Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Criminal Conversation and a Tale of Banking

It's a pleasure to welcome back Alison Botterill, with a tale of 18th century adultery...
THE TIMES 25TH July 1789

Court of King’s Bench
Criminal Conversation

Thursday was tried before Lord Kenyon, and a special Jury, a cause wherein Mr. Hutchinson was the plaintiff and a Mr. Burford, defendant. The action was brought to recover satisfaction in damages for criminal conversation with the plaintiff’s wife.

Mr Erskine, counsel for the plaintiff, displayed his much admired abilities in opening the cause, which, he said, contained a case of gross seduction by a man whose age left him without the plea of juvenile passion; which, though no justification, was, under some circumstances, admitted in extenuation of the crime of adultery. His client, he said, had been married for several years; and before the defendant broke in upon his domestic peace, lived very happily with his wife; a lady distinguished for her personal beauty and polite accomplishments.

It appeared by the evidence, that the plaintiff’s wife was about 23 years of age, and the defendant forty; that the plaintiff’s family consisted of himself, his wife and child; that no improper behaviour was ever discovered from the plaintiff towards his wife, but that they lived together as happily as men and their wives commonly do; that the defendant having come to live next door to the plaintiff, soon found means to ingratiate himself into the favour of the lady, which he effected by making her several presents, and by conducting himself towards her with the most studied politeness; the love of admiration proved favourable to his purpose, and on the 28th of May, a criminal intercourse was discovered by a female servant of the plaintiff; the defendant afterwards took her away in a hackney coach, hired a lodging, in which they slept together two nights.

Mr. Bearcroft, on behalf of the defendant, commenced an able speech, by saying he had no witness to examine, but should deliver his client over to the mercy of the Jury.  He reminded them that there was no evidence of a seduction. He observed it was a little extraordinary, that though the scene of action lies in Middlesex, the cause should be tried in the city. Why the plaintiff should conceive that the grave and sober citizen were better judges in cases of adultery, than the people at the west end of the town, he was at a loss to discover. He made many pointed observations in mitigation of damages.

Lord Kenyon made a most excellent and solemn address to the Jury. His Lordship said, that although these causes were apt to produce a momentary smile upon the countenances of the audience, yet every many capable of reflection, must feel them to be of the highest importance to the welfare of the community. Adultery was one of the greatest injuries man could do to man; it raised the most distressing doubts relative to his children, and introduced into the cup of life the bitterest of all ingredients. No human tribunal could restore peace to the wounded mind. The Jury were to consider the present case, and apportion their damages accordingly.

The Jury found a verdict for the plaintiff – Damages two hundred pounds.


Continuing our genealogical research into our Burford family, my sister and I discovered another sorry tale, this time about Thomas Burford, a clerk at the Bank of England.   In 1789 he appeared as the defendant at the Court of the King’s Bench, in the Guildhall, London, before Lord Justice Kenyon for ‘a criminal connection’ with the wife of the plaintiff, John Hutchinson, a brewer’s clerk, from Mile End, who worked for Charrington & Co.   

Thomas was born in 1749 and we believe he was the son of the Reverend Samuel Burford, minister at the Strict Baptist Chapel in Little Prescott Street, Goodman’s Fields, Whitechapel.   Rev. Burford, who had been minister at Lyme Regis before being invited to London, died suddenly in 1768 leaving a wife and eleven young children, who were then supported by members of the congregation including one of the church’s deacons, Stephen Williams, of the Poultry in the City of London, a wealthy linen draper with businesses both in the City and in Stratford, Essex.   

In 1775 Thomas married a widow, Elizabeth Binley, who died only 5 years later.   There do not appear to have been any children of that marriage.   Two years after her death, Bank of England records [now available free online] show that Thomas joined the Bank as a clerk at an annual salary of £50.   The records also show that Stephen Williams, along with another wealthy London merchant, Andrew Jordaine, stood surety for Thomas, each for the sum of £500.  

Thomas’s misdemeanours first came to light while we were researching the Burford and Williams families’ connection with the Little Prescott Street chapel, and we read in one of the chapel’s original minute books, held at the Baptist Archive in Dunstable, that on 1st July 1789 it had become necessary to reprimand one of their number, Thomas Burford ‘of the Bank’, who had, ‘by his own confession, a criminal intercourse with a married woman’.   Further research led us to the press report which appeared in The Times on 25th July 1789.   

