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Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

July 10, 2015 01:05PM
Chapter 52 –

A fortnight after Bingley’s invitation, I find myself in my coach bound for Hertfordshire, a bundle of impatient nerves. My avowed purpose in traveling to Netherfield was to see whether Jane Bennet is still partial to Bingley. If she is, I shall relate all I know to him, confessing my part in separating him from his “angel.” He deserves to know all if he is to move forward. I hope it does not cost me my best friend.

But I fool myself. I know the real reason—to see Elizabeth Bennet again.

My head battles with my heart. Surely, Miss Elizabeth would want nothing to do with me, now that her sister is married to Useless—a marriage I could have prevented if only I had been more forthcoming. Lord knows what she would think if she knew I had actually arranged the blasted event!

That was just the point. Elizabeth does not know. Might I have a chance to engage her tender feelings if she remains ignorant of those facts for a short time? I know I have often said that disguise of any sort is my abhorrence, but for once, can I keep my big mouth shut long enough to earn Elizabeth’s affection? I want neither her gratitude nor her disgust. I want—need—her love.

But no matter what my desires are, it is Elizabeth’s that are paramount. I will not impose myself on her. She taught me a hard lesson and properly humbled me. How insufficient are all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased! I am a thousand times a fool! I shall do nothing, say nothing, unless Elizabeth makes it clear that she welcomes my company. Then, I shall act. Otherwise, I must accept my defeat like a gentleman.

I can scarcely dream to hope.

Blast! Cannot this carriage move faster?

***

Chapter 53 –

I straighten my jacket after I dismount before Longbourn. My stomach is sick due to my nervousness. I must steel myself to my duty. I am here for Bingley, not myself.

Bingley, of course, is trembling with uncertainty. It took him three days to work up his courage to visit. I half-feared he was going to turn back to Netherfield during our ride. Pale, he swallows hard, blinks, and knocks on the door. The servant answers immediately, no doubt alerted to our arrival, and shows us to the parlor without delay.

I fight mightily not to look for Miss Elizabeth as we are announced to the ladies. My efforts are so all-consuming I fail to say more than a few syllables. At Mrs. Bennet’s cold welcome, the only thing that comes to mind is to inquire about the Gardiners. I start at her puzzled expression. Of course she has no idea of the level of acquaintance I enjoy with her relations. Stupid man! Shut up! Do you want Elizabeth to know what you have done?

Bingley is hardly better. He mumbles and stumbles, his eyes all the time focused on Miss Bennet.

I give in to the siren’s call of my beloved and glance at Elizabeth. My heart sinks. She is bent over her work, her eyes never leaving her needle. Is she as nervous as I, or is it that she cannot bear to look at me? I cannot tell.

Mrs. Bennet is saying something about her youngest daughter and Straw For Brains.

“It is a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married! But at the same time, Mr. Bingley, it is very hard to have her taken such a way from me. They are gone down to Newcastle, a place quite northward, it seems, and there they are to stay; I do not know how long. His regiment is there, for I suppose you have heard of his leaving the ——shire and of his being gone into the regulars.” Her tone darkens. “Thank Heaven he has some friends, though perhaps not so many as he deserves.”

I cannot help flinch at the insult and turn to the window. I must control my temper. In a moment, I return to the company and focus on my resolution to observe Jane Bennet. At first, she seems the same—quiet, calm, receiving my friend’s attentions with pleasure but without any particular warmth. She is rather pale, though.

Then I see it. Her fingers are nervously working at her needlework. I observe further and note she is blinking more than I have ever noticed her do before. She is nervous, affected by strong emotion, I am certain of it. But what does it mean? Is it love or anger? Mortification or relief? Hope or despair? I am well versed with all of those emotions. It could be any or all or none.

Further study is warranted, but I will say this: Jane Bennet is not indifferent to Bingley.

Mrs. Bennet is continuing her nonsense.

“When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley, I beg you will come here and shoot as many as you please on Mr. Bennet's manor. I am sure he will be vastly happy to oblige you and will save all the best of the covies for you.”

Poor Elizabeth! I hope she does not suffer to hear such transparent matchmaking! But she will not look at me. My hopes are fading as fast as Bingley’s are rising.

I cannot leave this house soon enough.

***

Back a Netherfield, I am increasingly thankful that Bingley’s relations did not come to Hertfordshire with us. I must think, and that is best done alone in Bingley’s mostly bare library.

Mrs. Bennet invited us to dinner on Tuesday. Three more days before I see the Bennets again. The first part of my mission here is going well. The second part is not.

I am coming to the conclusion that I was wrong and Elizabeth was right about Jane Bennet. While that lady gives no overt clue as to her feelings, some little gestures and signs are there, if one takes the time to look for them. A light blush to the cheek. A widening of her eyes when Bingley is talking. She leans slightly forward, towards him.

On Tuesday, I expect to settle the matter once and for all.

As for Elizabeth, how am I to know what she is thinking and feeling if she will not speak to me, or for that matter, even look at me? Where is the courageous young woman who teased my fearsome aunt to her face? The charming, kind lady who graced Pemberley for too short a time?

