<div><div> <h2>CHAPTER 1</h2> <p>The inclement weather into which the Gardiners drove as they left the boundaries of Pemberley did nothing to improve Cassandra's apprehensive mood.</p> <p>Travelling South through Leicestershire, they had hoped to reach Northhampton before nightfall, but the driving rain rendered that prospect more hazardous and less likely with every mile.</p> <p>Forced to break journey at the small town of Market Harborough, they took rooms at the local hostelry, only to find Rebecca Tate and her maid Nelly ensconced next door. They had met at the top of the stairs, going down to dinner, and soon discovered that Julian Darcy had also written to his mother-in-law, though not, it appeared, in the same desperate terms that he had used in his letter to Richard Gardiner.</p> <p>Rebecca apologised to Cassy for her non-attendance at their meeting on the previous afternoon, confessing that Julian's note had driven all else from her mind, leaving her time only to make hurried preparations for their journey to Cambridge.</p> <p>"With Mr Tate already in London, I decided that Nelly and I would go to Cambridge on our own," she declared, adding, "I felt I could not wait one more day, when there may have been something I could do to help. Oh, my poor Josie, I cannot imagine what has afflicted her. Why Cassy, you must remember what a bright, happy girl she used to be when she lived at home in Matlock. It must be the house—I am sure of it. It's cold and badly ventilated, quite unhealthy, especially in Winter. I said when they moved in, it was most unsuitable," she declared.</p> <p>Both Richard and Cassy held their peace, not wishing to alarm her by revealing what they already knew. It was becoming clear to them that Julian had not been as candid with his mother-in-law as he had been with them. Cassy knew her husband would reveal nothing, nor would she.</p> <p>At dinner, Richard enquired politely as to how Mrs Tate and her maid had travelled to Market Harborough from Matlock. It transpired that they were using one of the Tates' smaller vehicles. Mr Tate, they were told, had taken the carriage to London. Cassy was immensely relieved. It dispensed with the obligation for Richard to offer them seats in his carriage for the rest of the journey, which he would surely have done had they been travelling by coach. As it happened, they were well accommodated and, before retiring to their respective rooms, they agreed to leave for Cambridge after an early breakfast.</p> <p>When they set out on the following morning, Cassy confessed to her husband, "I doubt if I could have concealed for much longer what we know of Josie's condition, if Becky Tate had been travelling with us to Cambridge."</p> <p>He agreed. "It would certainly have been difficult to pretend that we knew no more than she does," he said.</p> <p>The streets were wet as they drove into Cambridge.</p> <p>The air was cold, and a sharp wind whipped the branches of the trees in the park and penetrated the carriage. Cassandra drew her wrap close around her, and yet she was cold and uncomfortable. The rain, though not as hard as before, was falling steadily as they approached the modest house that Julian and Josie rented in a quiet close not far from his college. It was not an unattractive dwelling, from an architectural point of view, but the garden appeared neglected, with sprouting bulbs and weeds competing for attention, and the house, with its blinds closed, seemed dark and unwelcoming. Once indoors, the aspect improved a little. Mrs Tate was at pains to explain how she had, on a previous visit, attempted to brighten up the parlour with new drapes and a few items of modern furniture, banishing an old horsehair sofa and two worn armchairs to the attic.</p> <p>Julian met them in the hall, into which they were admitted by an anxious-looking young maidservant. While Mrs Tate insisted upon going upstairs to her daughter immediately, Richard and Cassy were ushered into the large but rather untidy parlour to the right of the hallway, where tea was to be taken.</p> <p>Despite the best efforts of Mrs Tate, there was no disguising the general drabness of the room. Dark wood frames and striped wallpaper did little to help, while piles of books and journals lying on tables and strewn on the floor beside the chairs added clutter to a cheerless environment.</p> <p>Only the fire burned brightly, keeping them warm, while the rain continued outside. How on earth, Cassy wondered, was anyone to recover from depression in surroundings such as these?</p> <p>Writing later to her mother, she said:</p> <p><i>Mama, everything is in such a state of disarray; it would drive me insane to live here. I cannot believe that Josie has been so ill as not to notice the disorderly condition of the house and the neglected garden. As for my poor brother, how anyone who has spent most of his life at Pemberley could possibly endure such wretched surroundings, not from poverty or privation, but by choice, I cannot imagine. Yet Julian does not appear to notice. His study, if it could be called that, so untidy and disorganised does it seem, is his chief retreat, when he is not with Josie or at work in his beloved laboratory.</i></p> <br> <p>By the time Mrs Tate came downstairs, tea had been served and the fire stoked up to a good blaze. Julian had insisted that they partake of tea and toasted muffins while he went upstairs to his wife. Once he had left the room, Cassandra turned expectantly to Mrs Tate, who was clearly eager to talk. "How is Josie?" she asked and Mrs Tate, speaking in a kind of stage whisper, loud enough for anyone to hear who cared to listen, said, "Very weak and pale, very weak, indeed, poor dear. It seems she has had little or no nourishment for days."