Good Morning dear readers,
After having done the cover reveal for Perilous Siege last month, I am very pleased to share with you today a deleted vignette from C. P Odom’s latest release. This book has a really interesting premise that got me curious, especially because lately I have been craving for different books within the genre and I LOVE sci-fi.
In Perilous Siege, when a man dressed in bizarre attire suddenly appears in a field on his Pemberley estate, Fitzwilliam Darcy has little inkling of the many and startling changes this man’s strange arrival will have on his life, his family’s lives, and indeed, his whole world.
Mysteriously sent to the Regency world of Pride and Prejudice, this refugee from a future Armageddon is befriended by Darcy. How will the presence of Major Edward McDunn influence the events of Jane Austen’s signature work, especially the tangled courtship between Darcy and the complex and endearing Elizabeth Bennet?
Interesting isn’t it? If you were captivated by this premise, you now have the opportunity to read a deleted scene with some additional comments from the author, I hope you like it 🙂
Good day, Rita. Thank you for inviting me to visit with your readers to share the release of my latest book, Perilous Siege – Pride and Prejudice in an Alternate Universe. What follows is a deleted vignette centered on the confrontation between Darcy and Elizabeth at the Netherfield ball. It also involves Mrs. Younge (who basically disappears) and Wickham (who becomes a minor character).
I wrote this section early on, but I was having difficulty making it work within the context of how I wanted to portray the characters. The action involved in this vignette was okay, and there were certain parts I hated to lose. I was only able to save a few shreds from what you’re going to read when the dust settled after an intensive rewriting session.
I might mention that I was a bit startled to see my character from our world (Major Edward McDunn) with several different names in this vignette. When I started fleshing out my plot outline, I decided early-on to make the character have a Scottish ancestry on one side of his family, so I originally named him McKenzie. Then I came to realize I had unconsciously chosen that last name because it was the last name of my wife’s grandfather. So I then changed his name to McBain, only to realize that was too close to the name of our state’s senior senator, Senator John McCain. So I then tried McClendon, followed by McLendon. .None of them suited me until I finally settled on McDunn. When I read the passages aloud with the different names, it just didn’t sound right until I made the final change to McDunn.
For the sake of clarity, I’ve changed the American character’s name to McDunn throughout this vignette. I also extracted a couple of early segments to explain things in the Netherfield ball vignette (like, where did the letter that Elizabeth snatched from McDunn’s hand come from?).
McDunn glanced at Mrs. Younge, a refined, elegant looking woman, and he wondered if everything would happen like in the book. He had not had time to adequately consider whether he should do anything other than observe, though he was leaning toward mere observation rather than taking a part.
After all, he thought, everything turned out for the best in the book, despite everyone—Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, even Georgiana—having to endure a considerable amount of—what’s that word? Yeah, angst. I remember that one girl at A&M, Darla, who found out I had read Pride and Prejudice and made the interesting point that one of the biggest reasons for the enduring popularity of Pride and Prejudice was that angst.
“Take the angst out of Austen, and no one today would pay any attention to her,” she’d said. He hadn’t thought so when he first read the book, which he’d done mostly to make his grandmother happy on one of his visits as a teenager.
But whether events in this world would follow Austen’s storyline was a mystery still to be determined. These people were flesh-and-blood people, with all the foibles and inconsistencies of real life people. They weren’t puppets dancing to the tune of an author lost in an infinity of possible worlds, as well as being distant in time.
Later, McDunn finally managed to have a word in private with Mrs. Younge. He bluntly asked her if she found her present situation agreeable. Upon her concurrence, he obliquely advised her that it would thus be to her advantage if she focused her efforts on being a loyal companion to Miss Darcy and not be distracted by any possibilities of quick money.
“Perhaps,” he said, “such as might come from a former companion of Mr. Darcy.”
Mrs. Younge visibly paled and opened her mouth to protest, but McDunn held up a hand to forestall her.
