Good Afternoon everyone,
How have you been? I am happy to say that I am finally over my reading slumber and I am back to daily reading 🙂
Today I bring to you an excerpt from a book that I haven’t read yet, but that seems absolutely marvellous! I am talking about Faults of Understanding, Jennifer Altman’s second novel which will be released on May 27th.
The excerpt she brings us today depicts Darcy’s proposal and I couldn’t think of a better scene to have here at From Pemberley to Milton.
Thank you so much for visiting Jennifer, and best of luck with your new book 🙂
Hi Rita! Thank you for hosting the fourth stop on my blog tour for my upcoming release, Faults of Understanding. If you’ve been following the tour, you may have already read the prologue and the beginning of Chapter 1, but today I thought I’d skip ahead a bit with an excerpt from Chapter 2, featuring Darcy’s proposal. 🙂 But just to catch you up, if you haven’t already read my previous excerpts: Darcy learns at the Netherfield ball that Mr. Collins is planning to make an offer of marriage to Elizabeth Bennet and decides to pre-empt him with a proposal of his own. Prior to the excerpt below, he has already visited Mr. Bennet, and Mr. Bennet has communicated Darcy’s intentions to Elizabeth. This scene begins shortly thereafter.
An hour later, Elizabeth was no closer to a solution to her conundrum about Mr. Darcy when she made her reluctant return to Longbourn. This was an unfortunate occurrence, as she had no sooner entered the lane that led to the house when she became aware of a tall black stallion approaching from the opposite direction. Dread twisted her stomach as she recognized the rider, but she grudgingly halted her steps, waiting as the horse drew near.
When he gained the drive, Mr. Darcy neatly dismounted, leading his horse the remainder of the way before removing his hat and offering her a formal bow.
“Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth murmured.
The two stood in silence for several minutes before Darcy continued, “I trust your father has spoken with you?”
“He has, sir.”
Darcy nodded, and Elizabeth watched as he shifted his hat from one hand to another.
“I had thought we might take some time to discuss my proposition. Shall we return to the house? Or a walk, perhaps?
Elizabeth hesitated. She would greatly prefer to speak with Mr. Darcy outside, where they might be assured of more privacy, but she had already been gone for some time. Besides, she was confident that Mr. Darcy would also prefer to speak outside the house, and a certain perverseness made her not want to make things any easier on him.
“You may accompany me back to Longbourn if you wish. I am sure my father will not object to our making use of his book room.”
Darcy nodded, his expression pained, and they moved into the yard. One of the grooms approached to take the horse, and Elizabeth led Mr. Darcy through the gardens to the side entrance she had used earlier. She was not surprised when her father met them in the corridor, having seen them approaching from the window. After briefly informing Elizabeth that her mother and sisters remained above stairs, and that Mr. Collins was still out, he ushered them into his library with a wry smile before quitting the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.
Elizabeth took a seat by the window, folding her hands demurely in her lap and watching as Mr. Darcy paced about the room, finally coming to stand several feet away.
“Your father has shown you the papers I drew up?” he inquired abruptly.
“He has, sir,” Elizabeth answered before adding, “I suppose I should thank you. The settlement you proposed was very generous.”
Darcy dismissed her words with a wave of his hand. “It is no more than you deserve. There is very little I would be unable or unwilling to provide you with, once we are married, but if there is anything in particular you would like outlined in the articles, you need only ask.”
Elizabeth murmured her thanks, and the room grew quiet.
“No doubt you were surprised by my intentions,” Darcy eventually stated.
“Indeed. I was quite astounded.”
“Yes. I must beg your pardon for taking you unawares. Given the disparity in our stations, I can see that this must come as a shock. In truth, I had not made up my mind to offer for you until last night.”
Elizabeth could feel the heat building in her cheeks, but she somehow managed to answer serenely, “Disparity? Forgive me, I do not understand. You are a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far as I can see, we are equal.”
Across from her, Darcy’s eyebrows lifted. He opened his mouth and closed it again several times, before finally saying, “I beg your pardon. What I meant to say is that it would not have been appropriate to give rise to expectations by showing any partiality to you before such a time as I had determined to pay my addresses. However, when I came to understand that an offer of marriage was soon to be made to you by Mr. Collins, I knew I must act with all due haste.”
