Great news - for me. Corvallis Press has accepted Ruined Forever.. yaH!!!!!!!
So, it will be coming out later in 2014 as both e-book and in print. I will announce when it is available. But, as a condition of acceptance, no more posts on this blog. Sorry.
I will continue to post randomly from my other works in progress.
Watch this space.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
“No!” shouted Bingley coming to his feet. “I will not have it. You will not speak of our neighbors in this manner!”
“But Charles,” said Caroline, with patiently false empathy. “I am just now telling you. The news is all over Meryton. I have it from the housekeeper who is cousin to Mr. Honeywell’s wife. He examined the body, himself. Mr. Collins is dead and the person responsible is none other than Eliza Bennet. Apparently they quarreled. I do not know if it was after they became engaged or because the man came to his senses and declined to take Miss Eliza to wife, but the truth is quite clear.”
“Enough,” roared Bingley, slamming his hand on the table, shocking everyone in the room who had never seen Bingley so much as raise his voice before, let alone his hand. “I will not have these lies repeated in this house. Darcy and I are just now returned from Longbourne. I was one of the jury for the inquest and Mr. Darcy, having read law, was advocate and adviser to Miss Elizabeth. The determination of the Mr. Jeffers’s inquest was, death by misadventure. An accident. Mr Collins slipped and fell because he was wearing loose, ill fitting shoes. That, sister, is the truth!”
“Oh, I see,” said Caroline in an arch tone and cut a glance toward her sister. “An accident.”
And she smirked and giggled. Mrs. Hurst sniffed and sneered.
“Caroline Bingley, if I hear you are passing along vicious gossip I shall…” Bingley paused as he considered an adequate threat. “I shall send you to spend a year with Aunt Greta.”
“Let me be clear. I will not endure you displaying such lack of manners as you are by attacking a friend when her family is in need. Oh, Darcy, help me. You know that the Bennet family needs their friends to stay near, to support them.”
All eyes turned to Darcy who finally put down his spoon.
“Yes, that is true, Bingley. The Bennet family would benefit from the trust and public support of their friends.”
“There,” cried Bingley to his sister. “You see.”
“However,” continued Darcy. “Those who would only go to stare and judge and deliver themselves of clever phrases, snubs and subtle disdain, should stay at home.”
There were matching shocked indrawn breaths from the other side of the table. Mr. Hurst gave a grunt that could have been agreement or could be a signal for more wine. The ladies of the company were deeply outraged once they worked out the degree of the insult.
“Of course we wish dear Jane well,” said Caroline. “She cannot be held responsible for her outrageous family. The younger sisters, of course, are impossible. And while some have thought so well of Miss Eliza to admire her eyes, I have never seen anything to qualify her to others. Only consider her wildness. Walking out without chaperone or companion. Her manners are not at all genteel. Even her mother complains of her way of going on. Her free speech and ungoverned manner. So flirtatious with the officers. I would not be surprised if that the accident was caused by her flirtations with her fiancee going too forward. I cannot think, under the circumstances, that she shall ever recover her good name.”
“I might say her younger sisters are a flirts,” said Darcy, retrieving his spoon. “But Miss Elizabeth is as well mannered as to be expected as a country raised gentlewoman.”
“But country manners are so uncivilized,” declared Caroline. “But we shall think on her no longer. She is quite cast out of good society and her family with her. Now we should think of our own family name and our responsibilities to it, and that means we must cut the acquaintance, immediately!”
“You cannot say so,” said Bingley, deeply shocked.
Caroline’s manner was that of a patient teacher.
“Brother, you are too kind. Surely even you must realize Miss Eliza’s reputation is in shreds. Alone with a man, her dress torn, her body exposed. Shocking! She is ruined. Quite, quite ruined.”
“You cannot deny,” chimed in Louisa, “with the marks of his hands on her body prove she granted him liberties. Do not forget that! Quite. Quite ruined. I agree.”
“Ladies, before you gloat too much over the fall of a gentlewoman,” Darcy’s chill voice silenced the room. “I should remind you, your brother and I were present during the inquest. We know the truth of the matter. Now, we have explained the results of the inquest. The facts will be presented and hereafter you shall speak of the Longbourne family with consideration and respect because, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is quite innocent in these events. There was no impropriety. She acted at all times as the gentlewoman that she is.”
