Posted on: 2010-12-01
Darcy's figure was naught but a shadow in the raging storm, but the rain was unnoticed by him. His jaws clenched in anger, and his nails digging into his palms, he pushed the doors of Rosings open without ceremony, ignoring the frightened maid jumping out of his path. He stormed into the sitting room, looking like a wild man with hair dripping and eyes flashing.
"Good Lord Darcy, have you lost all sense of propriety?" Lady Catherine demanded loudly, properly offended by the untamed appearance of her nephew.
"I might ask the same of you! Have you no integrity? Will you ruin a family on a whim?"
"Ah," Lady Catherine pushed her breakfast plate aside and signaled to the maid to take it away. "I thought you might want to discuss this. We may as well be comfortable, get into some dry close and we can speak in privacy-"
"No! No, we will speak here and now, you will not shirk from this! You cannot hide behind your imperious façade!" Darcy continued to yell rather than speak, his teeth grinding in anger.
"If you insist," Lady Catherine replied coolly.
"I assume the affair you are referring to is that regarding the Bennet family," She spit the name out disdainfully. "I have always prided myself in being direct. I tried to prevent you from making the most foolish decision of your life by other means, but to no avail. You would not follow the counsel of one older and wiser than you. I only had one option left, which I acted upon Sunday last. As I'm sure you know, rumors spread like wildfire, and I was able to expose the girl while salvaging your reputation. So do not continue in your ungratefulness Fitzwilliam Darcy. Surely now you can understand how lucky you are to be in this present situation rather than the disaster you had planned for yourself."
Darcy seethed with rage, so much that he was unable to speak for a few moments. When he did, it was in a dangerous whisper.
"I am sure you will be grateful enough for the both of us, Madame. Thankfully, I will not have to deal with this gratefulness any longer. I am leaving now. Feel no obligation to contact me again. You may consider the present situation to be the disowning of a nephew, while I can consider it the disowning of an Aunt."
With that, Darcy turned from his mother's sister, oblivious to her screeches of protest. He felt curiously like a caged bird, stretching his wings for the first time. Without family obligations, he was free. Free to associate with whomever he deemed appropriate. Free to go where he chose. Free to marry whomever he wished.
Posted on: 2010-12-05
The Bennet family sat quietly, with the exception of Mrs. Bennet. Her distress was expressed by exclamations of protest, and complaints of nerves.
"The neighbors have no compassion for my poor nerves! How could they be so spiteful? Kitty and I ran into Mrs. Long today at Meryton, and she had the nerve to turn up her nose at me and whisper to her daughters that they should not associate with the likes of us!"
"Considering she spoke in a whisper," Mr. Bennet sounded much aged, and weary of his wife's antics, "it is a wonder you heard her so clearly."
"She is a loud, obnoxious, vulgar woman. Her whisper could be heard a mile off, I'm sure," Mrs. Bennet sniffed, sounding very true to her own description. "How they do talk so. I was sure when Lydia was married that everything should be right again, but it seems that someone has been running their mouth. I would not be surprised if it was that odious man, Mr. Darcy. I had it from Lydia that he was at her wedding, and he has always has something against our family."
"I'm sorry, I have a terrible headache, I must excuse myself," Lizzy mumbled as she stood from the sofa and retreated up the stairs as quickly as her dress would allow, keeping her face turned away from the room.
Jane opened the bedroom door to find Lizzy, holding in her hand Darcy's tattered letter. Lizzy had spent many a sleepless night in scrutinizing perusal by candlelight, and now she sat limply on the bed, tears running down her pale cheeks.
"Oh Lizzy," Jane rushed to her sister's side and kneeled beside the bed, taking Lizzy's hands in her own.
"I couldn't-couldn't listen to Mama being s-so unfair," Elizabeth managed between tears. "Mr. Darcy, who we owe so much to - so m-much more than we could ever repay. I confess I held hopes of a renewal of his proposal-at Pemberly I was so very surprised at his excessive civility towards myself and our aunt and uncle-I was so sure-so hopeful," At this, a fresh flood of tears prevented her from continuing, and sobs racked her body. Jane, bewildered by this sudden outpour of feelings, knew not what to think, but put her arms around her sister.
"My hopes are qu-quite hopeless now. It was hard enough for him to propose the first time, when our family had nothing but poverty to disgrace us." Elizabeth's breathing grew steadier, and her face, though it remained pale, set in silent resignation.
Colonel Fitzwilliam sat at his desk with his head held in his hands. He sighed deeply and scanned the letter, as he had been doing for the last hour and a half. Drinking a gulp of brandy, he took out a piece of paper from his desk and began to write:
Posted on: 2010-12-08
Darcy entered Colonel Fitzwilliam's private study with none of his usual expectation of pleasure.
