From the Author
Anyone who read and enjoyed He Taught Me to Hope will recall the story ended with a lovely little epilogue. It told of the Darcys’ happily ever after: how Darcy’s love for Ben was as great as if they were of the same blood, and how he had given Ben more than a home; he had given him a loving family such as Ben truly had never known.
I supposed at the time that was the end of the story. As more and more readers began embracing the story, not only did they find themselves falling in love with Darcy and Elizabeth all over again, many hearts and imaginations were also captured by young Ben, the precocious child who fancied himself Sir Lancelot and Darcy, King Arthur. So many of Ben’s adoring fans insisted the Darcys’ story continue, and I listened.
Hope and Sensibility (Darcy and the Young Knight’s Quest, Book 3)
Being the new father of a precocious little boy is but one of the challenges Darcy faces in this delightful sequel to He Taught Me to Hope. Extended family and friends—old and new—also demand their share of attention.
Join Darcy, Elizabeth, and Ben on a diverting adventure, which picks up where The Mission (Book 2 in the Darcy and the Young Knight’s Quest series) ends. Travel with them to Kent, and then Hertfordshire, and finally back to Derbyshire and enjoy young Ben's exploits along the way.
Read an excerpt
(Reprinted with Author’s Permission. All Rights Reserved.)
The ensuing weeks did much to loosen the winter’s grip on the Derbyshire countryside, as well as bring about a warming in Elizabeth’s spirits. She stood outside on the terrace and breathed in the fresh morning air. This was the life she always dreamed she would have: a beautiful home, an adorable child and a wonderful man by her side to help raise him. How she relished this sacred hour of each day before the sun rose to greet the morning sky. This was her time—hers and hers alone. Soon enough, her day would be filled with the hustle and bustle of being the mother of a most precocious young boy, the wife of one of the most prominent men in the county, and the household manager of one of the finest estates in Derbyshire. The addition of Darcy’s cousin Anne de Bourgh and his sister, Georgiana, to Elizabeth’s family circle increased her joy. And while each day was met with her favourite wish of being with child, for a sister or a brother for Ben would satisfy her fondest wish for familial felicity, as Elizabeth was not designed for disappointment, she gave a grateful prayer for her many blessings.
As was her wont, Elizabeth quickly made her way down the stone stairs and set out upon the lane. The path she chose that day would carry her past the stable grounds where she might glimpse the horses being attended. Later, she planned to enjoy a brisk morning ride with her husband, but for now she kept walking. Soon, she came to a crossway.
Shall I take the path that leads to the chapel or the one that leads to the temple? A hint of fresh earth in the air recommended she take the latter—that way she might admire all the work being done in the garden in preparation for spring. She had not walked very far before espying another early riser.
“Georgiana, I am surprised to see you out and about so early in the morning,” Elizabeth said, as she joined her.
Her manners perfectly unassuming and gentle, Georgiana said, “I will confess that your seeing me is not a coincidence. I wanted to speak with you, away from the house. I surmised this would be the perfect time to garner your undivided attention.”
“My dear sister, I know that I have been regularly diverted what with such extensive household responsibilities and the like, but I should hate to suppose I have been neglecting you.”
“Oh, no—I do not feel that way at all. In fact, I am more than grateful for all you have done on my behalf.”
“Forgive me, but I do not know that I have done anything out of the ordinary.”
“I beg to differ. I can well imagine it was no easy feat reining in my brother’s grand expectations for me.”
“Does this have to do with his desire for you to enjoy your coming out Season this year?”
“Indeed. One would think he were anxious to rid himself of my presence.”
“Now, Georgiana, surely you speak in jest. I am certain that the last thing in the world he would want is to rid himself of your presence. You must admit he regards himself more as a parent than an older brother. There is nothing so bad as parting with one’s child.” Elizabeth tried to remain true to her purposes and not be bothered by the fact that her own mother was eager to see all her daughters married, but Georgiana’s situation could hardly be compared to that of her three younger sisters who remained at home in Longbourn and whose prospects were not nearly so good. Elizabeth’s own marriage to a very wealthy man had done nothing to enhance her younger sisters’ lots in life—at least not yet and likely not anytime soon, especially if Georgiana was determined to put off her own coming out for another season.
Elizabeth’s own situation told her that her father had done nothing to enhance her three unwed sisters’ dowries. Although her own husband was so very rich, he had said nothing of amending her father’s lapse and she had certainly never ventured to ask. Through her own economy, she had done what she could to increase her Longbourn family’s lot, but, as best she could tell, the funds were put towards more immediate gratifications, such as gowns and bonnets and frivolity and it was never ever enough.
