Mr. and Mrs. Darcy have an exceedingly passionate marriage in this continuing saga of one of the most exciting, intriguing couples in the Jane Austen Literature.
As the Darcy's raise their babies, enjoy their conjugal felicity and manage the great estate of Pemberley, the beloved characters from Jane Austen's original are joined by Linda Berdoll's imaginative new creations for a compelling, sexy and epic story guaranteed to keep you turning the pages and gasping with delight.
What people are saying about Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife, the bestselling Pride and Prejudice sequel.
"A breezy, satisfying romance." —Chicago Tribune
"While there have been other Pride and Prejudice sequels, this one, with its rich character development, has been the most enjoyable." —Library Journal
"Wild, bawdy and utterly enjoyable sequel." —Booklist
About the Author
Researching her bestselling novels Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and Darcy & Elizabeth, author Linda Berdoll was surprised and delighted by the euphemisms she turned up--most of them of an insulting nature. Berdoll compiled them here to entertain and enlighten. She lives on a pecan farm in Del Valle, Texas, with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
Darcy & Elizabeth
Night and Day at Pemberley
By LINDA BERDOLL
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Linda Berdoll
All rights reserved.
New Pleasures Proved
To all the world, the month of June in the Year of Our Lord 1815 would come to be known as the season of Waterloo. To the members of the Darcy household, it would be called that, but not remembered as such. Far too many other events of greater personal importance to them had transpired to remember it so simply.
Although France was the conquered, England paid a harsh price for its victory. The county of Derbyshire was not immune to that heavy toll. So vast were the repercussions, they were felt even within the usually impenetrable walls of Pemberley. Lives were lost, marriages brought about, and babies born all in the space of a few months.
Having weathered these many woes within the bosom of her very own family, Elizabeth Darcy felt exquisitely compensated by the two babes nestled in her arms. Indeed, that her husband had survived war, quarantine, brigands, and pestilence and returned to her whole was all she desired. What wiles he employed and whose auspices he availed himself of as he trekked through the battlefields and drawing-rooms of France to accomplish his mission of rescuing his sister was of no importance to her. Of even less concern was that the emissary he chose to send word to her of his progress was a woman with whom he had once shared uncommon intimacy. Indeed, when at last he had returned to his wife's waiting arms, all question of his connection with that beautiful woman was forgot. At least at first, but not for long.
Of even less importance was whether George Wickham was actually dead and buried or gallivanting about the Continent.
Whilst Wickham's fate remained unknown, there were other vexations. What with Mrs. Darcy labouring to withstand a growing curiosity (approaching to eclipse the Alps in dimension) as to just what went on between her husband and his fetching French emissary, and Mr. Darcy labouring with equal vigour to withstand a desire for his nursing wife aroused to a similar degree, a dance of uncommon peculiarity commenced.
It extended well into the next year.CHAPTER 2
Mr. Darcy's Dilemma
In the year '15, Fitzwilliam Darcy was five years more than thirty. Yet, save for a smattering of grey begging to invade his side-whiskers, neither his figure nor his bearing had been influenced unfavourably by time or its toll. He was still a tall, handsome-featured man of good leg. However, his impressive aspect had recently begun to be worried by a single fault.
The imposing manner he had struggled with such resolve to vanquish in order to win Elizabeth Bennet's hand had resurfaced with a vengeance. Indeed, never was a chin more imperious, the turn of a countenance more proud. It was as if he once again stood, with all arrogance and disdain, at that country ball in Meryton absolutely refusing to dance. Granted, this supercilious turn was little noticed by those outside his immediate circle. He had always been reticent, but while he had once used a shield of arrogance to defend his social discomfort, this was an unease of a different sort.
