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Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 9

June 19, 2015 03:30PM
Chapter 43 –

Pemberley! Ah, how good it feels to ride the grounds of Pemberley! Nowhere on Earth am I more at ease than here. I can be myself again—once I clean up, that is. I am coated from head to toe by the dust of the road. I pass the pond and think a moment about it… and the moment passes. I am far too old to be swimming in a pond!

I stroll to the house from the stable, beating the dust from my coat. Mrs. Reynolds will surely be beside herself if I foul the front hall with dirt. I will just pop round to the back—

*** (Mind goes blank) ***

Elizabeth?

Elizabeth?

Good Lord! There, less than twenty yards away, is Miss Elizabeth Bennet! Here! At Pemberley!

I. Must. Move. Towards. Her. Tip your hat, you fool!

“Miss Bennet.” There, I said something. “I am pleased to see you.”

Wonder of wonders! Elizabeth is not fleeing. She is blushing! She says something—I cannot recollect what it is—and I do not give a particular damn! Elizabeth is here at Pemberley!

“How long has it been since you left Longbourn? Your family—they are well, I trust.”

She is more beautiful than ever. She talks of travel and houses and Matlock. She has seen Matlock? I wonder if the earl or countess were there. She likes Pemberley?

“Thank you. And your family, they are well?”

She smiles and I realize I had just repeated myself. I should feel a fool, but I do not care. She smiled. Not that teasing grin I saw at Hertfordshire and Kent, but a gentle, genuine smile. Does she smile at me or for me?

Her eyes study my attire, and I recall that I look a mess. I have to go clean up! “Pray excuse me.”

Moments later, I am barking orders for hot water and clean clothes like a madman, but I do not care. Elizabeth is here at Pemberley!

***

In record time I am washed and changed, and I go charging out the door again. I had realized that my abrupt leave taking might have been misunderstood. That cannot stand. I must see Elizabeth before she leaves! A footman directs me to the usual path from the gardens to the woods taken by visitors. Good, faithful man! I must remember to raise his pay!

Within moments I spy my quarry. Higgins, the gardener, is showing a small party about, and Elizabeth is with them. Half-way there, I note that the group had stopped by the stream, and Elizabeth’s eyes are on upon me. I grow closer, but it gives me no more insight into her feelings. Pain or of pleasure in seeing me, I cannot tell, but certainly she had not met me with composure. A bit of brush blocks my view, and suddenly I am before her.

Elizabeth speaks of the delight of the woods and the house. Words like “delightful” and “charming” float in the air, but all I can see is that she looks everywhere but at me. Is my presence painful to her? Does my past bad behavior haunt her still? Her companions, fool! Remember your manners! Ask to be introduced, you simpleton!

To my surprise I learn that this fashionable couple is actually her relations from Gracechurch Street. I knew that tradesmen were moving up in the world, but—oh, stop it, you prig! Mr. Gardiner seems a sensible fellow. I have vowed to change my ways, and here is a perfect opportunity to prove to Elizabeth that I have taken her reproofs to heart. How to start? Hmm, the way he is looking at the stream…

“Mr. Gardiner, do you have any interest in fishing?”

Ah! It seems I have found a fellow angler! It has been so long since I had company fishing my lakes and streams. Fitzwilliam is bored with the whole exercise, and Bingley cannot sit still. I have not fished with anyone since Father died and Wick—since Useless and I did as children.

“Please, sir, you must fish here as often as you chose while in the neighborhood,” I tell Mr. Gardiner. “The fish have been undisturbed far too long. I can provide whatever tackle you require.”

“Sir, this is too much!” the gentleman exclaims. “I cannot take such advantage of you.”

“It would be my pleasure. In fact, I would enjoy joining you, if you would allow it.”

“Allow it?” Mr. Gardiner looks wondrously at me. “Mr. Darcy, I would be honored to fish with you.”

“Then I take it matters are settled.” I realize a smile has grown on my face.

Just then, Mrs. Gardiner, begging fatigue, requests her husband’s attention. They assure me all is well, and I find myself in Miss Elizabeth’s presence. We walk for a time in silence, all the time I castrate myself for ignoring Mrs. Gardiner. Why, I hardly said two words together to the poor woman! Is this how a gentleman acts? What will Elizabeth think of me?

“Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth says. I look over, but her gaze is firmly on the path before us. “I must apologize for disturbing your peace. We all thought you gone from Derbyshire. We would never have intruded otherwise.”

Oh, Elizabeth! How right and proper you are! Visitors never came to houses of their acquaintances without an invitation if the owners were in residence. Still, if anyone in Britain can come and go to any of my houses anytime they wish, it is you. Do you not know this?

“I must say your arrival was unexpected,” she continued, “for your housekeeper informed us that you would certainly not be here till tomorrow. And indeed, before we left Bakewell, we understood that you were not immediately expected in the country.”

“That is so,” I assure her, “and I would not have disturbed you, but that I had business with my steward and rode ahead of my party. They will join me early tomorrow, and among them are some who will claim an acquaintance with you.” I pause. “Mr. Bingley and his sisters.”

I await her reaction with anxiety. Did she read my letter? Does she credit my explanation? She bows her head. Oh, how such a small movement can sooth a man’s soul!

“There is also one other person in the party who more particularly wishes to be known to you. Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay at Lambton?”

I had not planned to request a meeting between her and Georgiana, but the words leapt from my lips before I could think better of my presumption. A few months ago, Elizabeth said she hated me. Now I beg her to meet my sister. What will she say?

She is surprised, there is no mistaking that. But she does accept, in a rather rambling way. Might she be as uncomfortable as I? Perhaps she is, but I do not think she is displeased. At least, I hope not.