“But the scandal,” protested Caroline.
“And as landed gentry the family outranks you!” added Darcy. “Scandal or no scandal! You display your lack of breeding by taking joy at their pain!”
“Exactly,” said Bingley. “I do not want to hear of you speaking ill of the Bennet ladies. You know what I shall do if you persist!”
Both Caroline and Louisa stared across at their brother, who had not spoken so firmly on any subject in their experience.
Bingley stared back at them then stood and threw down his implements.
“I have no appetite.” And so saying departed the room.
Darcy, however, made a good meal but did not respond to any conversational gambits from the ladies and eventually the meal was completed in silence - sullen on one side and preoccupied on the other.
When the ladies repaired alone to the drawing room for coffee Caroline could barely restrain her ire.
“We must cut the acquaintance, at once! We have no choice. It is not to be borne that Charles requires us to give notice to such a family.”
“I agree,” said Louisa. “But there is a danger attendant to protesting too much. We might force him to make a decision to our disadvantage.”
That thought set Caroline back on her heels.
“You would think that Darcy would support us,” Caroline protested. “I do not understand his preoccupation with the family. To actually stand as that woman’s advocate! Unbelievable.”
“Actually, Caroline, I do understand it. Mr. Darcy has ever been aware of the importance of justice. The reason he took up Charles acquaintance in university was because he thought the treatment Charles was receiving was unjust.”
“That is different,” Caroline dismissed Darcy’s astonishing support of Bingley, the son of an unknown tradesman, an action that had confused no end of noble sons and resulted in Darcy’s own dismissal from one London club. “No. We must think. Plan. It would be best for us to return to London as soon as possible. Christmas and the Little Season will be upon us soon. If we encourage our correspondents to issue invitations we might suggest to Charles that we spend the Bennet families month of mourning in London and, if we manage to find another flirt for him, Charles will not want to return.”
Friday, August 1, 2014
Arriving late in the dining room Darcy was not surprised to find everyone else seated and the only available chair was the one beside Caroline Bingley. Mr. Bingley gave a sympathetic shrug but as his elder sister was in the habit of overriding Bingley’s opinions it was not surprising when he made no attempt to rescue Darcy. It had been Darcy’s private opinion that if petite, pale Caroline had added a pleasant manner to her education and other accomplishments then she would be a person worth knowing. But ambition had narrowed her outlook and petulance added lines to the sides of her mouth. The worst part of her outlook was that Darcy was her idea partner in life. The fulfillment of her father’s ambition for his daughters. Sadly, Darcy did not share her opinion. Caroline would be horrified to know that she shared important characteristics with Mrs. Bennet - both set a good table and Mr. Darcy found their company insufferable. There were addressing the superior soup when Caroline looked around the table, smiling broadly. “Have you heard? No, you cannot for you have been gone from home today. Mr. Hurst returned from the hunt with the most fascinating news.” Both Bingley and Darcy turned to stare at the silent Mr. Hurst, who shrugged. “What have you heard?” inquired Louisa Hurst. Darcy took another mouthful of soup. It was as well that Louisa did not have to make her living as an actress. The woman had no Thespian skills. Since no one else expressed interest it was necessary for Caroline to address herself to her sister. “He informed me that the magistrate and the coroner were summoned to Longbourn today.” “Indeed,” said Darcy, without inflection. “Of course, since our own safety in this savage county might be at risk I immediately spoke to the housekeeper, who is local, to inquire as to the reason.” Bingley sighed. When neither of them spoke Carline continued. “You must admit, you did drag us from London to this heathen spot with no friends, no society. I hold you entirely responsible, Charles.” “You have friends here. Miss Jane Bennet is your friend,” said Bingley. “Miss Elizabeth.” “Oh, but it is the Bennet family who have managed to embroil themselves in the very worst of scandals, brother. You must take us back to London at once. Give up this lease and hope that no one remembers we were coming here.” “This is not necessary, surely.” Bingley looked, not toward his sister, but to Darcy. “There is no need to depart?” “But you do not know,” cried Caroline. “Miss Eliza Bennet has murdered her suitor, that dreadful vicar, Mr. Collins.”