We will have a review of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre next week and a giveaway as well. In the meantime, author Amanda Grange has shared an exclusive excerpt from the novel with AustenBlog readers. Enjoy!
When they were about half way to France, Darcy went below to make sure that the horses were comfortable and not too distressed by the voyage, and to give instructions for their disembarkation when they should land. Elizabeth remained on deck, watching the other ships and from time to time seeing nothing but the ocean as the seas filled and emptied around her.
It was during one of these lulls that she saw a solitary sail on the horizon. She watched it lazily, but as it drew nearer she became aware of a change in the atmosphere and she felt a tension amongst the sailors. They began to look up from their work and to shade their eyes with their hands, turning in the direction of the vessel.
‘What is it?’ asked Elizabeth. ‘Is it a French vessel?’
‘It’s trouble,’ said the mate.
‘Aye,’ said one of the sailors. ‘Privateers. Pirates.’
Elizabeth watched the ship with mounting alarm. It was closing fast and she could already see the figures of people on deck. They became more distinct as the ship grew closer, changing from shapeless blobs to well defined forms.
A flurry of activity broke out all around her as the mate gave orders and the sailors swarmed up the rigging, furling and unfurling sails to try and bring the ship about. But it was no use, they could not turn or run quickly enough, the pirates were almost upon them. Elizabeth was afraid. She backed away from the side of the ship, keeping her eyes on the pirates and hoping for a change in the wind, or a sudden calm, anything that would keep their ship from hers. But still it came on. She could see the pirates’ faces now, full of savage glee.
She turned to go down to the cabin and found herself walking into her husband. He had come back on deck again with the captain and he put his arm around her. She felt an unusual strength emanating from him and a sense of raw power.
‘Darcy!’ she said thankfully, taking refuge in his nearness. ‘The pirates . . . ’ she said, looking again at the fast approaching ship, with its crew of murderous men.
And then suddenly she saw the pirates go pale and their expressions changed. Their look of triumph gave way to one of fear and their anxious mutterings could be heard as they started to back away from the rail. Then they broke apart and began swarming up the rigging whilst their captain hurled abuse at them. The ship veered away, and then it turned and ran, disappearing into the distance as quickly as it had appeared.
She stood watching the empty water where it had been for a few seconds.
‘What happened?’ she asked the mate as she felt her pulse begin to return to normal.
‘I don’t rightly know,’ the mate answered her with a frown.
‘I do,’ muttered one of the sailors darkly. ‘There’s something on board that frightens them. And there’s not a lot will frighten men like that.’
Somewhere, Catherine Morland is shrieking with delight. 🙂 –Ed.
ETA: Welcome to readers of the JA Centre newsletter! Check out our review of Mr. Darcy, Vampyre.