On a fine day in autumn, decorum forced Mr. Darcy to engage in polite discourse with a gathering of neighbours. As was his habit, he stood transfixed as if a fastidiously tailored statue, with both hands in graceful repose behind an extraordinarily straight back. As Master of Pemberley Hall and a generous portion of Derbyshire County, his lack of a title was rendered irrelevant to those who kept account of such matters. His attitude rarely altered upon these public occasions. He presented himself by resting his weight on one foot, the other slightly foremost. Although in this posture his highly polished boots were seen to great advantage, it was not an air — it was a statement of eminence.
The statement of societal eminence was overt, but with this stance came an additional announcement — one quite explicit. For from those tall boot-tops up-welled a pair of legs bearing the unmistakable muscularity particular to one who devoted a good many hours to riding his horse. Moreover, his fashionable moleskin breeches bore an unambiguous bulge which did not originate (unlike those of many fashionable young bloods) from a carefully wadded shirt-tail. Given all that and the casual grace with which Mr. Darcy moved, there could be absolutely no supposition that concurrent to holding the offices of wealth and leisure was Mr. Darcy any part of a fop.
The only visible evidence of the horrors he had encountered upon his bold excursion to rescue his sister the summer past were those silver threads infiltrating his side-whiskers. (Behind the backs of hands, a few cynics suggested that embarking upon such a venture alone rather than sending his men was proof that Mr. Darcy was simply barking mad.) But it was of little importance to him that his actions were believed to be in any way heroic. Indeed, he would have cared not at all had he heard the twittering, but as it was, Mr. Darcy's ears heard little. They were recovering yet from a near-miss by a blunderbuss. As a man whose fortune was exceeded only by his pride, this loss of hearing was a closely guarded confidence.
Herein, providence did bestow some fortune. This, because for the whole of his life Mr. Darcy had been understood to regard idle conversation with undue wariness. When forced to converse, he often did so in monosyllables. It was said that he would but utter a word when he could not safely escape with a nod. A nod, offered with a soupçon of cunning, said volumes — particularly when one heard little of the conversation.
Waterloo and its aftermath still hung heavily in the thoughts of the entire population of the land. In the months thereafter, little else occupied general discourse. Indeed, although absolute facts were spare, gossip was rampant surrounding Mr. Darcy's mysterious pursuit across the Channel particularly, and his family's activities in general, during those months.
All of this prattle was not unbeknownst to Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. That was the true impetus for them to endure society's demands to see and be seen in the difficult months that followed Darcy's return. They knew it was mandatory not to surrender to the urge to close ranks. The death of Elizabeth's father granted them at least a year's reprieve, but they dared not take it. That would have been a capitulation. In their absence from society every rumour that abounded would have been repeated and exaggerated. The trip from scuttlebutt to outright scandal was but a short leap. With every fibre of their beings Mr. and Mrs. Darcy abhorred this pretence of normalcy, but defence of the Darcy name demanded it. With all that, upon the occasion of such a gathering as the one they hosted that day, it was not in any way regarded as a party.
Regardless of the occasion, it was Darcy's habit to claim a place upon his lawn overlooking a particularly pretty prospect. It was only one of the many in his rather estimable estate, but it served a specific duty. Darcy was only able to tolerate the toadying by looking beyond the genuflection of kith and kin and taking in the view. The neighbours, who competed for audience before him exhibiting an adequate level of sycophancy believed compulsory towards a man of his station, were menfolk. Mrs. Darcy kept the ladies at bay with the proffering of ices and exhibiting the considerable charms of their younglings beneath the vine-covered loggia that adorned Pemberley's east wing. From amidst the male enclave came the predictable masculine talk — crops, politics, and the weather. Although there was an abundance of discord to explore upon all these topics, it was Sunday afternoon, and this assemblage dared not offend the Sabbath with less than geniality. And Darcy, with inherent magnanimity, endeavoured to bid consideration to all, but favour to none. He bowed with such grace and nodded with such sufficiently aloof benevolence — precisely as he would had he heard every word — not a soul suspected anything amiss.
