Darcy Saga Characters: The Marquis of Orman
Continuing on with the series delving into the many secondary characters inhabiting the nine novels and one novella comprising The Darcy Saga. It is fun for me to revisit the plethora of pivotal, important characters interacting with the main characters. Hopefully it is a fun endeavor for all of you too!
These introspective and excerpt laden posts are publishing in order, more or less, based on when the characters are introduced in the novels. If the previous four posts were missed, I encourage reading them first.
For an overview of the vast number of characters within The Darcy Saga, visit the Characters page for lists for each novel and the extensive family tree I created. Additionally, the Portrait Gallery has images for each principle character.
The majority of the characters I created over the course of writing the ten volumes of The Darcy Saga were friends and extended family members, along with a couple of future spouses for the unattached Bennet sisters, staff and servants. Not all were fleshed out and aside from a handful of notable exceptions, they were presented as decent people harboring no ill intentions or nefarious plans. I rather like it that way, what with being the “happily-ever-after” gal that I am. Nevertheless, I am a realist so well aware that not all people are good. In fact, far too many are downright evil, at least to some degree. Moreover, no matter the desire for saccharine sweet, a story really needs a villain or two to enhance the excitement and realism.
Marquis of Orman
Way back in 2006 when I began writing, I knew my story would lean heavily toward the sweet side. The goal of presenting a fulfilling marriage and realistic life for the English upperclassman during the Regency period has always been my top priority, and let’s face it, even today most people go through life facing mundane challenges without anything truly horrible happening to them. Praise God! And by “truly horrible” I mean the ultra dramatic, world-ending trials that make for an awesome action flick and edge-of-your-seat thriller novel. I didn’t want to write that kind of story for Darcy and Elizabeth, so to be honest, adding a life-and-death situation wasn’t high on my list.
Eventually, however, I came to the realization that my story did need a bit of heightened drama. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, I wanted to stretch myself as an author. Could I write an intense scene and delve into the dark turmoil that ensues? I shall let others judge the scenes for themselves and how well I succeeded, but I think I did a fabulous job!
Now, while maybe a tad cliché, in my mind a dramatic event needed a villain. Using Mr. Wickham was too obvious, IMO. I ended up going that route in later books as Wickham is too important within Austen’s canon to ignore completely, but for my first foray I wanted someone new. I no longer remember where his name came from, although I do know I chose the French “marquis” as opposed to the English “marquess” because I wanted him to be mysterious and pretentious. It is historically accurate, by the way, as the French spelling wasn’t unusual in the UK.
In the fifteenth chapter of Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – titled “Twelfth Night” – Darcy and Elizabeth attend the annual masquerade ball hosted by Sir John Cole at Melcourt Hall. This happens to be Lizzy’s first formal introduction to Derbyshire Society (not counting a few private dinners with Darcy’s close friends), so naturally an important occasion. She meets Lord Orman during dinner, the designated seating arrangement placing her diagonally across from her husband and beside the Marquis, who is described as, “a handsome man perhaps a year or two older than Darcy, unmarried and charming.” Initial conversation between Lizzy and Orman is light and engaging, a positive Lizzy appreciates. The first unsettling glimmer is shared in the excerpt below.
“Mrs. Darcy,” Lord Orman said, “I understand you are from Hertfordshire?”
“Yes, My Lord, you have heard correctly. Are you familiar with the region?”
“Not much, I confess. I have traveled through on my way to London; however, I have not tarried in the area. Do you miss your home?”
Lizzy smiled. “I miss my family somewhat, but Pemberley and Derbyshire are my home.”
“Of course. Forgive me, Mrs. Darcy, I meant no offense.”
“Did you leave a large family behind?”
“Four sisters and my parents, as well as cousins. Fortunately, Meryton is not a great distance, and it is the lot of us women eventually to leave our parents for our new families. I am content.” Lizzy glanced at Darcy, who was apparently absorbed in his plate, but she noted the tiny crease between his brows and well knew what it signified.
