Mr. Darcy Takes

The Plunge

~ A pun-filled tale featuring Austen’s Pride and Prejudice characters~ with some added or addled, missing or missish, modified or mortified, healthier, wealthier or wiser

In memory of two special ladies who were well loved by a sister:

Jane Austen

An inspiration in my life and in this story

She died in Cassandra’s arms July 18, 1817.

Judith Padmore

An important part of my life and of this story

She passed away May 8, 2010.


Darcy in a Meadow at Pemberley


A Man’s Field (in his) Park

A tribute to Austen’s Mansfield Park

Chapter I

Whilst Enduring the Heat of the Summer Sun,

a Gentleman Still Wears His Coat — and Pants

Pemberley’s revered housekeeper, Mrs. Esther Reynolds, graciously entertained, in her own comfortable private quarters, three genteel ladies, one of middle age and two much younger. Once they had finished their tea and the older women had caught up on all the latest news and gossip, Mrs. Reynolds inquired as to whether her guests would care for a guided tour of the grand estate’s public rooms and its immediate lawns. The visitors had anticipated such an invitation and quickly and eagerly agreed to the scheme. The housekeeper was mightily proud to show to advantage her employers’ excellent taste and elegance, for the rooms were richly furnished and tastefully decorated with the very finest-quality pieces without pretension.

Mrs. Reynolds was highly efficient at her job and had held the esteemed position for the past three and twenty years. As a native of nearby Lambton, the young Esther Bentley had begun work at Pemberley as an upstairs maid. She had even met her husband, Owen Reynolds, at the stately estate when he was but a burly footman; and the loving couple had progressively worked their way up through the ranks of servants to their present important positions of housekeeper and butler.

Both fiercely loyal and protective of Pemberley’s Master, Mistress, and their offspring, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds had no complaints about serving the distinguished family; although they could not quite understand the family’s propensity to allow a motley assortment of dogs, rabbits, hedgehogs, and other sundry critters the freedom of the manor. Not that the housekeeper and butler disliked animals, nonetheless, their jobs, and those of their underlings, would be made much easier if the beasties were kept outside where, in their humble opinion, God intended them to live. From the time they had each been in leading strings, the Darcy progeny brought home countless stray and wounded creatures of the furred, feathered, and scaly persuasion; and they had never entirely outgrown performing such rescue missions.

As Mrs. Reynolds guided her dear friend and the two young ladies through Pemberley’s public rooms, she kept a constant and wary eye out for anything flying, slithering, crawling, creeping, hopping, or racing through its corridors, especially the first four categories; and she involuntarily shuddered. When the indoor portion of the tour was nearly complete, Esther Reynolds breathed a sigh of relief that no critter encounters had occurred. Over the years, the housekeeper and her staff had suffered countless unexpected and heart-stopping discoveries of birds, snakes, spiders, turtles, and toads whilst performing their duties. They had learned the hard way that boxes hidden under beds were an especial reason for suspicion and caution.

When the party neared the music salon, it became apparent they would have to bypass that room, as from behind its closed doors came the sound of scales being practiced on the new pianoforte. As they started down the hall to the portrait gallery, the musical training ended, the door opened, and a young lady appeared at the doorway and said over her shoulder, “Do continue, dearest, and I shall return in just a moment. You are progressing well, Anna. I am so very proud of you.” As she exited the room and spotted the others, she rushed forward and exclaimed, “Oh, Mrs. Reynolds, I understood you to be off duty today. Are you conducting a tour?”

An indistinct white shape dashed out of the music room, followed by another blur of fawn and black; the objects skidded across the highly polished hardwood floor of the hallway and ended up in a heap together at the feet of one of the visitors. That astonished young lady gathered her skirts, stepped aside, peered down, and smiled in delight at the two small balls of fur, which proved to be a sweet, silky Maltese and a cute, cuddly Pug.

From the direction of the music salon, a girl’s voice urgently called, “Dust Bunny! Pug-Nacious! Come back here at once, you little scamps!” A pretty young woman of approximately six and ten years appeared in the doorway and looked to the left and then to the right. Upon seeing the assemblage in the hall, her eyes widened, she blushed, and covered her mouth with an elegant hand. “Oh, I am so very sorry. The rapscallions were both sleeping so peacefully until Georgiana left, and then they just suddenly careened across the floor and out the door after her. I should have been attending them, but … ”

“Anna, do not fret, dearest. As you can see, no harm has come to these ladies; and the puppies are fine,” the older girl reassured the younger.

Mrs. Reynolds also stepped in to soothe the girl’s unease and spoke kindly. “Yes, Miss Anna, we were momentarily startled but have come to no injury. The little beasts are relatively harmless, except perhaps to the finish on the floor.” The housekeeper spared a brief scowl for the two canines, which were by then sitting at Georgiana’s feet, staring up at her with rapt adoration. A pretty lady of about twenty years, Miss Darcy had pale blonde hair and lovely azure eyes, whereas Miss Anna had darker blonde hair and captivating eyes of hazel. The sisters were both quite tall and had light but well formed figures.

The senior female servant then began her introductions. “Madeleine, Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth, please allow me to introduce to you Miss Georgiana Darcy and her younger sister, Miss Anna. I was just about to show you their beautiful portraits in the gallery, but here they are in person.” She smiled lovingly at the girls and then introduced her dear friend, Mrs. Madeleine Gardiner, from London, though formerly of Lambton, and the lady’s nieces, Miss Jane Bennet and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, from Hertfordshire. Curtsies and smiles were exchanged, and polite small talk ensued until Mrs. Reynolds suggested she and her guests should continue with their tour.

The kindly housekeeper was pleasantly surprised when Miss Darcy made a suggestion. “Mrs. Reynolds, perhaps you and Mrs. Gardiner would enjoy more time to chat together. In the meantime, Anna and I would be delighted to take a turn in the garden with the Misses Bennet.” Georgiana paused and frowned at the two furry creatures at her feet. “As for these little rascals, I believe they would benefit from a tiring romp outside.”

Agreement was immediate; and bonnets, gloves, and parasols were brought to the four young ladies, while the two older women continued on to the impressive portrait gallery. The Darcy sisters each scooped up a pooch and accompanied the Bennet siblings through the doors and down the front steps. As soon as they were on the garden path, the dogs were released. Miss Darcy explained, “These are my newest pets, Dust Bunny, the Maltese,

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