Then came a chance discovery of finding that Thomas’s story had been included in a recent book ‘Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours’ by Emily Cockayne, who very kindly supplied me with a copy of the law report which went into far more detail than had appeared in The Times.   John Hutchinson’s wife, Mary, was born in 1767, the daughter of a nurseryman and seedman, John Hay, of Leytonstone. She married John Hutchinson at St Mary Le Bow in 1783 when still a ‘minor’ and was described in the law report as ‘a lady distinguished for her beauty and polite accomplishments’, and possessed of considerable property.   They had 3 children, but only one living, although the report mentions ‘his two other children’, so it’s possible he was married before despite being described as a bachelor when he married Mary. 

The report went on to say that any misconduct on her part was solely due to the ‘profligacy of the defendant’, who lived next door, ingratiating himself with her as often as he could during the day when her husband was at work.  He even followed the couple when they moved house.   It does not explain however, how, as a bank clerk, he was able to be away from work as much as he appeared to have been.  The servant’s testimony goes into great detail of what she saw and heard, including Burford ‘making free with her [mistress’s] petticoats’!   She confirmed that her master and mistress had lived together harmoniously until Thomas’s seduction of her mistress and their ‘elopement’, taking with them with several items of furniture belonging to her master.

The affair could not have lasted long.   After living with Thomas, who was almost twice her age, for a short while, Mary Hutchinson must have seen the error of her ways and threw herself upon the mercy of her father.   This clearly had some effect, as in John Hay’s will of 1792, written shortly before his death, and replacing an earlier one, Mary is named as sole executrix and the beneficiary of all of his property apart from £20 for her eldest brother.   While records show that her mother had died in 1790, it is not known if her other four siblings were still alive at this point.   Neither is it  known what became of Mary’s husband John, or of their child together. 

From Bank of England records, we discovered that Thomas left the Bank in 1800.   Clearly the court case would have had an enormous effect on him, both financially and in terms of notoriety.   £200 was an enormous sum to find when he was then earning only £70 per annum, and not only did he have to confess his ‘crime’ to fellow members of the chapel, many of whom were related to him, he had to suffer the indignity of reading about it in the national press, reports of which were syndicated the length and breadth of the country.   

However, things must have quietened down as in 1803, Thomas married Lydia Syle in Bloomsbury.  Perhaps with her encouragement or possibly even at her insistence, in 1804 he wrote to the Governor, Deputy Governor and Court of Directors of the Bank of England, begging for them to reinstate him at the Bank, explaining that he was now 55 and destitute, his reason for leaving the Bank in 1800 after 18 years’ service was that he was ‘afflicted with ill-health’ and had been deceived by his ward [we have been unable to discover who this was] who had promised him an annuity.    Amazingly, on receipt of this letter, the Committee of the Treasury agreed to re-elect him to the Bank ‘in consideration of [his] respectable character [!] and of his present unfortunate circumstances’, at the same salary which had risen to £110 per annum.   From correspondence with an academic who has written much on the history of the Bank, this was most unusual  -  perhaps Thomas had friends in high places, as Andrew Jordaine agreed to stand surety for him once again, as did John Williams, a linen draper of the Poultry (a relative of Stephen Williams, who had died in 1797).   

Thomas died in 1811, while still employed at the Bank and living in Princes Street, Red Lion Square.   In his will, he bequeathed to Lydia several annuities held at the Bank which would have provided her with a handsome pension.   There were no children of this marriage so at her death in 1832, she bequeathed the portraits of herself and Thomas to a nephew.   Sadly these are long-since lost.  It is to be regretted that we are not able to see what may have attracted Mary to Thomas – not only did he manage to charm an apparently happily married young woman,  he also persuaded the directors of the Bank of England to give him back his job!   While it is not known whether Mary’s husband ever forgave her, Thomas seems to have come through his ordeal in the end relatively unscathed.   It was ever thus! 

A postscript : I was recently working with someone with the surname Kenyon – it turned out he is a direct descendant of the judge.   It’s interesting to see how paths can cross many generations later!

About the Author

Alison and her sister began their research out of curiosity and have made some totally unexpected discoveries about the Burford line of their family. They just wish their grandmother and her mother were still alive to see what illustrious ancestors they had!

