The Gypsy Baron
The first section, which was written by France, was edited by Carolyn in order for the second section reads properly.
Lizzy was dreaming that she was in Europe. The journey was full of more twists and turns than the real tour she took last fall: the landscape was overgrown with wild creepers; inns had a spectral look to them, despite the crowds; and everything was seen in dim moonlight hues, since the dream indeed was one long strange night journey.
Only with the entrance of a shadowy person who curiously resembled the owner of Pemberley did the mood lighten. Lizzy found herself in the middle of a coach ride through the Black Forest, feeling out of sorts due to travel fatigue and loneliness, when a man entered the carriage took a seat across from her.
She thought him finely dressed, while she was in a simple cape and dress. He reminds me of someone, though at the time she could not recall whom. But this face was that of a gypsy, and his clothes and manner freer than those of the other travelers. A maroon cape, white shirt, black pants in black boots, pistol thrust in belt, and gold earring under the black curls, along with a pair of fine dark eyes, focused many a woman's attention on him, she was sure.
Lizzie struggled to keep her own eyes on the evergreen scenery out the window, as a matter of principle. An hour later, a number of passengers got off at a small village and headed for the one inn. A genial chubby host, Herr Herzen (!) provided a simple but tasty meal of peasant bread, cheese, and pilsner beer for all at one long table. The gypsy taciturnly ate amid the chatter of two frumpy women nearby, then stalked to the fireplace.
The stuffy atmosphere of the room soon drew her from the table to walk outside until her room was ready. She was stargazing under some pines when she heard a step behind her; trying to appear calm, she half turned towards the inevitable maroon cloak.
"Good evening. You are, I believe, unaware of the fact that there have been robbers near here lately, and that it is unwise to be out alone."
She admitted her ignorance but was grateful for his information, though privately doubted its being the only purpose for his approach. Indeed, his eyes kept scanning the woods nearby, then coming back to her. Not thinking it suitable to remain there with a man she had not been introduced to, Lizzy decided to return to the inn when a thunderous sound of hoofbeats came out of the darkness.
"Quickly, come with me!" the gypsy muttered as he dragged her by the hand deeper under the pines shelter. A troupe of ruffians arrived, leapt from their horses, and stormed into the doorway, shouting and shooting. Panicked, Lizzy couldn't move, but her new friend did: he ran up to two of the horses, pulled them mightily by the reins back to the pines, and helped her mount up before whirling his horse deeper into the forest ahead of her. Afraid of what was happening back at the inn, she found herself unable to question the idea of traipsing after this fellow into she knew not what.
Besides, a little adventure seemed enticing. And where had she seen someone like him before?? Some minutes later, he slowed his horse to a walk, and hers mercifully followed suit. "I believe we can talk quietly here as we go," he murmured as his eyes swept her bedraggled appearance and shaking hands clutching the reins. Lizzy admitted to being exhausted and unnerved by the incident and asked their destination. He told me of his gypsy camp at a spring not many miles hence. Of course, she thought, his gypsy camp; he's a real gypsy baron out of legend! She felt her cynical humor rise, and then she felt the worst was over if humor was returning. In fact, she had an inexplicable urge to verbally trounce this man, despite his just having saved her life.
"I wonder at your knowing the robbers would be returning to raid tonight," Lizzy said lightly, probing the man of mystery with what she hoped was subtlety. It wasn't.
"Are you concerned for your safety with me?" he mocked, brows arching quizzically. When Lizzy squirmed he went on more kindly, "Have you never heard of a gypsy's 'second sight' ability to foretell the future?"
"I'd supposed to be mere fiction," she retorted, puzzled by other images starting to flash in her mind's eye of a home and a husband.
"And have you never found someone in a dream of a déja-vu nature?" he continued, leaning over and resting his hand for a moment on her horse's bridle. Shocked into silence, Lizzy stared in the trees ahead at a nearing campfire. Was the man a mindreader after all? And what odd fancies and pictures were dancing in her head?
It was a relief when they arrived at the gypsy camp. Her companion was greeted like royalty by his people, and the little old lady whose wagon she was to rest in assured her of his kindliness (rather like the Pemberley housekeeper, she later realized). During a tea and sweetcakes taken by the fire, Lizzy noted how the men spoke respectfully to him of their plans, and women and children rested peacefully nearby. She felt ashamed of her earlier mistrust.
At the spring later, however, Lizzy was again startled while washing her face when she looked across and saw him standing on the far side. "Familiar?" he simply said, as he dove in fully clothed and swam to her side.
"Vaguely," she gasped, as he hauled himself out of the moonlit pool and strode up, shirt billowing in the wind and tousled locks in his eyes. As the pine trees began to swirl around them and her knees seemed to buckle, he eyed her gravely but with a sweet look. "I know!" her mind shouted as her memory of Darcy at that moment came flying back. The gypsy bowed low, gently trying to grasp her hand as she felt herself slipping, slipping, back to morning..........
"Elizabeth, wake up, my dear," Darcy gently shook her shoulder. He was already dressed for a morning ride. Lizzy opened her eyes. "Pleasant dreams?" he asked. "What?" she mumbled, still lost in her dreams. "I asked if you had pleasant dreams. You were smiling in your sleep."
"Very pleasant indeed," she replied. Lizzie looked at Darcy, searching for traces of her Gypsy baron, but much preferring the man before her. "Tell me about your dreams," Darcy coaxed.
"Not right now, for I can see you are about to set off on a ride with Charles." She kissed him goodbye. As he left the room she thought, I now have the perfect costume for us to wear to Jane's masquerade ball.
Two weeks later, Lizzy was dressed in her own gypsy costume. She was wearing a maroon colored skirt, a white peasant blouse (worn low and off the shoulder), a gold chain around her neck, gold bracelets, and large hoop earrings completed the picture. She let her hair flow down her back. The door to the room opened.
She caught her breath Darcy came striding across their room. He was dressed exactly as in her dream, a maroon cape, white shirt, black pants in black boots, pistol thrust in belt, and a gold earring . . .
"William, where is the earring?" she asked.
"Elizabeth, you know I would do practically anything in the world for you, but wearing an earring is not one of them." Lizzy decided the earring was not necessary, he was still the gypsy baron she dreamed about.
"So you are dreaming of gypsy barons are you," Darcy said with mock jealousy. Lizzy blushed, for she had not realized she had spoken aloud.
"No, I dream of you as a gypsy baron," she smiled and walked over to him, "and I must say you make a very handsome gypsy. Far too handsome, I think, and I shan't be able to dance with you at all, you will be surrounded by admirers."
"I think not, my dear, though you may suffer that fate. Could you not make this a little higher?" he asked as he traced the neckline with his finger.
"You do not like it?" Lizzy inquired.
"I like it only too well," was his reply. Lizzy looked at Darcy and said "I do not think Jane will mind if we show up late."
"How late?" he ask, as his lips started to retrace the route his finger had took.
"Very late," was Lizzy's last coherent thought.
They arrived at Jane's masquerade ball very late, indeed.
© 1997 Copyright held by the author.