"Darcy, you got my letter then?"
"As I said, I would rather discuss this in person. I…I hope you understand my position. Unlike you, my small inheritance could easily be taken away."
Darcy jerked his head to indicate comprehension, but remained unreadable.
"If I sided with you Darcy, you do realize I would more than likely be completely disinherited. I am unfortunately not at liberty to act on my convictions as you are."
"Quite so. Will you be able to remain neutral though? Will you not be forced to disown one or the other?"
"If the time comes, I promise you I will inform you of my decision before I announce it."
Darcy nodded regretfully.
"And what of Georgiana?"
"If they insist on taking her away from you, I think I will have to side with you, for her sake if nothing else. I can only hope that, if it comes to that…."
"You will always be welcome at Pemberly, you know that. If it must come to that, you will find a home with us for as long as it is needed."
"I do want you to know though, I admire your strength and support your decision, albeit from a distance. Miss Elizabeth is a lucky woman indeed, to have your affections." Fitzwilliam said earnestly.
The cousins embraced, each understanding the other's decision, each hoping what they discussed need not come to pass.
Bingley did not look up from his work as he heard Darcy come in.
"Really Darcy, if you have come to dissuade me from returning to Netherfield, I beg of you to give it up now. I shan't be moved," He signed his letter with flourish and at last looked up.
"Darcy, are you quite all right? You're Cheshire grin is scaring me a bit."
"Never been better," Darcy stated firmly, unsuccessfully trying to suppress his smile.
Bingley turned to face his friend completely, and, crossing his arms across his chest, asked, "Alright then, out with it man. What is it?"
"I was wondering if I might accompany you to Netherfield. I know I should not invite myself, but I thought that if I explained my reasons, you might agree."
Bingley gave an impatient nod.
"As you might recall, I was an ardent admirer of Miss Elizabeth Bennet during the time we spent in Hertfordshire. I confess, my desire to separate myself from her and the danger she presented to me contributed to my zealous attempts of convincing you to return to London," Darcy added apologetically. He continued, ignoring the displeased expression on Bingley's face. "It may surprise you that I declared myself to Miss Elizabeth when our paths crossed at Kent. I was most fervently refused, to my chagrin, but, with the exception of Wickham's lies, the accusations she threw at me were not without foundation. Against the laws of propriety, I gave her a letter defending my past with Wickham as well as addressing your separation from Miss Bennet. When I happened upon her taking a tour of Pemberly with her aunt and uncle less than a month ago, little time was in her company was granted me, as news came from Longbourne concerning Miss Lydia's elopement with Mr. Wickham. You know that story, so I will not waste time by retelling it. Wednesday last, news of the most alarming nature reached me. Despite her marriage, Miss Lydia's elopement had been exposed. I went through great pains to trace the rumor back to its source, which I found to be the housekeeper at Rosings. I knew, without a doubt that my dear Aunt was behind this, and confronted her. To be quite frank, I have disowned any connection with her, and intend to return to Hertfordshire and attempt to win the heart of Miss Elizabeth, however long it takes. I am full aware of the consequences that much come with such an alliance, especially after Lady Catherine's malicious gossiping, but the contempt of the ton would be nothing compared to the love of Miss Elizabeth." Mr. Darcy stopped pacing and turned to Bingley, who sat in a state of shock.
"Darcy," Bingley spoke at last, with all the excitement of a pleased child. "My good man! Of course you may accompany me. Think Darcy, we shall be brothers!"
The friends seated themselves comfortably, their faces wearing matching grins. When the excitement subsided however, more painful subjects must be addressed.
"Can nothing be done about your Aun-- Lady Catherine?"
"I'm afraid not. She has done nothing illegal, and is therefore out of the law's hands," Darcy said gravely.
Bingley shook his head sorrowfully. Though he had not so much as considered altering his intentions towards Jane, he was sad to think how the disapproval of her friends must be affecting her.
"What if we countered with our own rumor?" Bingley's face brightened with sudden inspiration. "Could we not…expose Wickham?"
Darcy's eyes darkened at the suggestion.
"Darcy, consider. Which is more important, the reputation of your love or your misplaced pride?"
"How much do you suggest--revealing?" Darcy's voice was somewhat strangled.
"Your sister need not be mentioned," Bingley said softly.
After several minutes of painful decision, Darcy gave a curt nod. Bingley placed a comforting had on his shoulder and they embraced.
"Remember, it is for your Elizabeth."
"Have you heard about the youngest Bennet daughter? I have it from a trustworthy source that her marriage was not so respectable as it was thought," Mrs. Long confided eagerly, excited at the prospect of being able to retell such a wonderfully scandalous story.
