I have had 2 stories fighting for attention, and this one has been demanding more time than the other, so I have put the other story on hold for the moment to work on this.
Blurb: Georgiana Darcy and her brother do not understand each other. During an argument between them, while visiting Nethfield Park, Georgiana discovers a stone that appears out of place in the garden, but she learns the stone has magical properties, especially when she discovers that she and her brother have switched bodies.
How will they be able pass themselves off with everyone else? And how will they be able to return to being themselves?
“Fitzwilliam, you do not understand. How could you? Men never have to worry about things, as they make up the rules to keep the lives of ladies difficult.”
“That will be enough, Georgiana. I made the decision, and there is nothing left to discuss. Now go to your rooms and see to the packing. We will be leaving for Netherfield in the morning.”
“But I wanted to go to Ramsgate. You said that you would allow me to spend the summer there.” The young girl of six and ten stated to her brother. A pout took control of her expression, making her look even younger. “But then you changed your mind and are forcing me to accompany you to spend time with your friends. You know how I dislike Miss Bingley. She is rude and impossible.”
“I do not approve of Miss Bingley either, as she is determined to become the next Mrs Darcy of Pemberley. Believe me, I have no intention of marrying her. But she believes herself as worthy as a peer of the realm.”
“Then why are you forcing me to go there, spend time with them?” Georgiana pleaded. “I want to go to Ramsgate, spend time enjoying the sea. I can practice my painting there, and even make some landscapes to hang at Pemberley and here in London.”
Darcy was frustrated with his much younger sister. “You will do as I tell you, and that is enough of your arguing. Do as I tell you.”
“I hate you, Fitzwilliam. You are ruining my life, and I will never forgive you for such treatment.” Georgiana shouted at her brother before turning and stomping from the room. Once she was in her bed chambers, the girl threw herself across her bed.
“How could Father and Mother leave me in the hands of my brother? Why does he have the right to decide my life? It is not fair.”
There was a knock on the door to her sitting room. “Enter.” Georgiana called out.
The door opened to show her companion, Mrs Younge, standing in the threshold. “Miss Darcy, are you well?”
“No, I am not. My brother is forcing me to go to Hertfordshire with him, to stay at an estate that his friend, Mr Bingley, has leased. I detest Mr Bingley’s family. They are vulgar and cruel, thinking they are above me is preposterous.”
The companion was displeased. “What of our plans to go to Ramsgate? You stated your brother had been in favor of the holiday.”
“He did approve of it, only to turn around and change his mind. It is terrible. How could he do this to me?”
“Are you certain that he cannot be persuaded to change his mind, allow you to go to Ramsgate?”
Georgiana shook her head. “He will not allow me to enjoy my holiday. If he has to be miserable and spend time with a tradesman’s children, I guess he feels I too must be miserable. If only Richard was here, he would not make me go to Hertfordshire. Only he is on the continent, fighting with his unit. Father’s will made Richard and Fitzwilliam my guardians, and it is not fair that the one who is most rational is in the army.”
“Perhaps your brother will grow weary of his friends and allow you to go to Ramsgate after a sen’night.” Mrs Younge suggested.
“My brother never admits when he is wrong. What will I do? Mr Wickham was counting on me to meet him in Ramsgate. How will I be able to spend time with him if I am in Hertfordshire? Fitzwilliam is not likely to allow me to spend time with Mr Wickham, as he is jealous of him. Our father always looked to George as a son and preferred him to my brother. That is why Fitzwilliam denied him the living that Father left for George.”
“We will make sure you have time to spend with your gentleman, have no doubt about it, Miss Darcy. I will do my best to assist you as much as possible. You and Mr Wickham share a true love match, as your parents had in their marriage.”
“Thank you, Mrs Younge. I do not know what I would do without you.” The girl hurried to her companion, throwing her arms around the woman and embracing her. “You understand me better than anyone else, with the exception of George.”
“Hush now. All will be well. Have no doubts.” Mrs Younge patted Georgiana’s back, all the while she was determining how she could get George Wickham to Hertfordshire, so their plans would not be ruined.
