Elizabeth Bennet was a happy, cheery girl. To the delight of her father, she loved to read and showed sign of intelligence. But to the dismay of her mother, she loved the countryside too much. She seemed always to be running about, playing with animals and climbing trees.
Her mischief often landed her sisters and friends in difficult situations. One of those circumstances occurred when she was ten years old.
It was a bright summer day. Elizabeth was playing, together with her neighbour Luke Lucas and her younger sister Kitty, near the main road to London.
“Let us play throw,” Elizabeth challenged Luke. He was the elder by two years but had only grown taller than she was in the past few months. His new vertical advantage was a fact she disliked a great deal.
She picked up a small piece of rock from the ground and pointed to the tall oak tree. “Whoever’s stone reaches a branch taller will be the victor.”
Kitty clapped her hands with delight and agreed to the game. Luke shook his head. “I do not want to play with girls,” he said and continued to kick the tree absently.
Elizabeth stepped closer. “What do you have against girls?”
“You make mischief and put the blame on me if we are found out.”
“I do no such thing!” Her hands were fisted on her hips. “You are only afraid that I can throw higher than you.”
“It is a stupid game anyway,” he replied and started towards his house.
Kitty looked at her sister with a frown and decided to follow Luke.
“Coward!” Elizabeth shouted after them. “Traitor!” She stalked off in the opposite direction. Bending down to pick up stones, she threw them aimlessly to vent her frustration for nearly quarter of an hour. She was nearer to the main road than she had realised and did not, in her temper, notice that a grand carriage was passing by.
Her last throw struck one of the horses.
The steed startled, reared up. The driver was unable to control the other horses, with the result that the carriage tipped to one side and crashed noisily to the roadway.
Screams and yells emanated from within it. Then within seconds, silence returned again.
With her hands over her mouth, Elizabeth stood frozen on the spot. Her first instinct was to run home and hide. She had killed an entire carriage of innocent people!
But then moans became audible. Elizabeth ran nearer to the source and saw that the sounds came from a young man sprawled in the roadway with one of his legs trapped beneath the top edge of the carriage. He was tall, she noted, with dark curly hair. His feature was very handsome and he was immaculately dressed.
“Are you well, sir?” Elizabeth asked in a trembling voice.
“How are my men?” he asked. She left him and ran to check on other men – four of them – strewn upon the roadway.
“They are unconscious but breathing,” she reported back to him.
“Help me get free then. I need to see to them.” He struggled to get his leg out but the carriage would not move. He gave a shout of pain and frustration, and then looked askance at Elizabeth’s form. “You are too small. Perhaps you had best run and ask for help.”
She shook her head. “I must help you. I accidentally startled your horse. I am truly sorry,” she admitted, with tears in her eyes.
She then put her small hands beneath the roof of the carriage. With a sudden surge of energy and a loud scream, she lifted the tip of the carriage up from the ground by several inches.
Both of them were flabbergasted by her strength. When the young man did not immediately move, she yelled, “Pull your leg out. I cannot hold it any longer.”
He moved back immediately and pulled his leg free, just before she gave out another scream and let the carriage drop back to the ground. Stunned, she sank down beside the young man, panting heavily.
“However did you summon such strength?” he asked, gazing at her in astonishment.
She shook her head. “I do not know.”
Before she could stand up and help him, she heard another carriage approaching. As soon as she glimpsed it, she knew that it bore Sir William Lucas, and she felt a thrill of panic. Surely he would tell her parents.
She said quickly to the young man, “I am truly sorry about this incident. I hope your servants will recover soon.” Then she scrambled away from him.
“Wait!” he called after her. “What is your name?”
She only shook her head and ran to hide in the bushes. Once concealed, she waited until Sir William and his servant had taken care of the young man and the men who had accompanied him before she turned, at last, and returned home. Her mother scolded her for making her dress such a mess and for coming home late.
