Hi everyone.  I’m back.  Have been dealing with some health issues,  1*235 and took some time away from writing.  But I am back to typing away.  Have had fun doing some research for this story. Will be posting on Wednesdays.

The year is 1809.  Fitzwilliam Darcy has traveled to Vienna with his cousin (Richard) and his aunt, Lady Matlock. Elizabeth Bennet and her elder brother, Alex, are visiting their uncle in Vienna.  Suddenly, Vienna is invaded by Napoleon’s army.  Their only escape is by boat on the Danube River.  But the French forces are everywhere, as are people who dislike the British. How will the group survive and find their way home, to England?

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Chapter 1
April 1809
“Mother, we must make haste.” Richard Fitzwilliam called to his mother.
Klarissa Fitzwilliam, nee Adler, was speaking to her maid about the packing of her trunks.  “I am telling Alice what needs to be packed in which trunk.  It is important, as to ensure there is no damage.”
“Your clothing is not going to matter if you are killed.  Tell your maid to pack a few items in a satchel and let us be off.”
“Nonsense.  There is plenty of time to do things properly.  My sister would have told us if there is a need to hurry.”  The Countess of Matlock had brought her younger son and her nephew on holiday on the continent, as they had both graduated from the university in England.  The Countess was originally from Austria, and it had been years since she had last visited her homeland.  Her sister, Arabelle, was married to a politician, which made Lady Matlock feel no rush in evacuating their townhouse in Vienna, where they had been staying for the previous three months.  “With your uncle’s position, he would be one of the first to learn of an invasion.”
“Aunt Klarissa, Richard and I were down by the Danube.  We overheard men speaking of French troops moving on Vienna.  We need to leave immediately.  Any delay could be dangerous for all of us.” Fitzwilliam Darcy, the only nephew of Lord and Lady Matlock, stated.  “You should leave your belongings with your sister, and she can send them to you when everything is settled down.”
“I do not wish to leave them behind.  What of the beautiful set of dishes that were my mother’s?  What if something happened to them?  Mother left them to me, when she died last year.”
“Please, Mother, Grandmama would not wish for you to be harmed just to bring her dishes with us.  She would tell you to flee as quick as possible.” Richard was frustrated with his mother’s attitude.  He had been preparing to join the Army upon his return to England, and his senses were sharp for the coming battle.  “If we hurry, we can be on one of the ships that will sail up on the Danube.  Once we are safely away from here, we can make our way towards Hamburg.  With you being fluent in languages, we will be able to blend in better, not appearing to be British.”
They heard the front door of the house open and someone entering quickly.  The sound of one of the footmen stepping towards his Mistress’ study was obvious.  Richard and Darcy looked at each other for a moment, then hurried to follow the footman.  Lady Matlock had to admit that it was highly unusual for a servant to behave in such a manner.
As they reached the open door of the study, Arabelle came hurrying to find them.  “Sister, you must leave immediately.  I just received word that the French are entering the city.  Please, you must go now.”
“But…but…” Lady Matlock was shocked.
“No time for delays, you must hurry.  Richard, come.  Your uncle left me with a map and papers, as a precaution.  He was certain that Napoleon would arrive, just not so soon.  Take all these papers, they should keep you safe.  Prepare yourselves for leaving.  Please, Klarissa, take only a few clothes.  I will have the cook prepare a basket for you.  But you must hurry.”
Finally, Lady Matlock felt fear.  She knew, by the look in her sister’s eyes, that it would be dangerous to remain, especially if the enemy learned they were British.  Richard and Darcy could be killed.
They hurried and packed a single satchel each.  Arabelle came to the front door to farewell them, handing Richard a basket containing food for the trio.
Arabelle gave her sister a quick embrace and a kiss on the cheek.  “Safe journey, Klarissa.  Take care of the boys.”
Richard chuckled lightly at his aunt’s use of the word boys.  “Yes, Mother, you must keep us boys safe.”
Arabelle smiled as she gave her nephew a slight swat on his arm.  “You know what I mean, Richard.  You and Fitzwilliam keep your mother safe.”