~~ ** ~~
Having instructed the maids on what to pack, Mrs Younge returned to her own rooms. She had to write to Wickham, let him know of the changes in the plan, so that they could determine the best way for him to arrive in Hertfordshire. But she first had to learn of the exact location in the county, so she could inform her lover.
Mrs Younge made her way downstairs, and to Mr Darcy’s study. Knocking, the companion waited until she heard the gentleman call for her to enter.
“Ah, Mrs Younge. I suppose my sister has already enlightened you on the change of plans.” Darcy assumed his sister would have informed the entire household of her disapproval.
“Yes, Mr Darcy. Are you certain you wish to take her to your friend’s estate? After all, if your sister is miserable, will she not make all around her feel the same?”
Mr Darcy shook his head. “It cannot be helped. Once we have spent a month at Netherfield, we will head for Pemberley. I cannot go to Hertfordshire, then to Ramsgate to collect Georgiana, then to Pemberley. It would be too far out of the way, so her going with me is most convenient.”
“Netherfield, I have never heard of Netherfield.”
“It is the estate my friend has leased. Near the market village of Meryton.” Darcy was going through his correspondence, finishing what he could before leaving the following day. “Do you have a problem with the change of plans? If you need time off from your duties, I should be able to find someone to accompany us to Netherfield, until you were able to join us.”
“No, no, I have no difficulties. My friend was planning to be at Ramsgate, but we had no fixed plans to meet.”
Without looking up from his work, Darcy nodded his head. “Very well, perhaps you can see your friend another time. I must be at Pemberley shortly after the visit with Bingley, and I am already cutting my stay at his estate by a month. As things are, I will not be able to leave Pemberley once I am there, as there is much to be done. There is remodeling to the manor, as well as issues with the farms. And I am not leaving my sister until I return from Pemberley.”
“Very good, Sir. I will see that your sister is prepared to leave when you desire.” Mrs Younge seethed inwardly. This man had destroyed all of her plans. Now to determine how to have Wickham join them in Hertfordshire and do so without Mr Darcy knowing what was happening.
The companion returned upstairs, going straight to her rooms and writing a letter to Wickham.
My dearest George,
There has been a change in plans. Mr Darcy has determined that his sister must accompany him to visit with his friends in the country. So, we are now heading for Hertfordshire rather than to Ramsgate.
I am not certain how you will be able to continue wooing Miss Darcy, as she will be in his presence far more than she has been while we have been in town. What terrible luck, as you had been close to garnering the girl’s agreement to elope.
Mr Darcy’s friend will be leasing the estate of Netherfield, which is near the village of Meryton. This is all the information I have at the moment. My prayer is that this is soon over, you have access to the spoiled brat’s money, and we can be together as we planned.
With all my heart,
Mrs Younge sanded the letter and sealed it with wax. Then she went looking for one of the footmen she had become friendly with. “Joshua, I was hoping you could take this message to my cousin. There has been a change of plans and I wanted him to have the information, in case he needed to reach me. His mother has been very ill and I hope he will write to let me know how she fairs.”
“Of course, Mrs Younge. Where do I need to take this?” the young man was eager to do whatever he could to get in good standing with the companion, as she was pleasing to him.
“The boarding house near Hatherford Street and Bolton Avenue. Ask for Mrs Toliver and tell her it is from me. She will see that see that my cousin receives the message.”
The footman nodded his head, then went in search of the butler, so he could have permission to run the errand. All Mrs Younge could do was hope and wait for Wickham to contact her.
Fitzwilliam Darcy was a hard working gentleman, keeping up with all that was happening on his estate in Derbyshire. He had only gained his majority when his father passed away, leaving Darcy as co-guardian of his sister who was eleven years his junior. Along with their cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam, second son of the Earl of Matlock, the men had made their best attempt to raise the girl properly. But what were two bachelor men to know of raising a girl who was far younger than they?
Darcy had kept her governess until the woman retired the previous year. That was when Darcy hired Mrs Younge, a woman who had impressive recommendations from several people, and she seemed to get along well with Georgiana. But Georgiana was growing up, and she was demanding to be treated different. Richard had agreed to postpone Georgiana’s coming out until she was eight and ten, giving her time to adjust to all that would come with such a step in a young lady’s life.
