Below is the prologue to my current work in progress. The book will be titled, The Companion’s Secret, and I hope to publish by the end of September.
The windows of the Meryton Assembly Hall shone with a soft golden light, but outside the music could not be heard above the heavy rain that pelted the town. It had been a very pleasant assembly. Even Mr. Bennet had enjoyed the event, having shared an interesting discussion with his friend Sir William Lucas. As usual, Mrs. Bennet made sure they were among the very last to leave. She was sure if they were ever to leave early she would miss out on an important piece of gossip. It was just after midnight when the music ended allowing the remaining patrons to hear the sound of the driving rain pounding on the roof of the assembly hall. The families moved quickly to the exit and boarded their carriages hastily heading for the warmth and safety of home.
Mr. Bennet’s concern was that the misty rain that had started as they arrived at the assembly had become such a downpour. It was disconcerting that no one had noticed the change in the weather. The Bennet carriage was the last one in the queue, so Mr. Bennet hurriedly handed in his three daughters and his wife. He cautioned the driver to be careful before he entered the carriage himself and closed the door. The passengers were huddled together for both warmth and comfort. The ferocity of the storm had everyone’s nerves on edge. Even before the lumbering carriage had made the turn onto the road that would take them to Longbourn, the passengers felt the wheels slip and slide on the muddy streets.
They were almost home, only one obstacle remained; they had to cross the narrow stone bridge that spanned the creek. The large creek meandered through Longbourn’s acreage to the point where it joined the river. There was a steep embankment on both sides of the road that led down to the creek. The coachman slowed the carriage as it approached the bridge wanting to ensure he was able to navigate the entrance safely on to the narrow structure. The darkness of the night sky and heavy rain made the crossing more dangerous than usual.
The horses had just entered the bridge when multiple flashes of lightning appeared, striking a tree on the opposite bank. The horses pulling the Bennet’s carriage began backing away from the bridge. Unfortunately, the lightning was quickly followed by a deafening crack of thunder that rumbled loudly. The roar of thunder further unsettled the animals, and they now jerked forward. The coachman did his best to control the frightened animals, but the speed of their forward motion sent the carriage sliding sideways. The tongue, connecting the horses to the carriage, splintered as it hit the stone column of the bridge’s parapet. The impact caused the passengers to scream in terror. The carriage slid further before flipping over as it went down the embankment coming to a stop upside down in the rapidly moving water. Another crack of thunder caused the now freed horses to rush forward. As the team reached the crest of the bridge, lightening again flashed. The horses reared, but as they came back towards the ground, they were not in the center of the narrow bridge. The foreleg of the horse nearest the parapet came crashing down against the stones. The impact snapped the bone in two, and the animal crumpled to the ground. As the team was still tethered together and with the injury to the one, the pair was trapped there upon the bridge. They would have a long wait as the sounds of the accident, and the screams of the injured horse were drowned out by the raging storm.