“We will.” Darcy answered for them both.
Within minutes, the trio were out the door and heading towards the docks of the river.  They moved quickly, not wishing to be captured by Napoleon’s troops.
~~ ** ~~
“Lizzy, you and Adam must hurry.”  Randolph Gardiner declared, as he attempted to speed his niece and nephew from his home.  “Jacqueline says you must make haste.  Her brother is an officer, and he said it is not safe here for you.”
Mr Gardiner had lived in Vienna for nearly twenty years.  He had met and married a young lady named Gretchen, and Jacqueline was a cousin of Gretchen’s family.  The young lady came to tend the house for Mr Gardiner, who was alone after his wife’s death two years previously.  Mr Gardiner was the eldest brother of Mrs Fanny Bennet, the mother of Elizabeth and Adam Bennet.  The Bennet family consisted of six children and their parents.  Adam, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Katherine, and Lydia were adored by their parents, and they lived on their father’s estate of Longbourn, in Hertfordshire, in England.
Adam had recently graduated from Oxford, and his uncle had invited the young man to visit him in Vienna, and spend some time with his relation.  Knowing how dear such a trip would be for his second born sister, Elizabeth, Adam persuaded his father to allow her to join him on the holiday.  Adam was one and twenty, and his sister was nine and ten.  Mr Bennet felt safe in allowing the two to travel without a parent, and he was certain all was safe, since the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805, all had been quiet, according to Mr Gardiner.
The Bennet children had arrived at their uncle’s home in February.  They were originally supposed to remain with him for another three months, but the impending battle changed their plans.  Mr Gardiner knew of other cities and villages that had been attacked by the French army, which left him full of fear for his nephew and niece.
Adam looked at his uncle.  “Please, you must come with us.  You are English, the French will kill you.”
“My dear boy, I have no desire to leave here.  This is where I lived with my beloved wife.  My memories fill this home, and my wife’s spirit is in every corner of the home.  No, I will not leave.  And if it is my time to make my final journey, I will be reunited with my dear Gretchen.  But you and Lizzy must leave, and quickly.”
Mr Gardiner assisted the pair to the docks at Danube.  He had told them the best route to take, suggesting that their best chance at reaching home would be to travel to Hamburg.  From there, they could make their way back to England.
The trio bid their farewells, and Mr Gardiner herded the brother and sister towards a line of people preparing to board a ship.
“Safe journey, Adam. Safe journey, Lizzy.  Give your family my best.”
“Goodbye Uncle.” The pair declared in unison.
Mr Gardiner moved back from his relations, though decided to watch until the ship sailed before he left.
As the line moved forward, Elizabeth and Adam had finally reached the gangplank.  Suddenly, there were shouts and screams coming from the city, sounds of gunfire and frightened people.  People on the dock began to push and shove to gain the deck of the ship.  Adam attempted to protect his sister, keeping her in front of him.  The sound of gunfire was coming closer, and the panic stricken people became frantic. The pushing and shoving grew worse, and some of the men behind Adam and Elizabeth began fighting.
Two ladies and one man were knocked from the gangplank and they fell into the water.  The struggle continued, and Adam had to protect his sister.  Elizabeth was on the ship, and Adam had one foot on the deck, when the fight to escape the city grew worse.  One of the men had pulled out a gun and began shooting people.  Elizabeth was holding her brother’s hand, when he seemed to be slipping backwards from her.  Turning around, she looked into his eyes.  There was a look of fear and pain etched in his eyes, eyes that normally sparkled with delight.  Then she saw the blood blossoming on his chest.  He had been shot.  Blood began to run from the corner of his mouth, down his chin.
As he was falling backwards, pulling Elizabeth with him, Elizabeth knew her beloved brother was already gone.  The life that usually shone from him had completely disappeared from him.  She wished she could die as well.  “Adam…Please, Adam.  Someone help my brother.  He has been wounded.”