“I see. And pray, tell me, Mr. Darcy, what concern is it of yours whether I should marry my cousin, or any other gentleman for that matter?”
Elizabeth watched as Darcy’s entire body stiffened. “I had the misfortune of spending almost twenty minutes in conversation with Collins last evening, and it took less than five of those minutes to know that it would be a degradation for you to wed such a man! He is not your equal in intelligence or wit, and I must add that his lack of decorum was truly shocking. You are his superior in every way. I do not believe your cousin could ever make you happy, nor give you the life you deserve. Marriage to him would be a misery for you!”
Despite her intention to remain detached, Elizabeth’s eyes grew wide at Darcy’s impassioned speech. Could it be that the gentleman had formed some sort of attachment to her after all? Elizabeth flushed at the thought. To keep herself from dwelling on such a notion, she responded in a way she knew must provoke him further.
“Nevertheless, he would be a prudent match for me.”
For a moment, Mr. Darcy looked physically ill, before his expression softened and he leaned forward, addressing her earnestly, “Aye. And that is why I knew I must speak. I am aware that your father’s estate is entailed upon your cousin, and as such, you may feel it would be pragmatic to accept him, for the sake of all your family. But now you see, you have another way. I know I cannot give you Longbourn, but should you agree to marry me, your family will always be provided for. On this, I give you my word.”
Elizabeth shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She had promised her father she would not make any hasty decisions regarding Mr. Darcy’s offer, but she could not in good conscience allow him to continue if his sole motive was to save her from a marriage to her cousin.
“Mr. Darcy, I thank you for your concern for my welfare, however, you may rest easy, sir. I have already decided I will not be accepting my cousin’s proposal of marriage, should he see fit to make one. So you need not worry for my future, and as such, you should feel under no further obligation to me. You have made me no formal offer, and I understand that you will have no wish to make your addresses now. We may both continue on as we were before.”
Darcy’s thick brows drew together, and he studied her for a moment before he spoke.
“While I am gratified to know you have decided against attaching yourself to your cousin, pray, allow me to correct your misapprehension as to my desires. I have no wish to withdraw my offer. I have made my intentions known to your father, and it would be dishonorable to back out now. However, you are correct that no formal address has been made. I hope you will allow me to correct this oversight.”
To Elizabeth’s horror, he dropped to one knee, taking up her hand. “Miss Elizabeth, will you do me the courtesy of becoming my wife?”
An unexpected jolt traveled up Elizabeth’s arm at the warmth of Mr. Darcy’s fingers on her ungloved hand. Quickly, she stood, breaking their connection and forcing Mr. Darcy to rise. Pacing several steps away, Elizabeth stared through the mullioned glass before turning back to face her unexpected suitor.
“Mr. Darcy, I hope you do not think I spoke in such a way to entreat you to make your proposal. I was in earnest when I offered to forget the entire situation.”
“I am well aware of your intentions.”
“Then you are saying you still wish to marry me?”
Exasperated, Elizabeth threw up her hands. “But why? I have already told you I do not intend to marry my cousin and that I have no expectations of you!”
Mr. Darcy’s eyes widened, clearly taken aback by her outburst.
“Is it so surprising that I would wish to marry you?”
At such a remarkable question, Elizabeth could not help quirking one eyebrow in surprise. “I believe I have already stated as much. And as you can no longer claim Mr. Collins as your motive, I should like to know why you would wish to make me your wife. We have scarcely known each other a month, and as you have so helpfully stated, we are not of the same circles.”
“Yes, of course you are correct. And while I realize our acquaintance has been of a brief duration, I assure you, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. We get on satisfactorily. We are well matched in intelligence, if not in temperament. I believe you would be an admirable mistress for my estate, and a worthy example to my sister. Are these not all respectable reasons to marry?”
Elizabeth released a frustrated sigh. This was not going at all as she had planned.
“Yes, I suppose they are. But you must wish for something beyond all that? Certainly, you could find someone more… more…” Her voice faltered and she drew a breath before changing tactics. “In any case, I was under the impression that you were already promised. Are you not betrothed to your own cousin?” she asked archly.
“My cousin?” Darcy repeated.
“Yes, Miss de Bourgh. I believe she will have a very large fortune, and that it is the wish of both your families that you unite your two estates.”