Written content of this post copyright © Alison Botterill, 2017.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Mania and Melancholy

I'm very excited to be speaking at Dr Johnson's House in London; details below!

Mania and Melancholy - mental health in the eighteenth century, Dr Johnson's House, London, 19th April 

Join author Catherine Curzon to explore attitudes to mental health in the eighteenth century through her discussion of the philosophies that started to develop, Dr Johnson’s own struggles, including his self-diagnosed ‘hypochondria’, and the infamous ‘madness of King George III.’


Friday, 14 April 2017

Austen, Bennet and Pansies

It's an utter pleasure to welcome Linda Beutler to the salon with a tale of pansies and two ladies; one named Austen, one named Bennet...


Dear Readers,

It is true confessions time. I have owed our fair hostess this particular guest post for an embarrassingly—one might say mortifyingly and impolitely—long time. When I saw, intrepid creature that she is, our Madame Gilflurt had signed on to the My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley blog tour, I immediately asked if she wanted a guest post about the novel, or the long-promised pansies article. Her response was, “Pansies, pansies, pansies.” This should make a nice (if strange) intermission for all of you following the tour.

The heart of this research came about as I was preparing my first novel, The Red Chrysanthemum. Making certain—absolutely certain—that flowers mentioned in my stories are plants in cultivation in England in the Regency era is a thing with me—a mania, a fixation, an obsession. I have, since starting on this JAFF lark, put myself out there as anyone’s horticultural researcher. It means that much. 

Most plants have a Wikipedia page, and when I looked up sweet peas and found they had not been developed, as we know them, until well after Jane Austen’s lifetime, it occurred to me there might be other common flowers not strictly available in the Regency era. So I looked up pansies, and to be honest, I’ve not been quite the same since. So here’s what I’ve learned and fantasized.

Violets to Pansies to Pride and Prejudice? By Linda Beutler

…& gained a promise for the latter of two roots of hearts-ease, one all yellow & the other all purple, for you. From Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, 1800

The mother of modern pansies was a little known and largely unsung Regency gentlewoman. My mission here is to bring her, her eclectic parents, and the hybridization of pansies to light without burying us all in stultifying botanical wonkiness. My intention is to keep my plant-nerdy self on a short lead. We shall end this tale with a conspiracy theory from my heart, one that may never be proved. It’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

Let us begin with a dispassionate few historical facts about pansies. When Ophelia says in Hamlet, “And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts”, she is speaking of the Elizabethan transition of the French “pensée”, meaning thoughts, into the sloppy [written with a wink-lb] English pronunciation “pansies”. Pensée is the French root of pensive. The plant we know as a pansie did not yet exist, only the word for it. Shakespeare was speaking of Viola tricolor, one of several English native violets. 

Viola tricolor

Likewise, Jane Austen was also speaking of Viola tricolor when she was able to bring solid color versions of the flower back to Cassandra Austen from Jane’s visit to Oakley Hall. Jane used the most common of common names, hearts-ease, but it was also well known as love-in-idleness (see Oberon’s directions to Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream—Shakespeare gave all common names of Viola tricolor equal regard). In America, where it is not native, it is called Johnny-jump-up for the vigorous way in which it puts itself around—projectile seed distribution is highly effective. 

Viola tricolor is exceptionally genetically unstable. The flowers have five petals (two up, two sort of sideways, and one straight down), and may be any variation of purple (upper petals usually), white-to-lavender (sideways and downward petals) with a dab of yellow at the center.  However, in any given wild population, or even in modern seed packets of the species, there might be solid color forms: all lavender, all yellow, white with very little other color. This variation was a source of obsessive fascination to the mother of the modern pansy.

Intermediate violas very like the color and form selections by the mother of modern pansies.
A word about her: she was the third daughter and youngest child of the 4th Earl of Tankerville and his wife, the former Emma Colebooke. The 4th Earl was cricket mad. He had a gardener, Edward “Lumpy” Stevens, likely kept on the payroll more for the accuracy of his arm than his precision hedge trimming. The earl sat on committees establishing the laws of cricket, was a patron of the Surrey cricket club in younger wilder days, and proposed “the leg before wicket rule”. Could I fathom the intricacies of cricket, and if I gave a flying rat, I would explain more. 