Just as Elizabeth was about to tumble over from the ship, two young men took hold of her.  They pulled her back, as Adam’s hand slipped from hers and plummeted to the water below.  Elizabeth struggled against the hands that were holding her.  A moment later, the gangplank was knocked loose from the ship, falling into the water, along with several other people.
“Let me go.  I must go back for my brother.” Elizabeth cried.  The ship had begun to move from the dock, and she could not reach her brother.
“I am truly sorry, Miss.  Your brother is gone.  The injury he suffered was fatal.” One of the men stated.
“My cousin is correct.  Please, you cannot go back.  He is dead.”
“Adam…Adam…my dear brother.  It cannot be true.  He is a strong man, he will be able to survive, if given proper care.  My uncle lives there; he will know a surgeon.  Please, I must return.”
A woman’s voice spoke soothingly.  “If you were to go back, you as well would be killed.  Would your brother wish for you to be killed, or raped?  For the French will take advantage of you.  We will look after you.  My son and nephew are good men, and they will protect us from harm.”
Elizabeth was sobbing as she turned into the arms of the lady.  “My brother…he is a good man…and now he is gone.”
“My poor dear girl, this is a terrible.  Now, let us find someplace to sit.  There are so many people on the ship, but we will find somewhere.  Then we can talk further.”
Elizabeth was escorted to the compartment which was used for many purposes, though primarily, for dining.  She did not know what was happening, all she could remember was the look in her brother’s eyes as he fell away from her, dropping into the water.  Though she had seen everything, she could not make herself believe that her brother was dead.  And now she was alone.  It was too painful to accept.
The woman who had guided her into the room spoke.  “My name is Klarissa Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock.  These young men are my younger son, Richard Fitzwilliam, and my nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Might I inquire as to your name?”
Several minutes past before Elizabeth was able to comprehend what the woman had said.  “I…I…am Elizabeth Bennet, of Longbourn, in Hertfordshire.”
“And the young man, he was your brother?” Darcy inquired.  He hated to cause her any further pain, but he wished to know more about the Bennets.
“My older brother, Adam.  I left him.  I just left him.  Adam must think quite ill of me.  I must return, as our father gave me explicit instructions to do as my brother told me and stay close to him.  Here I am, with people I do not know, while my brother is injured and so far from me.”
Darcy kneeled before Elizabeth.  “Miss Bennet, I am afraid your brother did not survive his injuries.  He was shot through the chest.  As much as it pains me to say this, your brother is dead.”
Elizabeth searched his eyes for the truth.  Deep in her heart, she knew he was correct, but it was too painful to accept.  But her eyes pleaded for him to say that her brother would recover and on his way to join her soon.
“It is my fault.  Adam insisted I walk in front of him.  If I had been behind him, he would have been safe.  I should have died, not Adam.  He is all that is good and kind, just as my elder sister, Jane.  My family will be devastated.  I want to die.”
“Miss Bennet, this is no way for a young lady to behave.” Lady Matlock said.  “Would your brother think you are behaving as a proper young lady?  Is this paying respect to your brother, who did all that he could to protect you?  He would not wish for you to die, I am certain.  Any brother who would protect their sister, as yours did, would not wish to see her die.  I am certain that he would have been broken hearted to hear you speak in such a manner.”
More tears fell from Elizabeth’s eyes.  “I do not wish to dishonor my brother.  He has always been so good to me.”
“Then it is time to dry those tears, hold your head up, and thank God that your brother has given you a chance at life.  Do not throw away his sacrifice.”
Elizabeth nodded, as she reached in her reticule, looking for her handkerchief.  Then a hand was before her, holding one out to her.  She looked up into the eyes of a very kind Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Accepting his offer, Elizabeth wiped her eyes, then placed the handkerchief in her pocket.  “I will have it laundered for you as soon as I can, Mr Darcy.”
“I have others, Miss Bennet.  You may keep it as long as you wish.”
“Many thanks to you, Mr Darcy.  And for attempting to catch my brother, before he fell.  And thanks to you, Mr Fitzwilliam, for your assistance.”
Richard gave her a sad smile.  “You have my deepest regrets for your loss, Miss Bennet.  We will do all that we can to protect you and see that you are returned home to your loved ones.”
