I never think to put out excerpts from the book, my book - Darcy and Fitzwilliam - so here is one. It concerns Colonel Fitzwilliam and his confusion after returning home from Waterloo and the long, difficult Peninsular War. He has choices to make and no real goal in life. He has flashbacks from battles and scars on his soul as well as his body. But he also has family that love him, and a love of life.
DARCY AND FITZWILLIAM
Another shout out came from a group of young Corinthians racing by in their phaetons. “Whoo! Hoo! Well done, Colonel!” “Capital fellow!” “Come have a drink with us!!” He smiled vaguely then winced as one phaeton slid sideways on the ice, almost toppling itself and nearly injuring the precious horses. Goddamn stupid idiots, he thought as he smiled and waved. They righted themselves soon enough and laughed uproariously at their own daring.
The wind was kicking up more now, and it was biting cold. Bloody hell, did Darcy move his goddamn house? I don’t remember it being this far of a walk. He should not have told his batman to go home and get warm so that he could continue alone and think. Thinking is highly overrated he decided as he stomped his feet while awaiting traffic. I’m going to freeze my fucking balls off if I don’t… “Ladies…” Smiling warmly, he bowed and tipped his hat, flirting outrageously with the three giggling lovelies who slowed their pace as they walked by, whispering and staring back at him as they did. His spirits rose considerably when they spun around to follow him.
There definitely was an upside to fame.
The sad truth was that the one thing he really would have wanted to do with his life was the one thing that he could not. In his heart of hearts, Fitzwilliam wanted nothing more than to be a simple country squire. He wanted to work the soil, chop trees, and visit his tenants. He wanted to read and actually understand cattle and crop reports, or bicker over terms with tradesmen. He wanted a quiet, neat little home and the chance to doze off in a chair in his own garden, after he’d had a good pipe and glass of port. He wanted to smell the daisies handed to him by an adorable little moppet daughter, and to teach a son to ride a pony and how to fish. He wanted an innocent, demure, quiet, and biddable heiress wife, a shy lady who would be a model of English propriety by day and a whore for him in his bedroom by night. He sighed and grunted at his own foolishness.
After all, he had no money of his own.
He was a well-bred English second son.
He also was thirty-two years old and had spent the first blush of his young manhood sitting in mud and worried about getting enough food for his troops. Enough food and enough blankets, bullets, boots, horses, etc. Scavenging and stealing had occupied much of any time not spent in battle or being blind drunk, and the years had just slipped away. To his mind, he was too old now to start afresh, had no home of his own and no income. Of course, he could ask his father for any amount of money his heart desired, but he could not and would not take advantage of a man he so respected. He was back to wondering what to do with the remainder of his life. Most second and third sons could be assured of benevolence from the firstborn who inherited all; however, once his father was gone, he was certain Regis would cut him off without a farthing. They hated the sight of each other.
He truly should plan for the future, but not today. Well, I have finally struck bottom, he suddenly realized. I am wandering the streets, destitute, lost and homeless, and waxing maudlin. I’ll be sobbing on some poor bastard’s neck soon, drunk as a lord. If I am very lucky, perhaps Darcy will adopt me.
A gentleman slapped him on the shoulder. “Good show! Good show!” the man exclaimed then planted himself squarely in Fitzwilliam’s path. “I say, Colonel, may I call you Dick? Excellent! My, you’re a tall one, aren’t you? How’s the weather up there, what? Ha! Ha! Dick, did you happen to know my cousin? Major Billy Hench? Average height, light hair. Oh, surely you knew him. He was at
, also, and made quite a show for himself there.” Waterloo
Fitzwilliam stared down at the diminutive man, expecting a little more information, and when it wasn’t forthcoming, he decided he would speed things up a bit.
“Excuse me, sir. Was your cousin also with the Coldstream Guards?”
“No, he was with the 72nd. To tell the truth, he did not actually see much action in the battle, per se, but he did attend the Duke of Richmond’s rout the night before. Surely you were there yourself! No? Are you certain? But my dear Dick, you must be mistaken. It was the place to be, I am told! It’s quite a humorous story, actually; he became frightfully drunk and nearly missed the whole fracas. Got in the game rather late in the day, I’m afraid. Oh, I am certain you must have met him—he wore a red uniform jacket with black boots.”
Oh my God, some people should just be drowned at birth. Fitzwilliam smiled down politely at the eager gentleman. “I don’t recall meeting him, sir, but I am certain I heard about his bravery. If you will excuse me, I must be going. I am late for an important meeting. Good afternoon.” Thank God this bloody war is behind me.
Truth be told, though, the war years were not completely behind Fitzwilliam, whether he acknowledged it or not. Unknown to his friends and even to some of his family, Fitzwilliam had been experiencing the aftermaths of war—battle fatigue and its accompanying nightmares, flashbacks, and panic seizures.
The more these symptoms plagued him, the deeper he fell into his old cycle from the years before—drinking, women, and gambling—until he himself was becoming aware of the adverse effect it was having on his physical, as well as mental, health.
The tide turned upon one comment from his beloved aunt Catherine. “Character is revealed in the dark, Richard.”
Damn old bat.
The remark had struck home. He knew his dark had become more and more appalling, possessing moments he would be loath to have exposed to the world, behavior of which he had become deeply ashamed.
One day he would open up to Darcy. He knew that a day would come eventually, probably during a drunken weekend and after several bottles of whiskey, and maybe then he could begin to confront the demons that tormented him.
He wanted so to have better life.
He wanted so to be a better man.