Chapter 1: The first meeting

Derbyshire July 1811

Elizabeth stood at the edge of the cliff, intrigued by the beauty before her. The skies looked brilliant in the rays of the morning sun. The cliff overlooked the most breathtaking waterfall. She had been a frequent visitor to the spot for the past two months. Everyday she felt the same awe and excitement when she saw the view. And this morning, she stood closer to the cliff's edge than ever before. Everything about the morning walk to the cliff reminded her of her past. The life she had left behind four months ago.

The memories of her walk to Oakham mount every morning haunted her. She could not fathom how her life had changed so drastically. She felt like a coward for leaving her home, her life and her family.

But it was never my home. I wish I had never become aware of the truth.

But she had made her choice to leave Longbourn. Sometimes, she wondered if she took the decision in haste. But she knew that it was the only choice she had. The people she had loved and trusted had betrayed her. But she never imagined that her escape from Hertfordshire would bring her as far as Derbyshire.

Her current position as the governess was all that she had wanted. Her employer was a kind lady, and Elizabeth did not have experiences of those she had in London. The children she was in charge of were adorable. They made her laugh, something she had missed doing for a long time.

Every morning, she had made this walk to the cliff to see the sunrise. Her employer had been kind about giving her the freedom she needed. During the two months of being employed at Ashton Park, she almost thought she could forget her past.

But the previous day, a letter from her dearest friend arrived. It reminded her that she could never escape the memories. She stood there and somehow felt different. She was not the same person who walked there every day pretending to herself that everything had changed for the good.

I can never forget the past. I can never forget who I was. What is my future? Why do I have to live such a life of misery? A life in disguise, running away from the truth. Who is going to miss me if I am gone? She thought.

She was surprised by the recklessness of her mind. No! Elizabeth. You are not a coward. Her mind said. The next moment, it said the opposite. You are already a coward. You ran away from your home. You could not face the truth. End this misery. End this life which is a burden for you every day.

She could not bear the battle between her thoughts.

The cliff overlooked the falls. She was never scared of heights. At that moment, she felt she was not scared of anything in life except the mental agony that almost killed her daily.

Jump. Her mind said.

She had no fear. She did not ponder about her decision. She wanted to end her misery. She was ready. As she was about to take a step forward, she heard a loud voice behind her.

"Miss, you are dangerously close to the cliff. I would advice you to step back immediately." The voice cried.

She turned around to look at who it was.

"I asked you to step back." Darcy said, in a commanding voice. He had returned from town the previous night. He was on his morning ride. The particular mountain was his favourite as the ride ended in a beautiful view of the falls.

He was unaccustomed to seeing anyone in such early hours and had always enjoyed solitude at the cliff overlooking the falls. That day, he could see her standing near the top. As he rode upwards, he realised she was standing dangerously close to the cliff.

Good Lord! Who is that reckless woman? He thought and rushed towards her.

He noticed her startle when she heard his voice. The moment he saw he face, he realised she was very young. For a moment, he was captivated by her beautiful eyes, which appeared moist. There was a state of confusion so evident in her face.

"Didn't you hear me, madam? I asked you to step away from the cliff."

Elizabeth was startled to see him, and it took her some time to understand what she had almost done. She was angry at herself beyond measure.

"Can you not hear me, madam?" Darcy asked with irritation.

"Of course, I can hear you. Anyone a mile away can hear your commands, I suppose. But I am not someone you can order around. I do not have to obey your commands, sir." She cried with anger.

Darcy was unaccustomed to anyone talking to him in that tone. Who is she? How did she get here at such an early hour? He knew that there were a few estates close by. But he had never seen her before.

"I am not commanding you. I am warning you that you are standing too close to the cliff unless you are doing it intentionally." He said with more patience than he truly felt.

"What are you insinuating?" Elizabeth asked in anger, well aware of the truth.

"Will you please step back? Then we can continue our argument." He said, truly worried about her safety.

"You think I was planning to jump?"

"Why would anyone one goes that close to the cliff?"

"It is none of your business."

"Watch your words, madam. I merely asked you a question."

"Is it your job to ride on the mountains and warn people who are enjoying a view? It must be a very exciting one." She said sarcastically.

"I would suggest you refrain from talking to me like that. Do you know who I am?" He asked, irked by the way she spoke to him.

"Why do you feel offended, sir? I merely asked you a question?" She said returning his own words.

Darcy did not know how to talk to her, a part of him wanted to hate her impertinence, and the other half was intrigued by it.

Both of them stared at each other without uttering another word.

Elizabeth realized it was time to head back. Before she walked away, she turned and looked at the waterfalls. Suddenly she realized how very scary it looked to stand there. How did I even get the thought of jumping from here?

She quickly moved forward and crossed Darcy.

"I must allow the spot for other young ladies you plan to lecture, sir. I would not deprive you of such an occupation any day." She said and disappeared down the hill.

Darcy stood rooted to the spot and watched her walk down the hill swiftly.

"Who is she?"

Dear Readers,

Thank you for following this story. I hope you will like this plot as well. Stay safe!