Today I am sharing a final excerpt from Linda Berdoll’s “The Darcys: New Pleasures.” I hope you’ve been enjoying these glimpses into Linda’s next book and are as excited as I am to get this book into my hands!
“Lost in thought, Darcy was startled when his horse, Major suddenly leapt a rivulet. He reined the horse to a stop and then, impulsively dug in his heels. Major shot forward, the muscles of his haunches launching him up to the top of the ridge.
As he crested the hill, another horse and rider appeared directly in his path. That horse reared and then veered violently to the left, causing the rider to take a spill in such a fashion as to do a summersault backward over the horse’s rump – thus landing with a horrific thud.
The rider was a lady – or at least female. He leapt from his horse immediately, but he was flummoxed as to just how to offer assistance. It was his duty to both attend her, whilst ignoring the fact that her skirt was over her head.
Indeed, the nature of her fall rendered her upended. Try as he might, Darcy was unable to find a suitable limb to grasp to ascertain her well-being. All was obscured by a proliferation of petticoats, pink stockinged legs, and what had to be lace-trimmed pantalets.
Hence, he forwent that unprofitable office for a more identifiable one – that of collecting her wildly gambolling horse. As it was, they were nearly trampled. He recognised the mount before the rider. It was Bingley’s grey, Morgana. The mare was well-bred but not well-trained. From the fits Major was having, Morgana was in season too.
Once the horse was calmed so as not to be a danger, Darcy walked gingerly over to the downed rider, praying that she was not dead. Quite abruptly, the lady sat up. Sputtering angrily, she tore her skirt from her face and, against his cautions, attempted to stand.
“I am quite well, I assure you, sir!”
Eliza Bingley recognised her Uncle Darcy first. She immediately quit her attempts to stand and sank to the ground. She also silenced her insistence of well-being.
Darcy said, “Your father would never forgive me. I must ascertain if you have broken any bones.”
Hesitant to overstep propriety, he inquired if she was in pain.
She stuck out her foot and waggled it about.
“The only injury is to my pride, I assure you!” said she.
Whilst begging her to take care, he offered her his hand. Clasping it, she bounded to her feet. As she set about smoothing her skirts and straightening her sleeves, he noticed one ribbon on her bonnet was rent. When she attempted to retie it, her bonnet fell to the ground. Synchronously, they bent to retrieve it and their heads bumped. His hat was dislodged and once again they both leaned over at the same time with the same result. It was a comedy worthy of Piccadilly puppet show.
Eliza laughed merrily. Hers was a good laugh, neither too giggly nor too loud.
“You are not alone?” asked he.
“You are with me, are you not?”
Witty repartee aside, it was most undesirable for a young lady to be dashing about the countryside without a chaperone – particularly one as eye-catchingly handsome as Eliza. Had reason for such caution just been proved? Miss Bingley was most fortunate not to have cracked her skull. Her mother would be most displeased. Such behaviour reflected poorly on her family. Darcy was not hesitant in his chastisement. He was, after all, her uncle.
“My brother,” she explained. “He means to join Geoffrey.”
Darcy immediately understood. The machinations of amours were not entirely foreign to him. Although he felt very much the elder uncle, Elizabeth kept him apprised of the ever-changing romantic landscape of the various offspring. Eliza was quite handsome and had no small amount of charm, hence she was roundly admired. Indeed, Darcy believed she favoured Elizabeth (as high a compliment as he could extend). She was fair-haired, but in the correct light she shared the same turn of her countenance as did his Lizzy. Eliza had her choice among any number of suitors – and had turned down more than one serious offer of marriage.
Had she asked his advice, Mr. Darcy might have told her that he disapproved of a young lady spurning the love of perfectly sensible young gentlemen. But she had not invited his opinion. He was merely an interested onlooker – unless she had formed designs on Geoff. He certainly could not speak for his son, but there would be benefits from such an alliance. Eliza’s forwardness this day was not indicative of her usual comportment. Her friendliness must be attributed to their familial connexion.
He judged Eliza to be no worse for her fall. Indeed, she was remarkably unabashed. Only a moment before she had her skirt over her head – and she seemed entirely unembarrassed by it. Indeed, he believed he was the more mortified of the two. Darcy had always admired young Miss Bingley for her vivacity.
Although she reminded him of her namesake, he had never had occasion to speak to her with such intimacy. He was happy to note that she was quite unlike so many other young ladies; they were often inane and presumptuous. There were far more deplorable matches for his son to make.
Eliza eyed him oddly. When deep in thought, Mr. Darcy’s countenance took on a tempestuous tenor that could be misconstrued.
He never quite understood that.
So, we have met Eliza, the young Bingley daughter, who I imagine plays an amusing role in this story.
Book Blurb: In the year ’35 Mr. Darcy overlooked his vast estate and pronounced it safe from mischief and vulgarity. Indeed, he believed if his watch was keen, nothing would go afoul within Pemberley again. Never, however, was a man more deluded about what wildly diverse tribulations would arrive to test him.
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