We’re introduced to a chap named Tom Reed. He’s a drunk and a criminal, recently paroled from Newgate. He strolls around London for a bit, watches a couple of hangings, and then bumps into his favorite whore, a women by the name of Abigail Christie – who, if you may remember, is the women that Darcy lost his virginity to. I’m guessing this may be a Plot Point. Some details later to know what an Evil and Scary Person Tom Reed is, she mentions that she used to work at Pemberley, the owners of which are filthy rich. As it turns out, Tom’s brother, Frank, works as a footman on the Darcy’s coach. Well. That’s an interesting little coincidence. Out of all the criminals and whores in London, one criminal has a whore who worked for the Darcys AND a brother who works for the Darcys.
Tom heads over and manages to talk Frank into giving him a job as the other footman. They intimidate the old footman into leaving and then Frank recommends his brother. He gets the job. I’m guessing this is going to be the first attempt at a plot.
Elizabeth wakes up and sighs multiple times while she looks at Darcy’s glorious naked body. She then begins examining his netherlands, and pondering his character and why he changes from not speaking to her to making sweet love to her and back again.
There’s an interesting lesson that I learned a long time ago, back before I even started writing, when my mother read The Treasure Seekers to us. In it, the narrator mentions that he’s not going to talk about boring things – like waking up and taking baths, and that you, the reader, will simply have to remember that these things are going on, because the narrator is only interesting in talking about the interesting things, the things that are relevant to the story and characters. My mother then paused her reading and pointed out to us that in books, characters never (or almost never) go to the bathroom; the point being that notwithstanding the fact that we don’t want to read about these things, generally speaking bathroom visits are not interesting or relevant to the storyline at all.
Some authors don’t seem to make these subtle connections, or the connection that there are often certain details that we, as readers, don’t really need or want to hear. Several hideously phrased sentences explaining to us that there is semen leaking out of Elizabeth’s vagina is a perfect example of this.
Darcy wakes up and they look at each other. Elizabeth mentions that it’s very cold in here. So Darcy pulls a cord and a couple of maids stroll in to build up the fire, which sends Elizabeth diving under the covers, while Darcy remains sitting up, with his glorious smoldering slightly hairy chest in full resplendent view of the maids. Yes, that does sound exactly like something Darcy would do.
Berdoll is fond of using overly-elaborate synonyms for other words, and when she finds herself running short for a chapter, she decides to throw in a Latin or French phrase in italics. Which is the way that she tells us that Darcy achieves a penis in erectus (i.e. his torch of love is tumescence), but when they start, Elizabeth’s pudendum femininus (i.e. naughty bits) is still sore. So when Darcy finishes off with a particularly hard thrust, she moans in pain. Suddenly, the fact that she’s uncomfortable matters to Darcy. He pulls away and says that it will not do. So instantly Elizabeth – strong-willed, self-confident Elizabeth (according to Austen, at least) – begins angsting.
Clearly, he was appalled as was she by her body’s connubial inhospitality. Indubitably, he would demand the marriage be negated. It was a perfectly good reason. She could not perform her wifely duties, therefore she was unfit as a bride. The church would concur. He would be given an uncontested annulment. She would enter a nunnery in shame. There, she would pine away for him for the rest of her life. Her tombstone would read “Her body was willing, but not fit.” He would marry again. To a lady whose body was as generous as the Meryton well. A women who would bear him ten children, all sons. He would never think of her again. Oh, wretchedness.
This kind of over-the-top reaction is generally reserved for comedy because it’s utterly ridiculous. If Elizabeth was saying this aloud with a hand over her eyes in mock distress, it would be hilarious. Unfortunately, this is intended to be completely 100% serious. These are Elizabeth’s actual thoughts. I’m not sure why Berdoll decided to turn Elizabeth into a complete idiot, but it’s not exactly endearing me to her or these characters.
Elizabeth proclaims that she is stunted. Darcy is confused. Elizabeth points out that he said that it will not do, and he said she was small. Darcy explains that it was a compliment, and he only meant that it won’t do that he continues to hurt her. Because he obviously cares so much. It’s not the fact that she’s small…it’s the fact that he’s…large. So now both Wickham and Darcy have told their wives that they have large penises. I wonder what Bingley will tell Jane?
Then they spend a page discussing exactly how large Darcy is. Elizabeth doesn’t really have a frame of reference. I would agree with her. I would also point out that neither should Darcy, since things like the internet and a ready supply of information pertaining to penis size is not available to these people, but then, I’m not really interested enough.
The Darcys arrive at Pemberley. They’ve been bumping uglies along the way. I think this is the seventh sex scene so far in this book. I’m wondering if I should keep count. Anyway. There are 168 people gathered to meet them. All of whom, I believe, work at Pemberley or on the grounds. The book is a bit unclear. They applaud and Elizabeth shakes a lot of hands and they head inside, saying hello to Colonel Fitzwilliam and Miss Georgiana Darcy. There are maids for everything. Darcy introduces her to his Irish wolfhounds, and finally they get a chance to relax inside Darcy’s bedroom. Elizabeth notices a portrait that looks like her. Darcy tells her that it is her, and it was done from his memory six months ago. Before they were engaged. While Elizabeth still hated his guts, I believe. That’s either very sweet or slightly creepy, and I’m leaning towards the latter.
They eat dinner and nothing that exciting happens. That night, as they head up to bed, Darcy thinks to himself. He realizes that she’s not having as much fun as he is in the sack, and decides that for her first night in Pemberley, he needs to…ensure that. So they undress, dropping their clothes down on top of the wolfhounds that are in the room. I dunno, I would be slightly weirded out by having sex while my dogs watched. But Darcy, being a skilled and masterful lover, brings Elizabeth to an extremely loud conclusion, which makes both dogs start howling. Darcy tosses them out into the hallway, which is a good thing, as it turns out, otherwise they would have been howling all night.
The next morning Darcy heads out to look over the grounds with Rhymes, his chief-guy-in-charge. They then ride down to the village of Kympton. Darcy had told the inn to give food and booze out to everyone in celebration of his wedding. He heads inside, stepping over a few drunks. The innkeeper jumps up. They’re all surprised to see Darcy there – he never comes into inns such as these, and the only reason he’s here is because of the occasion. Darcy pays up, gives the guy a bit extra for his trouble, and is heading out when he notices that everyone looks a little bit awkward and nervous. A moment later he notices a silk sheet hanging up on a wall, looking out of place. And then he realizes it’s his – from his wedding night. And we get an “explanation”:
[…] he knew full well why it was displayed thusly. It was a coarse but unmistakable testimony of Elizabeth’s virginity and his virility. It provided the common folk of the county reassurance of the enduring prosperity and continuity of Pemberley. The towns and the surrounding populations depended upon that very constancy.
Right. So knowing that Elizabeth’s a virgin and Darcy is capable of having sex is very reassuring to these people. So, the maids at Darcy’s London house, who, knowing Darcy, must be highly trusted and would have worked for the family for many years, let someone take their wedding-sheet, which was then transported from London to Pemberley about as fast as the Darcys traveled.
I do wonder if this is based on some sort of actual custom or this is just some crazed invention of Berdoll’s, but either way I can think of few things more abso-fucking-lutely disgusting than a sheet covered in dried blood and semen hanging on the wall of an alehouse. There’s an image no romantic novel is complete without.
Darcy retains his composure and walks out. He then informs Rhymes to go back in and burn it, and heads back home.