My most recent publication is a fantasy: What if Darcy made a life-altering wish?
Being a pragmatic, serious man, Darcy held no belief in fairy tales; those were only for children or muddle-headed maidens. But when he suddenly found himself in an impossible dilemma, Elizabeth Bennet was the only person he could trust.
“Miss Elizabeth, are you unwell?”
Gasping with fright, Elizabeth jumped to her feet, whirled around and observed a small boy wearing green riding attire meant for a grown man.
“Why do you weep?” he asked.
“Who are you?” she inquired, swiftly wiping the tears from her face.
He bowed in a proper greeting and she curtsied. “It is I, Mr. Darcy,” he said.
She was startled by this obvious falsehood and narrowed her eyes. “You are not Mr. Darcy! You are just a boy!”
“While it is true that I appear to be a boy, I am indeed Fitzwilliam Darcy.” He swept the hair away from his eyes and stood with perfect posture, his coat tails touching the ground.
Of course, Elizabeth knew perfectly well that this young child was not Mr. Darcy but who could he be? She was sure that she knew all the young boys in the county and he was certainly not a child of the Longbourn tenants or neighbours. “Are you visiting someone in the area?” she asked.
“I am visiting Charles Bingley, as you very well know, Miss Elizabeth.” She detected a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“How do you know my name?” she inquired in confusion. “Have we been introduced?” She gazed around her for a glimpse of anyone who might have accompanied the child.
“I have known you these past few weeks,” he said, failing to mask his displeasure. “I danced with you last evening at the ball.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “I danced with no boys last evening,” she said. When his annoyance changed to exasperation, she continued in a gentler tone, though still sceptical of his claims. “It is no secret that I danced with Mr. Darcy last night, as any number of people observed us doing so,” she said.
“Perhaps but no one overheard our conversation.”
She folded her arms in front of her. “And did we converse during this dance, Mister Darcy?” she inquired.
He nodded the affirmative. “You tried to assess my character but you enjoyed little success. You said I puzzled you exceedingly. I said that I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours,” he replied with the utmost determination, unlike any child she had ever encountered.
She frowned. “And do you know why Mr. Darcy puzzles me?” she asked.
“Does it have something to do with Mr. Wickham?”
She averted her eyes. “Among other things,” she said.
“Miss Elizabeth, I know you wish to know more of my history with Mr. Wickham and I promise to reveal the whole sordid truth, but first I beseech you to assist me!”
“If you are Mr. Darcy, why are you a boy?” She was still doubtful of his claims but his troubled countenance gave her pause. His haughty reserve had faded and shoulders drooped.
He shook his head and sat down on the fallen tree. “Honestly, I have no idea,” he said.
She sat next to him. “How may I help you?” She could not keep from feeling some sympathy for the poor boy, sitting there with his head in his hands. She noticed, too, that his feet were covered only with wool stockings and no small amount of debris.
He was silent for a moment, then looked up into her eyes. “I need help to determine how I came to be in my present state and how to correct it,” he said.
She shook her head. “First, we must get you some attire befitting your age. You look entirely out of place in those clothes.” How this was to be accomplished was a different matter; with five daughters, Longbourn would have no boys’ clothes stored away. She suddenly thought of her friend Charlotte Lucas, who had younger brothers. “Let us go to Lucas Lodge,” she said. “They are certain to have some clothes that will fit you.”
“Yes, that is an excellent suggestion!”
He grasped the horse’s reins and they made their way through the pines and over to the path between the two estates. “Is that Mr. Darcy’s horse?” she inquired.
“Yes, Bart is my horse,” the boy said.
He was a puzzlement indeed. “Are you really Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy?” she asked.
“I am.” He held out his hand, showing her the ring on his thumb. “I have my father’s signet ring to prove it.”
“But it is too large for you,” she said. Indeed, the boy was small; a full head shorter than she was.
“Yes, it slipped off my finger during the night and I nearly lost it,” he told her with a frown. “I would never forgive myself if I lost such a cherished heirloom.”
“No indeed, you must not lose it.” She felt still quite unsure what to make of the boy’s claims, but she dearly hoped that he had not stolen the ring from Mr. Darcy.
He stopped walking to look up at her. “Do you believe me, then? Please tell me that you do, Miss Elizabeth!” he implored her.
“Tell me something that only Mr. Darcy and I would know.”
He appeared to contemplate this for a moment. “I admire a woman who improves her mind through extensive reading.”
He mouth gaped in astonishment. “Mr. Darcy!” It was true that he had made that very same comment during their discussion at Netherfield a fortnight ago. It was impossible to believe, but somehow Mr. Darcy had turned into a boy! But how?—she wondered, although she did see the resemblance; the dark hair, the intense eyes, and the proud posture.
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