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Hello, friends! I’m thrilled to be part of the Meryton Press blog tour for Grace Gibson’s new Pride and Prejudice variation, Silver Buckles. Grace is here today with an excerpt that I’m sure you’ll all enjoy because it puts readers into Mr. Darcy’s head during his infamous insult. Please give Grace a warm welcome!

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It’s such a treat to be given a spot on Diary of an Eccentric, Anna.Can there be anything better than to discover a whole community of people who love, understand and keep alive Jane Austen’s stories?

While musing over Pride and Prejudice one day, something I admit I do far too often, I began to think on Darcy’s infamous refusal to stand up with Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly. In some variations, he does not realize he was overheard by the lady, and in some, he is well aware she heard him. As a gentleman, how would he feel if he became fully conscious he had publicly insulted a lady? Suddenly, I was eavesdropping on his innermost thoughts…!

Mr. Darcy’s Story…                                                                          Meryton Assembly Rooms

I stood at the edge of a bacchanal. The noise—it could hardly be called music—was pitched to a high screech that emanated from a second-rate gaggle of performers. I loathe a crush, and I do not like to associate with people who are unfamiliar with the word ‘dignity.’

Deuce take you, Bingley! I raged inwardly at my host. I was only there because, if I had refused to come, his sister Caroline would have felt obliged to stay home and entertain me. Survival, I mused darkly, is sometimes an uncomfortable business.

Somehow, my friend Charles Bingley had sniffed out my location. I stood off to the side of the room, and he came toward me, panting with enthusiasm.

“Come, Darcy,” he said joyfully, “I must have you dance. I cannot bear to see you standing about in this stupid manner.” He then continued to pressure me and even pointed out the sister of his own most recent partner. “Do let me ask Miss Bennet to introduce you,” he said.

“Good lord, Bingley!” I replied impatiently. “I have been paraded before a hundred people tonight and had names babbled at me from every corner of the room. I am certain I am known to her, but you will forgive me for failing to distinguish one girl in a white dress from another.” And while I reluctantly admitted Bingley’s partner was the prettiest girl in the room, the offer of an introduction to her sister smacked of meager leavings, and I had no intention of standing up with anyone that evening.

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me,” I replied, and then seeing him take a breath to persuade me from my vile mood, I added, “Do go away, Bingley. I am not inclined to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

Bingley, whose sunny disposition did not allow him to be vexed, only shrugged and laughed before he left me alone. As I stood there brooding—as he is fond of calling the state of sober silence—I noticed the object of our recent conversation out of the corner of my eye.

She was a dark-haired girl, small and unremarkable. I had responded to Bingley’s urgings by rote, knowing after an initial scan of the room that there were no ladies present who could tempt me to the floor, and I was gratified I had not erred in refusing to stand up with her. She was looking out onto the swarm of dancers, seemingly quite engaged in her observations, but then I noticed, as I examined her covertly, that the girl had about her mouth a coy little smirk.

She had heard me!

An unwelcome warmth crawled up my neck. That I spoke with full consciousness I would be overheard I cannot deny, but to see the consequences of an insult so casually delivered left me slightly breathless. My beastly state notwithstanding, I do have my standards. I limit myself to a hair’s breadth above behaving like a lout. And so, I stepped directly up to the young lady—one of the Bennet sisters, I believe, although I must be forgiven for not knowing which one.

“Miss Bennet,” I said with a stiff bow, “I believe you may have overheard my ungenerous remark just now.”

The lady had slowly risen when she perceived I was about to address her. She held her head proudly, cocked slightly to the side, with her right eyebrow delicately raised. “Sir,” she replied in cold acknowledgement.

“Forgive me. My friend Mr. Bingley is unbearably persistent, and I spoke intemperately only to deflect his efforts to force me to enjoy myself.” I spoke briskly. I am not one to simper or whine.

There was an archness in her manner as she replied. “You do not like a country dance, I surmise.”

I do not know why, but this gambit forced a wry half smile from me. “I do not, Miss Bennet.”

“Very well. If your explanation was given as a sort of apology—”

“It was.”

“Then I accept your explanation and give you leave to return to the wall you have been supporting for the last half an hour.”

Never in my life had I been so rudely dismissed! I would be damned to hell if I scuttled away like a scolded child. I held out my hand.

“I believe, Miss Bennet, we had better dance. It would look odd for us to have stood here in conversation for as long as we have without ending our tête-à-tête in the usual manner.”

“But you abhor dancing, Mr. Darcy,” she said gravely, and for a second, I thought she might even refuse!

“I have never said so. I abhor being urged to dance as though I only require a nudge. Come, I am standing here with my hand extended, and we are now creating a scene.”

A reluctant grin threatened to undo Miss Bennet’s smoldering glare, and she took my hand.

Are you curious how Elizabeth will respond to such an ungracious invitation to dance? Visit Austenesque Reviews tomorrow for a continuation…

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About Silver Buckles

She staggered a great man. He was reeling. She was overwhelmed.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, standing irritably at the edge of the Meryton assembly, declines to dance with Elizabeth Bennet. In a mood of revulsion, he rejects her without concern of being overheard. Country pretensions are always in need of squashing, and what better way to make clear he would not partner anyone outside his party? However, when he looks over at her, she does not appear humbled at all. She is secretly laughing at him!

Elizabeth is perversely delighted to encounter such an outrageous snob as Mr. Darcy. When he approaches her with a stiff, graceless apology, she coolly brushes him off, believing that, like most annoyances, he will go away when properly snubbed. But no! The man then puts out his hand and, not wishing to create a scene, compels her to stand up with him.

They go through the steps of the dance mutually disdainful and intent upon wounding each other. But by the time the musicians end their tune, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have traded barbs with such accuracy, they are unaccountably amused and engaged. Will this most inconvenient flirtation drive them apart—or, like silver buckles, are they a matched pair?

Buy: Amazon (U.S.) | Amazon (U.K.)

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About the Author

Grace Gibson

In addition to mosaic art, which I create at Studio Luminaria, my home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas, I enjoy writing regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations for pleasure.   

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Giveaway

As part of the Silver Buckles blog tour, Meryton Press is generously offering an 8 ebook giveaway. To enter, you must use this Rafflecopter link. Good luck!

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Thank you, Grace, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

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