man onto his back before running her hands up and down his legs and arms. She realized he could have an injured ankle, but removing his boots was not an option at the moment. It was imperative for her to assist him to his horse before he, literally, drowned in the muddy waters rushing across the road.

“Sir.” Angel placed her hand upon his shoulder to give it a good shake.

Immediately his eyes sprang open, and a string of curse words announced that she had discovered his injury.

The man grabbed at his shoulder. “Bloody hell!”

Angel jumped away, not wishing to touch him again. “I apologize, sir. I did not mean to bring you pain. Are you able to stand?” She shot a glance at the rising water sloshing against his side. “We are in a tenuous situation. We must seek higher ground.” In hesitation, she knelt beside him. “Have you suffered injuries beyond your shoulder?”



Hunt looked up into the most mesmerizing eyes that he ever beheld: A bluish green, the shade of the ocean upon a sunny day. For a moment, he could not think. His head hummed a song Hunt did not recognize.

“Where am I?” He was aware of a cold rain dripping from her worn bonnet to splash upon his chest.

She watched him with an indefinable emotion. “We are somewhere in Warwickshire.” A quick glance to the right preceded her frown. “At least, I think we are.” Her scowl deepened. “We are in a steady rain, and the water is rising quickly. I insist upon supporting you to your horse. I doubt I could lift you to the saddle, but I would endeavor to do so if your injury prevents your mounting on your own.”

Her words amused him. Unless Hunt underestimated her stature, she would not reach his shoulder. “Assist me to sit, instead.”

He noted how the water sloshed against his jacket’s sleeve as she made her way behind him. He was lying in a stream of water!

Her fingers crawled beneath his shoulders and nudged him upward. Despite lying in a pool of cold rainwater, heat shot straight to his chest. Hunt never experienced anything like it in his eight and twenty years. He used the hand, which did not throb with shooting pains, to shove himself to a seated position. Everything about him swirled into a mixture of gray and green and brown. He felt his stomach turn over, but he breathed through the darkness that sought to consume him. The woman did not err in her estimation. They were in danger, and he must reach Alibi if they were to survive.

Hunt did not know when “he” became a “they,” but it had. The moment his eyes rested upon hers, he claimed himself her protector. Surely the woman lived nearby. He would assist her home and beg for a physician to be called.

Crawling to his knees and then to his feet, Hunt bit into his bottom lip to keep from calling out in pain. He swayed in place, and the woman hurried to brace his weight. Although she was beautiful enough—her skin pearly white—to be a fine lady, Hunt could not imagine her so. What lady of Society would wallow through the mud to tend him?

“Can you cross to the horse or should I bring him to you?” She shoved her wet body underneath his arm to keep Hunt from tipping forward.

With a deep steadying breath, Hunt again clenched his teeth. “Lead on,” he gritted through tight lips. With a knee-buckling lurch, he took a dozen steps to reach Alibi’s rump. “Easy,” he cautioned as he used the horse to brace his weight.

Muddy tracks of water streamed down from his hair, and Hunt used his free hand to sweep it back from his forehead. His hat had long-since drifted away in the narrow stream of water carving a deeper rut in the road.

“Hold his reins,” he instructed the woman, a woman whose name he had yet to learn. All in good time, he thought.

The lady lifted his arm so he might catch the rise of the saddle before she moved away to hold Alibi’s head still. When she nodded her preparedness, Hunt captured a deep breath, placed a foot in the stirrup, and lifted his frame to swing a leg over his horse. His settling heavily into the saddle made Alibi skittish again, but the woman’s melodic voice—one that reminded him of God’s angels—coaxed the stallion to stillness. Even so, in spite of his best efforts, Hunt thought the ground rose up to greet his descent. Desperately, he wrapped his arm about Alibi’s neck and slumped forward.



“Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no,” she reprimanded as she rushed to secure the man to the horse. He rested against the animal’s neck, his face buried in the horse’s wet mane. Angel thought again of those dratted Fates who meant to vex her. Jerking the ruined bonnet from her head, she ripped the ribbons from their fastenings. Tearing them loose, she tied the two pieces together, lapped one end around the carbine bucket and the other around the stranger’s wrist, and tightened the makeshift rope to balance the man in place.

Self-consciously, Angel looked around before hiking her skirt to her knees.

“Papa would be furious,” she chastised, as she put her booted foot upon the stranger’s, caught the tails of the man’s jacket, and pulled her weight into the saddle behind him.

The stranger did not move, and again Angel placed her hand upon his back to feel the rise and fall of his chest before noting the red mark of dried blood upon the back of his head. The water continued to rise—likely some two inches deeper.

“We cannot wait any longer,” she said as she caught the reins from the stranger’s loose grip, wrapped her arms about his waist, and kicked the stallion’s side to set the horse in motion.

“I pray we find assistance soon,” she said as the animal walked smartly through the running water. “I fear my…” Angel did not know what to call the man. They had not even exchanged names. “I fear my acquaintance hit his head on the road’s stones.”

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy

2013 SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance

2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

2017 finalist Derby Award for Fiction

Purchase Links:

Kindle    https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Comes-Devils-Keep-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B08PL57MW8/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=angel+comes+to+the+devil%27s+keep&qid=1607118788&sr=8-2

Kindle Unlimited     https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?passThroughAsin=B08PL57MW8&_encoding=UTF8&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Comes-Devils-Keep-Trilogy/dp/B09DMTLRYT/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1607118788&sr=8-2

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Mystery and Suspense Month: The Phantom of Pemberley

For October, I thought to highlight some of my mysteries and suspense novels. Heck, it is the time for ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the dark. ALL BOOKS FEATURED THIS MONTH ARE ON SALE ON FOR $0.99. GRAB THEM WHILE THE PRICE IS RIGHT.

Today, I bring you The Phantom of Pemberley.

In 2010, Ulysses Press released The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery. It was the first of my cozy mysteries, and it remains a favorite. Two years ago, I received the rights to all my Ulysses Press titles back from the company. I have slowly been rereleasing them with new covers and to new readers. I would love to share something of the historical tidbit that is the key to solving the mystery, but, as I skipped kindergarten (and a few other grades), I never learned to share properly. LOL! The whole “solving the mystery thing” revolves around one key clue all the characters miss. Will you be wiser than they are?

One idea I will share with you is the legend of “Hat Man.” The legend of the Hat Man plays a large role in The Phantom of Pemberley. 

Shadow People are supernatural shadow-like humanoid figures that, according to believers, are seen flickering on walls and ceilings in the viewer’s peripheral vision. They are often reported moving with quick, jerky movements, and quickly disintegrate into walls or mirrors. They are believed to be evil and aggressive in nature, although a few people consider them to be a form of guardian angel.

(Image used by The Shadow Man on Twitter https://twitter.com/theshad78631449)

Reportedly, Wes Craven based Freddy Krueger on an experience Craven had as a young boy. He once saw a scary looking man wearing a bowler hat. The man had scars all covering his face. People who reportedly come across a “hat man” usually claim to feel a frightening feeling, as if they are being threatened. While some ghosts do not seem aware of the presence of the living, it appears shadow people do. Witnesses claim, despite not seeing his face, they have a sense the hat man is staring right at them.

Furthermore, it would seem this entity’s sole purpose in visiting people is to make them as uncomfortable and frightened as possible. The apparition normally does not try to communicate, except for the fact he is emitting bad vibes. His mere presence alone is enough to make someone feel extremely uncomfortable and even threatened.

Today, I will simply tempt you with the opening of the story, and the last line of the tale: “Then I suppose we will go down in local lore: Bungay has its Black Shuck; Cornwall, the Well of St Keyne; Somerset, the Witch of Wookey; and Cheshire, the Red Rider of Bramhall Hall. We will be known for the house populated by shadow people—the home of the Phantom of Pemberley.” Enjoy!

HAPPILY MARRIED for over a year and more in love than ever, Darcy and Elizabeth can’t imagine anything interrupting their bliss-filled days. Then an intense snowstorm strands a group of travelers at Pemberley, and terrifying accidents and mysterious deaths begin to plague the manor. Everyone seems convinced it is the work of a phantom—a Shadow Man who is haunting the Darcy family’s grand estate.

Darcy and Elizabeth believe the truth is much more menacing and someone is attempting to murder them. But Pemberley is filled with family guests as well, as the unexpected travelers—any one of whom could be the culprit—so unraveling the mystery of the murderer’s identity forces the newlyweds to trust each other first and last and to work together.

Written in the style of the era and including Austen’s romantic playfulness and sardonic humor, this suspense-packed sequel to Pride and Prejudice recasts Darcy and Elizabeth as a husband-and-wife detective team who must solve the mystery at Pemberley and catch the murderer—before it’s too late.

Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Pemberley-Pride-Prejudice-Mystery-ebook/dp/B08XVX9T58/ref=sr_1_1?crid=KRZOZL5GBPVU&dchild=1&keywords=the+phantom+of+pemberley+by+regina+jeffers&qid=1615905163&sprefix=the+phantom+of+pembe%2Caps%2C160&sr=8-1

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The Phantom of Pemberley

2010 SOLA’s Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Romantic Suspense 

Chapter One

“WE SHOULD TURN BACK,” Fitzwilliam Darcy cautioned as they pulled their horses even and walked them side-by-side along the hedgerow. They explored the most removed boundary of the Pemberley estate, near what the locals called the White Peak. 

“Must we?” Elizabeth Darcy gave her husband an expectant look. “I so enjoy being alone with you—away from the responsibilities of Pemberley.” 

Darcy studied her countenance. Hers was a face he had once described as being one of the handsomest of his acquaintance, but now he considered his previous compliment a slight to the woman. Her auburn hair, her fine sea-green eyes, her pale skin, kissed with a brush of the sun, her delicate features, and her heart-shaped face made her a classic beauty, and Darcy considered himself the luckiest of men. “For a woman who once shunned riding for the pleasure of a long walk, you certainly have taken to the saddle,” he taunted. 

“I have never said I preferred riding to walking. Most would think me an excellent walker,” she insisted. “It is just that when I sit atop Pandora’s back and gallop across an open field, I feel such power—as if Pandora and I were one and the same.” 

Darcy chuckled. “Do you call how you ride ‘galloping,’ my love?” 

“And what would you call it, Fitzwilliam?” 

Even after fourteen months of marriage, he could still stir her ire, though she now understood his love for twisting the King’s English and his dry sense of humor. It had not always been so. Elizabeth had told her friend Charlotte Lucas that she could easily forgive Fitzwilliam Darcy his pride if he had not mortified hers. And Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennet, had once described Darcy as “a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing.” Yet, none of that mattered now that he and Elizabeth were a couple, for a better understanding existed between them.

Darcy’s eyebrow shot up in amusement: He recognized the tone his wife used as one of a “dare.” They had certainly challenged each other often enough during their up and down courtship. Actually, shortly after their official engagement, Elizabeth declared it within her province to find occasions for teasing and quarreling with him as often as may be. She had playfully asked him to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. The scene, so familiar now, played in his mind as if it were yesterday. 

“How could you begin?” said she. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning, but what could set you off in the first place?” 

It was a time for honesty between them, so he told her, “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew I had begun.” He laced his fingers through hers. 

“My beauty you had early withstood.” She teased him by running her hand up his jacket’s sleeve, and Darcy could think of nothing but the natural ease of her touch. “And as for my manners,” Elizabeth continued, her eyes twinkling with mischief, “my behavior to you was at least bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now, be sincere, did you admire me for my impertinence?” 

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did,” he said diplomatically. He did not—could not—admit to her his dreams of making love to her. A gentleman never spoke thusly to a lady, even a lady to whom he was betrothed.

“You may as well call it impertinence at once; it was very little less.” In retrospect, Darcy silently agreed. He had often found himself lost in his fantasies of her; so much so he did not always recognize Elizabeth’s disputation as impertinence, but more of flirtation. “The fact is, you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you because I was so unlike them. You thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you.” 

Startled by this revelation, Darcy had to admit Elizabeth was correct. She caught his attention because she was his complete opposite, even while she perfectly complemented his nature. With her, he had become freer. And he had come to think less poorly of the world. 

Elizabeth cleared her throat, signaling to Darcy that she awaited his response. “I believe, my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth,” he said as he winked at her, “I must call it a breakneck ride from hell.” 

Elizabeth glared at him for but a split second, and then she burst into laughter. “You know me too well, my husband. Most assuredly, you must take the blame. It was you who taught me to ride to the hounds.” 

“Why is it, Mrs. Darcy, all your ill-habits are derived from my influence?” 

“It is the way of the world, Fitzwilliam. Because God created Eve from Adam’s rib and breathed life into her form, a woman is a vessel for her husband’s generosity, but also his depravity.” 

“Depravity?” He barked out a laugh. “I will show you depravity, Mrs. Darcy.” He reached for her arm, threatening to pull her from Pandora’s back to his lap. 

However, Elizabeth anticipated his move, and she kicked her horse’s flank, bolting away, across the open field toward the tree line. She urged her mount faster, as her laughter tinkled in the crisp morning air, drifting back to where Darcy turned his horse to give chase. 