When the earl retired from playing cricket in 1781 he went into politics and began collecting maps and seashells. There are species of mollusks named for him. His wife was also given to a fixation for the natural world. She collected (with her pin money, no doubt) orchids and other exotic plants. The “nun’s orchid”, Phaius tankervilleae was named in her honor. Emma also collected botanical illustrations. Her collection (600+ drawings on vellum) was sold to the Royal Botanic Garden Kew; they still have it. 

Hence, we have fertile ground for our mother of the modern pansy to follow her mania for the variations within Viola tricolor. Her father assigned another of the family gardeners (William Richardson) to assist her, and in 1812 her selections were displayed to the public, including the young Royal Horticulture Society, receiving wide acclaim. She had taken the plain species to greater prominence by stabilizing the solid colors, enlarging the flowers, and selecting for more prominent “whiskers”, the deep purple lines radiating from the flower’s center. 
Modern pansies (Viola wittrockiana, or Viola tricolor of hort.)
A nurseryman, Mr. Lee, was so taken with her hybrids that he spread them to yet another aristocrat fiddling about with Viola tricolor, James, Lord Gambier and his gardener William Thompson. (You can see the trend: the gentry paid for stock material and plant explorers, directing the selection of seedlings that met their aesthetics, letting the gardeners get their hands dirty doing the actual work.) Lord Gambier introduced Russian species into the genetic stew, and by 1833 there were 400 named pansies—now called pansies—which we would recognize as more-or-less the same plants we know as pansies today (Viola x wittrockiana or Viola tricolor of hort.). 

I’ve been cagey until now, but there are a few more things I want to explain about the mother of modern pansies before I reveal her name. Her family lived at Mt. Felix at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. If you take the train from Waterloo Station to Alton, Hampshire (the closest stop to Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen’s house), you pass through Walton-on-Thames (the Mt. Felix manor and grounds are now what we call in the States a “housing development”). It would have been the same on the main carriage road in Jane Austen’s day. Our young lady was born in 1785, ten years younger than Jane Austen. When her Viola tricolor hybrids were on public display in 1812, she would have been 27—on the shelf, but part of a family to which such things were of little concern compared with being educated and engaged in the world. 

Her name was Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet.

Lady Emma Tankverille nee Colebrooke,
and her two eldest daughters
If that doesn’t raise the hair on the back of your neck, you have no heart and even less imagination. After all, what do we really know about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice except that it was originally written in about 1798, was epistolary in style, and was called “First Impressions”? There are no drafts, but we know the story was heavily rewritten. Was the heroine’s family name Bennet in “First Impressions”? Is it not possible, that loving gardens, Jane Austen might have heard of Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet, or even have met her? There are gaps in Jane’s letters (Cassandra Austen, you have much for which to answer). And what must Lady MEB have been like? Maybe Jane Austen met the family? The 4th Earl of Tankerville was Charles Bennet. Lady MEB’s elder siblings were Caroline, Charles, Henry, and Anna. Oh, it’s all too much! What if…what if…what if…? My mind spins with what-ifs.

Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet inherited her father’s fickleness as regards hobbies. Shortly after the successful display of her nascent pansies, she studied with two prominent artists of the day, John Varley and the engraver John Linnell, forsaking her pansies. She was also that rarest of Regency maidens, she married late. On 26 July 1831, at 46, she wed Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck, 6th Baronet of Belsay Castle Northumberland. His first wife produced his children and conveniently died. Being beyond childbearing years, we assume the second Lady Monck made a marriage of true minds. Her husband was a self-avowed hellenist, devoted to all things Greek, and his new wife abandoned botanical illustration for architectural renderings. It seems it took her a goodish while to find her Mr. Darcy, but she was not deterred. It was by all accounts a happy marriage, lasting 30 years, until her death in 1861.

Ah, oh yes…that feels so much better, to have done and be able to meet Madame Gilflurt again in society without avoiding her or fearing the cut divine for my shocking tardiness. My karma is again all it should be. And now, back to the blog tour! —LB

About the Book

Jane Bennet had a heart to break after all, and I am a party to it.
                          —Fitzwilliam Darcy

One simple, uncharacteristic subterfuge leaves Fitzwilliam Darcy needing to apologize to nearly everyone he knows! When Charles Bingley reaps the sad repercussions of Mr. Darcy’s sin of omission, Elizabeth Bennet’s clear-eyed view of the facts gives her the upper hand in a long-distance battle of wills with Mr. Bingley’s former friend. By the time Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth meet (repeatedly) in the groves of Rosings Park, neither knows the whole truth except that somehow, someway, their future is inextricably linked to the courtship of Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet. 

