Without further ado...
I am so excited to share a bit of Pride and Persistence with you. Thank you, Candy, for having me on your blog! An author loves to talk about her work but sometimes it is difficult to narrow down what to share. I have chosen a scene that I particularly like. At this point in the book, it has been several days since Darcy’s horse accident and Colonel Fitzwilliam saw immediately that Lady Catherine would get in the way of Darcy’s healing so he has been filtering what his aunt knows about Darcy’s condition. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is unaware that Colonel Fitzwilliam has been limiting what Lady Catherine knows. Sometimes I wonder if people were just more honest then it would cause less problems in the world . . . but then again, Elizabeth’s honesty in this scene leads to trouble. Also of note is that Elizabeth has had to endure 6 weeks of poorly made food from the parsonage. She relishes the rare time she is treated to food from Rosings . . . but the power of Rosings’ food is not lost on Lady Catherine, in fact, little is lost to Lady Catherine in this scene! It is slightly long, but I think you will see why I could not stop it early. Here is the excerpt. Happy reading!
Lady Catherine sat down and then leaned back in her chair and smiled. “You know, I never told you so, but I like you. You have just enough impertinence to keep one on one’s toes. I imagine your ability to say exactly what you are thinking comes in handy while dealing with Darcy’s limitations now.”
Elizabeth wasn’t sure where she was going with this. “Thank you, I think. I am not sure if that was a compliment or a veiled barb.”
“See, that is exactly what I am talking about. No one can doubt what you are thinking because your expression shows the truth of what you say.”
“I have been told that several times. That is why I sometimes struggle to perform my designated role with Mr. Darcy.”
“And what role is that?”
“I mean in dealing with his memory problems. I find it hard to placate him and help keep his anxiety down. Often I am forced to hide the truth from him to avoid setbacks.”
Breakfast arrived and trays were set up in front of each lady. The servants brought in mountains of food. Elizabeth noticed cinnamon-and-sugar-powdered rolls, perfectly cooked eggs, at least ten slices of bacon, and some sort of steaming hot, puffy, buttery dish that was falling as it cooled. She didn’t know what to eat first. “What is that puffy dish?”
“German pancakes. It is a recipe that my French cook found on her tour last year. I try to keep my staff well-educated, so I sent her on a two-week tour of Europe to learn new methods and new foods. This is one of my favorites. Here, let me get you a piece. You dust it with powdered sugar and maple syrup. It is truly a delight.”
Elizabeth watched the butter still boiling on the top of the German pancake and was awed at the speed in which the staff must have delivered such a perfectly executed array of food. “Do you always eat this well this early in the morning?”
“Only when I have special visitors. I am an early riser, so they were prepared for me, and it did not take long for them to add to the food. I waited a few minutes before attending to you so that the food would be ready in time. You must try it.”
Lady Catherine handed Elizabeth the steaming, fluffy, buttery pancake. Elizabeth did as she was instructed and sprinkled the pancake with powdered sugar and poured a bit of syrup on it as well. Her fork could cut it easily, and she noticed that it was not bready like a pancake, but rather egg-based. She glanced up at Lady Catherine, who was waiting patiently for her to try it.
She put a bite in her mouth and felt the sweetness engulf her senses. The German pancake was indeed egg-based but was fluffy with a bit of crunchy crust, which delighted her mouth in ways she didn’t know possible. She closed her eyes briefly to take in the sensation and combination of flavors. When she opened her eyes, Lady Catherine was grinning at her and seemed very pleased with Elizabeth’s response.
“Now, tell me more about Mr. Darcy’s memory problems.”
She shoveled in another bite and tried not to swallow it whole before she answered. “The doctor says as long as we do not remind him of painful memories, his memory should come back. We thought we had an understanding of why he keeps losing his memory.” She quickly took another bite and chewed slowly this time. The smell of the bacon was overwhelming, and she reached for two slices.
“Yes, Richard was going to tell me about that. Here, try this cinnamon bread.” She sliced off a piece and handed it to Elizabeth. “Why do you not finish telling me about it? What was your theory for the loss of memory?”
Elizabeth asked for some tea and bit into the crunchy, yet chewy, bacon. There was something about bacon dipped in maple syrup that was heavenly. She looked up with a full mouth to find her cup was being offered back to her. She took it and tried to say thank you, but her mouth was full. She swallowed hard and tried to talk. She asked, “Do you mean besides the head injury?”
“Of course. He has memory problems because of the head injury.”
“Yes, every morning he has to be reminded of the accident. So, our theory was that he was losing his memory every time he fell asleep. Then, once, he lost it after we gave him the pain medication. So, we thought that was the reason for his forgetfulness. Sleep and medication.”
Lady Catherine sliced a piece of cinnamon bread and placed it on her own plate. “But he has lost his memory at other times?”
