Writer's Note: This is my first "Becoming Jane" fanfic. I've wanted to write one for a long time now, but have been put off by the properness of the characters' speech. I've tried reading Jane Austen's books, but still can't grasp the intricacy of the dialogue. So, if I totally mutilate the dialogue, I am sorry!
Chapter 1: In which Tom and Jane's ride goes a-rye
She had read the letter from his mother. There was no doubt in Jane's mind that she had to go back home. Tom was forsaking his family for her, and she could not allow that. At the next stop she would tell him…
"Jane, are you well, my dearest?"
Tom's voice wrenched her heart. She tried to hide her emotions. "I will be fine, Tom."
He did not press her. What they were doing was unsettling for their reputations, but to be together, Tom knew it had to be done. He would find a way to make it work.
It had only been five minutes after the tires had gotten stuck in the mud when the carriage suddenly came to a halt. Tom sat up from the seat. "We are not even halfway to the next stop."
"Are we stuck?" Jane asked, looking at him.
"I do not think so."
The door opened, slamming against the outside of the carriage. A bearded man in mud-caked clothing was standing there, a knife in hand. "Get out now!" he snarled.
Jane gasped, her hands covering her mouth. Tom stared at the man for several seconds, the events not registering yet. "I said, get out!" the man yelled, brandishing the knife higher.
Tom's eyes fell on the knife. He turned, grasping Jane's hand tightly. He could feel her shaking as he helped her from the carriage. They were pushed to the side with the other men that were driving the carriage. Tom peered around taking note that they were outnumbered. Twelve bandits stood against the five of them, all with some sort of weapon in hand. Two of the bandits were atop the carriage rummaging through the cargo. Assuredly, they would find all the money he tucked away in his bag.
Jane stared down at the leafy ground, her clutch on Tom's arm becoming tighter as her fear grew. He held onto her protectively, hoping that his presence would ease her fear. But what happened next no one had suspected.
One of the bandits - a man in fine clothing that had been tattered from traveling – caught sight of Jane. He stared at her for a moment, his eyes mischievous. He sauntered over to her, looking her up and down. Tom pulled her back instinctually, feeling the threat of the man.
"The lady is of no interest to you" Tom said, a slight shake in his voice.
The man never took his eyes off Jane. "I believe she is. She'll fetch a good price."
The blood drained from Tom's face, and Jane could feel her knees weaken. "Sir, please" pleaded Tom. "She is to be my wife."
"That's too bad" the man sneered, reaching out to grab Jane.
"NO!" Tom screamed. He pushed Jane behind him. The drivers of the carriage moved to help, but the rest of the bandits had jumped in, their body language threatening them to step down. "Take me instead."
"Tom!" gasped Jane.
"I am the nephew of the chief judge in London. A mighty ransom will be paid for my safety." He did not know if they'd believe him, but he had to try. Jane's life was at stack, and he'd do anything to keep her from harm. "Please, sir, take me."
The man glared at Tom for an agenizing moment. He then gestured to his comrades. "We'll take them both!"
Tom's face fell. He drew Jane closer to him, her body racked with sobs. "I will protect you," he whispered into her hair.
The carriage drivers stood helplessly as the bandits descended on their passengers. The man with the knife, along with another bandit, laid hands on Tom. The man in the tattered fine clothes, who appeared to be the leader, took hold of Jane.
"Tom!" screamed Jane as they pried her away. Tom's hand slipped from hers as they pulled them apart. Jane kicked and sobbed trying to get away as Tom was knocked to his knees, his hands roughly pulled behind his back. The bandits tied his hands then placed a blindfold over his eyes.
The leader clapped a hand over Jane's mouth, preventing her screams from being heard. The last sight she saw was of her dear Tom falling lifelessly to the ground.