So they do.
Darcy rides along on his horse, while the women sit inside the coach. They get out in the middle of nowhere and the coach breaks down. Apparently one of the cotter pins fell out. So Darcy takes off with one of the postilions to head back to the nearest village and get a new one. He reassures Georgiana that she’ll be alright – the other postilion has a pistol and the coachman has a rifle up top. Darcy takes off.
Unfortunately, said postilion is Frank Reed, and he disarms the coachman right about the time that Tom Reed and another dim-witted henchman show up. They order the women out of the carriage and rummage through their belongings until they have all the valuables. Then Tom Reed eyes the women. He settles on Elizabeth and starts to drag her towards a horse. She pulls away, so he belts her across the face, and explains that if she doesn’t get on one of the horses, he’ll gut Georgiana. So she does. And off they go.
A short while later Darcy reappears. His coachman is standing there, staring off into space. I think Darcy really needs to pay more attention to who he hires. But anyway, our hero figures out what’s happened, grabs a weapon, and takes off.
Tom Reed and co. stop a short distance later at an inn. Tom Reed. Hardened criminal. A clever man, capable of organizing a well-thought-out crime. Decides to stop a short distance away from where he kidnapped the wife of a very capable, very powerful, and soon to be very pissed off man, and rape his wife. Yes, that makes total sense.
They barge inside and Tom demands a room. The owner looks at their weapons and points the way. Tom drags Elizabeth up to a room and throws her onto a mattress. She screams while he unbuttons his breeches, and then tries to bite him. Tom decides, rather logically, that he shouldn’t force her to perform fellatio, and shoves her on her back. And Elizabeth, under considerable duress and about to raped, has time to reflect on things. No really.
Elizabeth was both disappointed and relieved at this manoeuvre, in that however she would have liked to exact that particular agony (a few mishaps in affection with Darcy had made her understand this was a sensitive spot upon a man), she did not necessarily want to clamp her teeth upon Reed’s nasty “whennymegs”.
That’s the main problem with this entire chapter. Mostly, when writing in the tone of Jane Austen, it’s very difficult to write an exciting action scene. A more talented author would cut down on the adjectives and the flavorful language and also, perhaps, choose to show us some of the emotions that would be running through Elizabeth’s head at a time like this. Instead, we get no emotions and thus no connection with the main character. This entire chapter is written in the same way as if the subject was a leisurely stroll through a garden followed by tea, rather than a robbery, kidnapping, and attempted rape. It doesn’t work on every possible level. There’s no tension and no excitement.
Of course, this is Elizabeth. Nothing really bad can happen to her. So before Reed even gets started the door is kicked open and Darcy appears. Reed whips out his throwing-knife and chucks it at Darcy.
For a man unused to attack, Darcy parried the stroke quite adeptly.
So. Darcy has no experience with fighting. And yet, with his bare hands, he manages to deflect a throwing-knife that was flung straight at his face from about five feet away, full-force, without any injury to himself. Yeah, that’s likely. So Darcy draws his sabre and Reed grabs his pistol. Darcy’s bringing a knife into a gun-fight. For all intents and purposes, Reed should have plenty of time to shoot him. But Darcy crosses the room and runs him through. Reed dies. Darcy picks up Elizabeth and hugs her and half carries her back out into the common-room, looking around. Elizabeth points out Frank Reed and the other bandit. Darcy grabs his father’s pistol from one of them and shoots them both. Then they leave.
And thus, less than halfway through the story, the only vaguely interesting plotline comes to an end.
We get some uninteresting backstory with Goodwin, Mr. Darcy’s valet. He’s never had much interest in women, they tend to bore him. However, he does think that Mrs. Darcy is pretty awesome, as women go. In fact, he admits to himself that he’s getting infatuated with her. Just. Like. Everyone. Else.
Goodwin is traveling from London to Pemberley in a second carriage. They come across the Darcy’s carriage while Darcy is off rescuing Elizabeth. Goodwin is horrified. He wants to ride off to help Darcy, but the only remaining horse has no saddle. And:
Goodwin never doubted that Mr. Darcy would find success. Mr. Darcy would never allow anything to happen to Mrs. Darcy. Mr. Darcy would overtake those men and demand they unhand her. They would do so immediately and with apology. (This notion revealed that Goodwin kept in a locked box under his bed several well-read books that some might disparage as banal.) Mr. Darcy would return with Mrs. Darcy sitting in front of him upon his saddle, her hair, perchance, in slight disarray.
Jeeves he ain’t. I think Goodwin’s a slack-jawed idiot.
