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Beginning, Section II
Editors's Note: This story can also be found in Forthcoming Engagements Web
Posted on Sunday, 26 March 2000
Fitzwilliam Darcy turned for a last glimpse of Pemberley, watching until the bend in the
road neatly slipped it from sight. With a sigh and twinge of regret, he settled down more
comfortably in his seat.
Though the recent illness of his father made him reluctant to leave home, his concerned
family had encouraged him to spend a few weeks in London. They quietly agreed that
Darcy needed a change; the shock of nearly losing his beloved father and the necessity of
having to acquire more of his elder's duties had aged the young man. When invitations to
various social events filtered in by post, his family welcomed the opportunity, feeling that
just such a trip would benefit him.
And so he found himself on the way to the train station. Darcy wished he could remain at
Pemberley, but in his heart, he knew his absence was best. A recent conversation with his
sister replayed in his head.
"It's your duty," she teased. "You'll disappoint all those young ladies." He merely glared
at her; she sobered. "You must go. You're practically ill yourself and you're making
Father worse. He worries about you incessantly and he won't improve until he knows that
The car rolled to a stop, breaking his reverie. Darcy slowly got out as the chauffeur
extracted luggage from the trunk.
"Safe journey, sir."
"Thank you, Graves. Good-bye."
Darcy searched the train for an empty compartment, ignoring the numerous young
women whispering and staring in his wake. A tall and athletic twenty-four, his good
looks made him the frequent uneasy object of many a feminine affection--a seemingly
hereditary condition dating back to the original Fitzwilliam Darcy. With his handsome
dark eyes and chestnut hair slicked back according to current fashion, Darcy strikingly
resembled his ancestral namesake. He had often gazed upon the portraits of his great-
great grandfather and his wife, wondering if he would ever fall as devastatingly in love as
they had. The courtship and marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet was a
well-known and charming part of family lore and had become his idea of true love.
Would he ever find something that pure and beautiful within the tangled complexities of
London society? With a slight frown, Darcy sighed and opened his newspaper as the train
pulled away from the platform and began to pick up speed.
Although his friends had written that they would meet him at the station, they were
nowhere in sight as Darcy stepped off the train. Puzzled, he looked about vainly until he
heard a commotion further down the platform.
"There he is!"
Five impeccably dressed bodies rushed over and threatened to engulf him in excited
handshakes, friendly backslaps, and constant chatter.
"Sorry we're late--"
"--We would've been here sooner--"
"--If it wasn't for old Clair."
"It's not my fault."
"You insisted that Fitz got off on the other platform!"
Darcy grinned wryly. "Nice to see you fellows again, too." Laughter ensued and then the
voices resumed their cacophony.
"Dry up, you two."
"Don't mind them--they're just cranky--"
"--Because all of the girls know you're back in town."
"Come on, let's get Darcy out of here."
"Julian, bring the motor round."
The six young men laughed and talked their way through the station. Many turned to
observe the spectacle of youth playing itself out before them, finding themselves drawn
in spite of their best efforts.
"What handsome young men!" exclaimed one matron.
"The Darcy set," a mother pointed out urgently.
"Only the six most eligible bachelors in England--after the Prince of Wales, of course,"
"I see high spirits are the fashion," harrumphed an elderly man in a contradictorily
"Oh, I hope we meet often during the season," thought a debutante, a funny little tremor
in her heart. Her younger brother gazed in awe, imagining himself just as nonchalant and
lively when he was grown-up with long pants and going to train stations to meet friends.
A young American recently introduced into fashionable society eyed the whirlwind and
the reactions it excited. She turned to a young aristocrat next to her and asked her
Her friend looked up from a train schedule with a slightly bored expression. It vanished
immediately. "The Darcy set!" she cried. The American met this exclamation with an
inquiring look, so the Londoner patiently continued. "The cream of society. A circle of
six: the Marquess of Derby, Viscount Riverfield, Julian Eaton-Fox, Claudio Strohem-
Moss, Peregrine Carlyle, and Clarincarde Meredith. Six fortunes, three titles, a handful of
estates, a few priceless collections, and, most importantly, not a wedding ring between
the lot. Every man wants to be them and every woman wants to be with them."