He flicked Demon’s reins to send his stallion barreling after his wife. Although Pandora was as excellent a mare as he had ever seen, Elizabeth’s horse stood no chance of beating Demon in an out-and-out race. As he closed in on her, he admired how his wife handled her animal—how she gave Pandora her head, but still knew when to exercise control over the horse. Elizabeth was a natural, as athletic as the animal she rode. 

Darcy pressed Demon a bit harder, and the distance between them shortened. As he accepted his success as inevitable, horror struck. From nowhere and from everywhere all at once, sound exploded around him. Pandora bucked and then stood upright, pawing the air. Elizabeth’s scream filled him, as her horse whipped Elizabeth backward. His wife’s leg, the one wrapped around the pummel came loose, but not the one is the stirrup until she kicked free to slide off the animal’s rump, smacking her backside hard against the frozen ground. From the tree line, the screech of an eagle taking flight set Darcy’s hair on end as he raced to her side. 

Sliding from his horse’s back, he was on the ground and running to reach her. “Elizabeth,” he pleaded, “tell me you are well.” He brushed her hair from her face as he gently lifted her head in his hands. 

She groaned, moving gingerly at first. “I am most properly bruised.” She brushed the dirt from her sleeve. “And I fear my pride is permanently damaged.” 

Darcy kissed her forehead, relief filling his chest, as he assisted her to stand. “Are you certain you can make it on your own?” He steadied her first few steps. 

Elizabeth walked with care, but with determination Darcy could admire. “Did you see him?” she asked cautiously. 

“See who?” Darcy instinctively looked toward the tree line. “I saw no one, Elizabeth; I was concentrating on you.” 

“The man … I swear, Fitzwilliam, there was a man … there by the opening between the two trees.” She pointed to a row of pin oaks. “A man wearing a cloak and carrying a hat.” 

“Stay here,” Darcy ordered as he walked toward the copse, reaching for the pocket pistol he carried under his jacket. 

* * *

Elizabeth watched him move warily to inspect where she had indicated. “Be careful, Fitzwilliam,” she cautioned as he disappeared into the thicket. 

Nervously watching for his return, Elizabeth caught Pandora’s reins as her horse nibbled on tufts of wild grass. After securing her horse’s bridle, she led Pandora to where Demon waited. “Easy, boy,” she said softly as she took Demon’s reins, but she never removed her eyes from where Darcy had vanished into the shadows. 

After several long moments, he emerged from behind an evergreen tree, and Elizabeth let out an audible sigh of relief. As he approached, Darcy gestured toward where he had searched. “I apologize, Elizabeth. I found nothing—not a footprint or any other kind of track. Nothing unusual.” 

“Are you certain, Fitzwilliam?” Still somewhat disoriented, she anxiously looked about her. “It seemed so real.” 

“Allow me to escort you home.” He moved to assist her to her mount. 

“Might I ride with you, Fitzwilliam? At least, until we reach the main road again. I would feel safer in your arms. Moreover, I do not think my backside cares to meet Pandora’s saddle at this moment.” 

Darcy’s smile turned up the corners of his mouth. “You cannot resist me, can you, Mrs. Darcy?” 

“It is not within my power, my husband.” Despite her nervousness, she attempted to sound normal so as not to alarm Darcy.

He slid his arms around her and brushed his lips over hers. 

Elizabeth’s arms encircled his neck. She lifted her chin to welcome his kiss. “You are indeed irresistible, my love.” 

* * *

“I was simply uncomfortable,” Elizabeth told Mrs. Reynolds, Pemberley’s long-time housekeeper. They sat at the kitchen’s butcher-block table; they had spent the past hour going over the coming week’s menus and now shared a cup of tea. 

“Ye be seein’ one of the shadow people, mistress,” Mrs. Jennings, the estate cook, remarked, although she had not been part of the initial conversation. 

Elizabeth hid her smile behind her teacup; but her voice betrayed her skepticism. “Shadow people, Mrs. Jennings?” 

“Yes, mistress.” The woman wiped her floured hands on her apron. “People be seein’ shadow ghosts ’round these parts for years. It be a man. Am I correct, Mrs. Darcy?” 

“Yes, I believe whatever I observed was a man, although Mr. Darcy thinks it might have been some sort of animal—maybe even a bear.” 

Mrs. Reynolds attempted to downplay Mrs. Jennings’ fear of the unusual, a fear apparently shared by many Derbyshire residents. “I am certain it was a bear, Mrs. Darcy. Mr. Darcy would not minimize your concerns by placating to you.” 

“Most assuredly, you are correct, Mrs. Reynolds. Mr. Darcy would never ignore a possible danger to anyone at Pemberley.” 

Mrs. Reynolds said the words Elizabeth had heard repeated often. “Mr. Darcy is the best landlord and the best master that ever lived. There is not one of his tenants or servants but what will give him a good name. If I were to go through the world, I could not meet with a better.” 

The very man of whom they spoke strolled through the doorway. “There you are, Elizabeth.” 

Elizabeth offered up a bright smile: Her husband’s masculine appearance always made her heart catch in her throat. Broad shoulders—slim waist—muscular chest and back—well defined legs and buttocks—no extra padding found on the man. And Elizabeth relished the idea he had chosen her. “I apologize, Fitzwilliam; I was unaware you sought me out.” 

Darcy’s steel gray eyes caught hers. “I thought we might spend some time in the conservatory; the temperature turns bitter. We are in for a spell of bad weather.” 

“Really?” Elizabeth stood to join him. “My first winter in Derbyshire was quite mild. Should I expect lots of snow? We normally received some snow in Hertfordshire, but I was sadly disappointed with Derbyshire last season. I had hoped for sledding and skating.” 

“Well, Mrs. Darcy, I do believe you will receive your wish.” He placed her on his arm and led her away from the kitchen and toward the main part of the house. 

However, when he turned to the main staircase and their private quarters, Elizabeth leaned into his shoulder. “I thought we were to enjoy the conservatory, Mr. Darcy,” she reminded him. 

Darcy tilted his head in her direction to speak privately. “Do you object to a change in our destination, my love?” 

“Not even in the least, Fitzwilliam.” A blush betrayed her anticipation. 

“I enjoy the flush of color on your cheeks, my sweet one.” He brought her hand to his lips. After all these months together, she now understood the powerful yearning for her that her husband had controlled only with great determination when they were together at Netherfield. If she had known then what she knew now, Elizabeth might have been frightened of Mr. Darcy, instead of thinking he disliked her. Her husband was a very passionate and loving man, something she had never considered knowing in marriage, but knew, instinctively, she could never live without.

Elizabeth tightened her hold on his arm, but she could not express her thoughts aloud. Darcy had that effect on her. Even when she had thought she despised him, in reality, she sought his attention—his regard—his approval. They made the perfect pair. Darcy provided her the freedom to have her own thoughts and opinions, something she treasured; and Elizabeth showed him how insufficient were all his pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased. She truly esteemed her husband, looked up to him as a superior. Yet, theirs was a marriage of equals in all the essentials that made people truly happy. He was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, most suited her. “I love you, Fitzwilliam,” she whispered. 

“And I love you, Elizabeth.” 

* * *

“Did you hear that?” Elizabeth sat up suddenly in the bed.

“Hear what?” Darcy groggily sat up and looked around for something out of place.

Elizabeth clutched the sheet to her. “I do not know. It was a click—as if a latch or a lock was being engaged.”

Darcy pulled on his breeches and began to check the room. 

They had locked the door when they entered their shared chambers, and it remained secure so he examined the windows and the folding screens, but found nothing. 

Elizabeth’s eyes followed his progress. 

Darcy released the door lock. Peering out, he nodded to someone in the passageway and then closed the door again. Sliding the bolt in place, he turned toward the bed. “Murray is changing the candles in the hall sconces. Perhaps that is what you heard.” 

“Perhaps,” she mumbled as she relaxed against the pillows. “It just sounded closer—as if it were in the room, not in the hallway.” 

Darcy returned to the bed and followed her down. “I believe your fright earlier today with Pandora has colored your thoughts.” He kissed Elizabeth behind her ear and down her neck to the spot where he could easily feel her pulse throbbing under her skin. “Allow me to provide you something else upon which to dwell.” 

Her moan signaled her agreement. Lost to his ministrations, neither of them heard the second click echo softly through the room.

* * *

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Bennet Wickham traveled by public conveyance to her sister Elizabeth’s Derbyshire home. It was her first journey to Pemberley, which even her husband reported to be one of the finest estates in all of England. She would rather this visit included her husband, Lieutenant George Wickham, but as Elizabeth’s husband, Mr. Darcy, refused to accept Wickham in his home, such was not possible. The men had held a long-standing disagreement, of which Lydia generally made no acknowledgment. In Lydia’s estimation, Mr. Darcy should do as the Good Book said and forgive. However, men were stubborn creatures who neither forgave nor forgot, and, much to her dismay, Mr. Darcy and her husband continued their feuding. 

Lydia found the whole situation disheartening. Even Elizabeth had taken offense at her congratulatory letter, although Lydia did not understand why. She had spoken the truth, and she had lowered herself to ask for Elizabeth’s assistance, something she had once sworn she would never do. All she had asked of her sister and new brother-in-marriage had been a place at court for Wickham and three to four hundred pounds a year so she and Wickham might make ends meet. She had even told her older sister not to mention it to Mr. Darcy if Elizabeth thought it might upset him. 

As far as Lydia had determined, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy appeared to think her dearest Wickham held out some hope Darcy might be prevailed on to make Wickham’s fortune; and, in Lydia’s mind, she could not see a reason the Darcys should not assist them. It all made perfect sense. Darcy had the means to assist Wickham, without damaging his own wealth. Moreover, was that not what family did for each other? If it were she and Wickham who held the wealth, they would certainly be generous to others. She hoped on this visit to soften Mr. Darcy’s feelings about her husband. Lydia recognized her strength: She could charm any man. Naturally, she despised wasting her talents on such a prideful and conceited man as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, but she would prevail on him in order to aid her husband. Mayhap then, their marriage might be saved. Wickham would stop thinking her such a poor choice if, somehow, she could sway the great Fitzwilliam Darcy. 

As she bounced along the country road in a public coach, Lydia attempted to appear assured of her self-worth. She knew not many young women—married or not—traveled alone. However, Wickham had insisted. He had bought her the ticket to visit Elizabeth because he had been ordered to Bath for the upcoming month; therefore, this was Lydia’s perfect opportunity to plead their case. Her husband had seen her to Nottingham before they parted. Now, she traveled unaccompanied. 

“What is a fine young lady such as yourself doing traveling alone?” A man in his thirties, who smelled of stale cigars and boiled turnips, leered at Lydia. He glanced quickly at the matronly woman riding beside her. The woman’s eyes remained closed, and she breathed deeply. 

Lydia recognized the man’s intentions, and although she would never consider such an alliance, she welcomed the conversation. Sitting quietly for long periods was not part of her nature. Most acquaintances thought her chatty—boisterous even. Her husband often ordered her silence, claiming she chirped on like a magpie. “I am visiting my sister, who is near Lambton.” 

“I know Lambton well, miss. Your sister is well placed, I assume.” He noted Lydia’s stylish traveling frock, one of three new pieces she had insisted she required for this journey, despite her husband’s declaration they could not afford the additional expense. 

“Very well placed.” Lydia puffed up with his notice. “Do you know Pemberley?” 

The man’s initial tone changed immediately. “Pemberley? Everyone for miles around knows Pemberley,” he asserted. “Might your sister be associated with such a great estate?” 

His words brought satisfaction to Lydia; she thoroughly enjoyed the idea of people admiring her, even if by association. In that manner, she and Mr. Wickham were very much alike. Sometimes she dreamed of what it might be to have her own home—her own estate. And sometimes she regretted having not set her sights on Mr. Darcy herself, although Lydia supposed the man preferred Elizabeth because her older sister devoured books—just as did their father. Lydia preferred fashion to Faust and society to Shakespeare. In all considerations, Elizabeth definitely better suited the man. If Mr. Darcy treated everyone as he did her Wickham, she would disdain his company in a heartbeat. “My sister is Mrs. Darcy; she is the mistress of Pemberley.” 

“The mistress of Pemberley?” The man let out a low whistle. “I am duly impressed.” 

“Mrs. Darcy is one of my older sisters,” Lydia babbled, “but my eldest is Mrs. Bingley of Hertfordshire. Charles Bingley counts Mr. Darcy as his most loyal acquaintance. My husband, Lieutenant George Wickham, grew to adulthood on Pemberley. We three sisters remain connected, even though we find ourselves scattered about England. My dear Wickham serves his country: We reside in Newcastle.” 

She noted how the man attempted to disguise his amusement at the situation’s irony, but there was a glint of laughter in his eye. “I know of George Wickham,” he mused. “Even in Cheshire, your husband has female admirers.” He chuckled. “It will break many hearts when I spread the story of your marriage, Mrs. Wickham. Are you newly wed?” 