They get back to the carriage and head for Pemberley as fast as they can, Darcy holding Elizabeth. He carries her inside and tells the housekeeper to call a physician. Elizabeth refuses and says she wants a bath, which is reasonable. Darcy gives her one, dries and dresses her, then puts her in bed and lies down and holds her. Darcy feels bad, Elizabeth says it’s not his fault. Then she wonders if he’ll ever desire her again. Darcy says of course he will. And then they have sex.
She did not cry again, but her voice began to quaver as she said, “I want you. I want you inside me. I want that man erased from me…I want you in me now.”
Right. That sounds really likely. Recovering from an attempted rape by having sex. Makes perfect sense. I consulted a friend of mine who happens to be a psychologist, asking her opinion. She said it was possible, if the women was in a highly trusting relationship, she might have very gentle ‘comfort sex’. Of course, women from that era tended to have horrible hang-ups about sex and so just being assaulted and having your clothes torn away would scar you for years. So in other words, if Elizabeth was written as a real character from that time period, this wouldn’t be remotely plausible. And even in this setting, it’s only just plausible. But not likely. [As a side note, said psychologist’s reaction when I told her this was Elizabeth Darcy was: “What the fuck?”]
The next day the sheriff and the coroner arrive to question Darcy and Elizabeth. Darcy tells them they can’t talk to Elizabeth. However, before the argument really gets going and says that she’ll speak to the sheriff. Alone. She does so.
The next day Elizabeth miscarries. She didn’t even know she was pregnant until then. Afterwards, she feels guilty for failing to produce an heir for Mr. Darcy.
As soon as Elizabeth is well enough to go outside, Darcy teaches her and Georgiana how to use a pistol.
By the way, if you were wondering if Darcy will face any consequences for shooting two unarmed men in cold blood, the answer is no.
Elizabeth and Darcy talk about what happened for a couple pages. The end result:
It was, Elizabeth conjectured, unusual that her mind did not suffer more than it did as a result of such an attack. […] She did not feel truly traumatized by his brutality.
Darcy feels terrible because he feels like it’s his fault. And so Elizabeth feels bad that Darcy feels bad. Other than that, she’s pretty much okay. Hooray! Thank God that it didn’t scar her for life or cause any lasting problems.
They decide to pretend to everyone that it was only a simple robbery and not mention the attempted rape and the subsequent miscarriage.
We now return to Wickham. Remember Wickham? He was introduced thirty-eight chapters ago and we haven’t heard anything of him since then. You know, I love in it when an author introduces a character in the opening pages and then abandons him until halfway through the book. It’s a mark of a good storyteller.
Wickham is in need of money. He has to continually bribe people to keep them from sending him off to fight Napoleon, and so he looks around until he finds some people of the right caliber (slightly drunk, slightly well-off, not intelligent) and sits down to play cards with them. And suddenly Wickham is the most intriguing (and therefore, likeable) character in the books. Which isn’t really an impression Berdoll should be cultivating. Wickham’s a bastard. And yet, in the space of two pages, we learn about his motivations, he makes a decision that accurately reflects his character, and he actually does something towards accomplishing his own ends. Which is more than I can say for the past thirty-eight chapters of Darcy and Elizabeth walking around and having sex.
He wins for awhile. Then halfway through a hand he suddenly hears about Darcy having killed three people. He wonders at this and leaves the game, spotting Col. Fitzwilliam at another table, extremely drunk. Wickham goes over and mentions Darcy, which makes Fitzwilliam throw a table over and then stomp out.
Wickham thinks about things and decides not to pursue the matter.
The Bingleys have moved to a place called Kirkland Hall, not far from Pemberley. Darcy and Elizabeth visit frequently, as Jane is getting nearer to giving birth. On one of these visits, Jane tells Elizabeth that they no longer share a bed because she’s pregnant and Mrs. Bennet said it was bad for the baby to have sex while pregnant. They even lock the door during the night so Bingley doesn’t walk in his sleep and come have sex with Jane [?]. Elizabeth, of course, thinks this is ridiculous.
The Bennets visit and nothing really happens. Jane has a baby girl that they name Elizabeth Jane.
We jump forward an undisclosed length of time. Darcy returns from a business trip early and he and Elizabeth make sweet hot love. Afterwards, he feels her belly and there’s a bump there. Elizabeth is pregnant!
However, they do continue to have sex. Lots of it. And experiment with other things.
The labor is very long and hard because the baby’s in the breech position. When it’s finally born, it’s dead. And yes, we did just have the entire pregnancy in one chapter. This is one of Berdoll’s traits. One chapter might be six pages of lovingly describing a 15-minute conversation and the ensuing sex scene, and the next chapter might be four pages of what happened over the next year (lots of sex, and still no character development).