“As long as you execute your duties faithfully, Mrs. Younge, I have no intention of speaking to Mr. Darcy about how closely he might have checked your references. I hope we might have a right understanding on that point.”
On that note and with her nod of understanding, the two of them parted.
However, in June, McDunn has reason to think his belief might have been premature, since Mrs. Younge solicited a moment of his time and gave him a folded letter.
Upon opening it, he saw it was signed “George Wickham,” and he glanced up sharply at Mrs. Young.
“I have not answered the letter, major,” she said, her voice a bit strained. “It just came today, and I brought it to you immediately.”
McDunn nodded and read the missive. Clearly, Mrs. Younge and Wickham had some kind of previous history, based on the familiarity with which Wickham greeted her. But it was the remainder of the letter that most concerned him, since he suggested that Mrs. Young might arrange to for her and Miss Darcy, under her care, to visit some holiday site such as Bath or Ramsgate. He assured Mrs. Younge that he is certain he could renew his acquaintance with her and even convince the younger girl to be in love with him. If he could also get her agreement to an elopement, he would acquire her fortune of thirty thousand pounds, which he offered to split with Mrs. Younge.
McDunn looked up from the note and thanked Mrs. Younge for her loyalty. The older other woman only nodded coldly and departed.
We’re never going to be great friends, thought McDunn, but sometimes it’s better to be feared than to be liked. If I hadn’t put the fear of God in Mrs. Younge, she might well have acquiesced to Wickham’s plan.
Date TBD: Netherfield, Hertfordshire
McDunn heard angry voices as soon as he stepped through the French door into the Netherfield garden.
“…yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed,” he heard Darcy say.
“And of your infliction,” Elizabeth cried with energy. “You have reduced him to his present state of poverty and withheld the advantages that should have been his!”
The voices fell silent as soon as McDunn’s footsteps on the flagstones were heard, and he rounded a hedge to find Darcy and Elizabeth standing almost nose to nose, while Wickham stood a bit behind Elizabeth, with a smug, satisfied look on his face.
“Don’t let my presence bring this delightful discussion to an end, ladies and gentlemen,” McDunn said as he joined them. No one said anything in response to his jibe, all of them looking away and not meeting anyone else’s eyes.
McDunn sighed and pulled out Wickham’s letter to Mrs. Younge, which he had stuck into an interior pocket on a sudden whim when dressing.
“Perhaps, Miss Elizabeth, before you go too much further, you might wish to read this letter which Mr. Wickham sent to Miss Darcy’s companion last summer.”
Elizabeth looked at him in momentary confusion at his interference before she snatched the letter from his hand. In the light streaming out into the garden from the ballroom, McDunn saw her go pale as she read it and digested its contents.
Then she whirled around and confronted a stricken Wickham, who backed away from her anger.
“What . . . what . . . how . . .” she said, so distressed she could not form sentences. Her anger mixed with her dismay and embarrassment to roil her expression until she suddenly burst into tears and ran from the garden and into Netherfield.
“I would suggest you go comfort the young lady,” he told Darcy, knowing the likely result of soothing a distraught young lady. Darcy nodded silently and followed her into the ballroom.
Then McDunn turned toward Wickham, and that young imitation gentleman backed further away as the big, dark, suddenly dangerous man stepped toward him.
“As for you,” McDunn said in cold satisfaction, “I believe it would be best for you to leave before I find it necessary to hurt you.”
At seeing the look of disbelief on Wickham’s face, McDunn gave him a predatory smile. “Do not believe I would not do so, you son of a bitch. You might remember I’m not a gentleman. I’m an American, and we know how to deal with your kind.”
Wickham went completely pale as he comprehended the reality of his danger. He couldn’t say anything but simply whirled and made for the ballroom.
I shouldn’t feel so satisfied, McDunn thought as he followed him more sedately. But that felt good.