Elizabeth later learned from local gossip that the young man was called Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, and that he was from Derbyshire. By the public account, he and his servants were well enough to take another carriage and continue their journey to London four days later. She was relieved to find that Mr. Darcy had made no mention of a young girl’s involvement in the accident.
At first, Elizabeth thought back upon that incident with shame and incredulity. She later tried lifting heavy objects, on several occasions, but the Herculean strength of that disastrous day never returned to her. Slowly, with the passage of time, she forgot about the whole debacle.
However, the accident immediately sprang back to her mind on the day, ten years later, when she encountered Mr. Darcy again – this time at the local Assembly. Evidently he had come to visit his friend Mr. Charles Bingley, who had recently rented Netherfield Park, which was located only three miles from her home.
Mr. Darcy’s appearance at the Meryton Assembly drew marked attention. Sir William Lucas remembered the young man whom he had rescued some ten years earlier, and he did not hesitate to declare him as his friend. But Mr. Darcy was reserved and distant in his manner. He bore with the people to whom Sir William introduced him, answering direct questions about his long-ago injury and his well-being since that time. However he did not engage in extended conversation or dance much throughout the night.
It seemed apparent that Mr. Darcy had grown into a fastidious and arrogant man. He is no longer the caring master who worried more about his men’s safety than his own. And he finds me not handsome enough to dance with. Well then, I shall not waste my time upon him. Elizabeth decided as she walked purposely very near to him and then crossed to talk with her good friend Charlotte Lucas.
She told Charlotte about his haughty remark concerning her not being handsome enough to dance with, and the two young women had a good laugh together. Elizabeth noted that their playful manner seemed to attract his attention, but not in any positive sense. Indeed, his gaze conveyed censure and a frosty disapproval.
He must think us savages, without any refined manner. I wish he would overset a wineglass upon himself. That would certainly make him less handsome, at least for a moment!
Within moments, it seemed, Mr. Darcy had moved over to the refreshment table, where he did indeed pick up a glass of wine. At the same instant, Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia, dashed past him in her haste to greet a local boy. She knocked against his elbow as she passed, with the result that he tipped the wine over his fine clothes. Due to the crowded room and her preoccupation, Lydia did not even notice the mischief she had dealt the man.
With a scowl at the young girl, Mr. Darcy took out a handkerchief and tried to absorb the stain. Mr. Bingley’s sister, Caroline, rushed to his side. She sympathised with the gentleman’s mishap. When she raised her gloved hand and attempted, with a napkin, to help him wipe away the wine, Mr. Darcy backed away. He bowed to her abruptly, turned on his heel, and left the hall for the back room.
Elizabeth watched the entire sequence of events with uneasy wonder. Did that happen because I wished for it? She wondered, but she could not bring herself to believe it. Why do strange things happen when I am around Mr. Darcy? Should I follow the man and attempt to apologise to him? If I do, surely he will think me a mad woman.
She decided, instead, to venture out onto the balcony for some much-needed air.
Gaining the relative privacy of the balcony, Elizabeth was startled to find that the weather had changed. Earlier in the evening, when she arrived at the Assembly with her family, it had been warm and calm. Now, the wind was picking up sharply, and the clouds were travelling fast.
She rubbed her hands over her arms and decided that she had best return to the ballroom. It was altogether too cold and windy on the balcony for comfort. Her hair and dress would be a sight if she lingered there for long.
As she turned to leave the balcony, a flash of lightning pierced the sky, and a rough gust of wind shouldered through the tall trees.
The sharp sound of an object dropping onto the balcony floor attracted her attention. She turned back, narrowing her eyes to keep them open against the strong wind.
On the stone floor by her feet was a tiny shiny item. She bent to retrieve it, then walked quickly back into the room.
Moving to a quiet corner, she examined the object. It was a quill…but a strange one. The length was about two-thirds that of a normal writing quill. The feather itself was in the most extraordinary hues of blue. The barrel was exceptionally thick. And at the tip was a piece of metal, apparently affixed to protect the sharp point.