"Naturally. But I've just gotten engaged to Reggie, so rotten luck for me." A train arrived
and they rushed to meet the disparaged fiancé.
On the opposite end of the station, the six piled into a motorcar. Unlike poor Reggie, they
were hardly oblivious to people's comments. "There's gossip and then there's Darcy set
gossip," Claud once crossly remarked after finding yet another picture of himself in the
paper. Indeed, columnists actively sought out their perfect mix of youth, fortune, looks,
The only child of the ninth Earl of Newcastle, Killian Finlay was Darcy's second cousin
and closest friend. Nearly inseparable since childhood, they had together faced Eton,
Cambridge, war, and society. The press had bestowed upon Killian the title of "golden
boy" as much for his many successes as for looks. Slender with shining golden-brown
hair and laughing hazel eyes, he had the self-assured yet modest manner of a man who
did everything well but preferred to let his accomplishments speak for him. To his
chagrin and his friends' amusement, the name stuck, but Killian endured it and the teasing
with his usual equanimity.
At a young age, Julian Eaton-Fox made his first speech before Parliament. Unfortunately,
a malefactor interrupted the proceedings by abducting several MPs, forcing the junior
politician to spend the remainder of the session chasing the dog around the nursery in an
effort to retrieve his toy soldiers. This inauspicious beginning did nothing to deter Julian's
taste for politics. At Eton, he was nicknamed "P.M." after announcing that he aspired to
the prime ministership. After learning that his titled birthright made him ineligible for the
position, Julian sighed and awaited the day he could sit in the House of Lords as Earl of
Shakespeare was the making of Claudio Strohem-Moss. Literary critic Berowne
Strohem-Moss and author Rosaline Sedon christened their children Titania, Claudio, and
Ophelia and their estates Navarre and Illyria. Here Claud grew up, developing his athletic
skills on the shores and his intellectual gifts with priceless family volumes. Our own
Shakespearean hero, his parents said proudly. Certainly he looked the part. Time on the
game fields had lightened already blond hair, burnished fair skin, and given him an
athlete's spare but strong form. Claud always laughingly dismissed the praise, preferring
compliments about his flourishing writing career.
Young women sighed over the romantic figure Peregrine Carlyle cut in society. In
addition to the requisite mellifluous name, comely face, and indefinable allure, he
possessed artistic talent and a seaside Scottish castle. They imagined him painting by
candlelight to the sound of crashing waves--an idea so thrilling that they besieged him
with requests for portrait sittings. This amused Perry, who worked in small yet delightful
well-lit studios at his London and Scotland homes. Though he privately regaled his
friends with these appeals, he publicly refused them in his typical kindly manner--so
kindly that the pleas continued unabated.
Even without the lustre of riches upon him, the handsome and charismatic Clarincarde
Meredith would have been popular in society. However, he stood to inherit the famed
Clarincarde fortune from his mother Mabel, a fact so widely discussed that Clair often
remarked that his middle name was "Fortune." Though he seemed unaffected by his
destiny as "the wealthiest commoner in the Commonwealth," friends suspected that his
aversion to marriage had less to do with loyalty to bachelor life and more with his delight
in eluding mercenary traps of wedlock. In any case, Clair continued to enjoy the merry
life of a socially desired single man.
Conversation flowed as Julian expertly guided the car to their favorite club, where their
young appetites planned to do justice to an excellent lunch.
"How does it feel to be twenty-five?" Darcy asked, cheerfully elbowing Killian.
The latter grinned. "You'll have to ask Julian and his three months' experience. I've only
had a few hours to try out my new adult understanding."
"Adult understanding!" howled Perry. "Will thy mature lordship now retire from society
with thy dressing-gown and slippers?"
"I can see the headlines now," Claud added. "'Golden Boy's Rays Set: Viscount
Riverfield Turns Fallow.'"
