Darcy the Beast:A Pride and Prejudice Variation

By: Cass Grix

A Pride and Prejudice Variation



PROLOGUE


PEMBERLEY 1787

Master Fitzwilliam Darcy ran towards the rose garden as fast as his short pantaloons would allow.

Nanny had fallen asleep after tea. She was still sitting upright, but her chin had dropped down onto her chest and she snored a little. Fitzwilliam would have awakened her, but for once the weather was wonderful and he could not bear to stay another minute inside the house. He had tiptoed downstairs from the nursery, careful to avoid any servant who might notice him.

Then once outside, he ran.

The rose garden was one of his favourite places to play because there was a stone wall to climb and benches to jump from. Fitzwilliam liked to pretend that he was a bird and that he could fly.

This day, he climbed the eight-foot stone wall and walked around the perimeter of the rose garden. The garden was a large circle with a statue in the centre. The stone wall had two-foot gaps where the paths entered, like spokes on a wheel, and he leapt easily across the openings.

At one place the wall was overgrown with ivy. He stepped carefully through it, but then his foot slipped and he fell, crying out.

His head struck the lawn with a loud thump and for a time everything was dark.

He did not know how long he lay there, but then he felt someone’s fingers on his face, soft and gentle. Someone was speaking or singing a delicate song that sounded like wind rustling through the trees. He opened his eyes and saw a beautiful woman.

“Mama?” he asked, then realized it could not be his mother. She had died a few months before and Mrs. Reynolds said she was now in heaven with the angels.

Besides, this woman had long wavy golden hair, unlike his mother’s dark hair. He had never seen a woman with such long hair; it hung down past her shoulders to her waist. The woman was dressed in a long dress of a shimmering bluish green fabric. She had ribbons and flowers woven into hair. She smiled at him and he thought she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. “Hello,” she said gently.

Her voice made him feel safe and secure, as if he were half asleep and wrapped in a warm blanket.

“Hello,” he returned.

“Do you feel all right? Does anything hurt?”

Fitzwilliam tried to sit up, but his head ached and he lay back down. “My head hurts.”

“I am sorry to hear that,” she said. She reached behind and touched the back of his head gently. “Let me see what I can do. Poor darling, you have a lump.”

“No, I am fine,” he said bravely. He flinched as she touched the tender spot, but he did not cry. His father had told him many times that men should not cry.

“I am glad,” the woman said. “But you must be careful when you climb so high.”

“It was my boots. They slipped.”

“Then perhaps you should not wear shoes.”

She motioned towards her own feet and he saw that they were bare. Her skin was pale and smooth. Was she a ghost? But if she were a ghost, would he be able to feel her touch? Nanny often told him frightening tales with ghosts and goblins at night, but this woman did not seem frightening.

The woman smoothed his hair off his forehead and tucked the long dark curls behind his ears. “What is your name?”

“Master Fitzwilliam.”

She nodded. “A pleasure to meet you, Master Fitzwilliam.”

“Who are you?” he asked.

She shrugged. “I live nearby. I am your neighbour.” She said, “And you remind me of a little boy years ago who looked just like you.”

“Was he good at climbing?”

She smiled. “Yes, very good.”

“What became of him?”

“He grew into a handsome young man.”

“Was he strong?”

“Yes, strong but also kind.” For a moment, she looked sad.

He said, “Why are you sad?”

She said, “I am remembering happy and sad times. I married him and we were very happy together until he died.”

“What happened?”

“He grew old. Humans do not live as long as fairies.”

“Are you a fairy?” he asked in wonder.

“Yes.”

He thought of Nanny’s stories. “You can’t be. Fairies are small.”

“Sometimes we are big, too,” the woman said.

“Do you have wings?”