The following is an epilogue that I wrote for Mr. Darcy’s Bite. I thought it was a pretty good ending, but my editor at Sourcebooks disagreed, and it was deleted. (I agree with her now.) As background, Marguerite Ashton was Darcy’s paternal aunt. She knew of her nephew’s condition and provided refuge, when necessary, during a full moon. She sponsored Dr. Wilkolak’s studies of the werewolf population in Great Britain. (Wilkolak is Polish for werewolf.)
Spoiler Alert: If you have not read Mr. Darcy’s Bite or the prequel and sequel, and plan to do so, you will probably not want to read this excerpt.
After the death, of Lady Marguerite Ashton, Darcy’s aunt, Ashton Manor was sold and passed out of the family. It would be sold and resold until John Whittaker, a wealthy American and medical doctor, bought the estate in 1926. As part of an expansion of the manor house, the turret was torn down. During demolition, a secret room with a library was discovered. Among its volumes were an extensive collection of stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, French fairy tales, and first editions of Grimm’s fairy tales. But much more interesting than these flights of fancy were the records of a Dr. Paul Wilkolak containing case histories of hundreds of men and women, all of which were encrypted.
After months of poring over the files, Dr. Whittaker succeeded in deciphering Wilkolak’s complex code, and what emerged stunned him. In his possession was the historical record of forty years of study of the werewolf population of Great Britain. Although no names were used, the studies were so detailed that any good investigator would be able to learn who some of these remarkable people were.
The logical place to start was with the Ashton family, but they were soon eliminated because no one met the physical description of those individuals detailed in the journals. Dr. Whittaker then branched out to the blood relations of Marguerite Darcy Ashton. With the permission of the Darcy family of Pemberley, the doctor was given access to the personal correspondence of generations of Darcys, and the physical description of Fitzwilliam Darcy, born in 1785, met those of case study #343.
When Dr. Whittaker presented his findings to Maryanne and William Darcy, the current owners of Pemberley and direct descendants of Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, the two exchanged knowing glances before Will finally spoke for both of them.
“Fitzwilliam Darcy’s daughter, Anne, who never married, was devoted to her parents and kept a diary from the time she was ten years old. We have read and reread Anne’s diaries, but so much of it doesn’t make sense unless…”
“…unless Anne’s father was a werewolf,” Maryanne said, completing her husband’s sentence. “At first, we didn’t believe it. This is the stuff from which fairy tales are spun. But if you can accept the idea of Fitzwilliam Darcy being a werewolf, then everything falls into place. What decided it for us was an entry in which Anne mentions that a violent summer storm had, and I am now quoting Anne, ‘prevented Papa from getting home in time for daybreak, and he was soaked through to the skin. As a result of his exposure, he has developed pneumonia and is gravely ill.’”
“One would think that such an event would be a rarity,” Will said. “I mean, how often does a gentleman get caught out in the open during a storm? Where were his carriage and servants? But from that time on, Anne was worried that such a thing would again happen to her father.”
“It never did,” Maryanne added. “But even with the passage of many years, there is an intensity in her writing with the onset of ‘nightfall,’ which is followed by a sense of relief when ‘daybreak’ comes, two terms she uses over and over again. After looking at the dates of Anne’s entries in an almanac, they had one thing in common. All were written at the time of a full moon.
“I’m sure that you now understand why it was necessary for us to have you sign a confidentiality agreement,” Will said. “We only agreed to your examining Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth’s private papers to confirm what we have suspected for quite awhile. But no one must ever know about this. We shall not even tell our children.”
“Of course what I have learned will never be repeated,” Dr. Whittaker assured the couple. “But it is fascinating. Over the course of forty years, Dr. Wilkolak recorded the statistics for four hundred and sixteen individuals from twenty-three different countries, one hundred and fourteen of whom were female.
“When you look at the journals, you will see that Dr. Wilkolak’s entries abruptly stop in 1825, so that is likely the year of his death. However, by that time, the werewolf population was already in a steep decline. There are only two new case studies that year, so maybe there weren’t any other cases to record. But these journals are proof that werewolves existed as recently as seventy years ago in Britain. These remarkable people lived among the general population. They loved and were loved, raised families, played sports, became ill, and felt all the aches and pains of old age, just as we do. It is an incredible story. So, it is with great reluctance that I turn over to you all of the journals and documents hidden at Ashton Manor, but this is where they belong.”
Maryanne and Will walked Dr. Whittaker to his car, but before he got in, he asked one more question. “Are Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy buried in the glade where the Matlock Road curves?”
“No, they are buried in a crypt in St. Michael’s,” Will answered. “Why do you ask?”
“Because the glade is filled with lupines. I imagine it’s just a coincidence.”
After watching Dr. Whittaker’s car go through the gate, Will turned to his wife, “The glade that Dr. Whittaker referred to used to be a part of the Pemberley estate. It was deeded to the National Trust by my father.”
“Let’s have a look.”
The Darcys had to park a half mile away as no parking was allowed because of a curve in the road, but when they finally reached the glade, it took their breath away. Before them were acres of purple lupines.
Maryanne reached into her bag and took out one of Anne’s diaries. After thumbing through the pages, she showed her husband an entry made in the autumn of 1856. “Anne makes note of the seeding of a glade with wildflowers, but she doesn’t indicate which glade or which flowers were planted. Her parents had died within two months of each other the previous winter, and with their deaths, the estate had passed to David Darcy, their older son. However, Anne was a noted regional botanist, and it seems that her brother gave her carte blanche to do whatever she wanted with the gardens.”
“Well, Anne was her daddy’s little girl, and this was how she chose to honor his memory.”
“Not just his memory, Will. Because there is at least one other werewolf who is not recorded in Dr. Wilkolak’s case studies. I know from reading Anne’s diary that in 1848, Elizabeth Bennet Darcy became a werewolf because now Anne was worrying about both her parents. And it was no accident. Fitzwilliam was aging, and Elizabeth wanted to be with him, so that he would not be out there alone. They were deeply in love,” Marianne said, slipping her arm around her husband’s waist. “You come from a very good bloodline, Will Darcy,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“Yes, I do, and I can picture the two of them running through this glade—”
“Silhouetted against a full moon.”
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