"Save the mourning bands, chaps," broke in Killian, laughing.
"Until you marry and desert us," finished Clair. "Or until Julian does, I should say." He
glanced meaningfully at his friend. "Affianced yet, my boy?"
Julian squirmed slightly. "No."
Darcy tried a different tack. "How is the lovely Serena?"
"Fine." Perhaps driving occupied all of Julian's concentration.
"She'll be at Ciro's," said Killian. "I invited her for Julian."
"But don't propose to her tonight, lad," advised Perry gravely. "It would be rather a slight
to Killian; it is his birthday."
The car slowed as Julian reached the club. As he cut the engine, he turned and asked,
"Does Thursday suit you lot?" He flashed a grin, then proceeded towards the entrance of
the club without further explanation. His friends looked at each other in surprise and
sprinted after him, shouting inquiries.
Posted on Wednesday, 29 March 2000
The Hon. J.T. Eaton-Fox and Miss S.E. Ayrshire.
The engagement is announced between the Honourable Julian
Trevor Eaton-Fox, M.C., only child of Viscount and
Viscountess Aston of Aylesbury, and Serena Emilie, daughter
of Lord and Lady Edward Ayrshire of 2, Eaton-place.
"Well, there goes our circle." Clair passed the Times to Darcy with a mock sigh and the
hint of a mischievous grin. "Julian the married man and whatnot."
Claud bounded into Darcy's library after Everett, the butler, announced him. "Why the
long face, Meredith?" He noticed the open court page. "Oh, I see. Thus goes another--yet
our first--to the world."
"Here's something to cheer you up," Darcy said, sliding an envelope to Clair. "An
engagement; forgive the word play."
"I wonder what sort of trite drivel the columnists will invent," Claud mused. "'Julian Out-
Eaton-Foxes the Competition: Announces Engagement to Serena Ayrshire,' I shouldn't
wonder." They laughed.
"'Lord and Lady Edward Ayrshire'--yes, yes--'your presence'--right-- 'celebration of
betrothal'--I see--'Serena and the Hon. Julian'--title, naturally-- 'Friday.'" Clair put down
the letter and smiled. "An invite makes everything better. I'll cheese the melodrama and
even promise to wish them joy."
The gleaming black and chrome motor pulled up to the home of the Ayrshire family.
Darcy stepped out of the car after Killian, taking in the cheerful atmosphere before him.
They grinned and went up the stone steps into the house.
The footmen took their coats and hats in the mirrored entryway where they quickly
scrutinized themselves. "Handsome enough now?" a teasing voice asked as Darcy
adjusted his white tie and evening clothes. Perry grinned, closely followed by Claud and
"Ready to face the enemy?" whispered Killian as the group gathered at the top of the red-
carpeted staircase for the receiving line. A chorus of soft groans arose as he indicated a
cluster of hopeful-looking matrons strategically positioned near the staircase. The eager
ears of the mothers pricked up as a footman clearly enumerated the names of the Darcy
"Mr. Clarincarde Meredith, Mr. Peregrine Carlyle, Mr. Claudio Strohem-Moss, Lord
Riverfield, Lord Derby."
They dispensed congratulations and handshakes liberally throughout the line: thanking
Lord and Lady Edward for their hospitality, answering inquiries about their health from
Lord and Lady Aston, and chatting with Julian and Serena, who promised to follow into
the celebration. And, with that, the five descended into the festivities.
Numerous elegant couples traced the steps of a lively waltz on the shining marble floor,
while others deep in conversation lined the room. The group surveyed their surroundings
as they eased into the crowd.
Relieved from receiving line duties, the betrothed soon appeared with a small group in
tow. Darcy felt his heart pause in cold astonishment. For among them shone a face he
knew well, a face from the past: the face of Elizabeth Bennet. In confusion, he wondered
if this was how his ancestor had felt that fateful day his love came to Pemberley.