I must have my wits about me.

***

Chapter 54 –

I sit in my room at Netherfield, brandy in hand, and bemoan the events of the day. The Bennets’ dinner was a disaster—a complete disaster.

I had hopes that I would have the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth, to learn whether she holds me responsible for her poor sister’s predicament. If she would give me half a chance, I would begin wooing her in earnest. I also planned to further my observations of Jane Bennet.

Nothing worked out as I hoped.

First, there were far too many people there. Apparently, Mrs. Bennet desired to prove her boast of knowing “five and twenty families” in the district, for it seemed she invited all of them. I could hardly move about the room.

Then, I found myself seated next to Mrs. Bennet, which was as far from Elizabeth’s side as could be arranged! At least she hardly spoke to me except for the occasional caustic remark. As for myself, I wondered whether my placement was by fate or design. Had Elizabeth engineered it to save herself from my company?

The separation after dinner dragged on and on. I barely said ten words together, so occupied was I by my thoughts. I settled that I would give myself one last chance. I would seek out Elizabeth once we rejoined the ladies. I would see now and forever whether she desired my company or not.

There she was, pouring the coffee. It was my opportunity! I moved towards her to refill my cup—only to be thwarted by a young lady, one of Elizabeth’s friends, who deliberately stepped into the only opening.

“The men shall not come and part us, I am determined,” she said in a loud whisper that I was clearly meant to hear. “We want none of them, do we?”

I made my way to the fireplace, sharing some meaningless conversation with Sir William Lucas, wondering whether Elizabeth agreed with her friend. Then, the crowd parted, and while there was still no chair near her, I could speak to her without seeming a demanding, arrogant popinjay. I walked over.

She greeted me. “Is your sister at Pemberley still?” Oh, Elizabeth! Is Georgiana your only interest?

"Yes, she will remain there till Christmas.”

“And quite alone? Have all her friends left her?”

Good Lord, she reproaches me! “Mrs. Annesley is with her. The others have gone on to Scarborough these three weeks.” Say something, please! Say you are happy to see me!

She says nothing else to me. She only whispers to the other ladies, and my hopes die.

During whist, my eyes sought her lovely form across the room so often that my playing suffered. Even Mrs. Bennet decried my stupidity. We did not stay for supper, and Bingley and I left for Netherfield.

Now, in the quiet of my room, I come to the summation of my trip here. On the pleasant side, I now am convinced that Jane Bennet likes my friend very much—might even love him. The few times I watched them, there was no mistaking her pleasure in his company, and her withdrawal the few times he was not beside her.

As for Elizabeth, my thoughts are bleak. While there were not many opportunities for Elizabeth and me to converse, on the few occasions we were in company, she was grave and silent and gave no encouragement. I can only conclude my hopes are in vain.

I throw the rest of my brandy down my throat. There is hard work before me. I will confess all to Bingley tonight, which could well cost me my best friend. And in the morning, I must return to London, see to business, and try to forget Elizabeth Bennet.

***

Chapter 55 –

“Darcy,” says Bingley as I climb into my carriage the next morning, “you shall return, shall you not?”

I look carefully at him. “Do you wish for me to return?”

“Of course—you are my friend!”

“An ill-serving friend. You should be angry with me.”

Bingley shakes his head. “Nonsense! I thought about what you said last night, and while I am disappointed in you for not telling me that Miss Bennet was in London last spring, I believe you when you say you did so under a mistaken understanding of her feelings. I would be a hypocrite indeed if I held that against you, for I had the same doubts. You have confessed your errors and deeds, and that is the sign of true friendship!” His open, pleasant countenance darkened. “That is more than I can say for my relations!”

As there was nothing I could say to exonerate Miss Bingley or Mrs. Hurst, I kept silent.

“Ten days,” Bingley insisted. “You say it should not take more than ten days to settle your business. I will hold you to that, Darcy!”

The last thing I want to do is return to Hertfordshire. “I shall do my best, Bingley. Farewell and good hunting.”

He frowned. “The hunting has been awful—oh!” A bright smile broke out. “Yes! Hunting, ha! Good hunting, indeed! Safe journey, Darcy!”

***

To be continued…



Jack Caldwell
Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile
SubjectAuthorPosted

Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

Jack C.July 10, 2015 01:05PM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

Debra McJuly 11, 2015 09:07PM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

ShannaGJuly 10, 2015 11:58PM

If you'll write it (LOL). (nfm)

Jack C.July 11, 2015 02:07AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

Shannon KJuly 10, 2015 06:41PM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

Maria VJuly 10, 2015 02:00PM

The visit of his aunt occurs several days after Darcy goes to London.

GracielaJuly 10, 2015 05:29PM

Re: The visit of his aunt occurs several days after Darcy goes to London.

Maria VJuly 10, 2015 08:27PM

That'll work. (nfm)

Jack C.July 11, 2015 02:06AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 12

Jack C.July 10, 2015 02:15PM



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