~~ ** ~~
“We can disembark the ship at Krems, and make our way to Prague, then over to Hamburg.” Richard and Darcy were examining the maps they had brought with them.  “Or we can continue on the ship until we reach either Nuremberg or Bamberg, the head north to Hamburg.  Prague might be safer, as it is further from the French, but I think we should take our chances and try to make it to Bamberg.  We would be in Germany, but we have Mother who can speak for us, with her being fluent in the language.” Richard stated.
“I do not like taking too many chances.” Darcy replied.
“We are in an area where war has just broken out.  As long as we avoid France itself, we should be able to pass ourselves off as natives.  I believe it is best if we claim being one family, as it would less like we are on holiday.  Mother, are you willing to claim Darcy as a son, and Miss Bennet as a daughter?”
Lady Matlock still held her arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders, as the young lady was looking out the window of the room.  “I have no difficulty with such deception.  Miss Bennet, will you allow us to claim you as family, to protect you better?”
Elizabeth had not been paying close attention.  “Forgive me, Lady Matlock, my mind was gathering wool.  What did you say?”
“My son has suggested we claim to be a mother with her three children, to make us appear less like wealthy travelers on a holiday.  What do you think?”
“I can see the wisdom in such a plan.”
“Then it is no more Miss Bennet.  You are Elizabeth, and I will be Mother.  Richard and William will be your brothers.  I know it is highly improper, but it will be safer this way.  And we will need to find more appropriate clothing.  Silks are not the custom of common folks.  I should have heeded your advice, Richard.  As much as I adore this gown, I will need to find something less ostentatious.  And you boys, you should obtain some different clothing.  William, your boots are far too shiny for a commoner.  Wherever we disembark, we will need to find a somewhere to do some shopping.  Then we should purchase a carriage or wagon, and some horses.  Fortunately, we exchanged enough coins when we arrived, we should be able to make our way home to England.”  Lady Matlock was used to ruling over her home in the city and on their family estate.  The wife of an earl, she was used to taking charge and commanding people, like a general in the army.
All were in agreement, and Elizabeth stated her also having funds in her reticule.  They decided to take the ship to Bamberg, then move north to Hamburg.  After some time had passed, one of the men from the ship brought around some water for everyone to drink.  He apologized for the lack of supplies.  “We were not prepared for the hurried departure, so our supplies were not yet loaded on the ship.  We will take on more when we are further from Vienna.”
Lady Matlock nodded her head in understanding.  “Sir, I would rather be alive rather than have waited for refreshments.  We will be find for the time being.”
The man appreciated the kindness of the obviously wealthy family.  Many others had looked offended when all he had to offer was water.  To him, this was a family with class and character.
~~~~~~~ ** ~~~~~~~

Chapter 2
Most of the people who had boarded the ship were fleeing the invasion that was heading for Vienna.  Scared women, terrified children, husbands wishing to protect their family.  Some were Austrian, some German, and a few others were British.
After several hours, the man who had served water to everyone came over to Lady Matlock and her family.  Speaking in German, he said. “Pardon me, but are you from England?”
“Yes.” Lady Matlock replied, watching the man carefully.
“You are trying to return home, to England?”
Again, Lady Matlock affirmed.
“I heard the young men speaking.  You will go to Bamberg?”
“That was what my sons were discussing.  Might I ask why you wish to know?”
The man looked around, making certain that no one was listening in on the conversation.  “My family, we wish to go to England.  Too dangerous to remain here.  My wife is English born.  She could be killed if she stays.  Our house is near Bamberg.”
Lady Matlock was sure she understood for what the man wished, but she needed to make certain.  “And you wish to travel with us?”
A nod was her reply.  “We can protect you, help you find your way from here.  All we ask in return is that you take us with you.”
“As you can see, I can speak the language. What can you do for us?”
“My wife and I speak many languages. And my wife, she can cook.  Our children are small; they will not be a bother.  And we can assist you in finding the best route to take to get away from the French.”
