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Jan shares an excerpt with us that I feel sure you will enjoy. I remember this scene in the book and loved Darcy's thoughts as he sees Elizabeth enter the room. The rest you will have to read for yourself, but oh my, do take note of the last sentence! :) I bet Darcy beamed!
Please welcome Jan Hahn.
I’m delighted to visit your lovely blog again, Janet, with an excerpt from my latest book, The Child. Thank you so much for participating in the blog tour.
In this scene, a second Netherfield ball is in progress, but it takes place three years after the first. Bingley has not married Jane, Darcy has not married Elizabeth, the Bennet family is in disgrace, and when Bingley invites them to his ball, the community is shocked. Darcy is the narrator.
The Child Excerpt
On my right, I heard a bustle of activity and familiar shrieks of delight. Sure enough, Mrs. Bennet had arrived. I watched her flatter Bingley and his sisters while her patient husband suffered behind her. Jane and Kitty Bennet curtsied―but where was Elizabeth?
I moved closer, straining to see over the crowd when, at last, I caught a glimpse of her dark hair. She wore a gown of white, simple but elegant when compared to Caroline’s feathers and Mrs. Hurst’s velvet. She was so lovely that I felt my senses heighten. I watched the false welcomes of Bingley’s sisters, and as soon as she had passed, how they rolled their eyes at each other. Why did Caroline dislike Elizabeth as she did? Was it because she was prettier, more intelligent, and wittier than either of Bingley’s sisters, or did it have to do with me? I recalled I had not failed to remark upon Elizabeth’s fine eyes and lovely face, but I had never revealed the depth of my feelings for her within the Bingleys’ company. At least, I hoped I had not.
The music began, and I dismissed such questions. Bingley asked Miss Bennet to dance. Someone might as well have fired off a shot in the crowd! Throughout the room, audible gasps and murmurs could be heard above the sounds of the musicians. The dowagers around me drew their heads together behind their fans to discuss the dancers, their feathers bobbing ahead of the rhythm while they waved their fans furiously. I dreaded the impression my friend created. With Mrs. Bennet’s imagination and the barest hint of gossip, all of Hertfordshire would believe Bingley would ask for Jane Bennet’s hand, just as it had years earlier. And now, it would cause even more rumours because of the family’s disgrace.
“Look there,” a lady whom I did not know said within range of hearing. “Since Mr. Bingley deigns to dance with Jane Bennet, Mr. Perkins has asked Elizabeth to dance. And what is this? Is that young Jenkinson leading Kitty Bennet to the floor?”
I craned my neck to see the man who dared to dance with my Elizabeth. He appeared presentable, and my neck cloth grew tight when she favoured him with one of her sparkling smiles. It was all I could do to refrain from marching across the room and snatching her away from him in front of everyone! Of course, that was a scene to be enacted only in my dreams. Still, the fact that she obviously enjoyed his company provoked me. What would I not give to take his place! Instead, I returned to my new occupation of listening in on conversations not meant for my ears.
“It appears Mr. Bingley has overlooked their misfortune, for he did invite the Bennets to the ball,” said the woman sitting next to the former speaker.
“And if a man of Mr. Bingley’s wealth can deem the girls worthy of attention, then every man in attendance will want to dance with them, for they are still some of the loveliest in the county.”
“Hmmph! Men may dance with the Bennet girls, but mark my words. No man of worth will ever marry them.”
“You forget Mary Bennet did secure a husband, and she the plainest of them all.”
“He is but a poor curate. I hear they hardly have enough to get by. And he would not have married her if he had remained in Hertfordshire, you know. It took an offer of a position in Shropshire where the Bennets’ story is most likely unknown before he proposed. I know that for a fact, for I have it from Mrs. Marigold, and she heard it from her cousin, Sally James, who heard it from her cook’s daughter who works for our vicar.”
…(Darcy dances with Jane and then retreats to the balcony)…
Inhaling deeply, I recognized the season would soon change, for the temperature had dropped considerably since the evening had begun. I leaned against the balustrade and stared up into the night sky. Only a star or two blinked in the dark expanse for a full moon hung high above my head.
Hearing footsteps behind me, I turned just in time to see Elizabeth suddenly halt when she saw that I stood before her. Lowering her head, she turned back to the ballroom. Not wanting her to leave, I called her name, forcing her to stop and acknowledge my greeting. Slowly, she turned towards me, her face half in shadow. How beautiful she was! That familiar tightness in my chest returned like a well-known friend. Why did I find it hard to breathe when she was near?
“Mr. Darcy,” she murmured, “Jane told me you had returned from Town. I am surprised, for I did not expect to see you again. Please do not let me disturb your reverie.”
“My reverie is not disturbed.” If I had spoken honestly, I should have declared that she disturbed my thoughts, my dreams, my entire life, but I restrained myself. “Do not leave on my account. You will find the coolness of the night air refreshing after the heat of the ballroom.”
