Pride Prejudice and Prodigy

When tragedy brings the delightful Darlington family to Longbourn, Elizabeth Bennet forges a deep friendship with the ill-fated daughter, Julia; and finds herself fascinated by the enigmatic son, James, in whom Darcy is alarmed to discover a worthy competitor for Elizabeth's heart. The second part of the story extends beyond the time-line of P&P, wherein Georgiana Darcy struggles against the demons of her youth to blossom into a unique heroine.


This Regency fic is complete (Prologue + 19 chapters). I will be posting twice a week.

The Rating is suitable for anyone old enough to read Jane Austen.

I would like to thank my wonderful beta-readers: tJ, Debra Anne, Paulette and Lynne.


Prologue

Not many days after Mr Collins' most welcome departure from Longbourn, Elizabeth was reflecting upon the capriciousness of life as she walked towards Meryton one morning with Jane, Kitty, and Lydia. Jane was earnestly engaged in the office of cautioning her two youngest sisters on the need to show greater restraint in the company of the officers, leaving Elizabeth free to pursue her thoughts regarding chance, and how so much in life appeared to depend upon it. These thoughts began with her considering, as she had done often in recent days, the astonishing acceptance of Mr Collins' offer of marriage by her friend Charlotte. How could a thoughtful, intelligent girl such as Charlotte, agree to spend her life with so absurd a partner?

Perhaps it was because she could find no satisfactory answer to this perplexing question that her thoughts wandered to the perverse sequence of events which were responsible for her friend's most unfortunate betrothal. To begin with, there was the entail on Mr Bennet's estate, which ensured that it would pass to Mr Collins upon her father's death. It was this which almost certainly had prompted Mr Collins' visit. He was doubtless motivated as much by the surreptitious desire to inspect his future property, as he was by his avowed intention of choosing a wife from among Mr Bennet's daughters. He appeared to believe they were his by right to select from, according to his whim – and to be accepted – as if they too were part of the entail; the presumptuous buffoon! Had it not been for Mr Bingley and her mother's hopes for Jane in that regard, her elder sister would have unquestionably been the object of Mr Collins' attentions. But Elizabeth knew her sister well enough to know that though it would have grieved her excessively to go against her mother's wishes, she would never have accepted Mr Collins. Jane would marry for love – and no woman could love Mr Collins. Thus, she herself became the object of Mr Collins' hopes and illusions.

On the very day Mr Collins had finally come to the point – and been so vigorously rebuffed – Charlotte came to spend the day at Longbourn, and as an act of kindness to her friend, sought to engage Mr Collins' attentions. Was it he, out of wounded pride, who first had the notion of Lord William Lucas' daughter as a suitable wife – one of whom Lady Catherine de Bourgh must surely approve – or did Charlotte deliberately set about encouraging his addresses? Whatever the truth of the matter, one thing was certain: chance had played an extraordinary part in the chain of events that would end with one of the most significant events in her friend Charlotte's life: her marriage to Mr Collins.

Continuing with her theme of chance, Elizabeth directed her thoughts towards a more agreeable subject: her acquaintance with Mr Wickham. It was strange to think that had he not been treated so abominably by Mr Darcy and denied the promised family living, Mr Wickham would now be a clergyman in some distant northern place, and she would never have experienced the pleasure of his delightful manners and company. Elizabeth smiled to herself. I shall certainly thank chance for that piece of good fortune – and not Mr Darcy! Little did Elizabeth know, as she engaged in her musings, but the recent death of a person wholly unknown to her had already set in motion a chain of events which would soon touch her life, and perhaps alter its course irrevocably.