In this Pride and Prejudice “what-if”, the additional dash of backbone and “far-sighted” action to the character of Mr. Bingley begs the question: how is Mr. Darcy to impress Elizabeth Bennet if Bingley does his own matchmaking? And how is Elizabeth Bennet to trust Mr. Darcy when even faith in a most beloved sister falters? ( Includes mature content )

 About the Author  

Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does. The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.

            Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom. 

Contact Info:  
Buy the Book:

The eBook is available on Amazon. The Paperback should follow in two to three weeks.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Particular Intentions Audiobook Giveaway!

I am so pleased to welcome LL Diamond with a peek into her new work, Particular Intentions! If you'd like to win a copy of the audiobook, leave a comment below and one shall be chosen at random from my topper!


I’d like to thank Catherine for generously allowing me to shamelessly promote my new audiobook, Particular Intentions.

I wasn’t too certain what it would be like to have someone narrate what I’ve written, but whether you’ve read the original book or not, Leena Elmsley’s work on this book shouldn’t be missed! I couldn’t have lucked out more with her audition and her amazing voice work. I recently had a fan on Facebook tell me that Leena “nailed it,” and I couldn’t agree more.

For those who have not read Particular Intentions, I began writing an unusual courtship tale between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy that turned into much more than they or even I bargained for. 

Blurb from the back cover: 

Who is this Mr. Darcy and what are his intentions? 

Like much of Meryton, the Bennets of Longbourn anticipate the arrival of Mr. Bingley and his friends to Netherfield, yet an unexpected visitor is not a part of Mr. Bingley's or Mr. Darcy's plans. While the two gentlemen attempt to control their uninvited guest, Elizabeth Bennet arrives to tend to her ill sister. An overheard conversation, the intriguing behavior of Mr. Darcy, and Miss Bingley's cloying manner all fascinate her, but manage to throw her emotions into turmoil as well. As Elizabeth becomes better acquainted with Mr. Darcy, his world unfolds and, if possible, it is more complicated than the man himself! Mysterious strangers and seducers lurk in the shadows - enough to threaten anyone's equanimity. Elizabeth's courage will be tested as she not only struggles to discover her own heart, but also why danger seems to surround Mr. Darcy.

And just to make you more curious, I have an excerpt as well.