Seemingly with reluctance, she joined me beneath the moon-lit sky. My heart hammered in my chest, and I turned my face away, seeking some topic with which to engage Elizabeth in conversation. “I must admit I did not expect to see you out here.”
“Why is that?” she asked quickly. “If I intrude—”
“No, no, that is not what I meant. I wondered how you managed to elude the crowd. Your popularity has certainly reigned tonight. Is this not the first dance you have forfeited?”
She smiled slightly. “I did not know you kept account of my partners, sir.”
I shrugged. “I am pleased to see you participate.”
“And somewhat surprised?”
“In what way?”
“Are you not astonished that my sisters and I do not lack for partners, given the unfortunate state of our family’s reputation?”
I had hoped to hide my presumption. “If you failed to notice, I danced the last with your older sister. I would request the favour of your hand for the next.”
She raised her eyes as though to see whether I spoke in jest. I met her gaze with my own, undaunted and without the hint of a smile.
“Mr. Darcy, pray do not think I am ungrateful that your friend extended invitations to my family for tonight’s ball. I understand what it signifies, and Mr. Bingley’s generosity is to be greatly commended. You, however, must not feel obliged to dance with me or any of my sisters. We will do perfectly well on our own.”
I nodded in acknowledgement of her words. “But I, Miss Elizabeth, shall not fare so well if you will not consent to be my partner.”
I held out my arm, willing it to remain steady. Ever so slowly, her eyes travelled up to mine where they lingered, seeming to search deep within until at length, she placed her hand on my arm.
Inside, we joined the line forming for the next set as the music began. The musicians had selected a favourite of mine, and I wondered whether Elizabeth shared my feelings. Instead of asking her, however, I remained as mute as a block of wood. The truth is, I could not think of one single subject on which to converse. I was swept into the enchanting and graceful way her body moved as we dipped and swayed and repeated the steps. Her skin glowed in the candlelight, and the blush on her cheeks rivalled that of a perfectly ripened peach. Throughout the dance, my eyes locked upon hers, and she did not avert her face. And at the end, when I was forced to give her up, Elizabeth favoured me with a smile.
Book Title: The Child
Authors: Jan Hahn
Blog Tour Dates: March 21 – April 2, 2018
Publisher: Meryton Press
Will Darcy ever grow to love a child he never wanted?
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford is disastrous. In Jan Hahn’s The Child, Darcy flees England soon afterward, striving to overcome his longing for her. Upon his return two years later―while standing on the steps of St. George’s Church in Hanover Square―he spies the very woman he has vowed to forget. But who is the child holding her hand?
Darcy soon discovers that Elizabeth and her family are suffering the effects of a devastating scandal. His efforts to help the woman he still loves only worsen her family’s plight. His misguided pride entangles him in a web of falsehood, fateful alliances, and danger.
Will Elizabeth be able to forgive Darcy for his good intentions gone awry? And what effect will the child have on Darcy’s hopes to win Elizabeth’s love?
Jan Hahn’s Author Biography:
Award-winning writer Jan Hahn is the author of five Austen-inspired novels. She studied music at the University of Texas, but discovered her true love was a combination of journalism and literature. Her first book, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011, followed by The Journey, The Secret Betrothal, A Peculiar Connection, and The Child. The anthology, The Darcy Monologues, contains her short story entitled Without Affection. She agrees with Mr. Darcy’s words in Pride and Prejudice: ‘A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.’
Jan is a member of JASNA, lives in Texas, has five children and a gaggle of grandchildren.
The Child Tour Schedule
March 21 My Jane Austen Book Club/ Guest Post & Giveaway
March 22 From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway
March 23 More Agreeably Engaged/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 24 My Vices and Weaknesses/ Book Review & Giveaway
March 25 My Love for Jane Austen / Vignette & Giveaway
March 26 Of Pens and Pages / Book Review & Giveaway
March 27 Just Jane 1813/ Author Interview & Giveaway
March 28 Austenesque Reviews / Character Interview & Giveaway
March 29 So Little Time / Guest Post & Giveaway
March 30 Diary of an Eccentric / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
March 31 Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway
April 1 Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway
April 2 Laughing with Lizzie / Vignette Post & Giveaway
8 eBooks of The Child are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers. This giveaway is open to entries from midnight ET on March 21 – until midnight ET on April 4, 2018.
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.
Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.
Well, Readers, what do you think of this scene? Did you love it? I enjoyed the balcony encounter and the exchange between Darcy and Lizzy. I laughed while they were dancing and Darcy thinks, "I remained as mute as a block of wood." Poor Darcy. He always loses his tongue when he is around Elizabeth.
Thank you, Jan, for stopping by More Agreeably Engaged during your busy blog tour. We appreciate you sharing this excerpt with us. I wish you much success with your blog tour and especially, with your new release. I loved it! It seems by the many 5 star reviews that the others do too.