Imperative: Volume 1, A Tale of Pride and Prejudice

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Authors: Linda Wells
pushed him off from the chair.  “THIS child is OUR BLOOD!  I will not abandon it!”
    “I thought that your father despised disguise of any sort, you clearly are not the same.”
    “I hate disguise, but I have been embroiled in it since Georgiana’s disappearance.  If I can save this child and my sister by marrying, so be it.  I will not ask my cousin to do what I can. I will not ask him to marry a cousin when I refuse to do the same with Anne or Cathy.”  He looked to Samuel who nodded gratefully.  “This is my father’s grandchild.  He would have done the same.”
    “No, he would have disowned her.”
    “Uncle, your anger is understandable, I am sorry for it.  Your support and advice is appreciated, and I hope that I continue to receive it.  But I am the Master of Pemberley, and my decision has been made.”
    Harding studied his nephew in silence for several pregnant moments then straightened and meeting his identical blue eyes, nodded.  “Indeed, you are the Master of Pemberley, and master of your fate.”  He held out his hand and shaking Darcy’s, leaned to embrace him.  “We take care of the family.”
     
    “OH PAPA!”  Elizabeth leaned in the doorway to the bookroom and rolled her eyes.  “Surely there is another man with Bennet blood in his veins who can be named the heir of Longbourn!” 
    He smiled and set down his book.  “I am afraid that Mr. Collins is the only one, unless you were to look to his male relatives.” 
    “They are undoubtedly of the same mould.”  She sighed and took a seat across from him.  “Will you join us?  He has promised to read from Fordyce.  Mary is intrigued.”
    “You have convinced me to stay here.”  They smiled at each other.
    “Mama follows him around, decrying the value of everything.  I believe that she has most of the silver hidden in the attic, along with the best china.”  She laughed.  “She is so offended by his presence that she has forgotten my engagement and has not mentioned it since he arrived!  That is an accomplishment!”
    “A worthy one in my estimation.  I have no desire to contemplate your departure from this home.  I regret my blessing.”  His eyes dropped to his lap.  “What will I do without you, Lizzy?”
    “Please do not make me feel worse than I do already.”  She said softly.
    Immediately he looked up.  “You regret this decision?  Say the word, Daughter, and I will rescind my blessing.  No settlement has been signed, I will write to him immediately.”  Elizabeth watched in astonishment as her father’s hands searched with uncharacteristic speed through the piles of papers strewn across his desk.  “He left his address with me somewhere . . . here!”  He said triumphantly and found a calling card.  On the back, written in a strong hand, Elizabeth could see an address.  A little frisson ran through her.  That was the address of her future home.
    “Papa, stop!”  She cried.
    The smile left his lips.  “You . . . do not wish for me to break the engagement?”
    “I made a promise to him.”
    “You do not know him.”
    “So there will be countless things to discover, it will be an adventure.”  She said determinedly.  “Charlotte tells me that it is more important to first secure a husband and then learn all his faults after the wedding.”
    “Spoken like a true spinster.”
    “Papa!”
    “Tell me that she is not.”  He looked at her pointedly and smiled at her reluctant nod.  “Very well.  You have not changed your mind.”
    “No.” Elizabeth said softly.  “But I am still overwhelmed and terrified of the decision.  I have taken my new understanding of his admiration and thought over every encounter, every moment of our acquaintance, even if it was just seeing him at church or while he was riding with Mr. Bingley or Mr. Hurst, and of course our every conversation.”
    “And what have you concluded?”
    She smiled.  “I realized that my eyes were always drawn to

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