“Lord, no. In fact, I was the first of my sisters to marry, although I am the youngest of five. Mr. Wickham and I have been married nearly two years.” 

“Two years?” The man appeared amused again. He said, “I suppose it is too late then to offer my best wishes?” His eyebrows waggled teasingly. Lydia was confused as to his reaction.

She swatted at his chest with her fan. “I am an old married woman, sir.” 

As she hoped, the man provided her a compliment. “You may be married, ma’am, but you most certainly are not old nor are you the picture of matronliness.” He nodded in the direction of the sleeping woman and then winked at Lydia. 

She loved flirting, even with someone who would not interest her otherwise. Wickham despised how easily men hung on her every word. She giggled, suddenly aware of the privacy of their conversation. She turned her attention to the coach’s window. “I certainly do not enjoy traveling in winter. The roads in the North were abhorrent—so many ruts and holes. Passengers could barely keep their seats. Thankfully, my husband kept me safe, but a lady who traveled with us to Lincolnshire tumbled most unceremoniously to the floor.” 

The man’s eyes followed hers. “The farmers at home would probably say we are in for some bad weather. See how the line of dark clouds hug the horizon.” He pointed off to a distance. “I simply hope we make it to Cheshire before the storm hits. I prefer not being upon the road when winter blasts us with her best.” He leaned back and closed his eyes. “We will stay in Matlock this evening. You should be in Lambton by mid-afternoon tomorrow.” 

“I will be pleased to be away from this coach,” Lydia murmured as she settled into the well-worn cushions. 

As the man drifted off to sleep, he managed to say, “You will experience the best money can purchase at Pemberley. You shall enjoy your stay, I am certain.” As she sat alone in the silence of the coach, Lydia consoled herself with the man’s words. If Mr. Darcy was as wealthy as all said, surely he could spare a bit for her and Wickham. Then, her husband would view her with respect instead of disdain.

* * *

“Fitzwilliam,” Elizabeth said. She had found her husband in his study. “Georgiana and I plan to call on some of the cottagers today.” She stood before his desk, looking down at the stack of ledgers piled five high. “I thought you might care to join us, but I see you are excessively busy.” 

“I am afraid this business cannot be postponed.” He gestured to the many letters lying open before him. 

Elizabeth moved to stand behind him. She snaked her arms over the chair back and around Darcy’s neck. She kissed his ear and then his cheek. “You will miss me, Mr. Darcy?” she inquired, her breath warm against his neck as she continued to kiss along his chin line. As she hoped he would act, Darcy reached up to catch her arm. In one smooth motion, he shoved his chair back, making room for her on his lap, and pulled Elizabeth to him. She rested on his legs before sliding her arms around his neck. “I love you, my husband.” She laid her head against his shoulder. 

Darcy used his finger to tilt her chin upward so he might kiss her lips. “So nice,” he murmured. He deepened the kiss, and Elizabeth gloried in their closeness. “I could drown in your love,” he whispered near her ear.

“You are so not what the world expects.” Elizabeth ran her fingers through his hair.

Darcy chuckled, “I am exactly what the world expects: I serve this estate well and my sister well. Such is my role in life.” 

Elizabeth envied his confidence and the deep respect he inspired in the community. 

“And me well.” Elizabeth moaned as his lips found the point where her neck met her shoulder. 

Darcy pulled her closer. “That is what is unexpected—how much I love you—how I can give myself over to you so completely.” 

“You possess no regrets about aligning yourself with a woman without family, connections, or fortunes?” It was a question she asked often, although his answer remained the same each time. 

“It amazes me you can continue to doubt my loyalty—my love. Elizabeth, you possess me body and soul. Do you not know how thoroughly I require you in my life?” 

“I know,” she admitted, feeling foolish for asking the question again. “It is just that I desire to hear your professions with regularity. I realize it is foolish of me, but it is my weakness, I fear.” 

“Then I will resolve to speak the words more often, my love.” He kissed her tenderly. 

Elizabeth scrambled from his lap when she heard the servants outside the door. “I must leave.” She straightened the seams of her day dress. “I am certain Georgiana waits for me by now. We will return in a few hours.” 

“Do not go far, my love. The winter weather looms; we are in for a bad spell.” 

“Listen to you, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth teased as she headed toward the door. “You sound like one of the old hags who claim they can tell the weather from their rheumatism.” 

Darcy cleared his throat, stopping her exit. “Elizabeth, I have lived my whole life in Derbyshire. I understand the harshness of the winters. Trust me, my dear.” 

She stopped in her tracks. “If you are serious, Fitzwilliam, I will follow your lead,” she assured him, before turning pensive. “Do you suppose Lydia will arrive before this weather changes?” She now expressed the same concern as he. 

Darcy stood and came to where she waited. “A rider brought me some papers from Liverpool today, and he said the weather turned bad quickly. If he is correct, the storm is at least a day out, but it is likely to be here by early in the day tomorrow. Mrs. Wickham’s coach will be driving into the storm. Your sister may have some uncomfortable hours, but I am relatively certain she will arrive safely.” 

“You will go with me to Lambton—I mean to escort Lydia to Pemberley?” Elizabeth inquired. 

“I will not leave you to your own devices.” Darcy kissed her fingers. “Have a good visit with the tenants.” 

“Mrs. Hudson requires someone to repair her window,” Elizabeth reminded him as she prepared to leave. 

Darcy followed her to the door. “I will see to it immediately.” 

* * *

Elizabeth and Georgiana took Darcy’s small coach for their visits. Often, they made their rounds on horseback or in an open curricle, but Georgiana still suffered from a head cold, and Elizabeth would take no chances with Miss Darcy’s health in the bitter weather. “We have only two more baskets,” Elizabeth said. She accepted Murray’s hand as she climbed into the coach. He closed the steps, setting them inside. “Thank you, Murray. Tell Mr. Stalling we will see the Baines and the Taylors.” 

“Yes, Mrs. Darcy.” 

Mr. Stalling turned the carriage toward the hedgerow leading to the main drive. “We will keep our visits short,” Elizabeth told Darcy’s sister. “I can tell you are not at your best today.” 

“My head feels so full. Perhaps I should remain in the carriage. Both the Baines and the Taylors have a houseful of children. It would not be the Christian thing to share my illness.” Georgiana sniffed and reached for her handkerchief. 

“I think only of you, Georgiana,” Elizabeth assured. She glanced out the coach’s window, noting the sun was well-hidden behind the clouds. “Such might be best. I shall make the call; you shall stay in the carriage and keep your feet on the warming brick. Then I will see you home. I am certain Mrs. Reynolds has a special poultice to make you feel better.” 

“Thank you, Elizabeth.” Georgiana sniffed again. 

Elizabeth adjusted the blanket across Georgiana’s lap. “Fitzwilliam will be distressed to know you feel poorly.” 

“He does worry about me.” Georgiana Darcy leaned back into the thick squabs of the carriage, adjusting the blanket tighter about her. 

Elizabeth recalled the first time she had seen the girl, who had been little more than sixteen at the time. Darcy had brought his sister to the inn in Lambton to take Elizabeth’s acquaintance after discovering Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle visiting Pemberley on holiday. It had been the beginning of their life together. 

Although Elizabeth was four years Georgiana’s senior, Darcy’s sister was taller and on a larger scale. She was less handsome than her brother, but there was sense and good humor in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Everyone who knew Georgiana Darcy esteemed her for her compassion and her goodness. Elizabeth treasured having Georgiana in the household. Having left a houseful of sisters in Hertfordshire, she appreciated having female companionship. 

“Your brother has spent his adult life caring for you.” 

Georgiana closed her eyes, a noticeable shiver shook her body, and Elizabeth knew real concern. “I will be happy to claim my bed.” 

Elizabeth gently touched the girl’s forehead with the back of her hand. “You are not warm—no fever.” 

“I simply ache all over, and my head is so tight with pressure,” Georgiana rasped. 

Before Elizabeth could express further concern, the carriage came to a bone-jolting halt. “I will be only a few minutes.” Elizabeth opened the door. Murray assisted her to the ground before handing Elizabeth one of the two remaining baskets he carried. 

“Murray, I want to see Miss Darcy to the house as quickly as possible. Would you mind delivering the basket you carry to the Taylors? Provide them our regards and explain the situation. I will call on Mrs. Baine.” 

“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy.” The footman headed toward the Taylors’ cottage, less than a quarter mile down the main drive. 

Elizabeth glanced quickly at Georgiana to assure herself the girl would be well while alone in the coach. Then she strode toward the small, white-washed cottage. Before she reached the door, it swung open, and a burly-looking man greeted her. 

“Mrs. Darcy, let me be helpin’ ye with that.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Baine.” Elizabeth entered the house and glanced around quickly to inspect how well the Baines maintained their home. Darcy did well by his tenants, but he expected the cottagers to keep the property in good repair and not to destroy what he provided them. 

“Ye be alone, Mistress?” Mrs. Baine looked to the threshold. 

Elizabeth gestured toward the coach. “Miss Darcy feels poorly. We both thought it best not to bring an illness into your house. In fact, I only have a few minutes. I wish to see Mr. Darcy’s sister in the comfort of her own bed.” 

“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy.” Mr. Baine set the basket on the table. 

“There is flour, sugar, some potatoes, ham, and turnips in the basket.” 

“We be thankin’ ye, ma’am,” Mrs. Baine said and lifted the cloth to peer at the things the Great House had sent to them. 

“Naturally, there are sweets for the children.” Elizabeth touched a tow-headed boy of four. “You may dole them out when you deem appropriate.” 

Mr. Baine picked up a blonde girl of two. “The little ones be our greatest gift.” 

The Baines had six children, and Elizabeth chuckled at the irony of the statement. “Then you are indeed blessed, Mr. Baine. Mr. Darcy says the weather will turn dangerous, so be certain everyone is inside. Perhaps you should bring in some extra wood for the fire.” 

“We be thinkin’ the same, Mistress.” Baine stroked the child’s head as it rested on his shoulder. “We be well, ma’am.”

“You must surely know if you require anything, just send someone to Pemberley. Mr. Darcy will assist you if he is able.”

“We be knowin’ it, ma’am.” Mrs. Baine joined them as they stood by the door.

Elizabeth glanced toward the carriage. She worried for Georgiana. “I really must see Miss Darcy home. Please pardon me; we will visit longer the next time.” 

“You see to the master’s sister,” Mrs. Baine said as she reached for the door handle. “We be puttin’ Miss Darcy in our prayers.” 

“My sister will appreciate your thoughtfulness.” 

* * *

Georgiana Darcy pulled the blanket closer. She hoped Elizabeth would not be long. She really just wanted to be in her own bed where she might sleep for a few hours—mayhap even have Mrs. Jennings heat up some chicken broth. 

Reluctantly, she sat forward to determine whether Elizabeth had exited the cottage, but saw no one. Georgiana scooted the warming brick closer; it had quickly lost its heat in the chilly air. She reached out and slid the curtain aside to look for Elizabeth again. Then she saw him, and a different kind of shiver ran down her spine. He just stood there in the tree line. A blond-haired man, wrapped in a black cloak and wearing a floppy-brimmed hat, leaned against a tree. Georgiana felt her heart skip a beat, and her breathing became labored. 

The sound of Elizabeth’s approach drew the girl’s attention for a fraction of a second, and when her eyes returned to the trees, the man was no longer there. 

“Did you see him?” she pleaded as Mr. Stalling assisted Elizabeth into the coach. 

“See who?” Elizabeth turned expectantly. “Was someone there?” She searched where Georgiana stared, but all they saw was a bareheaded Murray walking toward them, slapping his coat to keep himself warm. 

Elizabeth sat beside Georgiana and slid her arm around the girl’s shoulder. “Might we escort Miss Darcy home, Mr. Stalling?” 

“Yes, Mrs. Darcy.” 

The driver stored the coach’s step inside before motioning Murray to climb aboard the back of the coach. 

As the carriage circled to return to the house, both women stared out the opposite window, looking for something neither of them hoped to see again.

“He is not there,” Georgiana whispered. 

“No one is there, Georgiana.” Elizabeth allowed the curtain to fall in place. “Would you tell me what you saw?” 

“A man—all in black—wearing an unusual hat—like those in the books from America.” Georgiana’s eyes widened. “Do you believe me?” 

Elizabeth tightened her hold on the girl. “Your brother thought what I saw yesterday was a bear, but what you just described is exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye. Except I could not make out the man’s face.” 

“Neither could I,” Georgiana whispered, although they were alone in the moving carriage. “What does it mean, Elizabeth?” The girl grabbed Elizabeth’s hand, holding on for dear life.

Elizabeth did not answer; she simply pulled the blanket over both of them. “We will tell Fitzwilliam. He will know what to do.” 

Chapter 1 

“WE SHOULD TURN BACK,” Fitzwilliam Darcy cautioned as they pulled their horses even and walked them side-by-side along the hedgerow. They explored the most removed boundary of the Pemberley estate, near what the locals called the White Peak. 