She stroke along the feather, and a sudden answering shiver ran through her body. The unexpected sensation made her press the barrel harder than she intended, and several drops of golden liquid dripped from its tip. It looked much like ink but when she put her fingertip out to touch it, the liquid evaporated immediately.
A quill filled with golden ink that vanishes? Very strange indeed! Where did it come from? Who made it? She could not think of a single plausible answer. Stymied, she decided to tuck the quill away so that she could examine it more closely later.
The night ended triumphantly for the Bennet family, for the rich Mr. Bingley had shown marked interest in Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s eldest sister, and he had danced with her several times. Mrs. Fanny Bennet, however, was cross with Mr. Darcy over his slight of her Elizabeth. With their own estate entailed away and no male heir in sight, the Mistress of Longbourn had made it her avowed mission to marry off her daughters to rich men.
When, after a short, happy discussion concerning the successful Assembly, the family retired to their respective bed chambers, Elizabeth found that she was still alarmed by the events of the night. First, the belated re-appearance of Mr. Darcy after a ten-year hiatus was highly unusual. Second, his tipping over of the wine as if in direct accordance with her wishes was as unbelievable as it was undeniable. And thirdly, the discovery of the brilliant blue quill filled with vanishing ink was a puzzle that defied her not inconsiderable intellectual prowess.
She did not feel at all ready to sleep, and so she took out the quill from her reticule in order to examine it further. Sitting down at her little writing desk, she placed the tip against a fresh piece of paper and attempted to draw with it. But no golden liquid was forthcoming, and nothing appeared on the paper.
Biting her lip, she shook the quill and pressed the barrel more firmly before starting to draw with it again. Still the paper remained blank.
Before she decided to take out her usual inkwell and dip the special quill into it, she made one last effort, this time trying to write her name: Elizabeth Bennet.
It worked! Her name appeared neatly in gold on the paper.
How very strange! Perhaps the quill with golden ink only works when writing names. With a shake of her head, she wrote again: Jane Bennet. But no ink was forthcoming. Jane’s name was invisible.
Strange, indeed! One after another, she made a try of her parents’ names, then of Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Charlotte and others, but none produced visible results.
With a sigh of frustration, she considered abandoning her efforts to solve the mystery in favor of simply going to sleep. But her own name was still visible, golden and glistening in the light from her candle.
A sudden gust of wind outside rattled the trees, producing an eerie sound that reminded her of what she had heard on the balcony during the evening she had spent with the newcomers in the neighbourhood.
Freshly inspired, she wrote out the names of the Bingley party: Mr. Bingley, his sister Mrs. Hurst, her husband Mr. Hurst, and his other sister Miss Bingley. Still no words were visible on paper.
Thus far, Elizabeth had deliberately refrained from writing Mr. Darcy’s name. At last, however, when no other prospect presented itself, she attempted his name, with a shaking hand: Mr. Darcy.
The two words appeared under her name, firm and sparkling.
How can that be? Why does the magic quill work only with his name and mine? What can it mean? Is it…magic? Disquieted by the thought, she told herself sternly, more likely the quill is simply defective. Elizabeth dropped the quill on the table with a sigh of frustration.
Abruptly, lightning flashed, brightening the room. It illumined the quill, from which a puff of blue smoke emerged.
Elizabeth backed away from the table hastily and scrambled onto the bed. Seconds later, when the smoke dissipated, she was stunned by the sight of a man standing inside her room, near the window.
She opened her mouth to scream but the man raised his hand, and not a word came out from her mouth.
“Do not scream!” the man said. “I do not intend to bring harm.”
Elizabeth trembled as she took in his attire. He was wearing a long blue robe that covered his body from neck to toe. The fabric looked like silk, smooth and shiny, with a cloud depicted in white on the front. The unfamiliar man was tall, with long blond hair.
Elizabeth scrambled under the sheet and gathered the bed clothes to cover her body. She was only wearing a night gown and did not intend to expose herself to a stranger’s view.
