Posted on Sunday, 18 July 2004
"Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat you not to suppose that I moved this way in order to beg for a partner", she says. I don't hear her at first, and entreat her, again, to dance with me. When she refuses a second time, a glint in her eye, I understand and am not a little shocked. What business has she to refuse me? I, who rarely dance, long to hold her in my arms. She ought to feel honoured. Then I realize she was sitting within earshot at the assembly last week, when I was abominably rude to her, and Bingley. I wish I'd have followed his advice, and just asked her to dance. If I'd done so she wouldn't have refused me just now. She has lovely eyes. I've been fantasizing about those eyes lately, wondering what they would look like hooded with desire, or simply shining in pleasure over a simple gift. She's gone to laugh with Miss Lucas. I hope it's not about me, but I suspect it is. I deserve it.
Sir William is trying to hold a conversation with me, so I nod, smile and try to be polite to him while he's holding a monologue next to my ear. He finally realizes I'm not listening, and moves away to his other guests. I walk to a window, taking a glass of wine with me. Instead of looking out, wishing myself anywhere but here, I turn towards the room to watch her. She is incredibly graceful. She weaves her way through a crowd effortlessly. I admire that in her. She is not studied in her grace, posing in such a way as to attract attention, but moves with the ease of someone in her natural environment. Her younger sisters romp, she glides. Perhaps she does her romping when she is alone.
I see Miss Bingley approaching from the right, and steel myself for the impending assault. She echoes her brother-in-law's assessment, and I want to yawn with boredom. I've heard it all before, and only really put up with her because she's unavoidable if I want to spend time with Bingley. I hope he marries soon. Georgiana could be an option, were she not so young. Miss Bingley is still droning in my ear about how tedious the evening is. I decide to shock her, and very deliberately let her know that she has no chance of me or Pemberley.
"Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow," I say. She looks at me, eyes and ears wide, waiting for a compliment that will never come. When she at last opens her mouth to ask who I mean, I answer. Her face crumples. I cannot but crow a little, inwardly, as I have a drink to hide my smile.
"How long has she been such a favourite? -- and pray, when am I to wish you joy?" she asks, trying to save face.
"That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy," I answer with a straight face.
"Nay, if you are so serious about it, I shall consider the matter as absolutely settled. You will have a charming mother-in-law, indeed; and, of course, she will be always at Pemberley with you." She continues in this vein for the rest of the evening, and I am saved from further contemplation of Miss Elizabeth Bennet's eyes and otherwise pleasing figure. Miss Bingley would have been happy to know that she was of service to me, so naturally I shall never tell her.