Darcy makes ready. Elizabeth wants to go with him. Darcy says she can’t come: he can travel faster and more efficiently by himself. Not to mention that Elizabeth really would not be any help whatsoever: we’ve already learned that she can’t take care of herself, isn’t particularly smart, and would only slow Darcy down. Not to mention that Darcy needs to devote all of his time towards rescuing his sister and he can’t do that when he also has to worry about whether his wife is safe. Instead of realizing that Darcy has made his decision and isn’t going to un-make it, Elizabeth begs, pleads, and cries. It doesn’t make any difference.
Darcy tells her where his important papers are and what arrangements he’s made in case of his untimely death. Elizabeth starts to tremble. So Darcy comes over and hugs her and says not to worry, they’re only precautions to make him feel better. And so Elizabeth…you know, I really just have to quote this:
Because he caressed her neck reassuringly, she obediently nodded. It was with reluctance, but she did nod her concurrence. She understood her duty. It she could not accompany him, she would find the benevolence to ease his way. A wife must not make her husband’s tasks more arduous than necessary.
So far so good. A little strung up on “duty” but even so, this is reasonable. It makes sense. Darcy has to go. This is his younger sister he’s talking about. He also can’t bring his wife into harm’s way. She has to bear it, and the best, most helpful, and wisest thing to do is make it as easy as possible for Darcy as she can, since he’s going to have the harder time of things.
Suddenly, she tore herself from his embrace and, with all the strength she could muster, struck him across the face. His look of stunned hurt incited her to slap him again. She brought her hand back a third time, but he grasped her wrists and drew her into his arms to soothe her. Her strength spent in a fit of wretchedness, she harmlessly pounded his shoulders with impotent fists and might have fallen to the floor had he not held her so tightly.
Yes. She Hit Him. Her husband. Who she Loves. She belted him across the face because he wouldn’t take her with him. That’s, uh…truly delightful. A wonderful summation of Elizabeth’s character. Hooray for domestic violence! And it continues:
“Pray, do not leave me,” she wailed desperately. “Please do not. Take me with you! I shall be no trouble. I shall not complain. Please,” she begged, “take me with you for I cannot bear for you to leave me, for I know I shall never see you again.”
My guess here is that Berdoll is trying to show the depths of Elizabeth’s love for him by having her throw a temper tantrum. It’s really not working.
They have sex. And the coach is ready and Darcy leaves and Elizabeth reflects:
…she wondered was she right not to tell him before he left the one thing that might have made him stay. No, she thought and shook her head imperceptibly but to herself. She could not put the burden of decision upon him: should he save his sister or remain with his wife?
Then what the FUCK was all that for then, Elizabeth???
His wife, who was quite certain that she was again with child.
What? Did she just figure this out today?
Darcy reflects on things. He thinks about how he’s treated Georgiana, makes note of some stuff that he should have done differently, and in general is calm and rational and deserving of a modicum of respect.
Darcy reaches the coast and discovers that Fitzwilliam’s ship has already left. He considers. He has already dispatched numerous well-trusted men through England. If Georgiana is still in England, they’ll find her. However, they know Georgiana likes taking care of the sick and has mentioned that she’d like being a nurse, which means there’s a reasonable chance she’ll have joined a medical group and set off for the war in France. So Darcy gets aboard a ship of the Royal Navy and off they go.
While Darcy’s on his way to France, John and Georgiana are still in Portsmouth. You know, what with the intelligence that they were heading for Portsmouth, it seems logical that Darcy might spend a short while looking around Portsmouth before hopping onto a ship for France. Then again, if he did the book would end right here.
We go into backstory and Berdoll explains all of John’s motivations for the past…whatever. John wants to kill Darcy. Honestly, I don’t really buy this intense hatred for Mr. Darcy. Yes, he believes that Darcy might have cast his mother out. At the same time, he’s spent five years working at Pemberley surrounded by people who, almost entirely, think that Darcy is an excellent master. He knows that Georgiana and Elizabeth love Darcy, and he thinks that they are both wonderful, and despite all this, he still plans on killing him. It just rings false. If Berdoll had spent a lot more time on this, really developing John’s character, it might have been plausible, but it’s not.
John is in the process of leaving Pemberley (after throwing his knife at Darcy’s feet) when Georgiana shows up and says she’s leaving Pemberley and asks him to drive the gig.
They sell the gig in Portsmouth. Georgiana says that she’s a nurse and the wife of an officer, and ends up bribing the captain to give her passage with the hospital corps. John signs up with other recruits. They cross the Channel, land in France, and are sent off in different directions.