“Must we?” Elizabeth Darcy gave her husband an expectant look. “I so enjoy being alone with you—away from the responsibilities of Pemberley.” 

Darcy studied her countenance. Hers was a face he had once described as being one of the handsomest of his acquaintance, but now he considered his previous compliment a slight to the woman. Her auburn hair, her fine sea-green eyes, her pale skin, kissed with a brush of the sun, her delicate features, and her heart-shaped face made her a classic beauty, and Darcy considered himself the luckiest of men. “For a woman who once shunned riding for the pleasure of a long walk, you certainly have taken to the saddle,” he taunted. 

“I have never said I preferred riding to walking. Most would think me an excellent walker,” she insisted. “It is just that when I sit atop Pandora’s back and gallop across an open field, I feel such power—as if Pandora and I were one and the same.” 

Darcy chuckled. “Do you call how you ride ‘galloping,’ my love?” 

“And what would you call it, Fitzwilliam?” 

Even after fourteen months of marriage, he could still stir her ire, though she now understood his love for twisting the King’s English and his dry sense of humor. It had not always been so. Elizabeth had told her friend Charlotte Lucas that she could easily forgive Fitzwilliam Darcy his pride if he had not mortified hers. And Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Bennet, had once described Darcy as “a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing.” Yet, none of that mattered now that he and Elizabeth were a couple, for a better understanding existed between them.

Darcy’s eyebrow shot up in amusement: He recognized the tone his wife used as one of a “dare.” They had certainly challenged each other often enough during their up and down courtship. Actually, shortly after their official engagement, Elizabeth declared it within her province to find occasions for teasing and quarreling with him as often as may be. She had playfully asked him to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. The scene, so familiar now, played in his mind as if it were yesterday. 

“How could you begin?” said she. “I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning, but what could set you off in the first place?” 

It was a time for honesty between them, so he told her, “I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew I had begun.” He laced his fingers through hers. 

“My beauty you had early withstood.” She teased him by running her hand up his jacket’s sleeve, and Darcy could think of nothing but the natural ease of her touch. “And as for my manners,” Elizabeth continued, her eyes twinkling with mischief, “my behavior to you was at least bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now, be sincere, did you admire me for my impertinence?” 

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did,” he said diplomatically. He did not—could not—admit to her his dreams of making love to her. A gentleman never spoke thusly to a lady, even a lady to whom he was betrothed.

“You may as well call it impertinence at once; it was very little less.” In retrospect, Darcy silently agreed. He had often found himself lost in his fantasies of her; so much so he did not always recognize Elizabeth’s disputation as impertinence, but more of flirtation. “The fact is, you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you because I was so unlike them. You thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you.” 

Startled by this revelation, Darcy had to admit Elizabeth was correct. She caught his attention because she was his complete opposite, even while she perfectly complemented his nature. With her, he had become freer. And he had come to think less poorly of the world. 

Elizabeth cleared her throat, signaling to Darcy that she awaited his response. “I believe, my dearest, loveliest Elizabeth,” he said as he winked at her, “I must call it a breakneck ride from hell.” 

Elizabeth glared at him for but a split second, and then she burst into laughter. “You know me too well, my husband. Most assuredly, you must take the blame. It was you who taught me to ride to the hounds.” 

“Why is it, Mrs. Darcy, all your ill-habits are derived from my influence?” 

“It is the way of the world, Fitzwilliam. Because God created Eve from Adam’s rib and breathed life into her form, a woman is a vessel for her husband’s generosity, but also his depravity.” 

“Depravity?” He barked out a laugh. “I will show you depravity, Mrs. Darcy.” He reached for her arm, threatening to pull her from Pandora’s back to his lap. 

However, Elizabeth anticipated his move, and she kicked her horse’s flank, bolting away, across the open field toward the tree line. She urged her mount faster, as her laughter tinkled in the crisp morning air, drifting back to where Darcy turned his horse to give chase. 

He flicked Demon’s reins to send his stallion barreling after his wife. Although Pandora was as excellent a mare as he had ever seen, Elizabeth’s horse stood no chance of beating Demon in an out-and-out race. As he closed in on her, he admired how his wife handled her animal—how she gave Pandora her head, but still knew when to exercise control over the horse. Elizabeth was a natural, as athletic as the animal she rode. 

Darcy pressed Demon a bit harder, and the distance between them shortened. As he accepted his success as inevitable, horror struck. From nowhere and from everywhere all at once, sound exploded around him. Pandora bucked and then stood upright, pawing the air. Elizabeth’s scream filled him, as her horse whipped Elizabeth backward. His wife’s leg, the one wrapped around the pummel came loose, but not the one is the stirrup until she kicked free to slide off the animal’s rump, smacking her backside hard against the frozen ground. From the tree line, the screech of an eagle taking flight set Darcy’s hair on end as he raced to her side. 

Sliding from his horse’s back, he was on the ground and running to reach her. “Elizabeth,” he pleaded, “tell me you are well.” He brushed her hair from her face as he gently lifted her head in his hands. 

She groaned, moving gingerly at first. “I am most properly bruised.” She brushed the dirt from her sleeve. “And I fear my pride is permanently damaged.” 

Darcy kissed her forehead, relief filling his chest, as he assisted her to stand. “Are you certain you can make it on your own?” He steadied her first few steps. 

Elizabeth walked with care, but with determination Darcy could admire. “Did you see him?” she asked cautiously. 

“See who?” Darcy instinctively looked toward the tree line. “I saw no one, Elizabeth; I was concentrating on you.” 

“The man … I swear, Fitzwilliam, there was a man … there by the opening between the two trees.” She pointed to a row of pin oaks. “A man wearing a cloak and carrying a hat.” 

“Stay here,” Darcy ordered as he walked toward the copse, reaching for the pocket pistol he carried under his jacket. 

* * *

Elizabeth watched him move warily to inspect where she had indicated. “Be careful, Fitzwilliam,” she cautioned as he disappeared into the thicket. 

Nervously watching for his return, Elizabeth caught Pandora’s reins as her horse nibbled on tufts of wild grass. After securing her horse’s bridle, she led Pandora to where Demon waited. “Easy, boy,” she said softly as she took Demon’s reins, but she never removed her eyes from where Darcy had vanished into the shadows. 

After several long moments, he emerged from behind an evergreen tree, and Elizabeth let out an audible sigh of relief. As he approached, Darcy gestured toward where he had searched. “I apologize, Elizabeth. I found nothing—not a footprint or any other kind of track. Nothing unusual.” 

“Are you certain, Fitzwilliam?” Still somewhat disoriented, she anxiously looked about her. “It seemed so real.” 

“Allow me to escort you home.” He moved to assist her to her mount. 

“Might I ride with you, Fitzwilliam? At least, until we reach the main road again. I would feel safer in your arms. Moreover, I do not think my backside cares to meet Pandora’s saddle at this moment.” 

Darcy’s smile turned up the corners of his mouth. “You cannot resist me, can you, Mrs. Darcy?” 

“It is not within my power, my husband.” Despite her nervousness, she attempted to sound normal so as not to alarm Darcy.

He slid his arms around her and brushed his lips over hers. 

Elizabeth’s arms encircled his neck. She lifted her chin to welcome his kiss. “You are indeed irresistible, my love.” 

* * *

“I was simply uncomfortable,” Elizabeth told Mrs. Reynolds, Pemberley’s long-time housekeeper. They sat at the kitchen’s butcher-block table; they had spent the past hour going over the coming week’s menus and now shared a cup of tea. 

“Ye be seein’ one of the shadow people, mistress,” Mrs. Jennings, the estate cook, remarked, although she had not been part of the initial conversation. 

Elizabeth hid her smile behind her teacup; but her voice betrayed her skepticism. “Shadow people, Mrs. Jennings?” 

“Yes, mistress.” The woman wiped her floured hands on her apron. “People be seein’ shadow ghosts ’round these parts for years. It be a man. Am I correct, Mrs. Darcy?” 

“Yes, I believe whatever I observed was a man, although Mr. Darcy thinks it might have been some sort of animal—maybe even a bear.” 

Mrs. Reynolds attempted to downplay Mrs. Jennings’ fear of the unusual, a fear apparently shared by many Derbyshire residents. “I am certain it was a bear, Mrs. Darcy. Mr. Darcy would not minimize your concerns by placating to you.” 

“Most assuredly, you are correct, Mrs. Reynolds. Mr. Darcy would never ignore a possible danger to anyone at Pemberley.” 

Mrs. Reynolds said the words Elizabeth had heard repeated often. “Mr. Darcy is the best landlord and the best master that ever lived. There is not one of his tenants or servants but what will give him a good name. If I were to go through the world, I could not meet with a better.” 

The very man of whom they spoke strolled through the doorway. “There you are, Elizabeth.” 

Elizabeth offered up a bright smile: Her husband’s masculine appearance always made her heart catch in her throat. Broad shoulders—slim waist—muscular chest and back—well defined legs and buttocks—no extra padding found on the man. And Elizabeth relished the idea he had chosen her. “I apologize, Fitzwilliam; I was unaware you sought me out.” 

Darcy’s steel gray eyes caught hers. “I thought we might spend some time in the conservatory; the temperature turns bitter. We are in for a spell of bad weather.” 

“Really?” Elizabeth stood to join him. “My first winter in Derbyshire was quite mild. Should I expect lots of snow? We normally received some snow in Hertfordshire, but I was sadly disappointed with Derbyshire last season. I had hoped for sledding and skating.” 

“Well, Mrs. Darcy, I do believe you will receive your wish.” He placed her on his arm and led her away from the kitchen and toward the main part of the house. 

However, when he turned to the main staircase and their private quarters, Elizabeth leaned into his shoulder. “I thought we were to enjoy the conservatory, Mr. Darcy,” she reminded him. 

Darcy tilted his head in her direction to speak privately. “Do you object to a change in our destination, my love?” 

“Not even in the least, Fitzwilliam.” A blush betrayed her anticipation. 

“I enjoy the flush of color on your cheeks, my sweet one.” He brought her hand to his lips. After all these months together, she now understood the powerful yearning for her that her husband had controlled only with great determination when they were together at Netherfield. If she had known then what she knew now, Elizabeth might have been frightened of Mr. Darcy, instead of thinking he disliked her. Her husband was a very passionate and loving man, something she had never considered knowing in marriage, but knew, instinctively, she could never live without.

Elizabeth tightened her hold on his arm, but she could not express her thoughts aloud. Darcy had that effect on her. Even when she had thought she despised him, in reality, she sought his attention—his regard—his approval. They made the perfect pair. Darcy provided her the freedom to have her own thoughts and opinions, something she treasured; and Elizabeth showed him how insufficient were all his pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased. She truly esteemed her husband, looked up to him as a superior. Yet, theirs was a marriage of equals in all the essentials that made people truly happy. He was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, most suited her. “I love you, Fitzwilliam,” she whispered. 

“And I love you, Elizabeth.” 

* * *

“Did you hear that?” Elizabeth sat up suddenly in the bed.

“Hear what?” Darcy groggily sat up and looked around for something out of place.

Elizabeth clutched the sheet to her. “I do not know. It was a click—as if a latch or a lock was being engaged.”

Darcy pulled on his breeches and began to check the room. 

They had locked the door when they entered their shared chambers, and it remained secure so he examined the windows and the folding screens, but found nothing. 

Elizabeth’s eyes followed his progress. 

Darcy released the door lock. Peering out, he nodded to someone in the passageway and then closed the door again. Sliding the bolt in place, he turned toward the bed. “Murray is changing the candles in the hall sconces. Perhaps that is what you heard.” 

“Perhaps,” she mumbled as she relaxed against the pillows. “It just sounded closer—as if it were in the room, not in the hallway.” 

Darcy returned to the bed and followed her down. “I believe your fright earlier today with Pandora has colored your thoughts.” He kissed Elizabeth behind her ear and down her neck to the spot where he could easily feel her pulse throbbing under her skin. “Allow me to provide you something else upon which to dwell.” 

Her moan signaled her agreement. Lost to his ministrations, neither of them heard the second click echo softly through the room.

* * *

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Bennet Wickham traveled by public conveyance to her sister Elizabeth’s Derbyshire home. It was her first journey to Pemberley, which even her husband reported to be one of the finest estates in all of England. She would rather this visit included her husband, Lieutenant George Wickham, but as Elizabeth’s husband, Mr. Darcy, refused to accept Wickham in his home, such was not possible. The men had held a long-standing disagreement, of which Lydia generally made no acknowledgment. In Lydia’s estimation, Mr. Darcy should do as the Good Book said and forgive. However, men were stubborn creatures who neither forgave nor forgot, and, much to her dismay, Mr. Darcy and her husband continued their feuding. 