The matter of Georgiana’s future was a bone of contention in the Darcy household. True, Darcy was in no hurry to see his sister married and away from Pemberley, but he knew it was his responsibility to see that those very things took place. Georgiana was already eighteen, for heaven’s sake. Her thirty thousand pound dowry made her a highly sought after commodity, but it would do no good to delay her destiny just for the sake of his own familial harmony. Elizabeth suspected that a factor in Darcy’s readiness to postpone Georgiana’s coming out had to do with his desire to see his sister settled with his friend Charles Bingley. This supposition she kept to herself.
Georgiana’s aristocratic uncle, Lord Edward Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Matlock, and his wife, Lady Ellen, had their own opinions on the matter, for they were not in favour of any match for their niece that did not have her paired with a young aristocrat or someone else of their own sphere. The same could be said of her aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s sentiments. By all appearances, Darcy did not put much stock in his uncle and aunts’ preferences. Unfortunately, Georgiana did not seem to put much stock in her uncle’s, her aunts’, or her brother’s preferences.
“Elizabeth, I suppose a Season in town and being presented at court has its advantages, but they certainly are not the prerequisites for happiness as accomplished young women that all would have one believe. You enjoyed neither of those things, and I wager you and my brother are exceedingly happy.”
“While it is true that your brother and I find much joy in our marriage, your situation is not to be compared to mine. I was not reared to expect a Season in town, and I was certainly never given to expect a presentation. You, on the other hand, were. How many times have Lady Ellen and Lord Matlock spoken of it as being a favourite wish of your beloved mother, Lady Anne, that you should enjoy all the same benefits that she enjoyed as a young woman? They would view it as a failure to honour her memory to do any less than see you enjoy all the advantages that your family’s elevated rank and privilege afford.”
“This I understand and it must be said that were I to consent to do so it would only be for the sake of appeasing them—and honouring my mother, of course.”
“I continue to have a difficult time comprehending your change in stance as regards your coming out.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“When we met last year, I recall you spoke with such ardent enthusiasm about wanting to come out. What has changed?”
“Truth be told, my eagerness was a mere pretence. Mind you, I had a good reason for speaking as I did. What I dared not say upon first making your acquaintance is I truly do not see that my coming out will help accomplish anyone’s purposes, for I am as good as promised to another.”
Her brow raised, Elizabeth said, “This is not the first time you have suggested as much, but I do wish you would be more forthcoming with me. Who is this young man to whom you feel you are pledged?”
“Elizabeth, I would love nothing more than to tell you all about him, but I fear that it would place you in an untenable position, for I do not wish to have my brother privy to any of this. You see, he does not approve of the gentleman. If he were aware of my feelings he would be angered, and I have no wish to injure my brother—especially when the entire matter is so tenuous.”
“Georgiana, it does not do for you to feel you cannot confide in me. Pray, have you spoken with anyone? Anne perhaps—does Anne know?”
“You say that as if your cousin Anne is the last person in whom you would confide.”
“Anne and I may have made some progress since she came to live with us here at Pemberley, but I would not say she and I are as intimate as we would have to be before I told her my greatest secrets. Besides, when it comes to such matters, she and my brother are more alike than you would imagine. She surely would not approve of the gentleman either.”
“Then I take it that this gentleman, who shall remain unnamed, is known to your family.”
“You might say that, although I would say he is not truly known, for if they understood his character as I do, then they would surely approve of him.”
“Is he someone whom I have met?”
“I do not believe you have met him, but I dare say that, if you had, you would have found him to be charming, amiable, and exceedingly handsome.” She folded her hands over her chest. “Oh, Elizabeth, he is everything a gentleman ought to be.”
Her eyebrows furrowed, Elizabeth said, “How long has it been since you last saw him?”
“A number of years have passed since I last saw him and, before you ask, no—we do not correspond, for he is too much of a gentleman to dishonour me in that fashion.”
“Then, it is safe to say that you do not know what the gentleman’s intentions are at present?” Elizabeth read in Georgiana’s eyes uncertainty and a lack of enthusiasm that had not been there moments earlier. “Georgiana, I am sorry if my questions give rise to discomfort, but it does not do to hold onto something that might never be, especially as you have determined to delay your coming out and effectively put your life on hold.”
“Elizabeth, I am doing what is in my best interest. You see, he is much older than I am—a gentleman of the world, of sense and education. He asked me to wait for him, and I promised him I would. I can do no less.”
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