Serena smiled. "May I introduce Noel Katherine Percy, Lady Kristin Klosson, and
Elizabeth Clifton to you fine gentlemen? I suspect we'll spend a great deal of time
together in the future--say, July?" A spellbound Darcy did not hear the laughter.
Elizabeth! Of course her name should be Elizabeth, he thought dizzily to himself.
"Since we're introducing the members of the wedding party," laughed Julian in response,
"I present Claudio Strohem-Moss, Lord Riverfield, Lord Derby, Clarincarde Meredith,
and Peregrine Carlyle."
Though Darcy gave and received acknowledgment, the tumult of his mind severely
impaired rational thought. Do something, he urged himself, fumbling with ideas. Serena
unwittingly helped him.
"Dearest, we're to display our dancing skills right now," she said, leading Julian away at a
signal from her parents.
Silently blessing Serena, Darcy heard himself ask in a voice that belied his nervousness,
"Miss Clifton, would you care to dance?" She rewarded him with an acceptance and a
smile, following him into a fox trot.
Watching them, Clair remarked, "Did you hear the crash?"
"Which?" Perry's forehead furrowed.
"The one when Fitz fell for her."
Unaware of the gossip generated by his actions, Darcy focused on his partner, scarcely
believing his luck. It seemed unreal to take her hand and draw her close to him for a few
moments. Suddenly realizing that a silence blanketed them, he struggled for a topic.
"Are you enjoying London this season, Miss Clifton?" he finally inquired.
Elizabeth smiled. "Yes, though perhaps not so much as the country."
"Though London has its advantages, I have greater appreciation for the country also.
Where in the country do you live?"
"At Courtenay, my father's estate in Warwick."
"Warwick? Lovely area."
"Yes. Stratford is particularly picturesque in the spring and summer," Elizabeth replied
wistfully. "But I shall not mind forgoing its charm quite as much, now that Serena's
"Indeed. I suspect it will engage us."
"Yes, I suppose it shall," she replied.
They fell silent, regarding each other as they danced.
Posted on Friday, 7 April 2000
Elizabeth gave her dark bobbed hair a shake and straightened the pleats of her skirt. She
threw the windows open, pausing a moment to bathe her face in the fresh spring air and
warm sunshine. Her heart felt as light as her step as she went down to the breakfast room.
The sight of her great-aunt, wielding a simultaneous attack on the society columns and
her breakfast, slightly dampened her mood. Elizabeth suppressed a groan and served
herself as quietly as possible, hoping to avoid any discussion regarding last night's revels.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. Bursting with pride, her aunt read aloud, "'The
handsome Lord Derby enjoyed the company of Miss Elizabeth Clifton, dancing at length
with this popular young lady.'"
The previously silenced groan escaped. Why can't the newspapers just leave me alone?
she thought crossly. She hated having her affairs published for London to discuss as if
she was a thoroughbred at the races.
Alberta Morris sighed happily. "I knew your friendship with Serena Ayrshire would
benefit you someday. Why, she's put you in the very midst of the Darcy set! And to have
gotten the attention of Fitzwilliam Darcy! You do well to try to catch him." She reached
for the Burke's Peerage that always accompanied her newspaper reading and frantically
flipped through it.
Catch him! The very idea! "Aunt Alberta, I am not--"
"Here, my dear. Such distinction!" Mrs. Morris slammed the book down before
The 3rd Duke of Derbyshire (Christopher George Darcy), Marquess of
Derby, K.G.; educ. Eton and Camb.; b. 4 Nov. 1873; s. his father as 3rd
Duke 1908; m. 7 Jan. 1900, • Katharine, only dau. of James Davison (b. 9
Aug. 1873), and has issue
1) FITZWILLIAM JAMES GEORGE, Marquess of Derby; educ. Eton and
Camb.; served in the Great War (1917-18); b. 19 Oct. 1900.
2) Fiona Honoria Anne, b. 23 July 1903, m. 10 June 1922 • Charles
Alexander Bingley (b. 25 June 1899), D.F.C, elder son of Alexander
Bingley of Netherfield Park, Herts., and has issue
• Stella Katharine Rosemary, b. 9 July 1923.