Lydia found the whole situation disheartening. Even Elizabeth had taken offense at her congratulatory letter, although Lydia did not understand why. She had spoken the truth, and she had lowered herself to ask for Elizabeth’s assistance, something she had once sworn she would never do. All she had asked of her sister and new brother-in-marriage had been a place at court for Wickham and three to four hundred pounds a year so she and Wickham might make ends meet. She had even told her older sister not to mention it to Mr. Darcy if Elizabeth thought it might upset him. 

As far as Lydia had determined, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy appeared to think her dearest Wickham held out some hope Darcy might be prevailed on to make Wickham’s fortune; and, in Lydia’s mind, she could not see a reason the Darcys should not assist them. It all made perfect sense. Darcy had the means to assist Wickham, without damaging his own wealth. Moreover, was that not what family did for each other? If it were she and Wickham who held the wealth, they would certainly be generous to others. She hoped on this visit to soften Mr. Darcy’s feelings about her husband. Lydia recognized her strength: She could charm any man. Naturally, she despised wasting her talents on such a prideful and conceited man as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, but she would prevail on him in order to aid her husband. Mayhap then, their marriage might be saved. Wickham would stop thinking her such a poor choice if, somehow, she could sway the great Fitzwilliam Darcy. 

As she bounced along the country road in a public coach, Lydia attempted to appear assured of her self-worth. She knew not many young women—married or not—traveled alone. However, Wickham had insisted. He had bought her the ticket to visit Elizabeth because he had been ordered to Bath for the upcoming month; therefore, this was Lydia’s perfect opportunity to plead their case. Her husband had seen her to Nottingham before they parted. Now, she traveled unaccompanied. 

“What is a fine young lady such as yourself doing traveling alone?” A man in his thirties, who smelled of stale cigars and boiled turnips, leered at Lydia. He glanced quickly at the matronly woman riding beside her. The woman’s eyes remained closed, and she breathed deeply. 

Lydia recognized the man’s intentions, and although she would never consider such an alliance, she welcomed the conversation. Sitting quietly for long periods was not part of her nature. Most acquaintances thought her chatty—boisterous even. Her husband often ordered her silence, claiming she chirped on like a magpie. “I am visiting my sister, who is near Lambton.” 

“I know Lambton well, miss. Your sister is well placed, I assume.” He noted Lydia’s stylish traveling frock, one of three new pieces she had insisted she required for this journey, despite her husband’s declaration they could not afford the additional expense. 

“Very well placed.” Lydia puffed up with his notice. “Do you know Pemberley?” 

The man’s initial tone changed immediately. “Pemberley? Everyone for miles around knows Pemberley,” he asserted. “Might your sister be associated with such a great estate?” 

His words brought satisfaction to Lydia; she thoroughly enjoyed the idea of people admiring her, even if by association. In that manner, she and Mr. Wickham were very much alike. Sometimes she dreamed of what it might be to have her own home—her own estate. And sometimes she regretted having not set her sights on Mr. Darcy herself, although Lydia supposed the man preferred Elizabeth because her older sister devoured books—just as did their father. Lydia preferred fashion to Faust and society to Shakespeare. In all considerations, Elizabeth definitely better suited the man. If Mr. Darcy treated everyone as he did her Wickham, she would disdain his company in a heartbeat. “My sister is Mrs. Darcy; she is the mistress of Pemberley.” 

“The mistress of Pemberley?” The man let out a low whistle. “I am duly impressed.” 

“Mrs. Darcy is one of my older sisters,” Lydia babbled, “but my eldest is Mrs. Bingley of Hertfordshire. Charles Bingley counts Mr. Darcy as his most loyal acquaintance. My husband, Lieutenant George Wickham, grew to adulthood on Pemberley. We three sisters remain connected, even though we find ourselves scattered about England. My dear Wickham serves his country: We reside in Newcastle.” 

She noted how the man attempted to disguise his amusement at the situation’s irony, but there was a glint of laughter in his eye. “I know of George Wickham,” he mused. “Even in Cheshire, your husband has female admirers.” He chuckled. “It will break many hearts when I spread the story of your marriage, Mrs. Wickham. Are you newly wed?” 

“Lord, no. In fact, I was the first of my sisters to marry, although I am the youngest of five. Mr. Wickham and I have been married nearly two years.” 

“Two years?” The man appeared amused again. He said, “I suppose it is too late then to offer my best wishes?” His eyebrows waggled teasingly. Lydia was confused as to his reaction.

She swatted at his chest with her fan. “I am an old married woman, sir.” 

As she hoped, the man provided her a compliment. “You may be married, ma’am, but you most certainly are not old nor are you the picture of matronliness.” He nodded in the direction of the sleeping woman and then winked at Lydia. 

She loved flirting, even with someone who would not interest her otherwise. Wickham despised how easily men hung on her every word. She giggled, suddenly aware of the privacy of their conversation. She turned her attention to the coach’s window. “I certainly do not enjoy traveling in winter. The roads in the North were abhorrent—so many ruts and holes. Passengers could barely keep their seats. Thankfully, my husband kept me safe, but a lady who traveled with us to Lincolnshire tumbled most unceremoniously to the floor.” 

The man’s eyes followed hers. “The farmers at home would probably say we are in for some bad weather. See how the line of dark clouds hug the horizon.” He pointed off to a distance. “I simply hope we make it to Cheshire before the storm hits. I prefer not being upon the road when winter blasts us with her best.” He leaned back and closed his eyes. “We will stay in Matlock this evening. You should be in Lambton by mid-afternoon tomorrow.” 

“I will be pleased to be away from this coach,” Lydia murmured as she settled into the well-worn cushions. 

As the man drifted off to sleep, he managed to say, “You will experience the best money can purchase at Pemberley. You shall enjoy your stay, I am certain.” As she sat alone in the silence of the coach, Lydia consoled herself with the man’s words. If Mr. Darcy was as wealthy as all said, surely he could spare a bit for her and Wickham. Then, her husband would view her with respect instead of disdain.

* * *

“Fitzwilliam,” Elizabeth said. She had found her husband in his study. “Georgiana and I plan to call on some of the cottagers today.” She stood before his desk, looking down at the stack of ledgers piled five high. “I thought you might care to join us, but I see you are excessively busy.” 

“I am afraid this business cannot be postponed.” He gestured to the many letters lying open before him. 

Elizabeth moved to stand behind him. She snaked her arms over the chair back and around Darcy’s neck. She kissed his ear and then his cheek. “You will miss me, Mr. Darcy?” she inquired, her breath warm against his neck as she continued to kiss along his chin line. As she hoped he would act, Darcy reached up to catch her arm. In one smooth motion, he shoved his chair back, making room for her on his lap, and pulled Elizabeth to him. She rested on his legs before sliding her arms around his neck. “I love you, my husband.” She laid her head against his shoulder. 

Darcy used his finger to tilt her chin upward so he might kiss her lips. “So nice,” he murmured. He deepened the kiss, and Elizabeth gloried in their closeness. “I could drown in your love,” he whispered near her ear.

“You are so not what the world expects.” Elizabeth ran her fingers through his hair.

Darcy chuckled, “I am exactly what the world expects: I serve this estate well and my sister well. Such is my role in life.” 

Elizabeth envied his confidence and the deep respect he inspired in the community. 

“And me well.” Elizabeth moaned as his lips found the point where her neck met her shoulder. 

Darcy pulled her closer. “That is what is unexpected—how much I love you—how I can give myself over to you so completely.” 

“You possess no regrets about aligning yourself with a woman without family, connections, or fortunes?” It was a question she asked often, although his answer remained the same each time. 

“It amazes me you can continue to doubt my loyalty—my love. Elizabeth, you possess me body and soul. Do you not know how thoroughly I require you in my life?” 

“I know,” she admitted, feeling foolish for asking the question again. “It is just that I desire to hear your professions with regularity. I realize it is foolish of me, but it is my weakness, I fear.” 

“Then I will resolve to speak the words more often, my love.” He kissed her tenderly. 

Elizabeth scrambled from his lap when she heard the servants outside the door. “I must leave.” She straightened the seams of her day dress. “I am certain Georgiana waits for me by now. We will return in a few hours.” 

“Do not go far, my love. The winter weather looms; we are in for a bad spell.” 

“Listen to you, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth teased as she headed toward the door. “You sound like one of the old hags who claim they can tell the weather from their rheumatism.” 

Darcy cleared his throat, stopping her exit. “Elizabeth, I have lived my whole life in Derbyshire. I understand the harshness of the winters. Trust me, my dear.” 

She stopped in her tracks. “If you are serious, Fitzwilliam, I will follow your lead,” she assured him, before turning pensive. “Do you suppose Lydia will arrive before this weather changes?” She now expressed the same concern as he. 

Darcy stood and came to where she waited. “A rider brought me some papers from Liverpool today, and he said the weather turned bad quickly. If he is correct, the storm is at least a day out, but it is likely to be here by early in the day tomorrow. Mrs. Wickham’s coach will be driving into the storm. Your sister may have some uncomfortable hours, but I am relatively certain she will arrive safely.” 

“You will go with me to Lambton—I mean to escort Lydia to Pemberley?” Elizabeth inquired. 

“I will not leave you to your own devices.” Darcy kissed her fingers. “Have a good visit with the tenants.” 

“Mrs. Hudson requires someone to repair her window,” Elizabeth reminded him as she prepared to leave. 

Darcy followed her to the door. “I will see to it immediately.” 

* * *

Elizabeth and Georgiana took Darcy’s small coach for their visits. Often, they made their rounds on horseback or in an open curricle, but Georgiana still suffered from a head cold, and Elizabeth would take no chances with Miss Darcy’s health in the bitter weather. “We have only two more baskets,” Elizabeth said. She accepted Murray’s hand as she climbed into the coach. He closed the steps, setting them inside. “Thank you, Murray. Tell Mr. Stalling we will see the Baines and the Taylors.” 

“Yes, Mrs. Darcy.” 

Mr. Stalling turned the carriage toward the hedgerow leading to the main drive. “We will keep our visits short,” Elizabeth told Darcy’s sister. “I can tell you are not at your best today.” 

“My head feels so full. Perhaps I should remain in the carriage. Both the Baines and the Taylors have a houseful of children. It would not be the Christian thing to share my illness.” Georgiana sniffed and reached for her handkerchief. 

“I think only of you, Georgiana,” Elizabeth assured. She glanced out the coach’s window, noting the sun was well-hidden behind the clouds. “Such might be best. I shall make the call; you shall stay in the carriage and keep your feet on the warming brick. Then I will see you home. I am certain Mrs. Reynolds has a special poultice to make you feel better.” 

“Thank you, Elizabeth.” Georgiana sniffed again. 

Elizabeth adjusted the blanket across Georgiana’s lap. “Fitzwilliam will be distressed to know you feel poorly.” 

“He does worry about me.” Georgiana Darcy leaned back into the thick squabs of the carriage, adjusting the blanket tighter about her. 

Elizabeth recalled the first time she had seen the girl, who had been little more than sixteen at the time. Darcy had brought his sister to the inn in Lambton to take Elizabeth’s acquaintance after discovering Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle visiting Pemberley on holiday. It had been the beginning of their life together. 

Although Elizabeth was four years Georgiana’s senior, Darcy’s sister was taller and on a larger scale. She was less handsome than her brother, but there was sense and good humor in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle. Everyone who knew Georgiana Darcy esteemed her for her compassion and her goodness. Elizabeth treasured having Georgiana in the household. Having left a houseful of sisters in Hertfordshire, she appreciated having female companionship. 

“Your brother has spent his adult life caring for you.” 

Georgiana closed her eyes, a noticeable shiver shook her body, and Elizabeth knew real concern. “I will be happy to claim my bed.” 

Elizabeth gently touched the girl’s forehead with the back of her hand. “You are not warm—no fever.” 

“I simply ache all over, and my head is so tight with pressure,” Georgiana rasped. 

Before Elizabeth could express further concern, the carriage came to a bone-jolting halt. “I will be only a few minutes.” Elizabeth opened the door. Murray assisted her to the ground before handing Elizabeth one of the two remaining baskets he carried. 

“Murray, I want to see Miss Darcy to the house as quickly as possible. Would you mind delivering the basket you carry to the Taylors? Provide them our regards and explain the situation. I will call on Mrs. Baine.” 

“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy.” The footman headed toward the Taylors’ cottage, less than a quarter mile down the main drive. 

Elizabeth glanced quickly at Georgiana to assure herself the girl would be well while alone in the coach. Then she strode toward the small, white-washed cottage. Before she reached the door, it swung open, and a burly-looking man greeted her. 

“Mrs. Darcy, let me be helpin’ ye with that.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Baine.” Elizabeth entered the house and glanced around quickly to inspect how well the Baines maintained their home. Darcy did well by his tenants, but he expected the cottagers to keep the property in good repair and not to destroy what he provided them. 

“Ye be alone, Mistress?” Mrs. Baine looked to the threshold. 

Elizabeth gestured toward the coach. “Miss Darcy feels poorly. We both thought it best not to bring an illness into your house. In fact, I only have a few minutes. I wish to see Mr. Darcy’s sister in the comfort of her own bed.” 

