Who is this Mr. Darcy and what are his intentions?
Like much of Meryton, the Bennets of Longbourn anticipate the arrival of Mr. Bingley and his friends to Netherfield, yet an unexpected visitor is not a part of Mr. Bingley's or Mr. Darcy's plans. While the two gentlemen attempt to control their uninvited guest, Elizabeth Bennet arrives to tend to her ill sister. An overheard conversation, the intriguing behaviour of Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bingley's cloying manner all fascinate her, but manage to throw her emotions into turmoil as well.
As Elizabeth becomes better acquainted with Mr. Darcy, his world unfolds and, if possible, it is more complicated than the man himself! Mysterious strangers and seducers lurk in the shadows--enough to threaten anyone's equanimity. Elizabeth's courage will be tested as she not only struggles to discover her own heart, but also why danger seems to surround Mr. Darcy.
Hmm, sounds intriguing! I wonder who the visitor could be? This one is certainly on my TBR.
I am going to hand over to L L Diamond for her to share a vignette with us relating to Mr Bennet and Lydia
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Thanks so much for having me, Ceri! If anyone has been following my blog posts lately, I wrote a series of vignettes that take place during the Netherfield ball and posted them between Austen Variations and my blog. For the post here, I have a scene from Mr. Bennet and Lydia that occurs after the ball. Mr. Bennet said in the first post he would have to purchase Lydia some more modest dresses, and now we get to see what happened with that. I hope you enjoy it!
In the event anyone missed them and wants to read Lydia’s experience at the ball, they can be found at austenvariations.com and lldiamondwrites.com - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
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“I want Mama!” Lydia wailed as she dropped in a heap of muslin on the carriage seat.
He knocked his walking stick upon the roof of the equipage. “Your mother has taken to her bed over the gossip in the paper Mr. Darcy brought from London, so she is not at liberty to accompany you. Besides, I made it quite clear I would take you to purchase a new gown or two.” Did she not understand the torture this was for him? No man would willingly go to the modiste or seamstress, yet here he sat. And Lydia thought her lot was unfair!
“You had Mrs. Hill put this ugly panel in this gown.”
“That and your ball gown were the only pieces you owned that were not too small, though they were cut too low. I had Mrs. Hill ensure that particular one was made decent.”
“It makes it hideous! She even removed the lace!” Her hands dropped with a thud to her sides. “Any fashion plate you choose will be dull and plain!” Lydia pointed to a package at his side. “I will not use that fabric! You will purchase material of my choosing!”
He levelled a hard stare in her direction. Not that she was looking. “No, Lydia. You will not.”
Thank goodness Jane knew of several parcels of muslin the Gardiners had sent as gifts, but his wife had never used. At least this little expedition would not be as costly as it could be!
Lydia decided immediately without even laying eyes upon the contents of the brown paper that it must have been something ghastly if her mother had never seen fit to put it to use.
“You were damned fortunate no one noticed your exit from the ball or your interlude in the trees. If such information came to light, you would be in a dire position. I would be forced to choose between saving your sisters by banishing you somewhere, marrying you to some reprobate, or ruining our entire family.”
She huffed and crossed her arms back across her chest. “If you would leave me be, I would be the first of my sisters to marry.”
“No man weds a woman so free with her favours. You are also too young to be a wife—who would desire marriage to a child.”
Her mouth opened wide as she gasped. “I am no child!”
“Yes, you are indeed. ‘Tis my fault as much as your mother’s, but if I can, I will remedy the situation. I have sent out inquiries this morning for a governess to come to Longbourn and take charge of you as I have business and cannot give you the supervision you require.”
“If I have to put up with a governess, so should Kitty!”
“Kitty has not fought my correction and did not attempt to make a spectacle of herself at the ball. Should she wish to learn from the governess, I shall not deprive her of an opportunity to better herself.”
The carriage began to slow, and a glance out the window confirmed they were approaching the house of the local seamstress. “You will behave. Do you understand?” Lydia lifted her chin. Well, he was not going to fight her for a verbal response.
When the door opened, he stepped down and held out a hand for her to exit. She stomped down and stood at his side with her bottom lip in a decisive pout.
The door of the cottage creaked open and Mrs. Lewis looked at him and then, behind them into the carriage. “Is Mrs. Bennet not joining us? My sister just sent a package of lovely new fabrics from London. The moment I set eyes upon them, I knew Mrs. Bennet would adore them, but I am certain you will like them too, Miss Lydia.”
Lydia turned with a whine as he handed the parcels of fabric to the elderly woman. “While I am sure the materials are very fine, I have these we will use today.”