After swallowing several times to calm herself, she managed to suppress the urge to scream. Gathering her wits, she said, “I demand you to leave my bed chamber immediately, sir. It is most improper for you to…visit me here.”
He raised his hand and pressed it to his forehead. “I do apologise. I forgot the restrictions of your society. I will change so that you will feel more comfortable speaking to me.”
Change? Comfortable? She wanted to protest that she could never feel comfortable speaking with a stranger who appeared out of thin air...
Before she could say a word, another puff of smoke erupted, and the mysterious man…turned into a woman. The blond hair was still long and unbound, but the facial features and body were now clearly womanly.
Is he – no, she – a ghost? Elizabeth, having already experienced too many strange happenstances in a single night, swooned. The last word she heard was spoken by the ghost in a tone of undisguised exasperation: “Women!
Something cold… Something wet...
Elizabeth blinked rapidly, struggling to wake up. When she opened her eyes, she was shocked to see that the ghost was still there. In fact, the blond woman was splashing drops of water onto her face!
Senses reeling, Elizabeth closed her eyes, hoping to escape back into oblivion and shut out the evil spirit, but the ghost exclaimed, “Do not swoon! I am no ghost. I am an angel. And I have no time to wait again for you to wake up. I have had a most tiring day.”
An angel? Then what is she doing here in my room? Elizabeth gathered her courage and raised herself higher, sitting up in bed. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I have come for you,” the angel said.
Elizabeth gasped, then asked in an unsteady voice, “Am I about to die? Have you come to bring me to Heaven?”
“No such thing. You have it all wrong. You are one of us.”
“One of you? Whatever do you mean?”
“You are an angel, too.”
At that, Elizabeth laughed out loud. “Your jest is a foolish one!” This was the first moment in which she had truly felt like herself since re-encountering Mr. Darcy. “I am Elizabeth Bennet, second daughter of Mr. Bennet from Longbourn of Hertfordshire. I assure you that, quite justifiably, I have never been called an ‘angel’ in my entire life. Are you sure you do not want to speak with my elder sister, Jane? I remember hearing Mr. Bingley call her an angel earlier tonight.”
“I am most serious,” the angel protested. “I am Michael. And you are Lizzybell.” She shook her head and continued, “No, in female form as I am now, I suppose you must call me Mihaela.”
Elizabeth continued to laugh, “Lizzybell? What an awful name for an angel! I am sure I have never read of an angel with such a name.”
“You are a level-six angel. No one in Himins gives level-six angels proper attention.” Mihaela grimaced. “I do admit, your name is a trifle horrible.”
“It is the correct name for what you on Earth call ‘Heaven’,” Mihaela said. “But let us not begin on the history of Himins. I am pressed for time. I need to tell you why I am here and what you need to do.”
Elizabeth nodded her head, since protesting seemed to do no good. She did not in the least understand what was happening. Perhaps it was all a dream.
“I work in the Lost Angel Commission. You dropped from Himins through a crack in the sky. It took me some time to track you down. I need to arm you with knowledge and skill about Himins so that you can return to us at the next opportunity.”
“Now I know that you jest,” Elizabeth stated with conviction. “What sort of Heaven is that, where an angel can be lost and simply drop from the sky?”
“Well, let us say that matters are a bit more chaotic than what can be learned from reading Greek mythology,” Mihaela said. “On the day you fell into the woods near Pemberley, Zenobie was arguing with his wife. He stomped his foot a bit too heavily and thus a crack occurred. As a result, several low-level angels descended precipitously to Earth.”
Elizabeth peered in consternation at the crazy angel. It was, after all, very late and she had had a traumatic day. But did notice something important. “Pemberley? But that is Mr. Darcy’s estate!”
“Yes, and that is where Mrs. Bennet found you, twenty years ago, in the woods near Pemberley.”
Mother is not my mother? “Is that why strange things happened when I was in the company of Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth asked, “Because I … dropped onto his land?”
“No, indeed not.” Mihaela shook her head and started pacing. “It is because you are his guardian angel. But I really have no time now. I must chase after another lost angel.”