Yet another sense beyond the auditory Darcy protected by claiming that view. He protected his sight as well. For thus engaged, he kept his gaze from alighting upon his beloved wife. The very sight of her had always soothed not only his manners, but his soul. Of late, that device had been little employed. He was quite unaware that this failure allowed his guests to note that his temper was far less amenable since his return. And that fanned further speculation. Although it would have been a great disappointment to the scandal-mongers, his appearance of being somewhat out of spirits was nothing as dramatic as having "been to the wars."
It was quite true; in company he was often out of temper of late. However life-altering the throes of war had been, those memories did not ignite his pique. It sprung from a far less noble origin — the one ruled not by his heart, but a place a bit south and, for men at least, an often more influential region — his aching loins.
Hence, as the gentlemen of Derbyshire bobbed and weaved in deference to him as only free-born Englishmen could, little did they suppose that beneath that wall of hauteur, their dignified host struggled to kennel a most undignified hunger.CHAPTER 3
Intrusion into the Master's Bedchamber
In the year '15, life was forever altered in the Darcy household — and not just within the hallowed halls that traversed Pemberley's two-hundred-odd rooms. Much to the master's qualified displeasure, an alteration also bechanced the master's bedchamber.
From the beginning of their life together, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy defied convention and took their sleep together. The master's bedchamber and the mistress's bedchamber had always been one and the same. Hence, when it came time to receive her newborns, Elizabeth believed it only fitting that she do so in the same bed in which they had been conceived. Although that decision was made in his absence, initially Mr. Darcy saw no reason for alarm. As time wore on and his sleep was disturbed and his nerves a bit frayed, he still held firm to that judgement. If it was a choice between Mrs. Darcy and two little ones in his bed or no Mrs. Darcy in his bed at all, he saw little to argue. Hence, it was without audible complaint that he withstood the continued intrusion of two red-faced, interminably squalling infants as they took his rightful place in his adored wife's embrace.
There were other issues of propriety, however. Initially, Darcy thought it only proper to withdraw when the babies were brought to Elizabeth to nurse.
"I shall trespass no longer upon your privacy," he said stiffly.
But he had been away for so very long, she was loath to allow him leave her side at all.
"My privacy is yours as well, sir," she tartly reminded him, then gently, "Please stay. We have been so very long apart, I long for your company. Furthermore, if you excuse yourself from me when I am in this attitude — I am so often thus — ere long I shall not know your face."
Jane Bingley had been devoted to her sister's convalescence, but anticipated the intimate turn of their conversation and had betaken herself to find occupation in another room. As for Darcy, every consolation to his wife was his ambition. Even so, he found it oddly unnerving to share the same room with his wife's undraped breast in the company of others — even if only her maid Hannah and the wet-nurse Mrs. Littlepage. He chastised himself for entertaining such petty qualms. To be disordered by one's lessers was insupportable — a failing to overcome. He had gained forbearance of Elizabeth's maid's bustling about over the years. Thereby he lectured himself that a nurse was no different and set about ignoring her presence as well. Decorum was still a sizable consideration to him, but for some time it had been set aside in favour of pleasing Elizabeth. Hence, however reluctantly, he did as she bid and did not take his leave.
Although confessed to no further disconcertion, his posture whilst Elizabeth nursed was quite formal. Indeed, it replicated the stance that he took upon more formal occasions — weight balanced on one foot, his hands carefully clasped behind him. Even after many days of witnessing of these feeding rituals, he stood with such rigidity that his wife grew impatient with such a display of reserve — he had certainly had time to acclimate himself to the doings. She believed her motherly duties to be no less than a communion — one that should be cherished by them both. Other husbands might eschew such an intimacy, but not hers. She knew better of his nature. He had no need of defending his manhood from what might be accused of being a purely womanly pursuit. What was important to her was important in equal measure to him. Their long separation and lately arrived parenthood could not have altered that. She would not allow it.
"Pray, come to me," she bid, holding out her hand.
He took a step in her direction but again reclaimed the same formal posture and undertook maintaining it with unflinching diligence.
