2.

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Author Note: 

Scene 2 is a short one. I was going to wait until I had the full chapter written, but I'm not the quickest of writers, so thought you might all appreciate a shorter update now, rather than waiting a week for a longer one. Enjoy!

2.

Mrs Bennet's prattling was brought to an abrupt halt as the carriage swung towards the side of the road before coming to a complete stop. "Oh dear heavens, Mr Bennet! Go speak with the driver. This simply will not do. There is no time for stoppages. Go speak with him at once, please, Mr Bennet."

Lizzie watched as Mr Bennet spoke with the driver. She could not hear the words, but from the hand gestures she concluded a problem had arisen with the carriage and they would not be travelling further without repairs.

"Come Jane," she lifted her sister's hand, once again squeezing to demonstrate support, "it cannot be more than a quarter mile left on the journey. If we walk now, we most certainly can make it in time for the service to begin."

After climbing down from the carriage, Lizzie turned to assist her sister from the vehicle, only to see Jane's exit blocked by Mrs Bennet. "Elizabeth Bennet! You cannot be suggesting that Jane walk to her wedding. I will not have it. Imagine, the fiance of one of the wealthiest men in the district, walking to her wedding. Good heavens above, the gossip would be unbearable."

Lizzie looked to Jane who responded with a subtle shake of her head. Never one to confront Mama, Lizzie could see Jane was resigned to the situation.

Frustrated, she decided to check on Papa and the driver, who were now discussing the problem on the other side of the carriage. As she stepped away from the carriage to make her way around, Lizzie heard a shout.

How she had missed hearing the thundering hooves of the horse being raced along the road, she could not understand. She managed to step back to avoid being hit, but was unable to avoid the splash of muddy water flicked up as the horse passed.

The rider slowed the beast only long enough to call back over his shoulder, "My apologies! Can't stop, I'm quite late for an appointment. I will send help once I reach the town."

For possibly the first time in her recollection, Lizzie found herself without a response. She could do nothing more than watch as the man, who was as handsome as he was arrogant, sped away.

Moments later, Lizzie was still standing in the road staring after the mystery rider. Now, however, she had found her words and was uttering every curse she knew under her breath. She looked down at her soiled gown. There was no way to disguise the marks across the front of the skirt. She uttered more curses.

"I'm sorry, my dears. It would appear a bolt has worked loose. An easy repair but it will take some time while the part is retrieved. Fear not, though. It is but a short walk left to town. We shall still have you there in time, my dearest Jane." Mr Bennet rounded the carriage and pulled up as he saw his second daughter, exceedingly pale but for the red flush of her cheeks.

"Lizzie? What are you doing out of the carriage?" He followed her gaze as she looked over her shoulder down the road towards town, before looking back and noting the state of her dress. "Dear lord, child. Pray, tell me you were not by the road when that insolent upstart raced by just now!"

In two long strides he made it to his daughter's side and took it upon himself to assess her for physical harm. "Did he strike you? Are you harmed?"

Lizzie shook her head. "I am a little shaken, but otherwise perfectly fine." She looked down. "My dress, though..."

"Elizabeth Bennet! Look at the state of you." With each statement, Mrs Bennet's voice grew more shrill. "Ruined, I tell you. First the carriage, and now this. The whole wedding is ruined. Oh, my poor Jane. She will never find another as good as Mr Bingley—"

"Enough, Fanny! Can you not see our daughter has had a great shock? Why, she could have been killed by that reckless rider." He looked again in the direction the rider had sped, as though the act itself would provide answers to the rider's identity.

From inside the carriage, Lizzie heard her sister's gasp. She rested her hand on her father's arm. "Papa, I am well. The only casualty of this situation is my gown, and poor Jane if we do not start walking now to get her to the church."

"Walking?" Mrs Bennet leaned so far out of the carriage, Lizzie was sure she was but moments from falling. "What nonsense are you speaking, Elizabeth? I already made it perfectly well known that Jane would not be arriving at her wedding on foot."

Mr Bennet reached up, ready to assist his wife from the carriage. "My dear Mrs Bennet, many a fine lady has arrived to her wedding on foot, and have ended their day happily married, just as Jane will today. Now come. As you said yourself, we would hate for Mr Bingley to believe himself the victim of a jilt."

Lizzie smiled to herself as she walked arm in arm the short distance left of the journey to town. Despite Mama's constant complaining, Jane would soon be wed to her Mr Bingley. Not even a handsome stranger riding so recklessly down the road would stand in the way of Jane's happiness. Not if Lizzie could help it.

A/N: Oooh, I wonder who that reckless handsome stranger could have been? And what has him in such a rush that he can't stop and provide assistance to the stranded family? Hmmm...

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