“Is there no poetry in this cursed library?” Elizabeth muttered under her breath.
Mr. Bingley had indicated that Netherfield’s library had meagre offerings; he had not exaggerated. A few volumes of Shakespeare, a plethora of out-dated books on farming techniques, and a few novels did not constitute a library. At least not in her mind!
She exhaled heavily, the dust on the books flying in every direction, prompting her to cover her mouth with the back of her hand and clear her throat.
“I hope you are not becoming ill, Miss Elizabeth?”
She whirled around. Mr. Darcy stood a few paces back, his posture stiff, his arms at his sides, and a few books in one hand.
“No, I exhaled towards the shelves, and the dust became caught in my throat.”
“Ah.” He stepped towards the fireplace and sat in a chair, placing his reading on the table beside him. “Have you found anything of interest?”
Was that a smirk upon his face?
“Not unless I desire to learn about wool production or how to produce a plentiful harvest.”
His lip lifted on one side. “Yes, the library is rather bare as far as I am concerned.” He gestured towards the books on the table. “I only brought a few from Pemberley, but you are welcome to borrow one if it interests you.”
She approached and tilted her head in an attempt to read the spines without touching them. “Which are you reading at the moment?”
He pulled the bottom from the pile, and she leaned in an attempt to see the title.
“Yes, have you read it?” His head turned, and his blue eyes penetrated hers until she averted her gaze.
“I have. My uncle gave my father a copy Christmas last. I enjoyed it very much.”
“As did I.” His hand lay with a soft touch upon the cover as his fingers curved around its edge.
She flinched when he lifted the remaining books with his other hand.
“Forgive me, I did not mean to startle you.”
With a shake of her head, she reached to take the stack from him, her fingers brushing his as she grasped it. He recoiled, and she dropped his books like a lead weight.
“I am so sorry!” She fell to her knees to gather his property from the rug as he lowered himself across from her; however, she had already organised them and clutched them to her chest by the time he joined her. “Did I pinch you?”
His brow furrowed. 
“I thought perhaps when I shifted them, your finger was pinched between the books for you to draw back with such haste.”
He waved his hand before him. “It is of no matter.”
“Well, this is cosy.”
Her head swung to the door where Miss Bingley stood, a sour expression upon her countenance.
“I thought I might manage a moment alone with Mr. Darcy before I depart—to make my farewells.” Her eyes raked up and down the gentleman in question. “But once again, Miss Eliza, you stand in my way.”
Mr. Darcy stood as Miss Elizabeth rose from her seat. “I understand your carriage awaits you, Miss Bingley. I wish you a pleasant journey.”
She gave an ungracious smile and peered between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth as her expression changed to one of scorn. “I have found Meryton intriguing. Would you care to know why?”
Elizabeth gave a slight shrug and glanced at Mr. Darcy, whose face was a mask. He was neither angry, nor happy. Could he be confused by Miss Bingley’s behaviour as well?
“Despite your lack of response, I am certain you wish to know, and I am more than pleased to tell you.” Miss Bingley gave a malicious-sounding giggle. “Mr. Darcy is such an honourable gentleman—well, except when it comes to me, and Miss Eliza, you believe him to be prideful, if the gossip in town is to be trusted. You took such offence to his remark at the assembly.”
Oh, but to shrink to the size of a tiny bug and scurry away! Mr. Darcy’s eyes blazed at her, but she kept her eyes on Miss Bingley.
“What is the purpose of these reflections, Miss Bingley?” Miss Bingley was certain to have heard the fury in his voice, but she was angry as well, and angry people are not always wise.
“I had an amusing thought last night. Since I could not persuade you to marry me, then it would be such great fun to see you wed to someone who detests you.” Her hand moved to the edge of the door as it began to swing towards them.
Elizabeth gasped. “Miss Bingley!”  She released the books, which clattered to the floor, as she lunged in an attempt to keep the heavy oak panel open, but it was too late. The latch clicked before she could grasp it, and a key secured the lock with a decisive clank.
Mr. Darcy raised a fist, but Elizabeth yanked his arm back to his side.
“What do you intend to do?”
“I shall call for help. Do you want to be trapped within this room so long that your reputation is ruined?”
“It makes no difference if we are confined for five seconds or five hours. The outcome is the same. I wish to marry for love, and I will be forced to marry no one—especially not you, Mr. Darcy!”
She took a deep breath, covered her mouth with her hands and scanned the room. Think, Elizabeth! This house was almost a second home when she was a child. She merely needed to concentrate.
Her eyes halted upon a far window near the left corner. She almost ran until she reached it, looking through the panes and laughing. A minute was all she required to work the latch and open the sash, but as she reached down to her feet, the boots of her present company invaded her line of sight.
She lifted her head. “I would appreciate it if you would turn around.”
“What do you have planned?”
“Something I did often as a child, but have not attempted in a few years.
He remained staring, and she rolled her eyes. “Very well.” With a swift turn, she removed her house slippers and tossed them out the window.
Mr. Darcy’s eyes widened, and he took a step forward. “Miss Elizabeth! I must object! You might do yourself an injury!”
She ignored his protests and climbed upon the sill, placing her feet onto a limb that ran parallel to the house just below where she made her exit. Once she had a firm grasp on two smaller branches above, she lowered herself onto the limb. Would it still hold her weight? She had been considerably smaller the last time she had made the attempt.
The gentleman launched forward to the window. “You must return to the library. It is too risky!”
She lifted a shoulder as she watched her feet on the branch below her. “Then you should have stopped me before I climbed out.”
The way down was quick once the method returned to her. One foot to a lower limb followed by a hand to another. Soon, she was on the ground grinning at Mr. Darcy above. “Now neither of us is forced into an unpleasant situation!”
She glanced in either direction and with no one about, returned her slippers to her feet. “Millie will not appreciate having to clean these!” There was no use for it, however. She could not very well approach the front door of Netherfield with her slippers in her hands.

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