"Nearer, please," she insisted.
He dutifully shuffled his feet a bit, but he moved not an inch nearer. If she hoped for conversation, she was to be disappointed there as well for he spoke not a word until their son was at last sated. Thereupon he issued a small exclamation of approval.
"Ah," said he.
He was clearly of a mind that was the extent of his duty as a doting father, for thereupon a complacent smile overspread his countenance.
From her place propped up amongst the pillows, Elizabeth looked not half so happy. She wiped Geoffrey Darcy's tiny chin and then handed him off to Mrs. Littlepage. Nurse carried him across the room and placed him in an ornately carved oversized cradle. The cradle was an object that Elizabeth held in particular regard. It had been in disgraceful disrepair when she had rescued it from the farthest reaches of Pemberley's attic rooms, but it had cleaned up nicely. There had been a different, but equally beautiful cradle crafted for her first confinement. It had disappeared after that stillbirth — she had never asked, but only supposed that her husband had it put away. When she began to feel movement with this pregnancy, she knew that preparations for a new arrival were imperative. She had inquired of Mrs. Reynolds of that cradle's whereabouts, but the old woman shook her head.
"Nay. It's done and gone, it is," she said. "Mr. Darcy himself took an axe to it — had it used as kindling, he did. He said he wanted nothing left of it."
It had been such a sorrowful time for her, Elizabeth had not fully realised the toll it must have taken on Darcy as well. The thought of what anguish must have driven him to split to pieces that tangible reminder of their loss with his very own hands grieved Elizabeth to the quick. Indeed, so distressed was she, Elizabeth turned away to reclaim her countenance. When Mrs. Reynolds observed her mistress's countenance troubled by her disclosure, she did not regret that she spoke the truth, only the wound that the truth caused. She had within her means, however, a salve. She snapped her fingers when it came to her.
"This way, m'lady," she said over her shoulder, for she was already scurrying up the corridor.
Elizabeth had to rest on the third set of stairs, propping her arms on her blossoming stomach. Mrs. Reynolds stopt as well, allowing Elizabeth to catch her breath and ascertain that what lay before them was, indeed, worth the bother.
"'Tis! 'Tis!" Mrs. Reynolds assured her.
At last they found the room that was a virtual treasure trove of infant paraphernalia. Mrs. Reynolds picked her way through the melange to where a cradle stood beneath a dusty muslin cloth. She pulled the cloth from the cradle with a flourish so grand that Elizabeth could not actually see the cradle until the dust had settled. When it had, she was unequivocally delighted. The cradle had once been white and only a trace of gold leaf remained, but still quite evident on the headboard was the Darcy crest. Elizabeth couldn't imagine why Darcy had not offered this one for their own use before. But then, she supposed, if they had, it would now have been kindling. Mrs. Reynolds tsked at its condition, but Elizabeth saw its potential. Indeed, she oversaw its reconditioning herself — busy work she made for herself in the long, dark days of Darcy's away.