Inexplicably, Darcy’s lips tightened as he ground out, “I am not engaged to Anne. And you would do well to avoid listening to idle gossip.”
Elizabeth looked away in embarrassment. He was right, of course. But before she could formulate an adequate apology, Mr. Darcy continued in a gentler tone, “It is true that when my cousin and I were children, our mothers spoke of our one day growing up to marry, but it was merely an idle wish. It was never anything more than that. Had my matrimonial interest veered in that direction, I assure you, Anne and I would have wed some time ago.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Very well. I accept your assertion that you are not promised to Miss de Bourgh; however, I am still not convinced I would make you a good wife.”
Darcy looked momentarily startled, but answered smoothly, “Is this your only objection? If it is my feelings you are worried for, I have already told you it is my belief that you would suit me quite well. However, if I can say anything further to put your mind at ease, I am happy to do so.”
Elizabeth paced to the window, drawing back the curtain. Once again gazing out into the garden, she attempted to bring order to her jumbled thoughts. She did not know how long she stood there before she felt the light press of a hand upon her shoulder and heard Mr. Darcy’s deep baritone speaking softly in her ear.
“You must know that I will treat you with kindness, Miss Elizabeth. I realize I am asking you to take a leap of faith, but I promise you will want for nothing. Whatever is in my power to give, you shall have.”
Elizabeth turned away from the glass and gazed up into Mr. Darcy’s warm brown eyes. He stared back at her, and Elizabeth saw a host of emotions written across his features. Without conscious thought, her eyes dropped to his lips, which were full and looked surprisingly soft. Before she knew what she was about, she heard herself speaking the question that was at the forefront of her mind.
“You would want a child, I imagine. A son and heir for your estate.”
She could see him start, but after a brief hesitation, he answered carefully, “Pemberley is not entailed, so if we do not have a son, a daughter may inherit. And if for some reason we are not blessed with children, the estate would pass to my sister’s offspring. But to answer your question: Yes, I do want children. Not for the purposes of the estate, but because I would wish to have a family one day.”
Elizabeth turned away, surprised by how strongly both his words and the tenderness of his gaze had affected her. At her back, she heard Darcy clear his throat.
“Do you not… that is… are you not fond of children?”
“Oh, no. I am very fond of children,” she answered, shifting to face him again.
Darcy nodded, appearing somewhat uncertain. “Good. That is… good. I am glad to hear it.”
Elizabeth stepped away, crossing to the far side of the room. If she was going to maintain her composure, she needed to put some distance between them. Darcy followed her with his eyes, but remained standing where he was.
Clearing her throat, Elizabeth began, “There is one more matter I think it imperative that we discuss. What have you to say of Mr. Wickham?”
At the mention of Wickham’s name, Mr. Darcy’s spine stiffened and his countenance, which had been so animated only a moment ago, turned cold.
“I have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject of that gentleman. What has he to do with this?”
Elizabeth lifted her chin. “I believe he has everything to do with this. Your ill treatment of him speaks to your character.”
“My ill treatment?” Darcy virtually spat, crossing the floor in quick steps before turning back and pacing in the opposite direction. When he finally stopped in front of her, his eyes were hard and his voice when he spoke had a frosty edge. “As I have already stated once, you would do well not to believe everything you hear. There are, after all, two sides to every story.”
“Very well. Then I am willing to listen to yours.”
Darcy was silent, but Elizabeth could see the tic of a muscle in his jaw.
“I see,” Elizabeth eventually answered.
“If you are hoping for a proposal from him,” Mr. Darcy said darkly, “you are bound to be disappointed. Wickham will marry a woman of means, if he marries at all.”
“And whose fault is that?” Elizabeth cried. “You are the one who has reduced him to his present circumstances. Had you provided him with the living promised in your father’s will, he would not be forced to live in comparable poverty even now. It is because of you that Mr. Wickham cannot marry where he chooses.”
“Is that what he told you?” Darcy turned away, muttering under his breath, “Good God. The man will stop at nothing to blacken my name.” When he moved to face her again, Elizabeth could see him struggling to regain control of his emotions.