Jane and Bingley arrive. The three of them angst together. Afterward, Elizabeth tells Jane she’s pregnant. They talk about it and Elizabeth goes to bed. She lies there and feels her belly. There’s already a small bump there. Bumps do not appear overnight. Elizabeth and Darcy have had sex on an average of twice a night for the past five years. Which means that they’ve had sex about 3,650 times. By this point, Darcy would know Elizabeth’s body like the back of his hand, and probably better. There is no way in hell he wouldn’t have noticed the bump, especially with both of them so eager for her to be pregnant.
Elizabeth finds one of Darcy’s used shirts and smells it. It brings her to tears. She decides not to wash it until Darcy gets back. That’s disgusting.
The next day they go to fetch Bingley’s bastard. His name is Charles. Elizabeth is horrified and asks if he has another name. Alexander. So they bring the baby back home.
The next day a rider shows up with a message from Darcy saying he’s boarded the H.M.S. Barrett. Shortly afterward, Bingley arrives, saying that the H.M.S. Barrett was destroyed by the French. You’d think this would make Elizabeth slightly worried, or possibly suicidal, or to go into a post-Westley Buttercup funk, but instead she just sets her jaw and looks slightly morose.
The Barrett lands in France, the soldiers disembark, and as it’s heading back out to sea it’s destroyed. Darcy manages to buy a horse and heads off towards Lille. He has family there – the Viscount Charles Roux. He arrives without any problem, spends awhile drinking and making nice with the family, who are delighted to see him, and leaves the next day on a much better horse.
In the space of two paragraphs, we’re told about most of the rest of Darcy’s search. It’s long and very hard. No good records to use for tracking people down.
Wickham made the rather unfortunate mistake of nailing a colonel’s wife. And being caught by said colonel. This colonel promptly reassigned him to the thick of the action over in France, which Wickham isn’t happy about, since he joined the army to wear a shiny uniform that would make women wet, not actually to fight. He then spends three pages reminiscing about things that have already happened, including his attempt to seduce Elizabeth. He was hoping to impregnate her, and once that happened, he could extract all sorts of cash from Darcy to keep things quiet and keep the Darcy name untarnished. Yes. That’s all very exciting, Berdoll, but why not tell us these things back when the event actually happened so we could have a better idea of his character motivations when it actually was relevant to the plot, instead of waiting until he’s sitting around hoping to not be killed by the French?
Bingley strolls in and sees Jane and Elizabeth playing with Alexander. There’s a rather uncomfortable silence. See, Bingley saw his kid not all that long ago, and there’s no way he wouldn’t recognize him. Rather a gaping flaw in the plan. Raising a child at Pemberley, a place Bingley frequents. Elizabeth immediately thinks about how stupid they were not to think of this, and I’m inclined to agree. There are a number of ways you could have pulled this off. Pemberley’s a huge place: put the kid and his wet-nurse in some spacious, unfrequented corner and keep them there while Bingley’s around.
Elizabeth gets up and leaves the room. She waits in the hallway for awhile until she hears weeping. She’s immediately infuriated that Bingley made Jane cry. Continuing with her trait of making dramatically incorrect assumptions and following through on them, she bursts into the room with the intent of exacting some sort of revenge, and finds Bingley bawling into Jane’s lap.
This pretty much fixes things and eventually things get back to normal. When the Bingleys return home, they take Alexander with them. And just like that, an entire plot-line was conveniently wrapped up and tied off. The promise to take care of and raise a bastard child? Gone. Nice and convenient for Elizabeth, now that she actually has a bun in the oven.
Elizabeth goes for a week or so without bathing. She doesn’t want to wash Darcy from her body. Ah, yes. The same thing that happened at the beginning of the book. It’s still vaguely creepy and not very romantic.
She then hangs out with Lady Millhouse. Lady Millhouse’s only inclusion in the plot is to provide exposition and the occasional comic relief. Really. That’s all. She continues in this vein, spending three pages discussing the Darcy ancestry and explaining how Darcy’s father had an affair right before Georgiana was born and possibly fathered other children. Wow. I get the feeling that no one in this book is going to turn out to actually be faithful to their significant other.
Wickham walks around thinking about things. He hears that someone comes from Derbyshire and starts talking to him, relating his tale of woe about how Mr. Darcy ruined him and denied him his inheritance. The young man is, of course, John Christie. Well. Who would have guessed? Out of all the thousands of different places John Christie could have been sent, he was randomly assigned to the very place where his father was stationed to serve under his command. Go figure.
The fighting begins. Wickham yells orders and starts thinking about the best time to desert. He waits until his company has been more or less defeated and the French have moved past, finds a dead corporal with his face mostly removed, and switches jackets with him. Suddenly he sees John Christie looking at him. Wickham pulls his gun, shoots John in the stomach, gets on his horse, and takes off.
…I guess Wickham doesn’t know that if you plan on deserting, you should make sure the only witness is actually dead. Shooting them in the belly doesn’t count.