Wary eyes darted between Lydia and himself as Mrs. Lewis stood before her home. “Of course. Miss Lydia, if you will come inside, my sister included several gowns her employer discarded—very fine pieces. I have not taken them apart just yet. I thought your mother would like to see them before I used them for a pattern.”
As he made to follow them inside, Mrs. Lewis’ eyes widened. “If you return in an hour, I shall be finished. I am quite familiar with Mrs. Bennet’s preferences.”
“While I admire your memory, I do not care for Mrs. Bennet’s preferences when it comes to clothing my daughter. I am present to ensure her gown is not indecent.”
The woman’s eyes flared for but a moment, but she showed some sense by not responding. A young war widow in the next village took what sewing jobs she could to feed herself and her two children. Mrs. Lewis had already lost a bit of her clientele. She could not afford to lose the business of a gentleman with five daughters.
When he stepped into the parlour, a merry fire burned in the grate and the room was tidy. A worn armchair was set to a corner of the room and draped in what appeared to be sprigged muslin.
The lady bustled over and lifted the top to hold it before her. “Is it not lovely?”
Lydia’s arms unfurled from her body as she moved to touch the expensive piece before her. “Could you make one for me?” she asked with an eagerness he had heard before.
“Mrs. Lewis, I have decided my daughter requires a year or two more instruction before she is out. She requires nothing extravagant, but a serviceable gown that covers…” He moved his hand in a circle around his chest. How did one speak so in mixed company? Lord, this was awkward! “That covers what it should.”
“But, Mr. Bennet—“
“I assure you I am in earnest. She requires no lace, no ruffles, and no other adornments. Now, are you capable of completing my request, or do I take my daughter elsewhere.”
Her eager smile had slowly disappeared as he spoke. “Yes, sir. I have just the pattern.” The woman’s eyes halted at the material he had Mrs. Hill sew into the dress Lydia was wearing. “Should I use how this has been altered as a guide?”
The insert was perhaps a little high. “Yes, that would do admirably.”
A disappointed Mrs. Lewis unwrapped the fabric he brought as Lydia gave an indignant gasp.
“’Tis brown! I have never worn such a drab colour! Aunt and Uncle, no doubt, purchased that for Lizzy!”
As the seamstress rubbed the muslin between her fingers. “The fabric is quite fine. I shall save any scraps I have for you when the gown is completed. Mrs. Bennet always makes the request.” She opened the second package, and Lydia groaned. “Grey would suit Jane better than me!”
He dipped his chin to peer over his spectacles. “Lydia!”
Her shoulders dropped and her jaw snapped shut.
“Miss Lydia, come. We will take your measurements in the next room.”
Once they entered the adjoining room and closed the door, Mr. Bennet stared for a moment. Why did he have this strange sensation in his gut? Careful steps brought him beside the door. Lydia’s unintelligible whine ended and he held his breath in order to hear.
“Now, do not fret, Miss Lydia. I shall ensure you can remove this part of the bodice and have the style to which you are accustomed.”
How dare she! He stormed into the room and grasped his daughter’s arm.
He did not answer, but pulled Lydia to the carriage where he pushed her inside. The fabric! He could not leave it behind.
“Mr. Bennet! I was about to unfasten your daughter’s gown! You should not have—“
“I heard you through the door, madam.” He hastily wrapped the bundles of material and tied the cord holding the paper together. “My daughters will no longer require your services. You may as well turn them away at the door as I will not pay your fees.”
The woman’s head jerked back and her jaw clenched. “I understand you perfectly.”
He climbed into the carriage and sank back into the squabs. “Not one word, Lydia! Not one word” She huffed, crossed her arms over her chest, and looked out of the window.
A miserable groan escaped as he leaned his head against the cushion behind him. What had he done to deserve such punishment?
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L. L. Diamond is more commonly known as Leslie to her friends, and Mom to her three kids. A native of Louisiana, she has spent the majority of her life living within an hour of New Orleans until she followed her husband to the ends of the earth as a military wife. Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and now England have all been called home along the way.
After watching Sense and Sensibility with her mother, Leslie became a fan of Jane Austen, reading her collected works over the next few years. Pride and Prejudice stood out as a favorite and has dominated her writing since finding Jane Austen Fan Fiction.
Aside from mother and writer, Leslie considers herself a perpetual student. She has degrees in biology and studio art, but will devour any subject of interest simply for the knowledge. As an artist, her concentration is in graphic design, but watercolor is her medium of choice with one of her watercolors featured on the cover of her second book, A Matter of Chance. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She also plays flute and piano, but much like Elizabeth Bennet, she is always in need of practice!
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Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) you will see that Mr Bennet definitely needs to take Lydia in hand!
'Particular Intentions' is available to buy now in both paperback and ebook (kindle) - US / UK. You can also add it to your Goodreads shelf.