</p> <p>She sounded exceedingly anxious and puzzled. Becky Tate was the same age as Cassy, but despite her many talents, seemed much less able to cope with the situation that confronted them.</p> <p>"Has Josie been refusing to take food as well as medication?" asked Richard, his brow furrowed by a frown. Mrs Tate nodded.</p> <p>"It certainly seems so, Dr Gardiner; not that Josie would say anything, but I slipped out and asked her maid, when she removed the tea tray, if her mistress had not been eating well and she said, 'No, not at all well.' Indeed, it would appear she eats less than a child would at meals and then only to please her husband, who begs her to take some nourishment. In between times, she drinks only weak tea or barley water and, very occasionally, takes a small piece of fruit," she explained, while wearing a very bewildered expression.</p> <p>Rebecca Tate was usually a sensible, practical sort of person, yet it was difficult for her to understand what had happened to her once bright and lively daughter.</p> <p>Cassy noticed that Richard was shaking his head, and she could tell from his solemn countenance that he was worried, too.</p> <p>"Refusing medication is bad enough—declining food is much more serious. It means that her body would be enfeebled by sheer lack of nourishment, and thereby, less able to cope with whatever it is that afflicts her," he said, unable to conceal his concern.</p> <p>Shortly afterwards, Julian returned to say he had spoken with Josie and she was willing to see Richard now. Cassy thought it sounded as if she was granting him a privilege, which was strange! They went upstairs, all but Cassy who remained alone in the parlour, casting an eye upon the clutter that surrounded her.</p> <p>Presently, the maid came to clear away the tea things and Cassy recognised her. It was Susan, one of the maids from the Tates' household, who had been Josie's personal maid and had moved with her to Pemberley after her marriage to Julian, and later to Cambridge.</p> <p>Clearly delighted to see Cassandra, the girl curtseyed briefly, put the tray back on the table, wiped her hands on her apron, and became quite talkative.</p> <p>"Miss Cassy—beg pardon, ma'am, I mean Mrs Gardiner—I am so very happy to see you, ma'am. Looking so well, too, if I may say so. Is your family well, ma'am, Miss Lizzie and Master Edward?" she asked, eager for information. Equally pleased to see her and remembering the poor girl must be homesick, so far from her family in Derbyshire, Cassy responded kindly, assuring the girl that her family was in excellent health, all but her dear father-in-law Mr Gardiner.</p> <p>"Oh ma'am, I am sorry to hear that. It must be very hard for poor Mrs Gardiner, looking after the master alone," she said, and Cassy reassured her that Mr Gardiner was very well cared for and her aunt had many helpers.</p> <p>"Both his daughters, Mrs Courtney and Mrs Fitzwilliam, are there often and Dr Gardiner and my son Mr Edward, who is now a physician himself, attend upon him every day. Indeed, Mr Edward is with his grandfather at this very moment, staying at Lambton until our return."</p> <p>Susan expressed her relief. "Ah, that surely is a blessing, ma'am," she said and added in a woebegone sort of voice, "I wish I could say the same of my Miss Josie. She will see no doctors and take no medicine at all."</p> <p>Alerted by her words, Cassy asked quickly, "Susan, do you mean Miss Josie—I mean Mrs Darcy—refuses to take any medication for her condition? Has not a doctor seen her at all?"</p> <p>Susan's eyes widened, reflecting her alarm.</p> <p>"No, ma'am, she will not see anyone, nor will she take any proper medicine. It is only with much coaxing that I can get her to take a spoonful of honey for her chest or some chamomile tea for her headaches, when they are really bad. She has had nothing more in weeks, ma'am. It really is a sad thing to see her wasting away."</p> <p>Cassy was appalled. "And what about her food?" she asked. The maid rolled her eyes skywards and shook her head.</p> <p>"That, too, ma'am. She will eat like a bird, and then only when the master pleads with her to do so. Poor Mr Julian, he is so worried about her, he forgets his hat or his scarf and has to rush back for them, else he will leave his tea until it is cold and gulp it down before rushing out the door. It's a wonder he can still work, ma'am."</p> <p>Cassy agreed, though she said nothing to the girl, as she rose and walked about the room. It seemed things were a good deal worse than they had suspected. Hearing footsteps descending the stairs, Susan picked up the tea tray and left the room, leaving Cassy gazing out of the bay window that looked out on a forlorn old rosebush, so overgrown it had hardly any blooms. Yet, she recalled, the last time they had been here, it had been covered in roses and when she had opened the window, their sweet scent had filled the room.</p> <p>Her brother entered the parlour and Cassy, turning to greet him, could see he was miserable. Several years her junior, Julian looked depressed and vulnerable as he stood there, his tousled hair and rumpled shirt, as much as his anxious expression, evidence of his anguish. Cassy went to him and took his hands in hers, trying to offer some reassurance, looking for the right words to assuage his pain. She was sure, she said, that Richard would be able to help Josie; after all, he had been their family doctor since she was a little girl.</p> <p>"If only she would take some medicine and a little nourishment, I am sure she will begin to feel better," he said and then added helplessly, "but Cassy, she will take neither, no matter what I say!"