Excerpted from Darcy & Elizabeth by LINDA BERDOLL. Copyright © 2006 Linda Berdoll. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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Table of ContentsChapter 1. New Pleasures Proved
Chapter 2. Mr. Darcy's Dilemma
Chapter 3. Intrusion into the Master's Bed-Chamber
Chapter 4. The Master of Pemberley Is Displeased
Chapter 5. Seduction of the Willing
Chapter 6. What Lengths Love Knows
Chapter 7. Connubial Contemplation
Chapter 8. Denial and Dedication
Chapter 9. Mr. Darcy Loves Miss Bennet
Chapter 10. Lady Catherine's Story
Chapter 11. A Horse of a Different Colour
Chapter 12. The Private Struggle of Mr. Darcy
Chapter 13. Demise and Consent
Chapter 14. Mrs. Darcy Is Recovering
Chapter 15. Lady Catherine's Pique
Chapter 16. The History of a Row
Chapter 17. Nuptials to Plan
Chapter 18. Geogiana
Chapter 19. Mercy Twice Blessed
Chapter 20. Enough is Enough
Chapter 21. The Inquiring Mind of Mrs. Darcy
Chapter 22. Wickham, Alive and on Queer Street Once Again
Chapter 23. What Ails Miss de Bourgh
Chapter 24. Bingley's Betrayal
Chapter 25. The Hapless History of Lady Anne
Chapter 26. The Pangs of Love Run Deep
Chapter 27. The Road to Restoration
Chapter 28. Bliss Restored
Chapter 29. Lydia Scandalises Once Again
Chapter 30. Wickham's Waterloo
Chapter 31. Love Has Its Fashion
Chapter 32. Waif
Chapter 33. The Weir
Chapter 34. Wedding at Pemberley
Chapter 35. Hoodwinked But Not Hornswoggled
Chapter 36. The Road to Perdition Is Paved with Feathers
Chapter 37. Love Stings for Jane
Chapter 38. Small Worries Loom Large
Chapter 39. Basking in Love's Tepid Arms
Chapter 40. HarshStreets
Chapter 41. Affaire d'Amour
Chapter 42. The Col. Fitzwilliams Meet Lord Beecher
Chapter 43. Bath
Chapter 44. Life As It Is
Chapter 45. Daisy Mulroney
Chapter 46. To Bathe or Not to Bathe
Chapter 47. A Blow to the Unused Heart
Chapter 48. Mrs. Darcy's Horse
Chapter 49. The Pleasure of His Company
Chapter 50. How Low is Bottom?
Chapter 51. For the Love of London
Chapter 52. The Spoils of War
Chapter 53. The All-Knowing Mother
Chapter 54. Death Is a Fair-Weathered Friend
Chapter 55. The Indecisive Confinement of Mrs. Col. Fitzwilliam
Chapter 56. Re-acquantance
Chapter 57. Lydia Takes on As Maid a Character Familiar to Our Story
Chapter 58. Brighton Charms
Chapter 59. Quittance
Chapter 60. Lady Millhouse Interjects
Chapter 61. A Season Ignored
Chapter 62. Mrs. Darcy's Duty
Chapter 63. Momentous Event at Rosings
Chapter 64. One Husband--Must Wear Regimentals and Have and Open Mind
Chapter 65. The Painting
Chapter 66. Sally Frances, One Step Closer to Truth
Chapter 67. Old Dogs, Old Tricks
Chapter 68. Happiness Is Two Warm Puppies
Chapter 69. Mrs. Bennet Rides Again
Chapter 70. Goddess of Discord, Goddess of the Hunt
Chapter 71. Footsteps Retracted
Chapter 72. What the Gods Have in Store
Chapter 73. Headlong Passions
Chapter 74. Love's Labours
Chapter 75. The Gathering
Chapter 76. The Proposition
Chapter 77. Sweet Sorrow
Chapter 78. Clandestine Tete-a-tete
Chapter 79. The Vicar's Widow
Chapter 80. Motherless Child
Chapter 81. The Talent of the Dead
Chapter 82. The Cunning and the Taken
Chapter 83. While the Cat's Away
Chapter 84. How Far the Fall
Chapter 85. Fortune Favours the Fools
Chapter 86. Irony's Sting
Chapter 87. Angels Avenge
Chapter 88. The Divine Duel
Chapter 89. A Turn or Two
Chapter 90. The Piper's Wages
Chapter 91. Bonjour, Juliette
Chapter 92. Wherefore, Mr. Darcy
Chapter 93. Second Verse, Not as the First
Chapter 94. Near Miss
Chapter 95. Two Times Crossed, Once Found
Chapter 96. What the Cobbles Know
Chapter 97. Designs Most Fowl
Chapter 98. The Convalescence
Chapter 99. The Wicked and the Just
Chapter 100. What Went Before
Chapter 101. A Rescue of Sorts
Chapter 102. The Sweetest Thing
Chapter 103. Homeward