Lineage-The family of Darcy is descended from Pharamond, who is
commonly reported to have been the founder of the French monarchy...
GEORGE DARCY, educ. Camb.; b. 1759, m. 1784, Lady Anne Fitzwilliam,
2nd dau. of 3rd Earl of Matlock (b. 1763, d. 1797); and had issue
1) FITZWILLIAM (Sir).
2) Georgiana, b. 1797; m. 1817, John Henry, Viscount Treadgold,
afterwards 3rd Earl of Daventry and had issue. (See Daventry.)
Mr. George Darcy d. 1808. His son,
SIR FITZWILLIAM DARCY, educ. Camb.; b. 4 Aug. 1785; m. Dec. 1813,
Elizabeth, 2nd dau. of Edward Bennet (b. 9 Nov. 1792, d. 1860), of
Longbourn House, Longbourn, Herts., and had issue
1) FITZWILLIAM CHARLES; 1st Duke.
2) Elizabeth Jane, b. 1816, m. 1837, James William, 19th Earl of
Ormonde, and d. 1881, leaving issue. (See Ormonde.)
3) Bennet Edward, b. 1818, d. 1818.
Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy d. 1850. His only surviving son,
FITZWILLIAM CHARLES, 1st Duke of Derbyshire; educ. Eton and Camb.; b.
1815; m. 1838, Christiana, only dau. of William Stephen Stanton, and had
1) Georgiana Christiana, b. 1839, m. 1858, Wilcox Delvigne and d. 1865,
having had issue.
2) Anne Elizabeth, b. 1842, m. 1862, Baron Tighe of March, and had
issue. (See Tighe.)
3) CHARLES STANTON BENNET; 2nd Duke.
His Grace d. 1874 and was s. by his only son,
CHARLES STANTON BENNET, 2nd Duke of Derbyshire; educ. Eton and
Camb.; b. 1845; m. 1872, Honoria, dau. of Christopher Greville-Knox,
and had issue,
1. George Fitzwilliam, Marquess of Derby; b. 1872, d. 1873.
2. CHRISTOPHER GEORGE; 3rd and present Duke.
3. Jane Honoria, b. 1875, m. 1895, Hugh Halifax Merrion, and had issue
• Edward Hugh Darcy, b. 1897.
His Grace d. 1908 and was s. by his only surv. son.
Creation-Duke of Derbyshire and Marquess of Derby, in England 1860.
Seat-Pemberley House, in Derbyshire.
Elizabeth removed the book from her battered breakfast. "Please, aunt. I do not care to
know the marquess' pedigree." You old social climber, she added spitefully to herself as
she left the room.
"And that's game," shouted Killian, tossing his wooden racquet up in the air and neatly
catching it. "Race you chaps down to the teahouse!" Four white-clad men sped towards
the gate of the tennis court, pushing and shoving each other. They collapsed in a heap on
the Wimbledon grass, but two figures recovered and ran towards the finish.
"Won again!" crowed Darcy, raising his racquet in triumph.
Killian, close behind, laughed and pointed a finger at the vanquished. "How does it feel
to have lost twice today, gentlemen?"
Claud tossed a towel at him. "You're hilarious, Riverfield."
"If you and Fitz hadn't pushed us down," protested Julian, grinning.
"So you're both going to fetch tea, then?" retorted Darcy. Julian theatrically heaved a
sigh, as Claud mockingly bowed with the towel over his arm. They scampered away,
Silence prevailed as Darcy dropped into a chair and Killian stretched out on the lawn.
Though close enough friends to feel comfortable in mutual silence, Killian sensed a
difference in Darcy's reticence. Shading his eyes from the sun, he glanced over at his
"Fitz, is there something wrong? Your father...?"
"Excellent." He paused thoughtfully. "It's that girl, isn't it?"
More of a statement than a question, Darcy thought. I should have known that Killian
would notice. A well of emotion broke his sudden shyness and his feelings poured out.
