Posted on Saturday, 25 November 2000
What had he just said?!? He had proposed marriage to her! Lizzy was shocked! She could not believe it. It was impossible! All those times she had thought him to be judging her...he was actually admiring her!? It was just too amazing.
But then she thought back on his proposal. He had insulted her family, her friends, and the person he said he loved: herself! All in one "ardent confession of love"! How could anyone accept such a weak proposal? No matter how rich he was. She prepared to shoot back a cold, hard rejection--until she thought harder. She knew why she would refuse him. There were two reasons: him ruining her sister's happiness, and Wickham's future. But why would he do that? She knew there was only one way to find out so she could know the truth. She had to ask him.
"Mr. Darcy. I cannot give you an answer to your proposal (a very weak proposal, if I might add) until I know the answers to all the questions that I have about yourself." Well, Mr. Darcy was the one to be shocked now. She had told him he had a very "weak" proposal. He thought back on what he had wanted to say, and what he did say. The two were very different, he was horrified to remember. He then recalled that she wanted to ask him questions about himself so that she could get a better understanding of him. His shock turned to even more love for this Miss Elizabeth Bennet. He realized she was still waiting for his reply.
"Of course, Miss Bennet, I would be delighted to answer all your questions that I can." He could barely believe he was actually consenting to her idea. The old Mr. Darcy would have stormed off. But he settled back into a chair and waited for her to continue.
Lizzy was almost pleasantly surprised at Mr. Darcy's kindness and amiability. But remember, she told herself, that was only one amiable sentence out of his mouth. You should not judge him too quickly.
"Very well, Mr. Darcy. The first question I have for you is this: why did you keep Mr. Bingley away from my sister, Jane? I know you have done it, so do not attempt to deny it." She said, a bit of her old anger coming up anew after remembering what he had done.
Mr. Darcy was confused as to how she had found out. But he decided to refrain from asking her and answered.
"Miss Bennet, let me start off by saying this: if you saw your beloved sister fall in love with a man who looked indifferent to her, would you allow this love of hers to continue, just so she could break her heart?" Lizzy was taken aback. So that was why he had kept his friend away. He thought Jane to be indifferent to him!
"Mr. Darcy, in a case such as this, I know that I would keep her away from this man whom she loved but received no love in return. However, I know that you are saying you thought my sister was indifferent to your friend and so kept him away. But Mr. Darcy, why would you assume her feelings? And why would you even bother to meddle in your friend's business? Are his concerns yours as well?" She asked with a hint of anger rising up again.
"Is your sister in love with my friend?" He asked her after a slight pause.
"Pardon me?" She asked him. Could it be...is he trying to correct his ways?
"I asked you if your sister is in love with Mr. Bingley." Lizzy paused, then answered.
"Well, yes, she is. She told me herself." Mr. Darcy sighed, and looked extremely mad with himself.
"Miss Bennet, then the only thing left for me to do is to tell Mr. Bingley and let him make his own decisions about the subject. And apologize to you."
"To me? Why? It is my sister's concern, not mine--"
"Yes, but Miss Bennet, I know you love your sister very much, and whatever makes her happy, makes you happy. And so, in ruining her happiness, I ruined yours as well, in a way. And therefore I feel I must apologize to you for this. Miss Bennet, I am sorry for it." He apologized to her from the bottom of his heart. He knew he still loved her. And so he could speak truthfully to her.
Lizzy was flattered at his apology. She knew it wasn't a fake; she had seen his expressions in his dark eyes. They spoke of true admiration. However, despite this new Mr. Darcy that she desperately wanted to get to know better, a thought was tugging at her mind. It was Mr. Darcy's association with Wickham.
"Mr. Darcy, I truly accept your apology and I do forgive you. I am glad that there is more to you than meets the eye. However, there is one more question I have to ask you."
"Pray continue, Miss Bennet."
"Very well. It is your association with Mr. Wickham. He has told me that you have denied his wanted living, even against your father's wishes. Can you enlighten me on this subject?" She asked him calmly. Inside she was hoping that all that Wickham had said about Mr. Darcy was not true. She prayed to God that it wasn't. Everything was getting too promising.
Mr. Darcy was shocked yet again, then angered at Wickham for spreading such awful lies, especially to the one he loved. He instinctively got up and paced. He decided that Elizabeth deserved to know all. 'All' as in including the part about his sister. So he sat down again, looked her straight in the eyes and related to her all of his dealings with Mr. Wickham.
Lizzy was surprised, angered, embarrassed, and above all, happy. It had turned out all her bad accusations of Mr. Darcy were incorrect, and she was glad of it. She knew right now that she could learn to love him, in time, of course. She decided to talk to him about her new feelings.
"Mr. Darcy, I...I don't know what to say...but thank you. For being patient with my impertinence and answering all my questions truthfully. I know not many who would have done that, and well, thank you. My opinion of you has changed greatly. In fact, now you are now not a bad person at all." She said with a smile. Mr. Darcy looked a bit hopeful to her, and he smiled back. She liked how he looked when he smiled. It brightened up his features a bit. "As to my answer to your proposal, the only thing I can say is this: I cannot say yes or no just yet. I do not know enough of you, that is, the real you, for me to answer truthfully. However, I believe, with time," she said this with a sparkle in her eyes, "I could learn to love you. I know I already am in danger of it." She said with a little laugh. Mr. Darcy thought he could love her no more. Not only had he gained her good opinion, he had almost secured her hand, as well! Only a few more obstacles in the way. He knew he could conquer this.
"Then, Miss Bennet, will you allow me to court you?" He asked with gleaming hope.
"Of course I shall, Mr. Darcy. And you had better do a good job of it too, or else..."she said with mock ferociousness. He laughed heartily, and got up.
"Then I shall say farewell to you for now, Miss Bennet."
"And I shall do the same to you." He kissed her hand a bit longer than propriety allowed, but she did not care. She only saw love in his eyes. He bid adieu, and left.
During the next couple of months, Mr. Darcy and Lizzy managed to see quite a lot of each other. They learned to respect each other, laugh with each other, and even cry with each other. And eventually, Lizzy learned to love Mr. Darcy equally as much as he loved her. She accepted him after his beautiful, heartfelt proposal, and they lived happily ever after (awww, how traditional!). And they had Lizzy to thank for it, only because she didn't act on her feelings, but decided to try to understand.