A/N Hello! this is my first foray into writing fanfiction so although feedback would be greatly appreciated be gentle if you decide to review please!
all characters etc. belong to Miss Austen.
27/4/11 I've edited this chapter so that it flows better, well at least I hope it does!
Hyde Park mid-afternoon should have been an amusement. The array of people starting from the highest circles of London society to the shop-keepers' daughters showed that all types of people strolled the well-worn paths. The social climbers to the local butcher-boys with their varying and often amusing mannerisms made it easy for any keen observer to be diverted by such displays. This should have distracted one Elizabeth Bennet. Unfortunately at present her mind was elsewhere; specifically at Longbourn. Her home where she had escaped from…
"Lizzy! Lizzy you will marry him! Think of my poor nerves! You headstrong, selfish girl! We shall be thrown out onto the hedgerows, is that what you want?"
"Mama! He does not love me and I most certainly do not love him!"
"Love? Love? Child, love is not necessary in marriage. Lord Morecroft is more than I ever dreamt that you could to aspire to! Twenty thousand a year, three estates and access to the highest circles of society! Think of all the finery you will have as Lady Morecroft. Do not think of only yourself, if you marry Lord Morecroft you can introduce your sisters to other rich men and then they too will be set up for life!"
"You cannot make me, Morecroft may be rich, but he is cold-hearted and has no respect for me as an individual. He sees me as a pretty face; an accessory to be adorned whilst he whimpers and fawns over those in his circle. I will not lead that kind of life mama. I am still young. I do not want to give up the chance of marrying for love!"
"Elizabeth! You stubborn child, why can you not see this is what is best for you? Think of the here and now and what is in front of you, do not throw it all away on the fantastical notion of love! You willmarry Lord Morecroft Miss Lizzy otherwise I shall never speak to you again!"
Elizabeth, who was determined not to give in to her mother's incessant demands had written to her dearest Aunt and Uncle not so subtly begging an invitation to Gracechurch Street. This, she was promptly given. The Gardiner's would never let an opportunity pass for their favourite niece to visit them. Her father agreed to let his most sensible daughter go as he could see the toll in which his wife's nerve's had on her. Jane, although sad to see her depart understood the reasons to get away from Hertfordshire. Her mother. Well. Her mother hoped that whilst in London her least favourite child would realise that Lord Morecroft would, in fact, be all she could ever want in a husband.
As Elizabeth's mind was thus engaged she failed to notice the two horsemen rapidly approaching. The rider's; who had been imbibing at their local club, had not yet taken notice of the petite brunette who was now in their way. It was not until the last moment that they realised their path was not free. The first rider was able to swerve without injury to either party. The second was not so fortunate. Whilst trying to avoid the sudden obstacle to his course he clipped Elizabeth. He apparently did not realised he had done so and rode away without a backwards glance. He therefore did not see that the young woman was now on the floor.
Luckily this incident was not the worst Elizabeth had ever had. As a child, she had had more than her fair share of accidents. Her love of nature and the outdoors had led her to climbing the trees round her father's estate. Unfortunately this also resulted in many instances that had her falling out of them as well. So it was with more embarrassment and annoyance than pain that Lizzy began to get up. A sudden rustling of skirts and urgent tones met her when she was standing once again.
"Miss, Miss are you alright? I just saw what happened, that was quite a fall. Are you injured? Shall I call a Doctor?"
As she turned to the voice Elizabeth saw two ladies. One a blonde girl of no-more than sixteen and another, older lady both looking anxiously at her. She deduced from her clothing that the younger of the two was a gently-bred wealthy lady and the other was a companion or governess. They both seemed genuinely worried and so with true appreciation Elizabeth replied;
"I am perfectly well; I thank you for your concern. It was more a shock I believe than the force of the horse that made me fall over. It is quite embarrassing really."
The blonde still looked concerned and shared a look with her companion before she responded, "Miss are you sure you are alright? I live just a few minutes away on Grosvenor Square. Would you like to come in and rest to make sure you are truly not injured."
"It really is very kind of you, but truly I am perfectly alright Miss…"
"Oh sorry, my name is Miss Georgiana Darcy. This is my companion Mrs Annesley"
"Miss Darcy, Mrs Annesley, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am Miss Elizabeth Bennet," as they finished the perfunctory curtsies she continued, "again I thank you for your concern but as you can see I am quite well and nothing more than my dignity is injured. I was to return to my Aunt and Uncle's house now in any case, so I shall bid you a very fond farewell and hope you have a pleasant walk."
"Very well then if you are sure Miss Bennet. I hope you return to your relative's without further injury!"
"Oh I shall try my very best Miss Darcy. I will be sure to look both ways when crossing paths. Perhaps I shall take to wearing more vibrant colours such as a vivid orange next time I go out so that I will be noticed easily by passing riders" Lizzy responded with a twinkle in her eye that instantly made the younger girl more at ease.
"That is one idea Miss Bennet. Though from my own knowledge, orange, although very eye catching is not the most flattering of colours. An acquaintance of mine wears it often and I cannot say it does her any favours-" Miss Darcy stopped with a hand over her mouth as she realised what she had just said, " I am sorry Miss Bennet I do not know what came over me. I am not usually so impertinent!"
Elizabeth chuckled, "Do not fret my new friend, you have said nothing wrong. I happen to agree with you on your opinions concerning the colour orange. Therefore I am resolved to stick with my original plan of paying more attention when I am wandering the park!"
"Very well Miss Bennet. Have a good day. Perhaps I shall see you again as I often take to walking around Hyde Park"
"That is a possibility for I do love the outdoors. Living in the countryside has quite spoilt me for nature and I cannot go long without seeing some form of greenery! So I shall bid you adieu for now Miss Darcy, Mrs Annesely"
"Good bye Miss Bennet."
With a final curtsey Elizabeth returned to Gracechurch Street. This new encounter had pushed her earlier musings of her self-imposed exile quite out of her mind. After handing over her outdoor wear to a servant she wandered into the parlour where her Aunt was occupied doing some needlework in front of the fire.
"Ah Lizzy, you're back. Your Uncle and I were thinking of going to the theatre tomorrow, 'Much Ado About nothing' is playing, I know how fond you are of Shakespeare. Would you like to go?"
"Aunt, I think that's a wonderful idea! Thank you! I have not been to a play for so long. I am already looking forward to it immensely." Elizabeth warmly responded as she wrapped her arms round her Aunt.