“Guardian angel?” Elizabeth repeated in astonishment. “Wait! You cannot leave me without further explanation!”
Mihaela turned back long enough to thrust the quill at her. “Use the angelic petna. Simply write down your question and chant ‘instructio andswara,’ and you shall receive answers to most of your questions.” She then raised her body and flew out of the window and hovered there long enough to call to Elizabeth, “I shall come back to teach you more angelic skills so that you can return to Himins when the time comes. In the mean time, you have to guard your ward on Earth.”
Elizabeth stared after her with wide eyes. “And so I am to believe that angels do not have wings?” she said aloud to the four walls of her bedchamber. “I truly must be dreaming.” And with that, exhausted, she lowered her head onto the pillow and closed her eyes.
Elizabeth woke to the familiar sound of Jane’s voice.
“Lizzy, it is almost time for breakfast. I have never known you to sleep so late. Are you unwell?” Gently, she shook Elizabeth’s shoulder.
Elizabeth blinked several times to adjust to the bright sunlight streaming into the room. “I have been dreaming too much,” she said, and raised herself on the bed.
“Were they sweet dreams?”
“Perhaps,” Elizabeth replied in some perplexity. “I cannot seem to remember just now.”
“Well, come down soon. You do not want to be late for breakfast.” And with that, Jane left Elizabeth’s room.
Slowly, Elizabeth began to remember the strange happenings of the previous night. Rising, she went to examine the paper on the table. Mr. Darcy’s and her name were no long visible. So! It had only been a peculiar dream, angel and all!
But when she pulled open the drawer under the mirror to put the unused paper away, she found the angelic blue quill awaiting her there.
Her heart began to race. Am I to believe, then that it was no dream? But I do not want to be angel. I just want to be Lizzy!
She groaned. Perhaps the quill wrote normally, after all. She scribbled with it but, as on the previous night, no ink came out. Steeling herself she then wrote, ‘I am Mr. Darcy’s guardian angel.’
The words gleamed golden on the pale paper.
Lizzy bit her lip. Deciding that ignorance was no shield, she softly chanted, “Instructio andswara,” and then wrote, ‘What are the duties of a guardian angel?’
A sudden succession of words materialised on the sheet.
Lizzy gasped and backed away from the table, dropping the petna on the floor. Then, cautiously, she took a few deep breathes and moved forward to read the words on the paper.
‘Praise, reveal, guide, provide, protect, deliver and encourage.
Fulfill your duties and win elevation.
Neglect your obligations and risk reparation.’
She gasped. Are those words for me? Surely no one will say I neglect my responsibilities. I did not even know I was an angel. Picking up the quill, she was about to touch it to the white surface again when she heard her mother’s loud voice demanding her presence downstairs.
With a heavy sigh, Lizzy placed the angelic instrument and the paper into her treasure box, locked them there, and hurried to dress.
Soon thereafter, when she sat down at the table amid the loud chatter of her family, the reality struck her with unexpected force. She would have to leave them all, one day. But how can I live without Father, Jane, Aunt and Uncle Gardiner? Even Mother and my younger sisters’ silly ways will be missed. Can I refuse to return to Heaven? Or, rather, to Himins. Will Mr. Darcy suffer if I am not there to protect him? Has he suffered in the past twenty years? Who will deal me reparation?
“You are very quiet today, Lizzy.” Mr. Bennet said.
“Well, small wonder! I should be devastated too,” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed, “if I were told I was not handsome enough to dance with, that hateful Mr. Darcy! How dare he slight our Lizzy?”
“You are not so missish as to take offence, are you, daughter?” her father asked.
Elizabeth was about to agree with her mother that Mr. Darcy was the most arrogant man she had ever met…when she suddenly remembered that one of her roles as guardian angel was to praise. “Perhaps he received bad tidings from his family. His words might sound harsh, but should we not be more Christian and grant him the benefit of the doubt?”