“Of course.” Lord Orman continued. “Still it must be difficult to leave what you have always known for the unknown.”
“You would be mistaken, My Lord. It has not been difficult in the slightest. I am exceedingly comfortable here. The scenery and natural formations are widely diverse and majestic here in Derbyshire. Far more so than Hertfordshire, which is pastoral. Unfortunately the weather has not been kind enough to allow me the opportunity to explore as I would wish; however, this will be remedied in the spring.”
“Do you appreciate the out of doors then, Mrs. Darcy?”
“Oh yes, very much.”
“You ride, I presume.”
“Actually, not at all. I prefer to walk.”
He was taken aback, “How odd. A Darcy who does not ride. Who would have believed it? I would rather have imagined horsemanship a prerequisite for matrimony amongst the Darcys.” He seemed to be teasing but Lizzy found the comment a trifle rude. Apparently, her husband did as well.
“I fear you are hasty, Orman, in forming assumptions regarding the character of the Darcys.” He spoke softly but with an edge that Lizzy recognized as irritation and his eyes were a flinty blue. “A person’s caliber is not dependent on a particular accomplishment, nor can a host of accomplishments accurately illustrate one’s quality.”
It was a true statement voiced in a flat tone, but Lizzy, who knew her husband so well, understood he was casting aspersions. Orman knew it also, and there was a moment of silence before he laughed, “Touché, Darcy.”
As they stood to leave the table, Lord Orman leaned close to Lizzy and said softly, “I hope I did not offend, Mrs. Darcy. You appear an intelligent young woman and I enjoyed our conversation. I would like to be counted a friend.”
Lizzy was terribly uncomfortable and momentarily at a loss. Darcy, she noted quickly, was on the other side of the table speaking with his aunt, apparently unaware of Lord Orman’s attention. Lizzy took a step backwards, smiled pleasantly, and met his eyes frankly. “Thank you for the compliment, Lord Orman. I can assure you that whomever my husband counts as a friend is also a friend of mine. As I am a new inhabitant of the area, I am leaving these decisions to him. It is far too easy to arrive at swift and errant judgments.”
Lord Orman bowed and retreated slightly but continued undeterred, “Would I be too bold to ask if I may secure your hand for a dance set, Mrs. Darcy? Or does Mr. Darcy make those decisions for you as well?”
Lizzy was stunned, a ready retort on her lips, but they were both startled by Darcy’s deep voice. “Mrs. Darcy is free to fill her dance card with whomever she chooses.” He stood next to her, towering over Orman by at least five inches, calm, and impassively gazing at the Marquis as he offered his arm to Lizzy.
Lizzy smiled brightly at her husband as she placed her hand on his arm, and then turned to Orman. “Thank you, Lord Orman; however, all dances are promised to my husband, by my choice.” She curtseyed and he bowed.
“Perhaps another time then, Mrs. Darcy. Mr. Darcy.” He bowed again and moved away.
“Interesting man,” Lizzy commented sardonically.
“He is a scoundrel, Elizabeth. I cannot fathom what Sir Cole was thinking to seat him at the head table, and close to me. He knows we despise each other.”
“As bad as all that?” She said with an arch smile. “You must fill me in, William! I am becoming quite enamored with the local gossip.”
He looked at her in shock and then, seeing a feigned vapid expression on her face, he laughed. “Perhaps, darling, you should steer clear of Mrs. Cole and her cronies for the remainder of the evening. They are corrupting your good sense.”
Later that evening, a second encounter with the Marquis of Orman did not end as politely. After several turns on the dance floor with her husband, Darcy went in search of refreshments, leaving Elizabeth resting on a seat in a quiet corner.
“You dance the waltz as if born to do so, Mrs. Darcy.”
The voice jolted her out of her reverie and she looked up into the eyes of the Marquis of Orman. “My Lord, forgive me. I did not see you approach.”
“It is I who should beg forgiveness, Madame. I believe I interrupted your rest. You must be fatigued after such a vigorous dance.” He was smiling strangely and peering at her far too boldly for comfort.
