Lost in Austen: Reborn

Love Song

"There is safety in reserve, but no attraction. One cannot love a reserved person." - Jane Austen

The walk to the parlor room was short and quick. I hoped the hall would lengthen by some unknown magic, and I would not have to sing. I also hoped Caroline would fall ill, retire to her chamber, and drop dead, but wishful thinking could only carry me so far. I was stuck in a predicament and had to perform in front of the greatest literary characters the world had ever known. To say I was suffering from stage fright was an understatement. What was worse than stage fright?

We entered the parlor room. It was like my guest room with rows of pillars with one minor change. This room boasted golden velvet-lined walls. Compelled, I reached out to touch the wall under Darcy's scrutinizing stare. The texture was soft and scratchy. I don't know why I felt obliged to caress it but, how often do you see a velvet wall? When there's a velvet wall, you have to touch it! I was sure I had made myself seem a gold-digger even though I was not. I turned away from the wall and noticed all were looking at me.

"Miss Elizabeth," Caroline smiled, "Will you do us the honor of beginning our little concert?"

I nervously looked down, "I don't know what to sing."

"Sing whatever you wish," Caroline pressed. "We are all friends here."

Friends, that so-called word in this situation was a thinly-veiled insult. What was it with this woman? I mean, when I said I could not sing, I sure as bloody hell meant it! She was set on embarrassing me. I was not a horrible singer. But, I was not going to gain any accolades for it either.

"Perhaps," Darcy suggested, "Miss Caroline should accompany her."

Was that a challenge from Darcy? "Mr. Darcy," I sent him a thin smile, "that will not be necessary."

I went to the front of the room. The rest of the party sat down in the wooden chairs facing the piano. I took a deep breath and found my hands were shaking. My heart drummed in my chest, and it felt as though it was going to burst out. I laid my hand on my chest to steady myself, and Mr. Darcy stood up, concern upon his features.

"Miss Elizabeth," he asked, "are you well?"

"I'm fine, Mr. Darcy."

He sat back down with a frown upon his lips as if he did not believe me. Sifting through music sheets, I chose a song that seemed uncomplicated. Thank goodness for music class when I was younger! I suppose every good boy does fine did stick with me, after all. I started to sing in a small voice. Caroline yawned and fanned herself in boredom. Everyone else looked uninterested, and it was no wonder with this tedious song. I stopped singing and found myself looking down at the music sheet.

"Why did you stop?" Caroline tilted her head, "You were doing so well."

"I do not care for this song," I admitted, "In all honesty, this song is dull. Let me show all of you what a good song is."

I racked my brain trying to think of an appropriate song. Only one was stuck in my head, and it was from my world. It was the last song I had heard on the radio. I knew I was going to shock the pants off them. Love was a universal, ancient feeling, and everyone knew it, but no one dared discuss it. Still, having it put on display would have been too much for these painted peacocks to handle. I could not sing about something I knew nothing about, but every song I knew was a love song. It was unavoidable.

I moved toward the pianoforte (which was a fancier name for a piano). I started to sing again.

Oh, oh

Oh, oh

I saw, I see

I love; I breathe,

I guess, I hope

I confess and try to cope.

Caroline whispered to her brother, "She said she could not sing."

Bingley whispered back, "She said she could not sing well."

Is there anyone out there for me?

All I have is this story.

Will I ever find my Romeo?

One to call my own

They all observed me, and I started to feel as though I was on display. I felt akin to a porcelain doll in a glass showcase. Is this how living in the Regency era was like for women? I felt the urge to look at Darcy and our eyes locked as I kept singing.

I love and breathe

I know your honesty

I am, I think

I yearn, and I dream

Darcy's stoic features seemed pleasantly surprised as he and Bingley exchanged smiles. Caroline seemed on the verge of tears. I supposed her little experiment had gone awry. I cared not what she thought, pleased to see that she had been served, so to speak.

Is there anyone out there for me?

All I have is this story.

Will I ever find my Romeo?

One to call my own

My eyes locked with Darcy's once again. He smiled at me with fondness, but I feared I was reading too much into it. He could not have feelings for me already. It was too soon in the story.

Oh, oh

Everything was a haze

Please let me know the way

Stand here with me

We can be in perfect harmony.

Oh, oh. Oh, oh.

Darcy looked away every bit if he were guilty. I could not tell if he was attempting to conceal something or if the lyrics angered him. Was love a foreign concept to him? Did I select the wrong song?

Is there anyone out there for me?

All I have is this story.

Will I ever find my Romeo?

One to call my own...

I curtsied, "That's all."

Bingley, Darcy, and Jane stood up and clapped in a jovial manner. Caroline sat still in the background; her face seemed a little shell-shocked. She fanned herself as if doing so would calm her nerves. She stood up and walked towards the group. Her nostrils flared in contempt, for, she did not like being proven wrong.

Bingley expressed, "I hope you find your Romeo."

Darcy stepped closer, "I believe she shall."

Smolder alert number 3!

"What a humble songstress you have turned out to be!" Caroline smiled smugly.

Darcy looked at Caroline, "Will you be gracing us with your singing as well?"

Caroline gave a bittersweet laugh, "Not when we have a far superior singer in our midst."

"Oh no," I shook my head, "I'm not a good singer."

"You could have fooled me."

Darcy and Bingley walked towards the middle of the room where there was a decanter holding red wine. They proceeded to pour glasses for themselves. Jane watched Bingley with a shy smile upon her soft features.

"I know what you are." Caroline pulled me away as the men drank their glasses of wine.

I flicked my arm away, "And what am I?"

"You are a mere diversion." She said with a cunning grin, sizing me up, "But, no man is amused for long."

"What are you talking about?"

"The fortune that you aspire," Caroline sent me a superior look, "may not look your way. But, your talents may bring you some benefits."

"With 40,000 a year," I counterattacked, "I don't believe I will need benefits from any man."

I glared daggers at her. She was a real piece of work. I walked away, leaving Caroline in even more shock. Could I get used to being here? If I could not find a way back, was it so bad to live in this world? I walked towards the wine decanter and Mr. Darcy turned to me, "Pray, would you like a glass?"

"Oh no," I smiled, "I believe Jane and I should turn in for the night and get our beauty rest."

"Beauty rest," Bingley laughed, "is something that you and Miss Jane do not need. Do you not agree, Darcy?" Darcy sent Mr. Bingley a look that could burn coal. Oh God, I knew what was coming! He was going to say I was tolerable. He was going to say I was not enough to tempt him. Instead, Darcy said nothing and nodded in agreement with Bingley. It was better he did not say anything and spared my pride the torture of being hurt.

Jane blushed and whispered, "Thank you."

"Good night gentlemen," I said.

As we walked upstairs arm in arm, Jane whispered to me, "Mr. Darcy, though rough on the outside, is a good match for you."

"I suppose he is," I looked behind and saw Mr. Darcy watching me as I walked upstairs. My heart stopped for a brief moment. No one was looking as he watched me until Caroline walked behind him and whispered something. I looked away and continued my walk upstairs.

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