“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy.” Mr. Baine set the basket on the table. 

“There is flour, sugar, some potatoes, ham, and turnips in the basket.” 

“We be thankin’ ye, ma’am,” Mrs. Baine said and lifted the cloth to peer at the things the Great House had sent to them. 

“Naturally, there are sweets for the children.” Elizabeth touched a tow-headed boy of four. “You may dole them out when you deem appropriate.” 

Mr. Baine picked up a blonde girl of two. “The little ones be our greatest gift.” 

The Baines had six children, and Elizabeth chuckled at the irony of the statement. “Then you are indeed blessed, Mr. Baine. Mr. Darcy says the weather will turn dangerous, so be certain everyone is inside. Perhaps you should bring in some extra wood for the fire.” 

“We be thinkin’ the same, Mistress.” Baine stroked the child’s head as it rested on his shoulder. “We be well, ma’am.”

“You must surely know if you require anything, just send someone to Pemberley. Mr. Darcy will assist you if he is able.”

“We be knowin’ it, ma’am.” Mrs. Baine joined them as they stood by the door.

Elizabeth glanced toward the carriage. She worried for Georgiana. “I really must see Miss Darcy home. Please pardon me; we will visit longer the next time.” 

“You see to the master’s sister,” Mrs. Baine said as she reached for the door handle. “We be puttin’ Miss Darcy in our prayers.” 

“My sister will appreciate your thoughtfulness.” 

* * *

Georgiana Darcy pulled the blanket closer. She hoped Elizabeth would not be long. She really just wanted to be in her own bed where she might sleep for a few hours—mayhap even have Mrs. Jennings heat up some chicken broth. 

Reluctantly, she sat forward to determine whether Elizabeth had exited the cottage, but saw no one. Georgiana scooted the warming brick closer; it had quickly lost its heat in the chilly air. She reached out and slid the curtain aside to look for Elizabeth again. Then she saw him, and a different kind of shiver ran down her spine. He just stood there in the tree line. A blond-haired man, wrapped in a black cloak and wearing a floppy-brimmed hat, leaned against a tree. Georgiana felt her heart skip a beat, and her breathing became labored. 

The sound of Elizabeth’s approach drew the girl’s attention for a fraction of a second, and when her eyes returned to the trees, the man was no longer there. 

“Did you see him?” she pleaded as Mr. Stalling assisted Elizabeth into the coach. 

“See who?” Elizabeth turned expectantly. “Was someone there?” She searched where Georgiana stared, but all they saw was a bareheaded Murray walking toward them, slapping his coat to keep himself warm. 

Elizabeth sat beside Georgiana and slid her arm around the girl’s shoulder. “Might we escort Miss Darcy home, Mr. Stalling?” 

“Yes, Mrs. Darcy.” 

The driver stored the coach’s step inside before motioning Murray to climb aboard the back of the coach. 

As the carriage circled to return to the house, both women stared out the opposite window, looking for something neither of them hoped to see again.

“He is not there,” Georgiana whispered. 

“No one is there, Georgiana.” Elizabeth allowed the curtain to fall in place. “Would you tell me what you saw?” 

“A man—all in black—wearing an unusual hat—like those in the books from America.” Georgiana’s eyes widened. “Do you believe me?” 

Elizabeth tightened her hold on the girl. “Your brother thought what I saw yesterday was a bear, but what you just described is exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye. Except I could not make out the man’s face.” 

“Neither could I,” Georgiana whispered, although they were alone in the moving carriage. “What does it mean, Elizabeth?” The girl grabbed Elizabeth’s hand, holding on for dear life.

Elizabeth did not answer; she simply pulled the blanket over both of them. “We will tell Fitzwilliam. He will know what to do.” 

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Of Lace and Finery: Coded Language in Austen’s Novels, a Guest Post from Diana J Oaks

This post originally appeared on Austen Authors on July 26, 2021. Enjoy!

Jane Austen continues to astonish me. We turn again toward her use of clothing to inform her characters, this time focusing on the handful of references to lace and/or finery in her novels. Lace appears to be, in Austen-speak, a euphemism for empty-headed, trivial, vain, self-centered, and even vulgar. Perhaps this is due to the nature of lace; characterized by empty spaces and fragility in spite of the inherent beauty. In the context of the time period, machine-made lace was cheaper to produce than the time-consuming needlework or bobbin lace, rendering it an affordable luxury compared to the price of costly hand-made lace. Machine lace was the “cheap knock-off” of the Regency era. Connoisseurs of lace could detect the difference. Those who crafted it by hand even subtly changed the appearance so the machine lace didn’t replicate their work exactly. The sudden availability of affordable lace might also have influenced Austen’s use of this textile as a symbolic element in her characterizations.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet’s enthusiasm for Mr. Bingley is nearly matched by her enthusiasm for lace.

“Oh! my dear,” continued Mrs. Bennet, “I am quite delighted with him. He is so excessively handsome! and his sisters are charming women. I never in my life saw any thing more elegant than their dresses. I dare say the lace upon Mrs. Hurst’s gown — ”

Here she was interrupted again. Mr. Bennet protested against any description of finery.

Mr. Bennet’s complaint against such speech is contrasted by what we learn of Mr. Hurst in the next chapter: that he was a man of more fashion than fortune.

Another Austen character who is known for her displays of finery, is Mrs. Elton, in Emma. Austen devoted no less than three passages from three points of view illuminating how ridiculous Mrs. Elton made herself by her mode of dress. The first to express disdain is Emma herself:

“Insufferable woman!” was her immediate exclamation. “Worse than I had supposed. Absolutely insufferable! Knightley! I could not have believed it. Knightley! never seen him in her life before, and call him Knightley! and discover that he is a gentleman! A little upstart, vulgar being, with her Mr. E., and her caro sposo, and her resources, and all her airs of pert pretension and under-bred finery. Actually to discover that Mr. Knightley is a gentleman! I doubt whether he will return the compliment, and discover her to be a lady.

Our next observer is just that. While the narrator details the scene, the thoughts are attributed to Emma’s brother-in-law, John Knightley.

 The day came, the party were punctually assembled, and Mr. John Knightley seemed early to devote himself to the business of being agreeable. Instead of drawing his brother off to a window while they waited for dinner, he was talking to Miss Fairfax. Mrs. Elton, as elegant as lace and pearls could make her, he looked at in silence — wanting only to observe enough for Isabella’s information…

In our last example, we view Mrs. Elton through the lens of Miss Bates, who, like Mrs. Bennet, personifies a bit of the ridiculous herself. Unlike Emma and John Knightley who were unimpressed with Mrs. Elton’s show of finery, Miss Bates’s impoverished status lends a naivete to her exclamations of awe over Mrs. Elton’s lace.

Stop, stop, let us stand a little back, Mrs. Elton is going; dear Mrs. Elton, how elegant she looks! Beautiful lace! Now we all follow in her train. Quite the queen of the evening!

In perfect Austen style, she flips the viewpoint in the final paragraph of the novel, and it is through a lack of sufficient lace that Mrs. Elton perceives herself as better than Emma in an act of lace-lorn snobbery.

The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own. “Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business! Selina would stare when she heard of it.”

One more, and I will say, “point made” for this post. This is from Northanger Abbey. The thought forms in the mind of Mrs. Allen, so before we look at her thought, let’s find out how Austen has described her:

Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them. She had neither beauty, genius, accomplishment, nor manner. The air of a gentlewoman, a great deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and a trifling turn of mind were all that could account for her being the choice of a sensible, intelligent man like Mr. Allen. In one respect she was admirably fitted to introduce a young lady into public, being as fond of going everywhere and seeing everything herself as any young lady could be. Dress was her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our heroine’s entree into life could not take place till after three or four days had been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone was provided with a dress of the newest fashion.

And this is the lady, who, when she runs into a former acquaintance can only triumph at the superiority of her lace.

Mrs. Allen had no similar information to give, no similar triumphs to press on the unwilling and unbelieving ear of her friend, and was forced to sit and appear to listen to all these maternal effusions, consoling herself, however, with the discovery, which her keen eye soon made, that the lace on Mrs. Thorpe’s pelisse was not half so handsome as that on her own.

Had you made this connection in your reading or viewing of Austen adaptations? Can you think of any equivalencies in our day? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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The “British Aliens” in America During the War of 1812

While writing “Captain Stanwick’s Bride,” I spent a great deal of time researching personal papers, diaries, journals, and the like of people who lived during this second war between American and Great Britain. Many “Americans,” at the time, still claimed British citizenship, and, therefore, they were looked upon as the “enemy.” The year 2022 will be the 210th anniversary of that war.

One of the names which kept coming up during my research was that of Peter Curtenius. I mention Mr. Curtenius briefly in my tale, for during the War of 1812, he was the U.S. Marshal for the District of New York. He had been appointed to his position by Thomas Jefferson in 1806.

Much of Curtenis’s tenure involved overseeing British citizens living in New York. Curtenis left behind numerous letters between him and James Monroe, then with the Department of State. Monroe’s responses provided specific instructions on what Curtenis was to do about “British aliens.”

For example, in one of Peter Curtenius’s letters from Monroe, the future President of the United States, tells Curtenius to secure the nine British officers living in New York City, at the time, and see they were removed. “You are requested to order the officers to retire forthwith into the country, to such place, not less than forty miles distant from the city, as General Armstrong may designate. Should they refuse or decline to obey this order, you will take them into custody as prisoners of war. To the conduct of all other alien enemies, it is expected that you will pay a very strict attention.”

The idea of being an “alien” in the United States plays throughout much of my novel, for not only is Captain Myles Stanwick a recently “retired” British Army officer when he races across several states to reach Miss Beatrice Spurlock before the British launch an all-out attack against the Americans at Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, but the loyalty of Beatrice herself, who is a Powhatan Indian princess, and her father, a Scottish-born surgeon, who settled in America to be near the woman he loves, is also in question. Spurlock has been ordered to leave his thriving practice in Richmond, Virginia, and serve the American Army during the war. Like the British citizens under Curtenius’s care, the Spurlocks have few rights, no matter how long they have proved to be productive citizens of the United States. They are not even “naturalized” and are, therefore the enemy.

What did this “very strict attention” entail? As marshals, Curtenius and his successor, John Smith, were to keep record of the whereabouts of some 1500 British citizens living in New York, most of which lived in New York City itself. As long as the person had not applied for naturalization (no matter how many years they had been in the United States), they were required to report to the marshal.

“One British resident, a 58-year-old man who was a weaver by trade, had lived in the United States for 35 years when he reported to Curtenius in September 1812. These registers, located in the Peter Curtenius Papers and the New-York Historical Society’s other War of 1812 manuscript collections, are rich in sociological information, as they list the names of the British ‘aliens,’ their age, occupation, place of residence, length of time in the United States, their family/marital status, and whether they had applied for naturalization.”

Sources:

Aliens in America

The British View of the War of 1812

The Nation Braces for War

Two Wars for Independence

Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel

“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin

Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?

Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.

Kindle      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08W9GW1M8

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Posted in American History, book release, books, British history, Georgian England, Georgian Era, historical fiction, history, Living in the Regency, marriage, reading habits, real life tales, Regency era, Regency romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The “British Aliens” in America During the War of 1812

Reporting Scandals in the Regency Era

Of late, I have read several Regency era romances that speak of the most recent scandal being published in the newsprints of the day. One even made reference to an entire newspaper that was devoted to the latest on dit.

Okay, I do not pretend to be an expert. Journalism was one of my minors in school, and during my long teaching career, I was often called upon to teach the journalism classes. I do not recall ever reading of scandal sheets during the time period we call “the Regency era.” As we moved into the latter part of the Georgian era, meaning relatively, the reign of George IV, there were more “titillating” stories found in the news prints. I have been privileged to read digital copies of the Times, the Morning Post, and the Morning Chronicle during the Regency era. There was the occasional mention of so-and-so that might be considered as gossip, but nothing of the line of what I have come to see of late in a few of the newer Regency romances.

I did once come across an earlier copy of The Morning Post, cannot recall the date for it, but around 1800 that had a column some might consider to be a “gossip column,” but, in truth, I did not have that feeling when I first read it. 

The Morning Chronicle possessed a column about the doings of the royals and the fashionable sect. Mainly, it spoke of  who had arrived in Town and who had left, along with whom was entertaining with a dinner or a ball, etc. The Morning Herald supposedly was an early form of a “scandal sheet,” but I have never viewed a copy of that particular newspaper to determine if it were so or not.

 One source of written gossip was the detailed prints of the Criminal Conversation cases (Crim.con), meaning adultery, and the Parliamentary divorces that were reported along with other legal  news. However, I know of no true tabloid written during the time period. To the best of my knowledge, these stories of the public break up of a marriage and the naming of those involved were printed as pamphlets, but snippets of the tale were, upon occasion, included in the newspapers of the day. I suppose the importance of the persons involved played a role in that decision.

Caricatures were often displayed in print shop windows rather than printed, initially, in the newspapers. 

One must remember that there were hundreds of known newspapers, and, so, absolutes were impossible.  