“This would be twice tonight you have been mistaken, sir. I am not fatigued. Merely catching my breath and capturing a moment of solitude until Mr. Darcy returns with our refreshments.”
“Ah, so he is to return. Pity. I was rather hoping he had deserted you. May I?” He indicated the empty side of the sofa, but without waiting for an invitation, he sat and leaned toward Lizzy. “Are all the women of Hertfordshire as beautiful as you, Mrs. Darcy? If so, I must travel there immediately. Perhaps I shall be as fortunate as Darcy.”
Lizzy recognized with alarm that the Marquis was inebriated. She did not wish to make a scene nor to have Darcy discover him here. She glanced around quickly and did not see her husband’s towering form anywhere near. “I appreciate the compliment, Lord Orman. However, I believe it improper for you to offer it and to be sitting so close to me. Please stand a pace away, sir.”
“Beautiful and spirited, too. I can understand why Darcy married you. The Monk of Pemberley found his match, and the heart of every young maiden in England was broken.”
Elizabeth was furious. “Marquis, I will overlook this hideous breach of manners for the sake of peace at these festivities and because I deem you are not fully in charge of your faculties. I will not, however, sit here and listen to you any further. Please excuse me.” She stood to leave but he grasped her wrist tightly.
“Orman! You will unhand my wife this instant, or I promise you will not live to see the light of day.” One glance at Darcy’s enraged face and Orman flinched, releasing Lizzy’s hand as if it were on fire. Darcy was livid, visage dark and perilous, flinty eyes boring into Orman with a chilling intensity. Without blinking or removing his glare, he handed the cups to Elizabeth. “My dear, take these and find Lady Matlock. I will join you momentarily.” His voice was calm but colder than Lizzy had ever heard it. She took the cups and left without a word. A backward glance revealed Darcy firmly and ruthlessly propelling the unresisting Marquis out of the hall.
Fortunately, Darcy managed the situation without creating an uproar, the entertaining night ending peacefully. Weeks passed into months, neither of them wasting a moment thinking about the rude marquis. As it turns out, Lord Orman had not forgotten, and when chance presented the opportunity, he pounced. On a beautiful day in April, Lizzy set out on a quest to pick early-season dewberries, and on the way back to Pemberley she crossed the main road at the same time as the Marquis drove by. After a very brief exchange of pleasantries, Lizzy’s attempt to resume her walk was forestalled.
“Mrs. Darcy, may I offer the services of my carriage? It is warm today and you appear quite flushed.”
“I assure you I am fine and, if you remember, I revealed to you that I enjoy walking, so thank you, but no.” She took several steps before she realized that he was alighting from his vehicle.
“Mrs. Darcy,” he called to her and she stopped, “I would like to take this opportunity, if you will allow, to apologize for my behavior at the Masque. It was inexcusable and I am deeply remorseful. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
She glanced at him, flushing at the reference to that horrible event, and extremely uncomfortable. Nonetheless, Lizzy was by nature a forgiving person and, despite Darcy’s assertions as to the exact nature of Orman’s character, she wanted to believe he was truly repentant. She smiled slightly and again briefly met his eyes. “Let us not speak of that occasion, My Lord. It is best to put such unpleasantness behind us.”
“Excellent!” he exclaimed cheerfully, “Then, as all is forgiven, you can accept my offer for a ride. Come, Mrs. Darcy.”
“Again, thank you, sir; however, I honestly do prefer to walk. Good day, Marquis.” She curtseyed yet again and began to turn, flabbergasted afresh when he grasped her elbow firmly.
“I must insist, dear lady. Your feet are drenched with mud and your face is ruddy and perspiring. You appear unwell. What manner of a gentleman would I be to leave an ailing woman stranded on the roadside?” His smile was lecherous, and Lizzy was seriously apprehensive but also angry.
“Lord Orman, unhand me at once and leave me be. I wish to walk, and Mr. Darcy would certainly not be pleased to hear of your attentions.” She shook her arm but he tightened his grip painfully.