We walk for a time, my steps sharp, but my mind stupid. There seems an embargo on every subject. Finally, she talks of her travels. We fall into an easy conversation of Matlock and Dove-Dale, again proving her breeding better than mine. Here I am, a man she must despise, yet she goes out of her way to put me at ease. Oh, but if only I was worthy of such a woman!

We are far too soon at the house for my pleasure. I hope they will extend their visit to partake of refreshment in the house, but the offer is kindly declined. The politeness of their leave-taking is great, but it is with mixed feelings I watch them depart. Everything has gone better than I ever dreamed, but does Miss Elizabeth think better of me?

Hold—did Elizabeth just look back at the house? At me?

She did.

I smile.

Elizabeth has visited Pemberley.

Thank you, God.

***

Chapter 44 –

I sigh as I make myself comfortable in my curricle as we return to Pemberley, astonished over the events of the morning. How one’s life could change for the better in less than a day!

Less than two hours ago, Georgiana, the Bingleys, and the Hursts arrived at the mansion. No sooner than I could get Georgie alone did I broach the idea of calling on Miss Elizabeth, and doing it directly. Her surprise was great, but her happy agreement instantaneous.

We had just turned to collect her bonnet when we saw Bingley behind us. Apparently, he was escaping Caroline’s obnoxious raptures over Pemberley and came upon us on his way to the library. Not to read, of course; he knew that was a room never haunted by his sisters or brother. Having overhead our intention, he invited himself along, and I, having no great objection to his presence, agreed to suffer his company. I had my curricle prepared already in anticipation that Georgie would be agreeable to my scheme, and once Bingley picked out a horse, we were on the road in no time at all.

I was a little embarrassed over our rapturous reception by the innkeeper. One would think I had never been to Lambton before! True, I had not stepped foot in the inn in my life, but I would have no call to. It is not my fault that Pemberley boasts of two and ten fully furnished bedrooms. Why would my guests need to stay in the village?

Stop it, Darcy. Your Fitzwilliam pride is showing again.

Georgie and I were shown to the Gardiners’ room in quick order. Elizabeth’s relations proved that their superior manners were not of short duration, and Elizabeth greeted my sister with quiet kindness. It was just the thing to bring Georgie out of her shyness.

I stood back and let the two ladies most dear to me become acquainted. I drank in the happy sight, subject of many of my dreams, before I put myself forward and alerted Elizabeth to Bingley’s intention of calling. I was just in time, for a moment later the man himself was in the room. I admit to a bit of uneasiness; would his presence remind Elizabeth of my role in separating my friend from her sister? It seemed not; Elizabeth’s smile was easy as she listened to Bingley’s inquiry of her sisters.

Elizabeth did not often look at me, but when she did there was no censure in her expression. It seemed rather to be searching—for what I do not know. I decided my time was better spent in something more useful than staring like a love-sick cow, so I crossed to Mr. Gardiner to talk of fishing.

I could tell he was uncertain that my invitation to enjoy my lake and streams was sincere, and I cursed my countenance. Elizabeth certainly had the right of my hauteur! If I wish people to rightly understand me, I must drop my dratted armor and look my words. I insisted Mr. Gardiner come to Pemberley tomorrow, saying an expedition was planned for Bingley, Mr. Hurst, and me. He readily agreed to join us.

Note to myself: I must remember to inform Bingley and Hurst of my plans.

It was time to depart, and I whispered to Georgiana to invite the Gardiner party to dinner. She knew it was her duty, and rose above her timidity to pronounce the request. The Gardiners were surprised but agreed to the day after tomorrow.

I was disappointed with Elizabeth, however. I wanted to see her response, but she turned away. Was I wrong about her? Does she despise me still? I was a little hurt and fearful as we walked to the door, Bingley’s farewell ringing in the air, when Elizabeth spoke.

“Thank you so much for coming. It was delightful meeting you, Miss Darcy.”

That sweet voice! It would be easier to transform into a goat than stop my head from turning to behold that lovely face again. I caught her eye, and she blushed.

Blushed at me.

The weight of the world fell from my shoulders. I felt as light as a feather. I successfully tapped down an insane notion of throwing myself at her tiny feet, begging that she forgive all and allow me a chance of earning her favor. Instead, I nodded and escorted Georgiana to the curricle. We left and Georgie turned to me.

“Miss Bennet is so kind and pretty, brother. I hope she likes me.”

I smile. I hope she likes me too, Georgie.

***

Evening. I sit in my study, a stupid grin on my face, with a little note in my hand—a most wondrous note. It is from Mrs. Gardiner, but I am not fooled. This is a message from Elizabeth.

The note is a simple notice of Mrs. Gardiner’s and Miss Bennet’s intention of calling upon Georgiana tomorrow morning. Mrs. Gardiner wrote it, but this is from Elizabeth. Mrs. Gardiner would not dare come if Elizabeth were set against me.

I hold the note as if it were made of gold. This is the first tangible, physical evidence I have that Elizabeth does think better of me. No guesses, no opinions of looks and blushes. Objective, solid proof. Elizabeth wishes to visit my home and become friends with my sister while I am in company.

Damn! I have my chance!

I better not blow it.

***

To be continued…



Jack Caldwell
Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile
SubjectAuthorPosted

Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 9

Jack C.June 19, 2015 03:30PM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 9

Shannon KJune 23, 2015 08:18AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 9

Jack C.June 23, 2015 02:18PM

Oooops!

KarenteaJune 21, 2015 06:36PM

I don't think that Lizzy would be happy if Darcy does that ;-) (nfm)

GracielaJune 23, 2015 12:32AM

Well, he is hard on himself. (nfm)

Jack C.June 23, 2015 02:19PM

LOL! nfm

KarenteaJune 23, 2015 06:08PM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 9

ShannaGJune 19, 2015 06:14PM



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