Curiosity took hold of Lady Matlock.  “My sons have looked over the maps they brought with us.  They know what would be the safest roads.”
The man shook his head.  “They may know what is on paper, but have they ever made the journey before?  Lines on a piece of paper does not make the road safe.  I have been in the area before.  I am certain we will be able to keep you from harm.”
Lady Matlock was suspicious, though, after a few moments of studying the man, she decided to trust him.  “William, Richard, would you come to me?”
When the men stepped to Lady Matlock, they knelt beside her.  Richard spoke. “Yes, Mother?”
“This is…”
The man realized he had not disclosed his name to the fine lady.  “Dietrich, Dietrich Bauer.”
“Mr Bauer wishes to assist us in our journey, if we are willing to assist him and his family to England.” Lady Matlock stated softly.  She did not wish for others to learn of the discussion.
Richard looked at his cousin before speaking.  “Mr Bauer, why would we require your assistance?”
“You have no guide, only a map.  As I said to your mother, lines on paper do not always tell the truth.  Especially when the wars change the area quickly.  I was born and raised in here.  And I need to protect my family.  My wife, Emily, was born in your country.  If the French reach our home, my wife will be killed.  All of our neighbors know of my wife’s nationality, they would turn her in to save their own hides.  We have children, they are young.  I wish to protect my family, as you do yours.  Between us, I believe we can all arrive in England.”
Darcy spoke.  “Tell us your suggestion.”
“When we reach Bamberg, we will go ashore.  My suggestion is for me to take you to the Michaelsberg Abbey.  My cousin works there as a grounds keeper.  He can keep you hidden.  For your safety, it is best that we keep your being in the area quiet.  Wealthy people attract attention.  There are many who would not hesitate to rob you.  Once at the Abbey, you will remain there.  I will make the journey to my home, to have my wife prepare.  Then, when I return to the Abbey, I will have my cousin make purchases for you, for clothes and food.  The Abbey is no longer a monastery, it is an almshouse.  His making the purchases will appear as though it is for the elderly who live there.  After he returns, I will again go to my home, and load my wife and children on our wagon.  It will not be a grand carriage, but it will get us where we need to go.”
“And where is it we will need to go?” Darcy inquired.
“We would go across land, until we reach Cologne.  From there, we can find passage on the Rhine River.  The Rhine will take us where we need to go, leading to Amsterdam.”
“If we are to take the Rhine, why not remain on the ship? Does this ship not go on the Main, which connects to the Rhine?” Darcy had studied the map thoroughly.
“Indeed. But if the French take the Danube, which is what they are likely after, how soon will they be coming this direction?  There may be troops heading to the Danube from the south west.  The Rhine comes up from the south to connect with the Main.  The French can sail from Strasbourg, and be on their way to join those who have attacked Vienna.  It is best to go on land, until we are far enough away from the war.”
Richard was impressed.  “You appear to have thought this through.”
“Word reached us days ago that there could be trouble coming.  The captain, he is thinking of making for the north. He suggested we all keep ready to flee from the French.”
Lady Matlock nodded her head.  “You must have been planning ways to protect your family for some time.  I believe it would be wise to follow Mr Bauer’s advice.  Richard, William, what do you think?”
The pair looked at each other.  Wordlessly, they agreed.  Richard spoke for them.  “We should prepare to follow Mr Bauer when we reach Bamberg.”
~~ ** ~~
Elizabeth sat next to Lady Matlock, feeling drained of life.  In such a short time, she had found herself without family for the first time in her life.  Just a few hours ago, she was with her uncle and her beloved brother.  Now Adam was dead and perhaps her uncle, too, was gone.  The pain she felt was overwhelming.
The trio she was sitting with had been kind to her, caring for her needs. They had saved her from falling in the river, as Adam had pulled away from her in death.  In her mind, Elizabeth wondered if it had been better if she had followed her brother to death.  She felt so empty without him.
Adam had always been the one to protect her from their mother’s outrage of Elizabeth’s long walks in nature and her love of climbing trees.  Every time she came home with her gowns dirty or torn, or her boots scuffed, Mrs Bennet would rail against her second born daughter.