“Is Darcy the only man worthy of your attentions, Mrs. Darcy?” He roughly pulled her toward him while leaning into her body and she realized with dawning horror that he intended to kiss her! Without conscious contemplation, Lizzy acted. She resisted forcefully and swung the wooden bucket with astonishing velocity and accuracy, smashing it into his head. He yelled and released her elbow. Lizzy spun and bolted into the woods without a backward glance, dropping her bucket of purple berries on the road.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the story completely, but will give a wee hint: duel with swords. YES! Boy, was that fun to write! I encourage anyone who hasn’t read my novels to click over to Amazon (link above) to read the thrilling conclusion to this particular interaction with the dastardly Marquis of Orman.
For several reasons, I opted to leave the terrible Orman alive after the duel with Mr. Darcy. I did not have any idea of why, how, or when he would return —or even IF he would return— however I figured it was a waste of a good villain to take him out of the picture entirely!
Orman did, in fact, return and what happened the second time around was far, far worse than the first. These events are told in The Trouble With Mr. Darcy, the fifth novel in The Darcy Saga series. I shan’t give many details here, but the snippet below is his reintroduction, so to speak. After an unpleasant conversation with Mr. Wickham, Lizzy experiences a strange incident while on a walk with her sisters in Hertfordshire. Later that evening, she shares the troubling mystery with her husband.
“It is like a dream that seems so real when you first awake with heart pounding and the sensations vivid. But then the more you try to bring the images into precise focus they become hazier still and slither away until all that is left is an impression that lacks clarity or power. This is like that. I looked across the meadow to a parked carriage. It was just sitting there, alone, not ominous in the least. Then, for a breath of time only, I imagined I saw a face.”
She was staring into the distance, brows wrinkled with concentration. Darcy examined her closely, but she did not appear to be anxious. Rather she looked confused and mildly irritated. “I cannot think for the life of me why I would imagine him at that moment. There is no connection whatsoever, except that they are both men who have caused us pain in profound ways.”
“Who? Who did you imagine?”
She turned back to him, peering unblinkingly into his baffled eyes. “The Marquis of Orman.”
Darcy drew in a sharp breath, lips pressing together until nearly invisible, and the spasm that jerked through his jaw was marked. “Are you sure?” He choked out in a low growl.
“No! William that is the point! I am the exact opposite of sure. I could not describe what I think I saw if my life depended on it! That is what gave me a headache and has distracted me all night. Not Mr. Wickham, but the struggle to bring coherency to what is now only a vague impression of a person we shall never forget. I knew I had to tell you, but it does seem rather stupid since I cannot recall the tiniest detail that lends credence to speaking his name.”
“Yet his is the name that surfaced in your mind when you saw… whatever it is you saw. Why?”
“I do not know! Except that, if you examine it from a certain perspective, they are, as I said, men who have caused us pain. Perhaps on some unconscious level dealing with Mr. Wickham has unearthed frightening memories of Lord Orman.”
“Tell me what you saw, as much as you can recall.”
“A carriage, plain and nondescript, sitting on the road some distance away. No movement from the coachman. I did not think much of it initially. Then I detected movement from within. A hand, I think, holding a walking stick and tapping on the ceiling to alert the coachman. William, it truly was the barest glimpse. Perhaps not even that. Did I see a face? I want to say I did, but all I remember is pale flesh holding a cane, a flash of gold, and dark eyes. Orman’s name seared through my brain and I doubled over in pain. That part was real. The pain. But Alexander was there with dandelions, and Mrs. Hanford and Jane expressing concern, and as quickly as it was there it was gone. The carriage too. Lost in the dust and I saw nothing else.”
Darcy had risen from the sofa and was standing stiffly before the fire, his face etched with perturbation and fingers fidgeting. “You may judge it nothing of import, Elizabeth, but I do not. It has been years since your last nightmare of Orman. There is no logical reason for you to conjure his name or image unless something you saw in those fleeting seconds reminded you of him. Granted, that is not proof it was him, but I will not assume it of no consequence either. You are not typically a fanciful woman.”