There were scandals sheet in the earlier part of the 1700s; therefore, some may transfer those ideas to the Regency era. Those in London during the first part of the 18th Century would visit their favorite coffee house to read periodicals full of the latest scandals.

Zoe Archer at Unusual Historicals tells us: “Newspapers were a relatively recent phenomenon, and expensive. Not many could afford to have them delivered to their homes. To catch up on the latest gossip, men went to public coffee houses and gaming clubs, and women visited India Houses (tea shops with a considerable amount [number of] female customers), and there, over revivifying beverages, they could chat with friends and read about the scandalous events amongst London’s elite.

“Just like today, when we have a huge range of tabloids to choose from, the Londoner in search of scandal had a range of rags and broadsheets, including The Tatler [sic], The Flying PostThe British ApolloThe Observator, and The Female Tatler. Some were published for years. Others folded within weeks or months. The periodicals were themselves the subject of scandal, such as The Female Tatler, whose authorship by ‘Mrs. Crackenthorpe’ was debated, and, for a time, there were two Female Tatlers, each claiming to be real.”

We must not assume that the early 1800s were identical to the early 1700s. Anyone with a sense of the differences in the novels of the time can determine that the morals and the way they saw themselves in the world changed. The late 17th, early 18th century (1689–1750) in English literature is known as the Augustan Age. Writers at this time “greatly admired their Roman counterparts, imitated their works and frequently drew parallels between” contemporary world and the age of the Roman emperor Augustus (27 AD – BC 14). The Union of the Parliaments of Scotland and England in 1707 to form a single Kingdom of Great Britain and the creation of a joint state by the Acts of Union had little impact on the literature of England nor on national consciousness among English writers. The situation in Scotland was different: the desire to maintain a cultural identity while partaking of the advantages offered by the English literary market and English literary standard language led to what has been described as the “invention of British literature” by Scottish writers. English writers, if they considered Britain at all, tended to assume it was merely England writ large; Scottish writers were more clearly aware of the new state as a “cultural amalgam comprising more than just England”. [Crawford, Robert (1992). Devolving English Literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.]

Meanwhile, the Regency was influenced by the birth of Romanticism. We know Jane Austen, the most prominent author of the period, was highly influenced by the novels she read as a young woman. The sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility is a genre which developed during the second half of the 18th century. Novels of manners were also developed in this time period. An interest in ancient English poetic forms and folk poetry blossomed.

Wikipedia and the Norton Anthology of English Literature tells us: “Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. Various dates are given for the Romantic period in British literature, but here the publishing of Lyrical Ballads in 1798 is taken as the beginning, and the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1837 as its end, even though, for example, William Wordsworth lived until 1850 and William Blake published before 1798. The writers of this period, however, ‘did not think of themselves as ‘Romantics’, and the term was first used by critics of the Victorian period.

“The Romantic period was one of major social change in England, because of the depopulation of the countryside and the rapid development of overcrowded industrial cities, that took place in the period roughly between 1785 and 1830. The movement of so many people in England was the result of two forces: the Agricultural Revolution, that involved the enclosure of the land, drove workers off the land, and the Industrial Revolution which provided them employment ‘in the factories and mills, operated by machines driven by steam-power’. Indeed, Romanticism may be seen in part as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, though it was also a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, as well a reaction against the scientific rationalisation of nature. The French Revolution was an especially important influence on the political thinking of many of the Romantic poets.”

What I am saying about the Regency was the overall idea of “politeness” would keep a true scandal sheet from appearing. It was not the fact that the beau monde did not love repeating a scandal, but, rather, they preferred to “whisper” it than to “shout about” it. 

Entire newspapers devoted to gossip during the Regency period? From my reading of Roger Wilkes’ SCANDAL: A SCURRILOUS HISTORY OF GOSSIP, it seems newspapers focused only on reporting gossip and scandal did not begin to appear until the 1820s. The term “scandal sheet” did not come into the language until the 1890s. Pamphlets, yes. Columns in newspapers, yes. Broadsheets, yes, But entire newspapers, no.

Book Blurb: Newspaper and magazine gossip is a potent and sulphurous brew – much derided and much devoured – that long ago became part of the daily diet of millions. The raw ingredients are scandal, rumour, glamour and scurrility, and the best is shot through with (preferably illicit) sex, disclosure and danger. How and why has this happened, and where will this obsession lead us? “Scandal!” takes us from Regency London, where muck-raking scandal sheets were hawked in the streets, to the modern free-for-all where tabloid and internet gossip rule. From the madness of King George to the madness of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica, this book goes behind the scenes to look at the mechanisms that disseminate gossip and the power and influence that it continues to exert.

 

Posted in British history, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Industrial Revolution, Living in the Regency, reading habits, real life tales, Regency era, Regency romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lead Mining In Derbyshire, a Guest Post from Amanda Kai

This post originally appeared on the Austen Authors’ blog on 23 July 2021. Enjoy!

We often hear about Mr. Darcy’s fortune of “ten-thousand a year.”  But where did all that money come from?  In doing research for my current work in progress, I have been exploring what industries the Darcy family might have built their fortune from.  

While the Darcy family certainly owned plenty of land in Derbyshire and would have reaped a share of the profits from the tenant farmers that worked it, I began to wonder if their fortune might have also come from another major industry in Derbyshire: lead mining.

Magpie Lead mine near Sheldon in Derbyshire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magpie_Mine#/media/File:Magpie_Lead_Mine_near_Sheldon.jpg

Since the 1200s, and possibly even dating back to Roman times, the Derbyshire region has been home to some of the world’s oldest and most profitable lead mines. In the Regency era, lead was used for everything from roofs, to water storage and pipes to the glazing on windows (remember Rosings Park and its expensive glazing? Probably made of lead!). All of the ammunition used by the army and navy was made from lead as well, so you can see why it was one of the largest industries in the country.

Most of the mineral rights in Derbyshire belonged to the Crown under the Duchy of Lancaster, and the land was subject to a “free mining” arrangement.  

“Any man who could demonstrate to the barmaster that he had discovered a significant amount of ore was allowed to open a mine and retain the title to it as long as he continued to work it, and, secondly, mining took precedence over land ownership.” [1]

Land owners could not prevent miners from working mines on their land, as long as the mineral rights were part of this free-mining region controlled by the duchy. This allowed many poor families to prosper through lead mining and rise up into the middle classes. They paid royalties to the Crown for the minerals they mined, but were able to sell the rest at a profit. 

But not all the mineral rights were subject to the Crown and to this act. The Gell family had purchased Griffe Grange near Brassington from the Crown Commissioners during the time of Henry VIII, and they collected the dues for all the lead that was mined on their land, instead of it belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster..  Also, the Manners and the Cavendish families, two of the largest landowners in the county, held a claim over the mineral rights and ownership of the region known as the High Peak. While the Manners family employed labourers to work in their mines, the Cavendish families eventually adopted the same rules as the Gells and allowed free miners to work the land in exchange for dues.

Chatsworth House, home of the Cavendish Family https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatsworth_House#/media/File:Chatsworth_Bridge.jpg

You might recognize the name Cavendish.  It’s the same family that owns Chatsworth House near Bakewell, in Derbyshire.  Chatsworth is believed to be one of the great houses that Jane Austen took as her inspiration for Pemberley [2], and in fact, Chatsworth was used as the filming location for Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film. While Mr. Darcy may have a noble title like the head of the Cavendish family, who holds the title The Duke of Devonshire, when you consider the Cavendish family’s prominence in Derbyshire and their vast land ownership and mining rights, it’s not too big of a stretch to suppose that the Cavendish family might have influenced Jane’s creation of the Darcy family.

Lead mining could certainly have contributed to the Darcy family’s vast annual income if they owned the mineral rights to any ore-rich land in their holdings, whether the Darcy family would have allowed free miners to open mines on their land and pay dues like the Gell and Cavendish families, or whether they owned the mines themselves and employed miners like the Manners family.

So what do you think?  Could Mr. Darcy’s income have been augmented by lead mining?  What other industries do you suppose the Darcy family might have built their wealth from?  Leave me your thoughts in the comments!

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derbyshire_lead_mining_history
  2. https://www.liveforthehills.com/toursblog/chatsworth-house-a-real-life-pemberley

Media credits: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in Austen Authors, British history, estates, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Post, history, Industrial Revolution, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Home Office, a Government Agency During the Georgian Era

I often have the heroes of my Regency romances be associated with the Home Office. Each of the seven men in my “Realm” series served the Home Office, with Sir Carter Lowery, eventually, assuming one of the leadership roles in the agency. The three men in my “Twins” trilogy did the same. In fact, I even had Lord John Swenton and Sir Carter Lowery from the Realm make brief appearances in the last two books of the trilogy. My Christmas novella, “Last Woman Standing,” also has a hero involved with the Home Office, as does my upcoming novel Obsession.  

The Realm: A Touch of Scandal; A Touch of Velvet; A Touch of Cashémere; A Touch of Grace; A Touch of Mercy; A Touch of Love; A Touch of Honor; and A Touch of Emerald

The Twins’ Trilogy: Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep; The Earl Claims His Comfort; and Lady Chandler’s Sister.

Exactly, what were the responsibilities of the Home Office during the Regency Era? The Home secretary dealt with prisons, probation, courts, and public order. For example, one very important case of the era dealt with William Oliver, the plotter of a general insurrection after 1818, and known as “Oliver the Spy.” 

To Learn More of This Case, See This Piece on A Web of English History: 

http://www.historyhome.co.uk/c-eight/distress/oliver.htm

Obviously, first and foremost, it the government’s duty to keep its citizens safe and to assure the security of the country, as a whole. It also should see to the economic prosperity of the country. The Home Office has operated as such since 1782. It is a ministerial department of Her Majesty’s government. Nowadays, the Home Office also oversees immigration and visas and security services such as MI5, along with policing responsibilities in England and Wales, as well as fire and rescue services in England.

Wikipedia provides us a brief overview of the “history” of the Home Office in the Georgian Era. “On 27 March 1782, the Home Office was formed by renaming the existing Southern Department, [This Department was initially established in 1660. It had a variety of responsibilities, including domestic and Irish policy, colonial policy and foreign affairs concerning southern European powers such as France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and the Ottoman Empire.] with all existing staff transferring. On the same day, the Northern Department [The department was responsible for dealing with government business in the northern part of Europe. This included foreign affairs concerning such northern powers as Russia, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the Holy Roman Empire.] was renamed the Foreign Office. To match the new names, there was a transferring of responsibilities between the two Departments of State. All domestic responsibilities were moved to the Home Office, and all foreign matters became the concern of the Foreign Office.

“Most subsequently created domestic departments (excluding, for instance, those dealing with education) have been formed by splitting responsibilities away from the Home Office. The initial responsibilities [of the Home Office] were:

  • Answering petitions and addresses sent to the King
  • Advising the King on
    • Royal grants
    • Warrants and commissions
    • The exercise of Royal Prerogative
  • Issuing instructions on behalf of the King to officers of the Crown, lords-lieutenant and magistrates, mainly concerning law and order
  • Operation of the secret service within the UK
  • Protecting the public
  • Safeguarding the rights and liberties of individuals

“Responsibilities were subsequently changed over the years that followed:

  • 1793 added: regulation of aliens 
  • 1794 removed: control of military forces (to Secretary of State for War) 
  • 1801 removed: colonial business (to Secretary of State for War and the Colonies) 
  • 1804 removed: Barbary State consuls (to Secretary of State for War and the Colonies)[9]
  • 1823 added: prisons  
  • 1829 added: police services” 

The Home Office was part of the Palace at Whitehall. A book From Palace to Power: An Illustrated History of Whitehall  tells us the Home Office took over the Board of Trade premises in the old Tudor tennis court in 1782. This was an indoor tennis court—a big building by Dover House. The palace includes many buildings.”

This passage from Spartacus Educational provides us some idea of what the Home secretary did.

“In 1812, Lord Liverpool became prime minister, and he offered Sidmouth the post of Home Secretary in his new government. Viscount Sidmouth now had the responsibility of dealing with social unrest in Britain. This included making machine-breaking an offence punishable by death. On one day alone, fourteen Luddites  were executed in York. Social unrest continued and in 1817, Sidmouth was responsible for the passing of what became known as the Gagging Acts. The unpopularity of Sidmouth increased in 1819 after he wrote a letter supporting the action of the magistrates and the Manchester & Salford Yeomanry  at what opponents called the Peterloo Massacre. In November 1819, Sidmouth persuaded Parliament to pass a series of repressive measures that became known as the Six Acts.   Sidmouth retired from office in 1821.”

The National Archives provides us some information on the Home Office from the late 1700s to 2005. See the link HERE:  http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject/19th-century-political-history.htm#

Regan Walker has written a novel about some of the spying the Home Office engaged in. There were two under-secretaries and a chief clerk. Clerks, a law clerk, a private secretary who was Lord Sidmouth’s son, and minor workers. Sidmouth was paid  £6000 a year. His son received 300£.