“How droll, Lizzy!” Lydia laughed out loud, “You sound like Mary now.”
“No, she speaks like Jane,” Kitty observed, and added, “It does not suit you!”
Elizabeth turned bright red at her younger sisters’ remarks. Although her father and Jane chastised them, Elizabeth was embarrassed by the reception that her first angelic attempt had received.
The ladies of Longbourn soon waited on those of Netherfield, and the visit was returned in due form. After Elizabeth encountered Mr. Darcy a few times during these short visits, she decided to avoid his acquaintance until she could better master the subject of angels. But that did not prevent her from observing him from afar.
His quiet, reserved and unsociable demeanour made people believe he had grown to be conceited and arrogant. His public slight of Elizabeth, one of the area’s much-loved local beauties, added further to his unpopularity. Residents marveled at the special friendship between the most amiable Mr. Bingley and the disdainful Mr. Darcy. While the presence of such an illustrious character made the small community buzz with gossip and debates, the Derbyshire man did not win any approval or make any new friends.
Elizabeth monitored the situation with concern and frustration. On the one hand, she acknowledged a huge task ahead. Mr. Darcy would surely lead a sad life if he only befriended people like Miss Bingley, a young woman who soothed his ego without reason and faked her affection, all because of his wealth.
On the other hand, Elizabeth could not bring herself to like the man. He often hurt people’s feelings by not engaging in conversations or by making sharp, condescending remarks. He might well be speaking the truth, but he could benefit from learning some finesse and tact as well.
The situation troubled her deeply, for how was she to bear a task that concerned a man she could neither like nor admire?
Elizabeth used whatever time she had alone to study the subject of angels. She was alarmed by many of the differences she found between her experience of angels and the ones that she read of in religious stories. On the subject of her ward, however, the magic quill said simply that she would have to discover her obligations as she went along.
Now that she was more knowledgeable about her station, she decided to better acquaint herself with him. She discovered at Sir William’s gathering that Mr. Darcy seemed to enjoy listening to her conversations with other people. But why? Did he want to identify faults about her? Or was his goal to intimidate her?
“What could he possibly be about,” Charlotte asked, “by listening to your conversation with Colonel Forster so attentively?”
“I have no idea,” Elizabeth said truthfully. However, rather than voicing her bleak suspicion, she took a more objective approach. “Perhaps he wanted to introduce the topic of the war with the Colonel but was reluctant to interrupt my teasing the Colonel to give us a ball.”
Then she nearly forgot what she was talking about, upon seeing Mr. Darcy approaching her again, though he seemed not to have any intention of speaking. Instead, he stood next to Charlotte and her, close enough to overhear them easily.
Elizabeth decided to start teaching him the skill of being a gentleman and engaging in conversation. She turned to him with her warmest smile. “Sir, you heard me just now speaking of the benefits of our Majesty’s militia hosting a ball for the locals,” she said and added archly, “Do you not agree that Hertfordshire ladies are as well-informed as those in town?”
“Nearly all ladies are enlightened on this subject – by which I mean the ball, not the war.” He gave her a quick glance as he replied, but he neither turned to face her nor returned her smile.
“You have quite a satirical view of us!” she said, and thought privately, I cannot understand the man. I have already graced him with my brightest smile. What more can I do to make him happy?
“You must show him that we are also well-educated on music.” Charlotte said. “I am going to open the piano and you know what follows.” She then walked away from the pair.
“She is such a strange creature, always wanting me to exhibit in front of people.” Elizabeth was about to put down her drink by the refreshment table and prepare to play when she felt Mr. Darcy’s elbow bump her arm suddenly, causing wine to spill down the front of her dress. Feeling the cold liquid slide down her bosom, quite ruining the bodice of her gown, she gasped.
Mr. Darcy turned to face her. His eyes focused on her cleavage for a minute, eyeing the dampened muslin. His face turned bright red and he murmured, “I am extremely sorry. Pray forgive me. I should not have thought… ” Then he bowed and left abruptly.