"I've never felt like this--never," he concluded.
"Well, of course not. You've never been properly in love before."
"Neither have you," rejoined Darcy.
"Not seriously; not until--." But Killian stopped himself. After all, this conversation was
not about him. Those ideas, fresh and still aborning, were better shared another time.
Darcy saved him the trouble. "Does she look like someone to you?"
Killian thought hard for a moment. "I hadn't really considered it, but now that you
mention it, I've a crazy idea that she looks like that portrait at Pemberley--"
"--Of my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth. So you see it, too."
"People say you resemble her husband, so perhaps this relationship is fated to happen."
"Perhaps." Darcy frowned. "What if she's just a social climber? You know as well as I do
how a lot of these debutantes are."
"As we have daily proof," said Killian dryly. "But, in all seriousness, given what we've
seen of her, I don't think she'll turn out a title-chaser."
Darcy smiled at his best friend. "Thanks. And now I think we'd better end this
conversation as I see our tea." They watched, amused, as Claud and Julian struggled with
a large tray. Setting their burden down, the relieved pair flopped into chairs.
"No service?" Darcy asked innocently. Killian snapped his fingers impetuously. Julian
and Claud exchanged a look. A scuffle ensued. Darcy upset a bucket of water left by a
gardener over Claud, who knocked him into some nearby bushes. Julian attempted to
tackle the laughing Killian, promptly stepped into the forgotten vessel and fell, taking his
victim down with him.
The sound of a throat clearing stopped them cold. Julian, flushing, inclined his head.
"Good afternoon, Serena, Lady Kristin, Miss Clifton, Miss Percy."
"Hello, dearest." Serena fought an urge to smile at the sight before her. With water and
foliage dripping from his person, Claud resembled a newly irrigated plant. Darcy,
carefully picking himself out of the hedge, had grass and twigs intermingled in his wildly
spiky hair and sticking to his damp clothes. Foot encased in the bucket, Julian grasped
Killian's shoeless leg. Both sprawled on the ground, tennis whites no longer so. Four
faces glowed an interesting shade of crimson.
Stammering, Julian finally broke the silence. "Darling, I didn't expect to see you--I mean,
I didn't think--rather, what are you doing here?" He freed his foot from the pail.
Raising her eyebrows, Serena replied matter-of-factly, "Playing tennis. I might ask you
the same." Gazing at the dashing and debonair young men turned disheveled and guilty
schoolboys, she began to giggle. Her companions joined her and, after a moment, the
men did also.
The rest of the afternoon rapidly passed in a jolly fashion. Mixed doubles followed tea,
with Darcy, much to his secret delight, partnering Elizabeth. If only life was as simple as
tennis, he mused, noting the rosy flush of his partner's cheeks, the fine beads of
perspiration misting her forehead, and how well she became her jaunty tennis clothes.
The match ended in favor of Darcy/Clifton over Finlay/Klosson, 7-5, 6-4. Elizabeth
joyfully rushed up to her partner the moment they gained match point, taking his arm
"Oh!" she exclaimed, releasing it quickly. "Goodness, what was that?"
Darcy felt disbelieving, but he had to say it. "A spark."
She echoed it quietly. "A spark."
"Yes. I felt it, didn't you?"
"Well, yes. I did. I wonder what caused it?" she said lightly, face conscious with
Posted on Friday, 14 April 2000
"I see the mails yielded up the prized invite of the season for you also," said Perry,
indicating an elegant engraved envelope lying on a table in the front hall.
Lord and Lady Edward Ayrshire
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage
of their beloved daughter
The Honourable Julian Trevor Eaton-Fox
on Friday, the seventeenth of July
one thousand nine hundred and twenty-five
at ten o'clock
Eaton Square London
Darcy smiled as he put on his coat. "Now it's official."
"I say, don't tell the P.M., but," Perry crept confidentially closer, "what exactly do ushers
His friend laughed. "Come on, I'll tell you on the way."
The other four were ranged around Clair's usual table at the Embassy,...
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