"Yes, I have. However, I also heard from a trustworthy source that the poor dear was deceived most appallingly. It seems Mr. Wickham was not the friendly man we thought him to be, or rather, too friendly. I can't rightfully blame the girl, we were deceived ourselves," Mrs. Lucas smiled inwardly at the horrified look on Mrs. Lucas's face. "I am sure she thought they would be married immediately."
Less than an hour later, Mrs. Long walked home with her eldest daughter, annoyed at being bested by Mrs. Lucas, who hardly gossiped at all.
"Mr. Bennet, I have but just heard from Mrs. Phillips! Mr. Bingley is to return to Netherfield Park in less than a fortnight! Is it not happy news?"
"I do not pretend to know," Mr. Bennet replied drolly.
"Oh, how tiresome you are Mr. Bennet. You know of course, you must visit him; it is only polite."
"Quite! Last time I was told to visit him, I was promised that he would marry one of my daughters, yet here they all are, unmarried, with the exception of the very silliest."
"How you abuse your daughters Mr. Bennet!"
"As far as I knew, I abused only one, who quite deserved it."
"Oh Mr. Bennet!" was all his lady could manage for a full minute as she composed her thoughts. "But Mr. Bennet," said she, with an uncharacteristic flash of cleverness, "there is still time, Mr. Bingley could propose yet!"
Mr. Bennet responded with a grunt, a turn of the newspaper, and a rather large bite of biscuit.
Mr. Darcy's sweaty hands clenched and unclenched themselves on their own accord as he sat uncomfortably in the carriage.
"Why Darcy, I do believe you are nervous!" Mr. Bingley made an astute observation.
Mr. Darcy gave a pained look.
"Good man," Bingley clapped his friend on the back, "I must say, I never thought I'd see you uneasy over a woman. Now you know how I have felt for most of my life!"
"I rather think I will go for a ride as soon as we arrive," Darcy said, consoling himself with the prospect of good exercise.
Elizabeth was in quite a woeful mood, dwelling on Mr. Darcy and what must be his opinion of her. If only someone had bothered to check Lydia's wantonness! Surely she had ruined any respectable marriage prospects of her sisters'. "And ruined Mr. Darcy's regard for me, or whatever had been left of it," She thought bitterly to herself. Taking an unnecessarily long and heavy-footed leap over a puddle, Elizabeth found her now wet shoes to be a burden to wear and subsequently removed them. Just as she brushed a long curly lock of hair out of her face, the very subject of her musings appeared on a dark grey mare. Elizabeth's face reddened considerably as she realized how she must look.
Darcy was caught off guard. He had not expected to see her so soon. His own embarrassment was soon checked however, when her took in Miss Bennet's appearance. Her cheeks were rosy from what he thought to be the exertion of her exercise. A few of her unruly curls spilled out of her haphazard up do, and…her pink toes peeked out from under her dress.
"Miss Bennet," Darcy greeted breathlessly as he dismounted.
"What are you doing here?" Elizabeth blurted out. Realizing the impropriety of her question, she curtseyed. "Mr. Darcy."
"I'm--here with Bingley," Darcy explained with effort, "For the shooting."
"Oh. Yes of course," Lizzy wrung her hands nervously. What he must think of me! She thought to herself, panicking. "I'm so sorry, I did not expect to see anyone out here," she gestured wildly to her attire.
"I assure you, Miss Bennet, it quite escaped me--you look remarkably well," the words escaped his mouth unchecked, leaving him rather pink in the face.
Miss Bennet was quite taken aback by this statement, and found herself incapable of speech, instead blushing furiously. Happily (or perhaps unhappily), each was too embarrassed to notice the other's discomfort.
Mr. Bingley saved the pair from their awkward tete-a-tete, as he had come to find Darcy.
"Miss Elizabeth, it is certainly good to see you again!" Bingley greeted warmly with a bow.
Elizabeth curtseyed low, stepping on the hem of her dress in order to conceal her bare feet. Tactfully, Bingley asked for a private word with Darcy, giving Miss Elizabeth a moment to compose herself.
When the gentlemen turned back around, Darcy offered the lady an arm while Bingley led the two horses.
"Allow us to escort you home, Miss Elizabeth," Mr. Bingley said, smiling widely.
"Thank you sir, I did not realize how late it was getting," said she, taking the proffered arm gratefully.
They walked to Longbourne, engaged in polite, though somewhat meaningless conversation, each asking after whom they did not think of, and thinking of what they failed to speak of.