Could his sister not see that he was only attempting to protect her? There were many unsavory men in the world, all ready to take advantage of a young girl who was naïve. He only had the best interest in his sister’s care, yet she behaved as if he was sentencing her to be transported to Australia.
“How nice it would be to have nothing relying on me and I could live carefree, doing as I pleased, as young ladies do. All they have to do is learn the latest fashions, make appointments with their dressmaker, shop for who knows what all accessories they deem necessary, and send all the bills to their male relations. Ah, yes, to have such a life. While Georgiana practices her music, I have to see to the running of Pemberley, answer questions from my steward from my other estates, meet with my solicitor and my banker, and keep a social standing so that she will be accepted when she makes her debut. The tenant homes and their fields are always in need of repairs or work, and it is my responsibility to see that all is handled. All while my sister does nothing but net purses, paint china, and play her pianoforte.”
Darcy walked over to the window, looking out at the people passing by Darcy House. Men in a hurry to meet someone, ladies making their way to shop. Servants returning from doing their employers’ demands. Everyone was in a hurry, always busy. And his young sister was complaining about not being able to have a holiday by the sea. What did she need a holiday from? He was the one in need of a holiday. If he had not promised to assist his friend, Bingley, Darcy would travel to Ramsgate to have his own time of relaxation. Leave all the business matters for his sister to enjoy.
As much as Darcy agreed with his sister when it came to Bingley’s two sisters, it was for the brother that the master of Pemberley was fond of and had promised to assist. If only Bingley’s younger sister would be away, visiting someone, while the Darcys were at Netherfield. But Darcy knew better. As soon as Caroline Bingley discovered Darcy would be coming to stay at Netherfield, the woman would be plotting ways to get him to propose to her. But that would never happen. He could be in a room with her being naked, in front of witnesses, and he would refuse to marry her. Caroline Bingley was all that Darcy deplored in the female gender.
Since Darcy was a boy, he understood that his wealth and connections would make him an object of interest to all of the eligible ladies of society. He vowed that he would not have dalliances, nor would he keep a mistress, as he had seen what such behavior had done to his own parents. Gerald Darcy had a mistress in London, and another in the village of Lambton, located a mere five miles from Pemberley. Everyone in the neighborhood was aware of the situation, for Gerald Darcy did not hide his relations with other women.
Lady Anne Darcy had been heartbroken to know her husband was not faithful, for she loved the man dearly. Instead of lavishing all her love on her husband, she cherished her son. Her death after Georgiana’s birth had devastated the young boy. And Fitzwilliam Darcy was left to staff at Pemberley to learn his way in the world, for the elder Darcy wished his son trained in all aspects of the estate, so he would not be bothered with having to contend with either. Georgiana was more like a pet, to stroke and parade in front of his friends, then put away and the servants raise her. As the girl grew, if she asked her father for a gift, he would give it to her, so that she would be occupied and leave him to his own pleasures.
And Gerald Darcy had spoiled one other child. The son of the steward of Pemberley, George Wickham. George Wickham was similar in personality to the master of Pemberley. The young man knew how to stroke the elder man’s ego, and in return, he was well compensated. Gerald even paid for Wickham to attend the university alongside his own son and heir. He gave Wickham an allowance and covered his debts.
One thing Gerald Darcy forgot. When Wickham was born, Gerald was asked by his steward to be the boy’s godfather. In his acceptance, he added a codicil to his will, leaving his godson a living. As the boy grew up, he was told time and again that he was remembered in Gerald’s will. Only, Gerald never updated the will. The living was for George Wickham to become the parson at Kympton, the village near the north side of Pemberley. Never in the world was there a least likely candidate to take orders and lead the spiritual life, then George Wickham.
After Gerald Darcy’s death, Wickham was certain that he would be set for life in some lavish life style. He was extremely disappointed and angered when he learned the truth. Darcy knew his father made a huge mistake and that Wickham would never be an appropriate to be a parson. So, knowing that financial gain would be the only inheritance Wickham would want, Darcy made a generous offer. His father had left a thousand pounds inheritance along with the living. The offer was raised to four thousand pounds if Wickham signed papers giving up any claim to the living. Wickham was disappointed with such a low amount, but he accepted the offer. Once the papers were signed, Darcy informed his father’s godson that there would never be another reason for contact between the men in the future, and all relations were permanently severed.