“Yes, just yesterday. I was not there, but during his bath, he reverted back to forgetting about the accident and had to be shown the reminder letter.”
Elizabeth was getting frustrated that she was having to talk so much during this fine meal. All she really wanted to do was eat more of that hot German pancake. She could tell it was cooling right in front of her. “I suppose Colonel Fitzwilliam did not get a chance to tell you about the letter since we wrote it just yesterday. It is an explanation of the accident and his injuries, and it details the limitations placed on him by the doctor. It also tells him who Nurse Madeline is so he knows why a strange woman is taking care of him. Since she is not a part of his previous memories, he does not know her at all.”
“She helps him do things like use the chamber pot.”
She had already taken a bite and murmured her confirmation.
“And this reminder letter helps him? Helps him to remember?” Lady Catherine continued.
Elizabeth swallowed but didn’t look up from her plate as she cut another piece of the quickly cooling delights in front of her. “No, it does not help him remember. His memory is perfect up until two days before the accident, but he cannot remember anything from day to day. So, it does not really help him remember, because he is not gaining his memory back when he reads it. The letter simply explains what happened, so we do not have to go through the same crisis every morning as he becomes totally undone with the confusion.”
Lady Catherine sipped her tea and smiled slightly. “The letter helps though? The confusion improves after reading it?”
“Yes, it appears so. Colonel Fitzwilliam witnessed its affect and stated it worked.” Elizabeth couldn’t quite understand why Lady Catherine was asking so many questions and not eating. She drank her perfectly made tea and looked up to sheepishly ask for more. Then she saw the smile on Lady Catherine’s face. It was broad, and she was attempting to hide it with her tea cup, but something about it made Elizabeth lose her appetite. Lady Catherine put her cup down and filled Elizabeth’s.
Elizabeth realized that Lady Catherine was smirking. Her eyes were lifted at the corners, and she had a cat-like look on her face. Something was wrong. Elizabeth evaluated why she would be smiling when all they had been doing was discussing Mr. Darcy and his memory problems. There should not be anything but concern in her face. Yes, something was wrong. She put down her fork and knife and took the napkin off her lap. Lady Catherine handed her teacup back full.
The door opened and Colonel Fitzwilliam walked in quickly, still buttoning his waistcoat. “Miss Elizabeth! I was just on my way to the parsonage! Would you mind escorting me?”
Lady Catherine turned to her nephew, “Richard! You are up early! You are not even going to greet me? Come and sit and have breakfast. I will ring for—”
“No, thank you. Miss Elizabeth, I see you are ready.” He walked over and offered his arm.
Elizabeth recognized the look Colonel Fitzwilliam was giving her. She had seen it the night before when he wanted her to play along with the engagement. His eyes pleaded for her to trust him. He placed a gentle hand on her elbow to help her up, and she appeased him. His grip got firmer as he pulled her toward the door. She turned back to look at Lady Catherine, who was once again smiling like a cat with a mouse. She tried to give a curtsy, but it was hindered dramatically by the fact that Colonel Fitzwilliam was nearly dragging her out the door.
They were out the door and nearly running to the parsonage. When they made a turn and were hidden from Rosings’s view, Colonel Fitzwilliam quickly stopped and turned to face her. “What did you tell her? What does she know?”
His grip on her elbow was so tight it was hurting. She pulled away and he dropped it. He ran his fingers through his hair. She felt like she was in trouble for something but had no idea what. “I do not take your meaning,” she said.
“I am sorry for grabbing your elbow. Forgive me. I have tried very hard to limit what my aunt knows about Darcy. What does she know? What did you tell her? Does she know about his memory problems?”
“I had no idea she did not already know!” Elizabeth whispered.
The colonel swore under his breath. “Excuse me. That was not appropriate for a lady’s ears. You must tell me everything. What did you tell her?”
Elizabeth tried to retell the conversation as best she could. As she told him what had been said, she saw Colonel Fitzwilliam get more and more upset. He began pacing but continued to listen intently. She finished explaining about how Lady Catherine had knowledge of the reminder letter and of its success. “And then you came in and dragged me out of the room. That is all that was said.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam stopped pacing. “I am afraid that is enough.”
I hope this gets you excited! This is the point in the book that things start taking on an energy and momentum of itself. I wanted to also thank all those who have supported me and my writing through blogs, comments, emails, Facebook, etc. It is so wonderful to connect with my readers. Thanks again, Candy, for having me on your blog.
I am giving away either a paperback (U.S. only ) or an eBook (internationally) to anyone who comments about this scene or the book. So please, if you have a thought or comment, share it and get entered for a chance to win Pride and Persistence free!
Thank you, Jeanna! Oh, that bit has me intrigued! I wonder how Lady Catherine is going to use this information to her advantage!
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