</p> <p>Cassy felt tears sting her eyes; she had always felt responsible for her young brother, especially because he had been born when everyone was still grieving for their beloved William. They had all treasured Julian, yet he did not appear to have grown into the role he was expected to play. There was a great deal to learn about running an estate, but Julian had shown little interest in it. Even as a boy, he had no talent for practical matters and relied upon their mother herself or the servants for advice on everything.</p> <p>His sister knew, only too well, that the young man who would one day succeed her father as Master of Pemberley would need to be stronger and more determined than Julian was now.</p> <p>Beset with domestic problems, he seemed even weaker and less likely than before to take up with confidence the onerous responsibilities of Pemberley, where he would influence the lives of many men, women, and children, who would depend upon his strength and judgment for their livelihoods and security.</p> <p>Standing in the middle of that drab room, he looked so forlorn that she was moved to say, "Please try not to worry too much, Julian dear. Richard will do his very best. I know Josie trusts him and, when he has persuaded her to take some medication and good food, I have no doubt we will see her condition improve."</p> <p>Julian did not appear convinced. "Oh Cassy, I do hope you are right. There have been times, awful frightening moments, when I have felt that she does not wish to recover at all."</p> <p>His voice was so filled with despair that Cassy was shocked.</p> <p>"Hush, Julian, you must never say that. Why on earth would your wife, who has everything to live for, feel so? She has you, her family, and young Anthony," but he interrupted her.</p> <p>"Plainly, my dear sister, we are not enough to make her completely happy. Her life, she claims, is empty of purpose; she points out that I have a burning desire to find scientific ways of preventing diseases that kill people, but cannot understand her longing to have her work published. Cassy, I have offered to have it published at my expense, but she will not have it; she says that would not do: it would be no different to having it printed in her father's papers, and she must have it accepted by one of the reputable publishing houses. As you know, this has not occurred and she is bitterly disappointed."</p> <p>Even as she listened, Cassandra could not help wondering whether this was really the entire story behind Josie's malaise.</p> <p>"Julian, are you quite sure that is the only reason for her unhappiness? Is there no other cause?" she asked.</p> <p>There was a long pause during which Cassy studied her brother's countenance as he struggled to find words to express what he was going to say; at last, with a huge effort, he spoke.</p> <p>"Cassy, I wish I could truthfully say it was, but I cannot. I have tried to pretend otherwise, but I fear I must face the truth. I think, Cassy, my dear Josie no longer loves me."</p> <p>He sounded so disconsolate, looked so melancholy, she was cut to the heart, just looking at him.</p> <p>"Julian!" she cried, "What nonsense is this? Whatever makes you say such a thing? Josie has been ill and depressed, but to believe she does not love you, or has no desire to recover, what evidence have you of this outrageous claim?"</p> <p>Before he could respond, if indeed he was going to make any response at all, Mrs Tate and Richard were heard coming downstairs and no further discussion of the subject was possible.</p> <p>As they entered the room, talking together, Julian excused himself, claiming there were some papers he had to read before dinner, and went to his study, where he remained for the rest of the afternoon.</p> <p>A short while later, Cassandra went up to Josie's room. She was very shocked to find Josie so pale and thin, as if after a long and debilitating illness. She was sitting up in bed, a knitted shawl around her thin shoulders, her hair, which had once been much admired for its colour and lustre, twisted into a tight plait. Cassandra could hardly recognise the lively young Josie Tate, who had married her brother a mere five years ago.</p> <p>"Cassy," her voice was small and thin when she spoke, "it is very kind of you to come all this way to see me, and Richard, too. It is very good of him to come. Mama has told me how very ill Mr Gardiner is; I am so sorry to be so much trouble to you all."</p> <p>Cassandra sat on the bed beside her and stroked her hand. It was frail and small like a child's. "Josie, my dear, you are not causing us any trouble, especially not if you promise to do as Richard advises and take some proper medication and some good, nourishing food. We shall soon have you fit and well again," she said, trying hard to sound cheerful.</p> <p>Yet Josie, though she nodded and smiled a pale sort of half-smile, said nothing to show that she intended to be amenable. She let Cassy sit with her and hold her hand, but made no promises. Indeed, when Cassy left the room, she could not help feeling even more disturbed than when she had entered it, for she had elicited no positive response at all.</p> <p>Cassandra's distress was particularly poignant, for it was to her that Julian had turned, having discovered almost by chance that he was in love with Josie Tate. She recalled his anxiety about meeting her father, the formidable Mr Anthony Tate, who had subsequently turned out to be a most reasonable man. He had also been concerned that Josie was not as yet nineteen and very much in awe of Mr and Mrs Darcy and the grandeur of Pemberley, of which he would, one day, be master. </div></div><br/> <i>(Continues...)</i> <!-- Copyright Notice --> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'>Excerpted from <b>Mr Darcy's Daughter</b> by <b>Rebecca Ann Collins</b>. Copyright © 2008 Rebecca Ann Collins. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc.. <br/>All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br/>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.</font><hr noshade size='1'></blockquote>