“I cannot divulge all of my dealings with Wickham, as there are others who would be harmed by my disclosures. However, I can tell you that Mr. Wickham lies as easily as he breathes. The living in question was rejected by him. Instead, he requested monetary compensation, as he did not think himself suited to the church—a sentiment with which I whole-heartedly agreed—and instead I paid him three thousand pounds, in lieu of the living. This was in addition to the one thousand pounds left him by my father. So, if Mr. Wickham currently finds himself in precarious financial circumstances, you might ask yourself why that is.”
Elizabeth stared back at Mr. Darcy, fully feeling the shock of his declaration and the humiliation of her misplaced conviction. When she did not speak, Darcy continued, “If you doubt my words, I can summon more than one witness to speak to their veracity. I assure you, Mr. Wickham cannot say the same.”
“No,” she murmured, a flush warming her cheeks, “that will not be necessary. I believe you.”
In an instant, Darcy’s expression softened, and his anger seemed to dissipate as quickly as it had come.
“I beg your pardon. It was not my intention to cause you distress. But I am glad to have had an opportunity to speak to you on this matter. I hope you will heed my warning and stay far away from Mr. Wickham. He is not an honorable man.”
Elizabeth offered him a shaky nod before saying, “You have given me much to think about, Mr. Darcy, and I hope you understand that I can give you no answer today. I must first speak to my cousin, and then I would like some time to consider the matter. This has all been rather… sudden.”
“Of course,” Darcy answered quickly. “I will importune you no further. But I hope you will permit me to call on you tomorrow?”
Elizabeth nodded, and Darcy bowed slightly at the waist before turning towards the door, but Elizabeth’s voice halted his progress.
“You will remain at Netherfield, then?” she asked.
Darcy turned. “I will. Bingley has been kind enough to allow me the use of the house for as long as I should require it.”
“Then it is true… that he has left the neighborhood? My sister had a letter from Miss Bingley earlier today.”
“Yes, I believe he had some business in Town.”
“And… will he return? When his business is concluded?”
Darcy shrugged. “With Bingley, it is hard to say. His sisters, I know, would prefer to remain in London, and Bingley is always happiest wherever he is—as I think he remarked once when we were together at Netherfield.”
Elizabeth nodded slowly, and with another bow, Darcy quit the room, leaving her with much to ponder about the man she was so certain she despised.
I hope you enjoyed that little sneak peek! The book releases one week from today, on May 27th, but the ebook is available for pre-order now: getbook.at/FaultsOfUnderstanding
“I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding.” – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice
When Fitzwilliam Darcy makes an impetuous offer of marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, he is convinced they have as good a chance as any for a harmonious life together. That is, until an overheard conversation changes everything, and Darcy realizes he is now joined in perpetuity to a woman who loathes the very sight of him.
Elizabeth Bennet’s expectations for matrimonial accord were never very high, having accepted Mr. Darcy’s proposal in a fit of pique, not love. Still, she is determined to make the best of her situation, despite having tied herself to such an arrogant, disagreeable man.
But life at Pemberley is not at all what she imagined, and Elizabeth soon finds herself with more questions than answers about the enigmatic gentleman she agreed to wed.
Trapped in a marriage founded on misunderstandings, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy struggle with deepening attraction while confronting self-doubt and old betrayals. But is love enough to heal the wounds of the past? What will it take for two people bound by duty to find their way home to one another?
You can find Faults of Understanding on pre-order at:
Jennifer Altman is a novelist, an anglophile, and a lover of all things Regency. After a long career in the television industry, Jennifer shifted to book publishing in 2016. She currently works in the corporate division of a large publishing company. Jennifer makes her home just outside New York City, where she lives in a compact apartment with a considerable collection of books. When she’s not writing, Jennifer can be found reading, watching British period dramas, and not cleaning her house. Her debut novel, To Conquer Pride, released in 2018.
The blog tour is almost over, but you can sill go back and read all the wonderful informations Jennifer Altman has released so far 🙂
April 29th – Austenesque Reviews: Cover Reveal, Giveaway
May 6th – Austen Variations: Excerpt, Giveaway
May 14th – Babblings of a Bookworm: Author Interview, Giveaway
May 20th – From Pemberley to Milton: Excerpt, Giveaway
May 27th – Austen Variations: Book Release, Excerpt, Giveaway
As part of my blog tour, Jennifer Altman will be giving away one copy of the ebook. To enter the drawing, simply comment below. The winner will be chosen on May 27th.
Good Luck everyone!