In the years since Gerald’s death, Wickham had attempted to gain more funds from Darcy. And each time, the new master of Pemberley reminded the scoundrel of the paper that was signed and that there was no further coin being given to the man.
What Darcy did not know was that Wickham was secretly meeting with Georgiana, with the aid of her companion, who was a long time friend and lover of Wickham’s. Their goal was Georgiana’s dowry. Knowing that Darcy would not have informed his sister of his severed relations with Wickham, the latter told the young Miss Darcy a tale of misery and despair. His claims of Darcy being jealous of Wickham, that their father had wished to make Wickham his heir, as well as stories of her family when she was a child made Georgiana’s sympathies come forward. She believed him, thinking the worst of her overprotective elder brother who was always controlling her life.
If only Darcy knew what was happening under his own roof.
~~ ** ~~
The carriage made good time in the half day journey to Netherfield Park. Their arrival was met with Mr Bingley coming out to meet their carriage, with his sister quick on his heels. Their other sister and her husband were waiting in the manor house.
“Darcy, how good it is to see you.” Bingley stated as his friend stepped from the carriage.
As he turned to hand his sister and her companion down, Darcy replied. “Bingley, it is a pleasure to be of service to you. From what little I have seen so far, I believe the estate might be a good place to begin learning about becoming a member of the landed gentry.”
“It is a wonderous place. And the neighbors are some of the finest people I have ever met.”
Darcy recognized the look Bingley had developed, the same look he always wore when he met a new pretty lady. “And who is your latest lady love?”
“Darcy, she is truly an angel. You shall meet her tonight. We have been invited to an assembly.”
Caroline rolled her eyes. “I told Charles that you would be too fatigued to wish to attend tonight. And Miss Darcy would not be allowed to attend, as she is not yet out. It would be best for us to remain here rather than attending such a unimportant event.”
Knowing that Miss Bingley would attempt to use the time at the manor house to her advantage, Darcy decided to thwart her plans. “Bingley, if you wish to attend the assembly, I will accompany you. Knowing as much about the neighbors as possible is important to a land owner. If you decide to purchase this estate, it would be wise to know about those living near you.”
“But…but…what of your sister? Certainly, she would be left behind, as she could not dance with anyone besides you.” Miss Bingley nearly tripped over the steps on the front of the house.
“Perhaps you should remain home to keep Miss Darcy company, Caroline.” Bingley suggested to his sister. “Indeed, were you not speaking of remaining home no matter what anyone else did?”
“I…well…I should attend if you do, as I am acting as your hostess. My only concern is for Miss Darcy, being left all alone.”
“Do not fret over my sister. Her companion is with her, and it is likely Georgiana will retire early, after the long journey.” Darcy declared.
Caroline squared her shoulders. “Then I will prepare for the evening. Louisa, would you care to assist me in choosing a gown for the assembly.”
The sisters left the room, making their way up the stairs and into the rooms occupied by the younger sister. As soon as the door slammed behind them, Caroline picked up a small glass figurine and threw it across the room, allowing it to shatter into fragments on the floor.
“You must assist me in snaring Mr Darcy. It is vital, Louisa. I must marry soon, or the stipulation in Father’s will becomes valid. Charles will not be in control of deciding who I marry. I will not have it. Mr Darcy is in need of a wife, and I am the perfect choice for him.”
“But he does not seem interested, Caroline. In all the years we have known him, never once has Mr Darcy even smiled in your direction. Perhaps it is time for you to consider another gentleman to marry. Why, Mr Hodgeworth would be a good choice. He has been friends of my husband’s since they were at the university together.”
“Are you addled, Louisa? Mr Hodgeworth is a bore and has no social standing worth my time. I insist on becoming the next Mrs Darcy. Only the highest of society will do for me.”
An hour later, Louisa Hurst left her sister to prepare for the coming evening. She knew she should not give in to her sister so readily, but life with Caroline unhappy was a miserable life. If only someone would marry Caroline, take her away to some distant estate, then Louisa and Gilbert could enjoy their married life. While Caroline was unwed, they were unfortunately blessed with her in their life daily.