She could not believe such an accident could happen twice. She put down her glass and took another from the table and, rebelliously, downed the contents in a serious of bold swallows. I do not want to be an angel!
Elizabeth blotted the damage to her gown as best she could, which was not very well at all. When she displayed the evidence of the mishap to her mother and begged to go home early, her mother stubbornly disagreed. She would not hear of leaving the gathering now, just when things were going so well between Mr. Bingley and Jane.
Fortunately, Charlotte came to her rescue. She took Elizabeth to her room and asked the maid to dry her clothes. They chatted while they waited. But that did not save Elizabeth from experiencing a huge headache.
Immediately after the Bennets reached home, Elizabeth excused herself and went to her bedchamber, wishing nothing more than to nurse her headache with a good sleep, but she was in for a surprise: Mihaela, the ‘Missing Angel Commissioner,’ decided to visit her again.
“What do you want now?” Elizabeth demanded with some annoyance. She reclined on the bed, not bothering to raise and greet the angel properly.
“I want to make sure you have been learning your way with the petna,” Mihaela said.
“Well, I have learned a fair bit about Himins and my jobs from it. But I know not how I am to protect Mr. Darcy, nor have I developed any angelic skills.”
“Then I will teach you some, now.”
“But I am tired and I have a headache,” Elizabeth said with a sigh. “Can we not leave it for another day?”
“There is no skirting of your duties, young thing.” Mihaela said, turning into Michael and speaking in a deep, serious voice.
Elizabeth recoiled, still uneasy over having a man in her room, even if he was an angel.
“Very well then, sir.” She put on a robe and said, “But can you change back to Mihaela?”
“You are an impertinent low-level angel.” He scowled but complied with her request, returning to his female form. “Nevertheless, I shall now teach you how to fly.”
Elizabeth asked in awe, “So I have wings?”
“Yes, they are embedded inside your bone but you can only use them when you come to your ward’s rescue or request,” Mihaela said. “Simply roll your shoulders, left, right and left, then chant ‘Crosswind and Whirlwind, I trust Ventara, the God of Wind.’ Wings will then spring out from the back of your neck.”
Elizabeth wanted to laugh at the silly chant but she could see that the Commissioner was losing patience. She did as she was told and to her complete astonishment, she felt a strong tickling at the base of her neck and suddenly her skin seemed to burst. She turned and saw the wings, at her back!
“You have but to concentrate on where you want to go, Lizzybell,” Mihaela said. “Perhaps you would like to try flying out of the window?”
“I could not possibly!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
“Just fly across the bed then, if your faith is so frail.”
Elizabeth focused on the other side of the bed and felt her feet lift off the floor. Startled, she looked down at the ground, losing her focus, which made her drop back to the floor with a loud thud.
From below, her mother’s voice screeched, “My dear Mr. Bennet, what was that sound? Are the French coming? I’m certain that it came from Lizzy’s room! Oh my, have they come to kidnap her?” Then a succession of rapid footfalls was heard, ascending the stairs.
The higher-level angel stiffened in alarm and disappeared.
“Wait! What about my wings?” Elizabeth hissed in agitation.
“Roll right, left and right and chant ‘Artful and Ample, I am just a normal angel.’”
“Silly chants!” Elizabeth muttered.
The fading voice of Michael warned, “Do not ridicule our angel’s business or you may be punished.” Then his tone softened, “If you should need me urgently, use the petna and write my name.”
With that, the angel was gone. Elizabeth barely managed to murmur the incantation in time to hide her wings before Jane arrived to knock anxiously on the door. Responding, Elizabeth calmed her by telling her that she had simply fallen off the bed accidentally.
The next morning, Jane was invited to spend the day at Netherfield. Unfortunately, she fell ill after riding over in a storm, as per her mother’s scheming instruction. Elizabeth visited her there on the second day and was invited to stay on. She did not give Mr. Darcy too much of a thought, as she was occupied with Jane’s illness. But the same could not be said of the gentleman.
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