“Lizzy, why can you not be like Jane?  She is so sweet natured, never doing anything to make me fret.  Why do you not practice on the pianoforte or paint screens?  It would be less taxing on my nerves.”
“Please, Mamma, do not scold Lizzy.” Adam would say.  “I provoked her to climb the tree.  She only climbed the tree due to my saying that no girl could reach the higher apples.  If not for my words, Lizzy would never have been in the tree.”
“You are too good to your sister, Adam.  You always take upon yourself any troubles in which she finds herself.”
“Lizzy is a good girl, Mamma.  She is intelligent, and loves the outdoors, much like myself.  How can I not love her and wish to protect her?”
As usual, Mrs Bennet placed a kiss on her son’s cheek and walked away from her least favorite daughter.
Elizabeth took hold of her brother’s hand and squeezed it tightly.  “My greatest thanks, Adam.  What would I ever do without you?”
“You shall never know, as I will watch over you forever.” Adam said, as he placed a kiss on top of her chocolate colored curls. “Now, shall we take our apples to Cook, so they will not go to waste?”
The memory of the last time Adam had covered for her misdeeds brought a fresh wave of tears to Elizabeth’s eyes.  How could she return to Longbourn without her dear brother?  What would happen to their family, with her brother no longer the heir?  All of her life, Elizabeth remembered her mother’s ravings of breaking the entail on the estate, which would allow her to remain at Longbourn all of her life.  With Adam gone, who would inherit the estate?  Her sisters would never be able, as the entail specifically stated that only males could be the heir.  But there was no other male to become the heir.  Only a distant cousin who was unknown to the Bennets.
Elizabeth could not face the loss of her brother.  She loved and respected him.  When he was at the university, he wrote to her every week.  Every Friday, she looked forward to receiving her letter, reading of his studies and his friends.  Most weeks, the letters made her laugh at the hijinks in which the young men had participated.  The pranks they had played on each other, and some they had played on their instructors, all made Elizabeth smile and made her feel as if she were with her brother.  It had always bothered her that Adam could go to school, but she and Jane could not attend the schools with him.  As Elizabeth grew older, it had always been a thorn in her side.
And now, at her darkest hour, she was alone with her memories.  She no longer had a brother. She was far from her home, with no one but strangers to comfort her. How she wished she had been the one to die, or have died with Adam.  All she could do was sit on the ship and pray that God would be merciful and allow her to join her brother.
~~ ** ~~
Darcy and Richard continued to go over the maps, and Bauer joined them when he could.  It was clear the man knew the area.
The tension of the passengers on the ship was high.  The captain came around to the passengers, asking if anyone was injured or ill, attempting to calm everyone.  Darcy asked to speak with the captain.
“Sir, do you believe we are still in danger?”
“The madman who leads the French will not stop until he rules the world.  We are heading west, closer to France.  This river has been desired by Napoleon for some time, so it would be foolish to believe he would not have ships coming up from the Rhine to take the Danube.”
“So it is best that we disembark as soon as possible?  Should we go ashore at Melk or Linz?” Richard inquired.
“You could, though they are not as large as Nuremberg or Bamberg.  In either of those cities, you would find the assistance you will need to find your way off the continent.  And, if you go by Linz or Melk, you will need to go over the alps.  It is not an easy journey.”
Darcy nodded.  “So we should be safe enough to make our way to Bamberg?”
“I believe you should be.  But it is war, so who can be certain of anything.”  The captain looked at Elizabeth, huddled beside Lady Matlock.  “Is she well?”
“She witnessed the young man behind her killed.” Lady Matlock replied.  “She is frightened.”
“Forgive me.  It is difficult for young ladies to see the hardships of war.  It is fortunate that she was not killed. I have some extra rugs in my quarters, I will send one to you to keep her warm.” The captain then moved away from the group.
Darcy looked at Elizabeth, concerned with her well-being.  “Elizabeth, would you like some water?”