McDunn was sitting with Georgiana and Mrs. Younge at the upstairs balcony when Darcy returned, wooden-faced. McDunn wondered what had gone wrong, since something clearly had, but he wasn’t able to ask about it until Mrs. Younge excused herself, as she usually did whenever McDunn and Darcy were together.
“Well?” McDunn asked. “It appears your mission to Miss Elizabeth didn’t go as you expected.”
Darcy looked at him in shock, his eyes swiveling to his sister, and McDunn shrugged.
“She already knows almost everything, Darcy. It’s ridiculous to try to pretend otherwise. After all, who else could better interpret the moods and thoughts of a brother than a sister who has had all her life to learn all his foibles? So, what happened? Doesn’t Miss Elizabeth understand how she was deceived by Wickham?”
After a few moments to ponder McDunn’s words, Darcy finally shrugged, struggling to control his emotions. But his despondency was clear as he slumped down into a chair, his rigid posture disappearing.
“She understands, all right, but she appears as furious with me as she is with Wickham. Possibly even more. She informed me that she had not desired my good opinion and the revelation of it gave her no pleasure. I must have been impolitic in my declaration of my feelings, since she asked why she should not be offended at being told that I admired her against my will, against my reason, and even against my character.”
“Oh, my,” said Georgiana, holding her handkerchief to her mouth. Darcy just nodded his agreement, soothed by her concern, but McDunn saw her from a different angle. To him, it looked like she was trying to hide a slight smile as her brother continued.
“She then said that this new information showed her how she had been so woefully deceived by Wickham, and she did apologize for believing him when she should have been more skeptical. For a moment, I had a slight surge of hope, but it was dashed when she said that, from our first meeting, she had become aware of my . . . my arrogance, my conceit, and my selfishness. She went on to inform me that I had no tact, no manners other than a stiff reserve, was insensitive to the feelings of others, especially those I considered beneath my station, and . . . and I should go find a snooty, fashionable woman such as Miss Bingley. Such a fashionable lady could give me a proper heir and perhaps even as a spare or two. After which she could take a lover, as was common among those of my station in life, so she could live a life almost completely separate from me. Meanwhile, I could always divert myself with horses, cards, and drink as was the fashion.”
McDunn was stunned by Darcy’s revelations, especially considering his usual stoic reticence. It occurred to him suddenly that only the severe jolt he had just received could have loosened his tongue to this degree.
Given a half-hour to recover his usual demeanor, he thought, and we would likely have heard none of what was just said. It wasn’t exactly the Hunsford confrontation from Austen, but it bears more than a few similarities. Am I making a mistake in keeping out of the situation? Should I take a hand and try to save these two from themselves.
Then he internally jeered at himself for fancying himself a matchmaker, when his own relationships with the ladies had not been marked with any significant successes.
High school was a wash, he thought, and my time in the Corps was full of too much combat and too little liberty. As for college, I came close to setting records for how quickly I ploughed through my studies, but that left little time for pursuing the opposite sex! Which might have been a blessing, considering how little interest they showed in the old veterans like me. Grandpa said it was the same with him, when he went to college after the Corps. He met Grandma at church, and it took the intervention of several of their friends to finally get them together.
“Wow,” he murmured. “She really unloaded on you.”
But, he heard a mostly muffled giggle, and, when he looked over at Georgiana, he saw for certain that she was trying to hide a smile. Her brother, though, was sunk in gloom, head on his chest.
McDunn raised his eyebrows towards Georgiana and motioned with his head toward the door from the balcony to the hall. She nodded back, and they both quietly rose and they went out into the hall, leaving Darcy to his melancholy musings.
“Obviously, you found something to amuse you,” he said, and she smiled more broadly.
“Oh, part of it is your delightful Americanisms, Mr. McDunn. ‘Wow!’ And ‘unloaded on you!’ They are so wonderfully different from the usual way people converse!”
McDunn gave her a quick, abbreviated bow. “Always glad to bring a little amusement into your otherwise drab, uneventful life, ma’am.”
