Like a lot of ladies of a certain age (and some not so certain), I loooove The writings of Jane Austen.
While I am glad not to have been born in that era (anything pre the discovery of penicillin can be as romantic as it likes but I won't be time traveling there anytime soon) I really love the language she uses and the studied way life was lived among the upper classes at that time. Leaving aside the fact that I would have probably been a scullery maid in Jane's era, the doings of the Bennets et al were endlessly fascinating to me as a younger person. However, it was not until Mr Darcy (AKA Colin Firth) burst onto the TV screen in the now famous wet shirt incident did I become a true tragic. So much so that I have just finished re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the umteenth time (on my Kindle :) How do you do a smug smiley? ) .
Well, the point of this post is that my friend Cathy alerted me to the fact that the library is having a"High Tea with Jane Austen" next week, so of course I signed up. One of the fun things they will be doing is to ask you to write an opening for a sequel to P&P -after the honeymoon. Rather than go for a description of Lizzy and Darcy's early married life (and any possibly private happenings) I have jumped 20 or so years ahead, so dear reader.......
Chapter One. (Draft)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young couple in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a male heir.
Thus it was with Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, but alas while their estate at Pemberly had been blessed with the birth of five beautiful, but headstrong daughters, the looked for son had failed to appear. The ensuing births of these girls had been met with stoicism by Mr Darcy but was a source of much disquiet for his still beautiful wife Lizzie whom the years had treated very kindly indeed.
It was on account of an entail placed on the estate by the late Mr Darcy senior (an otherwise kindly man who feared that the rise of female independence would ruin the country ) that Pemberly and the fortune attached to it would devolve to the nearest male relative on the death of Fitzwilliam Darcy.
In the absence of a kindly brother to secure their futures, Elizabeth held fears for what perhaps lay ahead of her spirited and accomplished daughters all five of whom were determined to marry only for love. They would have but a small portion for their maintenance if they took as an example Lizzie's foolish sister, their aunt Lydia in following their heart in spite of all reasoning to the contrary.
This then was the state of affairs twenty two years after the nuptials of Elizabeth and Darcy.
It being the established custom in such cases to adopt an heir from within the family, the Darcys cast about for a likely candidate amongst the children of Elizabeth's three married sisters. The scholarly Mary her fourth sister remained happily at Longbourne still as companion and tutor to the children of her cousin Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas. She was moreover invited to dine not less than thrice a year at Rosings the country seat of the de Bourghs which now rested in the hands of Colonel Fitzwillian through his late wife the former Miss Anne de Bourgh.
An immediate and enthusiastic offer by the impoverished Lydia Wickham to allow the Darcys to adopt one of her six wild and dissolute sons was under no circumstance to be countenanced.
The mere contemplation that an offspring of George Wickham and Lydia Bennet would pollute the shades of Pemberly saw a tight lipped Mr Darcy quit the dining room for the solitude of his study until all talk of such an abomination should cease.
Darcy could only speculate in what manner his late aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh would have greeted such an outcome! His sister Georgiana was of course spared these speculations owing to the infamous way that Wickham had attempted to abduct and marry her and she barely fifteen, the memory of which had led perhaps to her confirmed spinsterhood.
Unhappily for Elizabeth, Jane Bingley her best loved sister, while the very model of a doting aunt, had remained childless. She was able then to look only to her younger sister Kitty Winton, the wife of a kindly country parson of good family to supply their want.
Mr Winton's steady guidance and maturity had made of Kitty a sober, sensible kind of woman who bore little resemblance to her younger self under the influence of the foolish, rebellious Lydia.
It was this state of affairs that saw the young, handsome Frederick Winton arrive in his twenty second year to take up residence as the putative heir of Pemberly.....................................................................
I think Jane could do something with that!
Kindly meant criticisms will be taken, all the rest of you need not bother :)