The unexpected guests were sure to excite rather mixed feelings, as one was liked enormously and the other rather resented. Mrs. Bennet welcomed Mr. Bingley with embarrassing warmth and greeted Mr. Darcy with nothing more than a civil curtsey and hello. Elizabeth was mortified by this obvious and misplaced snub, and tried her best to save Mr. Darcy from the cool comments of her mother and the strange whispers of her sisters. Mr. Darcy himself was more at ease in the company than he had previously been, feeling that if his own Aunt could not dissuade him from pursuing Elizabeth, her own family certainly would not.
"How is Miss Georgiana? I am sorry I was not able to see her again before I left Derbyshire," Lizzy asked Mr. Darcy, in an attempt to distract him from Mrs. Bennet's alarming nature.
"She is well, thank you. Though she sorely missed you, she is hopeful that you will visit her in town next time you are with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner."
"I should like that very much indeed," Elizabeth said with full honesty. Such amiable conversation could not come as anything less than a very pleasant surprise, and the evening was spent in great happiness on her part.
Posted on: 2011-04-26
In the parlour of a lavishly furnished, expensively decorated London townhouse, a violently distressed Lady Catherine was seated in a rigid, straight-backed chair, desperate to make her opinions widely known.
"He cannot seriously mean to pursue her!" she insisted once again.
"Has he not disowned his own family?" Lord Fitzwilliam said with a weary sigh. "I imagine we may safely assume that he is, in fact, serious."
"But this is not to be bourne! Such low, vulgar connexions can have no part in this family!"
"Hence, the estrangement."
Lady Catherine glared at her brother, sensing the sarcasm in his voice. Choosing to ignore it, she continued her rant.
"Surely he will come to his senses--he cannot be so totally lost to us." said she, intent on convincing herself.
"My dear sister, you seem to be having trouble comprehending--he is not longer any relation of ours," Lord Fitzwilliam stated firmly.
"What on earth is your meaning? Surely you do not intend to make this public! Why, It will be nothing short of a scandal!"
Fitzwilliam Darcy sat at breakfast with no appetite. Despite never being one to show his feelings, he was having unusual trouble keeping a grin off of his face.
"Did you sleep well, sir?"
"Hm?" Darcy looked up to see his valet smiling knowingly. "Er yes, Thomas--Quite."
"The country air does well for you, sir."
"I daresay it does," Darcy chuckled. He quite liked the scenery.
"The mail, sir."
He took the letters, thanking and dismissing his valet. Recognizing his cousin's handwriting, he broke open the seal and pulled out one sheet of paper. It was brief and hastily written.
Lady Catherine and my Father have begun their interrogation. I have yet to give them my full position, and would greatly appreciate it if you were to come to London at your earliest convenience. Georgiana's guardianship has indeed been called into question. Obviously they may not take any legal action, but the whole of your family agiainst you does indeed create a formidable quandary. However, they are anxious to avoid any scandal or publicity--that is to your advantage. If you come, send an express back indicating the time of your arrival.
Darcy frowned--he had certainly expected this letter, but it unexpectedly called into question his cousin's stance on the matter. Family against you. Having no time to waste, he immediately set off to make preparations for departure.
Elizabeth took extra care in her dressing the next morning with the full expectation of a pleasurable day. The Netherfield gentlemen had accepted Mrs. Bennet's dinner invitation on the previous evening. She went on her usual after breakfast stroll, especially grateful for the exercise, due to her inexplicably restless feelings. She had not walked half a mile before spotting Mr. Bingley's carriage on the road. Surely he is early.
"Miss Bennet!" called the good sir from a distance.
Elizabeth waved sweetly, sure that he had not found it in his power to stay away from dear Jane.
"Good morning, Miss Bennet," he greeted as he stepped out of the carriage.
"Mr. Bingley," she curtsied. "To what do we owe the pleasure? I hope you still plan to come to supper,"
"I certainly do, but I am afraid that I am to be the bearer of bad news," he said with a joking look of gravity. "Darcy has been called away to town on urgent business, and asked me to send his apologies."
Elizabeth felt a small jolt of disappointment, but kept her easy smile.
"Sad indeed, but I am sure we are all happy to keep your company."
"I greatly appreciate Mrs. Bennet's hospitality," he said with a gallant bow.
"Would you like to go in and tell them your self, or would you like me to do it? I'm sure you are very busy, and no one likes to carry another's excuse," she smiled.
"I thank you, Miss Bennet, you are very gracious. As much as I would like to see your family, I do have business to attend to before this evening."
And so Mr. Bingley left, only to return later that day. Elizabeth found all of the anticipated joy to be absent, perhaps gone to town with Mr. Darcy. "Inconstant, changeable man! I shall think no more of him," thought she to herself. Yet, that night as she lay in bed, her thoughts dwelled on no other subject.