Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vignette - The Marriage of Antony, Lord Fitzwilliam

In Pride and Prejudice, we learn that Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, is the younger son of an earl. But what about his brother, the heir? I have decided that the colonel’s brother has already succeeded to the title, and like so many titled gentlemen of the Regency Era, he is a rake, a gambler, and a seducer.Antony has appeared in my novels, The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy and A Wife for Mr. Darcy. He is married to the Evil Eleanor and is thoroughly unhappy in his marriage, but he also has a heart of gold. My original character has become quite popular, and I have received many requests to write a story about Antony, the Earl of Stepton, and so here it is.

The Marriage of Antony, Lord Fitzwilliam, to Lady Eleanor Henley

As Lord Fitzwilliam climbed the stairs to the nursery of his London townhouse, he thought about the two little girls who were waiting for their dear Papa to tuck them in. He was always at his best when his children were on parole from their mother, the Evil Eleanor, Queen of Darkness, now residing at Briarwood in Kent. But as long as Lady Eleanor haunted the halls of the ancestral seat of the Earls of Stepton, he would call London home.

After dismissing his daughters’ nurse with a wave of his hand and a finger to his lips, he tiptoed to their shared bed. Looking at the lovely Sophia and Amelia, with their long, golden tresses cascading over their pillows, he noted how kind Nature had been to his children. They had inherited their father’s blond hair, cornflower blue eyes, and adorable dimples, and from their mother, they had inherited… He paused while gazing at his two lovelies. Surely, they have something from Eleanor, Antony thought as he continued to study his children. But when nothing came to mind, he decided to have a look at their feet after they had fallen asleep to see if they had any extra toes.

Looking at his darlings, Antony’s mind drifted back to the birth of his older daughter, Sophia. When the doctor had sent word that Eleanor had been safely delivered of a baby girl, he was thrilled, and when he saw the child was fully human, he was delighted beyond measure.

“Well done, Eleanor,” he said, congratulating his wife who, despite having been in labor for several hours, looked to be very much in the pink. But then the midwife had told him that Lady Eleanor “had dropped the child as easily as a heifer in a meadow.”

“But she’s a girl!” Eleanor shouted at the father of her child. “That does not help us. We must start again.”

“No, no, no,” Antony responded, vigorously shaking his head. “I’m not a bit old fashion in that regard. In my book, daughters are equal with sons.”

“Don’t be stupid. Daughters can’t inherit. We must have an heir.”

“But I do have an heir—two in fact. I am perfectly content to have my brother inherit the title, and if anything should happen to Richard, there’s always Darcy. My goodness! Is there anyone more capable of being the Earl of Stepton than my cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy?”

“You are always thinking about yourself.”

“I don’t understand the difficulty. When I am dead, you will be the dowager countess. No one can take that away from you.”

“But they can take away my home. Your brother will throw me out of the house.”

“I am sure Richard will allow you to stay at Briarwood,” Antony lied. “He doesn’t dislike you as much as you think, and Darcy doesn’t know you well enough to know better.”

“I can give you a dozen examples of widows who were put out of the house before their husbands’ bodies had even begun to rot in their graves.”

“Must you be quite so descriptive, Eleanor? After all, you are speaking of my body.”

“You won’t know the difference; you will be dead. But I shall be alive and well,” she answered, her voice escalating. “No, you must come to me as soon as I am able. I must have a son.”

“Well, if we must, we must,” Antony said resolved to his plight. “But do take your time. No rush here. Shall we say, same time next year?”

To continue reading the story, please visit The Writer's Block under "Notable Novellas."

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