Mary Lydon Simonsen
Mr. Darcy's Bite
To all my Jane Austen fan fiction friends for reading my tale and for providing valuable comments and insights that enriched this story
The Black Forest, Grand Duchy of Baden
Summer of 1798
“Mr. Darcy, it will be necessary to remove all the baggage in order to lighten the load,” Metcalf, the Darcy driver, explained. “The wheels are about six inches deep into the mud. Fortunately, we have a full moon, and, eventually, we will be able to free the carriage.”
“Since we have no other choice, we must do what is required so that we may continue on our journey,” Mr. Darcy said, looking at the mired wheels. “Herr Beck tells me that they have had a very wet autumn in the Schwarzwald. I believe they have had more rain here than we did in England. Hopefully, Mrs. Darcy and Miss Darcy are enjoying more favorable weather in Baden than William and I did in Stuttgart. By the way, where is William?”
“I don’t think the meal we had at the inn agreed with him, sir. Herr Beck went down the road with him so that he might relieve himself.”
“Again? My poor son. His mother and I have always thought of William as having a cast-iron stomach, but it seems that German food does not agree with the boy.”
There was no doubt that German food did not agree with thirteen-year-old Fitzwilliam Darcy. This was the third time he had found it necessary to go into the woods, and it was a source of embarrassment for the young man. Although everyone had eaten the same food at the inn, he was the only one who was experiencing any discomfort. Herr Beck, the man whom they had hired in Stuttgart as a guide and translator, had found the situation amusing and had been teasing him about it. However, William was not amused, and when he felt another cramp, he walked farther down the road to get away from his tormentor and went into the woods alone.
Having performed the unpleasant task several times, the young Darcy was now an expert on the best position, and he used a large tree to support his back. He had been there a few minutes when he felt something brush against him. Believing it to be the foliage, he reached out to push it out of the way, and in doing so, felt something scratch him near his hip. He quickly looked about him, and what he saw terrified him. A wolf, with blazing blue eyes, was standing less than three feet away from the crouching boy.
Every instinct told William not to move or to call out, as either might cause the animal to lunge, and since he had removed his heavy overcoat, he had nothing to protect himself from any bite. But no defensive action was necessary. The wolf lay down and started to whimper before turning on her back to expose her belly. At Pemberley, the Darcy estate, there were easily a dozen dogs, and he was familiar with this behavior. A canine only did this when it was being overpowered by a more aggressive dog or if it had done something wrong. Because William was hidden by the tree, the wolf had not seen him, and the scratch had been accidental. It almost seemed as if she were apologizing for their encounter.
William retreated. But from a distance, the wolf followed him. With his heart pounding in his chest, he finally reached the road and could see the men working on the carriage. Before going in search of his father, he took one last look down the road and saw the wolf standing in plain view. Because of the full moon, the road was lit up as if it were daytime, leaving the female lupine completely exposed. Without thinking, William waved to her, and it was only then that she returned to the woods. The only conclusion he could draw was that she wanted to make sure that he was safe. But what kind of wolf did that?
Elizabeth was in her room reading when Mrs. Hill came upstairs to announce that Mr. Darcy was in the parlor and would like to see her. This news generated little excitement. Mr. Darcy had been in her parlor on many occasions, always with the same request: “May I ask that you join me for a walk in the garden?”
The first dozen times, Lizzy had been truly excited because it was obvious that Mr. Darcy liked her very much. The next few times, she was equally flattered by his requests because she was convinced that all of this attention, paid over the course of the six months since Jane and Charles had married, was leading to a request that they begin a formal courtship. But then some urgent business would call him back to Pemberley, and he would be gone for a week or, as had happened in June, for the entire month. When he returned, he would be back in the Bennet parlor as happy as a puppy to see his mistress. But she had tired of this routine, and today she was going to tell him so.
Lizzy went into the parlor and found Mr. Darcy standing in front of the window. The outside light served to create a silhouette of the master of Pemberley, and it was a very flattering one: tall, with wavy hair, a strong chin, broad chest, narrow waist, muscular thighs, and excellent calves. My goodness, he was a handsome man—and an excited one. He nearly sprinted across the room to greet her. If the room had been as large as the parlor at Pemberley, she thought that he might have leapt over the tea table to get to her. There was never a lack of enthusiasm on his part when he did come calling, making his behavior all the more puzzling.
Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Mary remained in the parlor with Lizzy while Mr. Darcy, who was staying with the Bingleys, shared the latest news about Jane and Charles, including their decision to renew the lease on Netherfield Park. Without embarrassment, an unusual circumstance for a man discussing an expectant mother, he also shared that Jane was looking hale and hearty, and not showing any discomfort in carrying “her lone offspring.” This news was well received, earning smiles all around, and after some additional small talk, the superfluous Bennets rose and departed.
As on every other occasion, Mrs. Bennet was convinced that “today was the day” when Mr. Darcy would ask Lizzy to be his wife, and she gave her daughter a knowing smile on her way out. With the door left slightly ajar, Lizzy listened for the retreating footsteps of her mother and sisters. After she was sure that Mama was not eavesdropping, she turned to Mr. Darcy. “You said Jane was experiencing no difficulty in carrying ‘her lone offspring.’ That is a very peculiar way of phrasing it. One child is the rule, not the exception, Mr. Darcy.”
“I imagine that did sound odd,” he said, fidgeting. “Our Newfoundland recently had a litter. I guess that was in the back of my mind when I made that comment.”
Lizzy nodded, but asked no questions about the furry arrivals at Pemberley. Although she usually took the lead in their conversations, she was of no mind to do so today. When the gentleman asked if they might go for a walk in the park, Lizzy stated that she preferred to remain indoors.
“But the weather is absolutely perfect for a brisk walk.”
“Mr. Darcy, we have been fortunate on your many visits to have had good weather. However, I am not inclined to walk today. Maybe on your next visit or the one after that or the one after that, we may go for a walk.”
“Elizabeth, you are out of sorts with me, and I do not blame you. I know my coming and going has been an irritant to you.”
Yes, an irritant and inexplicable. Your excuses for your frequent absences never satisfy.
“But my purpose today is to invite you to Pemberley. My cousin, Anne de Bourgh, is coming with my sister from London, so that we might all go together.” Mr. Darcy came and sat next to Lizzy on the sofa and took her hands in his. “If your parents approve, I would like to set out as soon as possible because there is something I would like to share with you, but I must do it at Pemberley.”
Lizzy’s mood altered immediately, and she was so bold as to kiss him on the cheek. But Mr. Darcy was even bolder, and he put his hand on her neck and brought her toward him. Her kiss was as wonderful as he had imagined it would be, and he could feel the heat rising. Reluctantly, he let her go, but whispered. “Everything will be decided at Pemberley. Will you come?” Lizzy went to the library to get her father’s permission to go to Derbyshire with Mr. Darcy.
Lizzy had already made the acquaintance of Anne de Bourgh during her visit with Charlotte Collins in Kent in the spring. After Mr. Darcy’s departure from Rosings Park following his awful marriage proposal, Anne had called on Lizzy at the parsonage. She had made no attempt to defend the words her cousin had uttered on that dreadful afternoon but was very keen for Lizzy to hear about the Fitzwilliam Darcy she knew and loved. After listening to her recitation of Mr. Darcy’s many virtues and kindnesses to Miss Darcy, Her Ladyship, and herself, Lizzy could feel the bulwark of her prejudices crumbling, and she immediately developed a fondness for the daughter of the insufferable Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Lizzy’s first meeting with Georgiana Darcy was at Jane and Charles’s wedding. With her black hair and gray-green eyes, she was as beautiful as her brother was handsome. She stood a head taller than Lizzy, and her height accentuated her long elegant line. But there was much more to this lovely young woman than good looks and beautiful clothes. There was a graciousness in her manner and a kindness in her addresses that immediately drew the approval of all who met her, and Lizzy was very pleased that Mr. Darcy was eager to bring them together again and expressed his hope that they would become the best of friends. In that one statement, he revealed that he wanted to renew those attentions he had been paying to her during her visit to Pemberley before the sordid affair between Lydia and Wickham necessitated their separation.