She chortled delightedly and said, through her muffled giggles, “There you go again! Now, stop it! I have something I want to say!”
McDunn restrained himself and contented himself with saying, “And that is?”
“I, personally think things are going wonderfully! I like Miss Elizabeth! I would love to have her as a sister! And I love my brother! But . . . well, I cannot close my eyes to his failings, few as they are and no matter his many other sterling qualities, because they reflect so manifestly on how he would . . . what is that word you used? Oh, yes, interact. On how he would interact with a wife.”
“He is a bit lacking in certain inter-personal skills,” McDunn said blandly.
“I said stop it, sir!” Georgiana said, stifling another giggle. “In any case, I am of the opinion that William needs to be . . . shocked . . . into an awareness that he needs to mend his manners. That he needs to change, really change, certain things about his manner. I think it comes from what he has said so often to me about how our parents so frequently emphasized that it was his duty to uphold the Darcy family name and fortune. It has him all . . . all confused about what he wants to do and what our parents would want him to do.”
She paused a moment, but McDunn didn’t say anything. This girl might only be sixteen, but she had known her brother her whole life. Her opinions had to be given weight, so he waited for her to continue.
“But I think Miss Elizabeth likes my brother, though she may not realize it.”
“Really?” said McDunn in surprise. “I hadn’t noticed that.”
“I do. And Mrs. Younge thinks so, too.”
“Really?” McDunn said in repetition, then kicked himself internally for his brilliant conversation.
“Really. I think it would be best to let things kind of steep, like you do with a teapot, and see what happens. After all, William has never shown any kind of attraction to another woman, despite all those who have pursued him. I believe this situation will work itself out. Wait and see.”
McDunn nodded his head in agreement. “I believe that would be best, Miss Darcy. And, to be honest, we can’t really do anything else, can we?”
And I would look like such a fool trying to play matchmaker, he thought sardonically. It’s not like Austen provided a script and the actors are all playing their part. The Siege really must be of Divine origin, because God, like Reverend Henderson used to say back home, really does have a sense of humor.
End of Deleted Vignette
Comments by Colin Odom:
This was an early attempt to write the Netherfield ball scene, with the necessary preludes of McDunn warning Mrs. Younge against conspiring with Wickham and receiving Wickham’s letter. I was having trouble making this scenario work, since it provided a potential resolution of Darcy and Elizabeth’s disagreements far too early in the plot. Plus, everything was rather compressed in time at that time, with McDunn being portaled to the Regency in 1811, with the Assembly and the Netherfield ball to follow in the autumn. It just wasn’t going to work.
So I wrote Mrs. Younge completely out of the plot, and reduced Wickham to a minor character who didn’t have much effect on any of the happenings. And I completely changed the events at the Netherfield ball! But that’s a story for another day! <snicker, snicker!>
By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics. I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.
I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife’s beloved Jane Austen books after her passing. One thing led to another, and I now have three novels published: A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015). My fourth novel, Perilous Siege, was recently published in the second quarter of 2019.
I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats. My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).
You can find C. P. Odom through the following social media:
Colin Odom’s Facebook page: C.P. Odom’s Facebook Page
C.P. Odom’s Amazon page: C.P. Odom’s Amazon Page
- C.P. Odom’s Goodreads page: C.P. Odom’s Goodreads Page
- C.P. Odom’s page on Meryton Press site: C.P. Odom’s Meryton Press Page
April 8 / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post
April 10 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Excerpt
April 12 / Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview
April 13 / Just Jane 1813 / Meet C.P. Odom
April 14 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review
April 15 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Excerpt
April 16 / From Pemberley to Milton / Vignette
April 17 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Excerpt
April 18 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post
Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks copies of Perilous Siege to those who are following the blog tour.
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.
There will be one winner per contes and each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. and the giveaway is international.
The giveaway runs until midnight, April 21, 2019 and it is international.
Good Luck everyone!