Elizabeth did not respond.  Her eyes were fixed on staring off at nothing.  Lady Matlock pulled the young lady into her embrace.
“All will be well, Elizabeth.  Wait and see.  All will be well.  Can you tell me about your family?  Besides your brother, are there other siblings?”
Elizabeth continued staring off in the distance, not seeing anything.
Darcy knelt before Elizabeth.  He took hold of her hands, feeling how cold they were, and began chaffing them to bring warmth back in her fingers.  “Elizabeth, would you mind telling us about yourself?  How old are you?  Do you enjoy reading or music?  We will be together for some time, it would be nice to know your likes and dislikes.”
One of the men who worked upon the ship moved towards the group, carrying a rug in his hands.  “The captain said the miss could use this to keep warm.  You folk be needing anything else?”
The men shook their heads, but Lady Matlock spoke.  “Is there a chance of getting something for Elizabeth to eat?  Even a simple biscuit may bring her some comfort.”
“Let me see what I can find.  We did not get our supplies in Vienna, as there was no time.  We will gather supplies further up the way.”
“Anything you can find would be appreciated.” Richard responded.  “Do you know how long it will be until we arrive at Bamberg?”
“Several hours.  You might as well sit and rest.  We will let you know when we are near.”
Standing up, Darcy unfolded the rug and wrapped it around Elizabeth’s shoulders, tucking it tightly in front of her.  “You are safe, Elizabeth.  Have no fear.  We will protect you.”
Lady Matlock again pulled Elizabeth to her.  The pair of ladies rocked back and forth, as Lady Matlock hummed a lullaby.
Taking the advice of the man who brought the rug to them, Darcy took his seat next to his aunt and the young lady who had become part of their party.  There was something about the young lady that drew him to her.  He could not be certain what was making him wish to pull her into his embrace, but he felt extremely protective towards her.
A dream came to him as he slept.  A pleasant dream, of a day at home, on his family’s estate of Pemberley.  It was one of the largest estates in Derbyshire, if not in England.  Darcy was most comfortable when he was at the estate, where he could be one with the land.  He had never been comfortable in society, especially if there was a large group of people.  It was known that he was heir to one of the wealthiest families, and brought out those who wished for connections due to fortune or a place in the highest circles of society.
Fitzwilliam Darcy had always been shy, unable to find his tongue when in large parties.  The newest trend of clothing or gaming did not interest him.  He did not partake of the seedier pursuits that others of his station enjoyed.  No, his family and his estate were the most important aspects in his life.
In his dream, he was riding his favorite stallion, Apollo.  The horse had been given to him for his last birthday.  The only sad part of his last birthday was that his mother was no longer with them to celebrate.  Nearly a year had passed since Lady Anne Darcy, nee Fitzwilliam, had died during childbirth.  The child joined his mother in death.  Gerald Darcy had been devastated, as he dearly loved his wife and family.
The dream had Darcy riding across an area of Pemberley which lead to a small pond.  Near the pond was a copse of trees, and a delightful area where his family often shared picnics. As his horse approached the area, he could see a young lady with beautiful chocolate colored locks, unpinned, flowing curls down her back and over her shoulders.  She was lying on a rug on the earth, propped on her elbows, as she was reading a book.  Hearing his horse approaching, the young lady turned and waved to him.  The sparkle in her eyes was amazing.  It warmed his heart to see her, and he waved back to her, hurrying to be at her side.
As he knelt on the ground beside her, Darcy reached over to place a kiss on her lips, when suddenly he could hear his aunt’s voice.
“William, we should prepare to disembark.  We are at Bamberg.”
Darcy’s eyes opened, surprising him that he was not at Pemberley.  It had seemed so real. But how could it be real.  He had only met the young lady who invaded his dream, and she had never been at Pemberley.
“Yes…Yes, I will gather my belongings.” Darcy stood quickly.
Lady Matlock shook her head, a smile gracing her lips.  It was clear that the young lady she held in an embrace was having an effect on her nephew.  She prayed that all would be well.  Elizabeth had already lost her brother, and they were all still in danger.

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