The offices and more formal rooms have not been changed much since the Regency time period. They tended to be wooden floored, with formal wood paneling (wainscoting) half way up the wall and plaster coving at the top of the wall connecting to the ceiling. Some of the light fixtures were quite elaborate chandeliers, especially in the formal meeting rooms

That being said, no one now knows how the office looked then. The building has been renovated  over two centuries. In many ways, the office might have looked more like modern offices with open cubicles rather than having separate offices for all except those in power. The secretaries would have a large room with a place to meet distinguished visitors. The Foreign Secretary would have a place to meet foreign dignitaries. Secretaries were the head men, though the term used with private secretary was used as we do. The ones doing  clerical work were called clerks. They are the ones who might work in a large open room.

The Home Office was located in the Palace of Whitehall. The Palace of Whitehall gave its name to the street. Whitehall is the building. When I researched the Foreign Office a few years ago, I discovered it was housed in the Treasury Building during the Regency. 

The Royal Kalendar of 1815 says the Home Secretary was at Whitehall. It was a large building. The addresses given provide the street address if the building is not well known and there are a couple of addresses of places on Downing Street – with  numbers.

The palaces of Westminster and White hall were used as public offices They were multipurpose  buildings. 

Westminster was  the name of the city in which Mayfair was located. There is also Westminster Abbey. I need my Visitors Guide to London of 1809 or one of the Gentlemen’s guides to the government buildings to keep them straight.

Hierarchy of 1815 officers in Home Office:

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Home Secretary

Undersecretary: John Beckett, Esq. and the Honourable John Addington

Chief clerk

senior clerks

law clerk

Private secretary  W. L  Addington

Librarian

Addington’s sons would probably have people under them who did the work.

There was an Irish division with a chief secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, Robert Peel.

Here’s a free PDF on archive.org entitled The British Civil Service: Home, Colonial, Indian, and Diplomatic by Francis George Heath.   https://archive.org/details/britishcivilserv00heatrich if anyone else is curious. [Also, available on Amazon.]

There was a big push for reform of the Home Office starting in the 1830’s. One or two sources refer to Bathurst and Liverpool being more “government aristocracy” than part of the old landowning aristocracy. Henry Addington was Sidmouth, head of the Home Office, two of his sons worked under him. Like the Bathurst family, much of their income came from the government positions. This was before the British form of civil service was established and patronage and nepotism were acceptable.

You might also find this Google Book of use: Calendar of Home office papers of the reign of George iii. 1760-(1775) preserved in her majesty’s Public record office. Ed. by J. Redington (R.A. Roberts).

Posted in British history, buildings and structures, George IV, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Living in the Regency, political stance, real life tales, Realm series, Regency era, Regency personalities, research, trilogy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Early History of the Oxford English Dictionary

Several times per week, I am looking at the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) for word origins or synonyms or a variety of other searches. Yet, until recently, I had not thought much about this fabulous resource’s beginnings.

It took from 1857 when members of the Philosophical Society of London called for a more “complete” dictionary of the English language to 1879, when an agreement with the Oxford University Press was agreed upon, to begin work on a New English Dictionary, as it was to be called at the time. One of the key people who initiated the idea of such a dictionary was one Frederick Furnivall, a founder of the Early English Text Society, and one of the originators of the concept for and assistance in the preparation of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, now the Oxford English Dictionary. Furnivall called the dictionary a “National Gallery of the race of English words.” Furnivall estimated it would take four years to complete. The first edition did not arrive until 1928.

James A. H. Murray was another of those whose vision created what we now know as the OED. “His membership in the British Philological Society and his book on Scottish dialects, published in 1868, allowed him to make many important scholarly contacts. In 1879 he was invited by Oxford University Press to edit the new English dictionary which had been proposed by the Philological Society. Despite some initial disagreements between Murray and the Press over editorial guidelines, Murray agreed to begin formal work on the project soon afterwards.

“Working in a specially constructed workroom called the ‘Scriptorium’, in which were kept two tons of source quotations that the Philological Society had collected, Murray proceeded with the project. Finding some errors and oversights in the Society’s materials, he established a ‘reading programme’, through which he gathered more quotations for the Dictionary. A reading programme similar to Murray’s is still used today as a principal method of assembling material for revising the Dictionary.” [Dictionary Directors]

The second editor of the OED was one Henry Bradley, a lexicographer and philologist. He was very much self-educated in philosophy, European and classical languages, and even Hebrew. He was known to write book reviews to assist in supporting his family. His review of the first part of the New English Dictionary had Murray consulting Bradley on etymological issues.

Henry Bradley

“In 1886, Bradley was employed by the Delegates of Oxford University Press to assist with the letter B, and in January 1888 he was appointed as the Dictionary’s second editor…. Bradley’s forty years’ work on the Dictionary encompassed the letters E-GL-MS-Sh (a section which included the longest entry ‘set’), St, and part of W.”

Other editors may be found HERE.

The Oxford English Dictionary contains over 600,000 English words and more than 2.5 million quotes to support the words. As one might expect, William Shakespeare is the most “quotable” contributor. The dictionary is constantly being updated.

If one is interested, I might suggest “The Marking of the Oxford English Dictionary” by Peter Gilliver. This is Amazon’s description of the book: “This book tells the history of the Oxford English Dictionary from its beginnings in the middle of the nineteenth century to the present. The author, uniquely among historians of the OED, is also a practising lexicographer with nearly thirty years’ experience of working on the Dictionary. He
has drawn on a wide range of sources–including previously unexamined archival material and eyewitness testimony–to create a detailed history of the project. The book explores the cultural background from which the idea of a comprehensive historical dictionary of English emerged, the lengthy struggles to bring this concept to fruition, and the development of the book from the appearance of the first printed fascicle in 1884 to the launching of the Dictionary as an online database in 2000 and beyond. It also examines the evolution of the lexicographers’ working methods, and provides much
information about the people–many of them remarkable individuals–who have contributed to the project over the last century and a half.”

Warning: The complete set is very pricey; yet, if one deals with words constantly, it might be worth the investment.

Posted in British history, word origins, word play | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Early History of the Oxford English Dictionary

“Happy Birthday” is Not a Regency Thing, but It is Mine

This week I marked another birthday. I am very much my astrological sign of VIRGO.

Horoscope.com tells us these Virgo Facts

Smart, sophisticated, and kind, Virgo gets the job done without complaining. Virgos are amazing friends, always there to lend a hand and also lend advice. Practical Virgos are incredibly adept at big picture thinking, and planning out their life, their vacations, and what they’re going to do today isn’t a drag it makes them feel in control and secure.

Virgos have a rich inner life and can sometimes seem shy at first meeting. A Virgo will not spill secrets right away, and it is important to earn a Virgo’s trust. But once you do, that Virgo will be a friend for life. 

Virgos expect perfection from themselves, and they may project those high standards on the other people in their lives. A Virgo hates when someone lets him or her down, even if the indiscretion is minor and unavoidable, like a last-minute cancellation. Virgos never want to disappoint the people in their lives, so they may spread themselves too thin and put themselves last.

Intelligent and a lifelong learner, Virgos loves trying new things, reading books, and learning about the world. They will happily sign up for an adult-education course, and they consider an afternoon in bed with a book pretty much ideal. A Virgo prefers an evening with good friends to a huge party and values downtime just as much as socializing. This sign does not need to fill their calendar to be content.

All this talk of birthdays got me thinking about the lack of birthday celebrations in Austen’s novels. It is quite disheartening to have others forget one’s birthday, but it was not so for Jane Austen and her family. We know Christmas had not the “glorious significance” as it does these days, but what of birthdays? Quite simply, as Anglicans, such humoring of a person, would have been frowned upon.

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Can you think of one person in Austen’s books who even mentions a birthday? The only one which springs to mind to me is Harriet Smith in Emma. Harriet speaks of hers and Robert Martin’s birthdays occurring within a fortnight, and those birthdays were separated only by one day.

As readers we know many of the characters’ ages. Lydia Bennet is but fifteen when we first meet her, but she is sixteen when she marries George Wickham. Marianne Dashwood is seventeen at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility and is nineteen when she marries Colonel Brandon. Fanny Price is a child when she first comes to Mansfield Park; yet, never once are her birthdays mentioned as a passing of time. Jane Fairfax is approaching one and twenty and the prospect of becoming a governess. Charlotte Lucas at seven and twenty has “become a burden to her family.” Elizabeth Elliot is nearly thirty and not married, and Anne Elliot is seven and twenty when Captain Wentworth returns to claim her. Catherine Morland turns eighteen just before Henry Tilney claims her as his wife. Even Elizabeth Bennet must have had a birthday somewhere in the year she had taken Mr. Darcy’s acquaintance. But when? There is no mention of her chronological aging, only her emotional aging. The closest we come to knowing something of Elizabeth’s age is when she admits to being twenty to Lady Catherine. But we do not know if she was nineteen when the book began and turned twenty some time between November when she dance with Mr. Darcy at the Netherfield Ball, or whether, like me, she is a September baby, turning one and twenty after she encounters Darcy again at Pemberley. Is such true for all of Austen’s characters? Austen wrote from her life experiences. If she did not “celebrate” such milestones, why would her characters? Tell me what you think. Am I being bizarre or is there some truth in this assumption?

Birthdays don’t play a prominent role in Austen’s novels, but they do in her few surviving letters. I like that because it shows a wonderful emotional connectedness to her family and to the life going on around her. 

We all know her sister Cassandra destroyed the vast majority of Austen’s letters, but a few survived – letters to nieces and other family members. In these, she displays her incomparable wit – even writing one backwards – and a true interest in everyone’s life. And she talks about birthdays – royal birthdays, neighbor birthdays, family birthdays and even dates one letter “Chawton, Sunday, June 23rd, Uncle Charles’s birthday.”

Strictly Jane Austen tells us, “Austen’s correspondence with her sister offers some insight into how birthdays were noted and celebrated by families from the gentry. In a letter from Steventon, dated January 8 1799, she writes, ” I wish you joy of your birthday twenty times over.”  Much later, regarding her own birthday, she wrote: “My dearest Cassandra, I will keep this celebrated birthday by writing to you.”  This letter then details a drive with her brother Edward, assemblies and other amusements, but not an official birthday celebration.

“For most families in Georgian times, birthday celebrations were unsurprisingly rather less lavish, especially in comparison to modern times. Yet a young boy from a wealthy family in Regency Britain would often have his fifth birthday marked with a ‘breeching ceremony’; this was a grand occasion with relatives visiting to bestow gifts. For girls, their sixteenth birthday was considered the day they reached marriageable age and they were often given gifts such as fine jewellery, a trinket box, an enamel fan or fabric for a new gown in recognition of their social debut.”  [How Did the Georgians Celebrate Birthdays]

Meanwhile, enjoy this list of September birthdays celebrated by some of our favorite Austen Actors. 


Happy September Birthday to these Fabulous Austen-Inspired Actors…

 September 1 – Aisling Loftus, who portrayed Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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September 7 – Christopher Villers, who portrayed Tom Bertram in 1983 Mansfield Park

September 7 – Henry Maguire, who portrayed Jack Wickam in 2003’s Pride and Prejudice: A Latter Day Comedy

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September 9 – Hugh Grant, who portrayed Edward Ferrars in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility

September 9 – Julia Sawalha, who portrayed Lydia Bennet in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice

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September 10 – Colin Firth, who portrayed Fitzwilliam Darcy in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice 

September 11 – Alan Badel, who portrayed Fitzwilliam Darcy in 1958’s Pride and Prejudice (11 September 1923 to 19 March 1982)

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September 15 – Sabina Franklyn, who portrayed Jane Bennet in 1980’s Pride and Prejudice 

September 16 – Alexis Bledel, who portrayed Georgiana Darcy in Bride and Prejudice

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September 19 – David Bamber, who portrayed Mr. Collins in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice 

September 22 – Billie Piper, who portrayed Fanny Price in 2007’s Mansfield Park

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September 22 – Rupert Penry Jones, who portrayed Captain Frederick Wentworth in 2007’s Persuasion

September 23 – Crispin Bonham Carter, who portrayed Charles Bingley in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice

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September 23 – Peter Settelen, who portrayed George Wickham
in 1980’s Pride and Prejudice 

September 24 – Ryan Paevey, who portrayed Donovan Darcy in Unleashing Mr. Darcy, as well as Marrying Mr. Darcy

 September 26 – Talulah Riley, who portrayed Mary Bennet in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice

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September 26 – Edmund Gwenn, who portrayed Mr. Bennet in 1940’s Pride and Prejudice (26 September 1877 to 6 September 1959)

September 27 – Gweyneth Paltrow, who portrayed Emma Woodhouse in 1996’s film version of Emma

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September 29 – Greer Garson, who portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in 1940’s Pride and Prejudice (29 September 1904 to 6 April 1996)

Posted in Austen actors, Austen Authors, birthdays, British history, Georgian England, Georgian Era | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments