July 17, 2015 11:14AM
Chapter 56 –

I sit in my study, my papers before me, and think of her.

Almost a fortnight has passed since I left Hertfordshire. I know I told Bingley I would return to Netherfield in ten days’ time once my business in London was completed, but now I wonder if my presence is needed or desired. Bingley writes that he has secured Jane Bennet’s tender feelings and is engaged to be married. His mission has been successful, and I wish them both well from the bottom of my heart. My help is unnecessary.

How can I bear to be in Bingley’s happy presence, fearing my heart’s desire is forever lost to me? Could Elizabeth be generous enough to pardon my failure to warn her family and friends about Wickham’s true nature? She is the most excellent woman I have ever met, but how can anyone emphatically forgive and forget? I cannot bear to hope.

In my dreams she sometimes welcomes me with open arms and warm lips. Other times, she slaps my face. She is unattainable, just out of my reach. I get no rest, no comfort…

What is that noise from the front hall? Good heavens, it is Aunt Catherine!

I rush out of my study and see she is standing by the parlor door, berating my butler. “There you are, Darcy!” she exclaims. “I demand you dismiss this man straightaway! He dared to lay hands on me!”

A few moments’ questioning reveals that my butler refused to allow Lady Catherine to barge unannounced into my study and was forced to restrain her physically. I assure my aunt that I will take the proper steps later. My nod to my butler lets him know that those proper steps involve a bonus to his pay. Once the parlor’s door is shut, Aunt Catherine begins directly.

“Darcy, I journey to London to be immediately satisfied. You must throw off forever all acquaintance with that unsuitable family in Hertfordshire!”

What? “Hertfordshire? Are you perchance speaking of the Bennets?”

“Yes, yes, that is their name. I have just come from there and never have I been so rudely treated! Such ingratitude for my remarkable attentions last Easter! But what can one expect from someone with such low connections?”

“You were in Hertfordshire—at Longbourn?”

“What is the matter with your hearing, Darcy? You are not usually this slow! Yes, I condescended to call upon that tiny estate, and out of the goodness of my heart warned that impertinent creature that all her plans were for naught. Instead of gratitude for my kindness, I was practically thrown off the place!”

I cannot make sense of what she is saying. “Aunt, forgive me, but I must ask. You went to Longbourn and spoke to—?”

“Miss Elizabeth Bennet, of course!”

My mind goes blank. “What on earth for?”

“Why? To put an end to her schemes, of course!”

What schemes? Somehow, I keep my mouth shut as I guide my aunt to a chair. She rages on, chattering of insult and slanders, of arts and allurements, of engagements real and imagined. All I can truly focus on is that Lady Catherine confronted Elizabeth, and she seemed to defend me to my aunt!

“She is a wicked, wicked girl, false from first to last. She had the audacity to claim that your position in the world meant nothing to her, but she revealed herself all the same! How did she put it? Ah! ‘The wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.’ You see? Your money and your house is what she desires! Hateful girl!”

It is passing strange how one’s mind works in times of extreme distress. I am deeply offended on Elizabeth’s behalf, and yet, I am amused at the irony of my aunt’s logic. Is not my fortune and Pemberley at the center of her desires for marriage between myself and Anne?

“You must be on your guard, Darcy! I demanded that the baggage promise to leave you in peace, and do you know what she said? She refused to refuse to marry you!”

She rants on, but my attention is transfixed by my aunt’s awkward statement: She refused to refuse to marry you. I know Elizabeth’s character, and if she was as decided against me as she was in Kent, she would not hesitate to tell any and all. Instead, she practically stated that she welcomes my suit! Can it be true? Was she only confounding my deluded relation, or is there a message here? I must know!

Lady Catherine stares up right into my face. “Now, I demand that you tell me the truth! I know it to be a scandalous falsehood, but I must be satisfied. Are you engaged to Miss Bennet?”

I must answer truthfully. “No, Aunt, I am not.”

“Of course, you are not,” she says with a relieved smile. “You are engaged to Anne.”

“No, Aunt, I am not.” As I said, I must be truthful.

She turns white. “What? But—”

I hold up my hand. “You wanted the truth, and you shall have it. I am not engaged to anyone—not to Anne and not to Miss Elizabeth. When I am engaged, I shall inform you of the fact. Do not presume such things, for it is beneath you.”

“This is not to be borne!” She raps her cane violently for emphasis as she rises from the chair. “Your mother and I planned the union between Pemberley and Rosings while you were in your cradles!”

I must have the housekeeper see to any marks that may remain on my floor.

I answer calmly. “As you have said before.” I do not know if her oft-told tale is true, and at the end of the day, it matters not. I shall marry not to please my relations but myself. “Still, it is the expected practice for the gentleman to propose and the lady to accept before there is an actual betrothal.”

“Mere details.”

“Perhaps. Still, I will follow with the usual custom.”

Lady Catherine’s tone moderates. “Then I will expect you to come back to Rosings soon. You are not getting any younger, and Anne grows impatient. You must marry.”

I allow myself a small smile. “I hope it gives you comfort that I am beginning to come around to your way of thinking.” At her elation, I continue. “But I shall act in my own good time.” Yes, I wish to marry, but you will not like my choice of bride.

“Oh, you just like your father! There was no moving him when his mind was made up!”

I do not recall my mother having any such complaint with my father, but I am sure she had means of persuasion unavailable to other people.

It takes me a few more minutes to placate Lady Catherine enough for her to take her leave. She returns to Rosings and Anne without delay, her farewell a demand that I soon follow. It just so happens that I do plan to leave London, but my direction is not south into Kent but north to Hertfordshire.

***

Chapter 57 –

I sit in my carriage, a bundle of nerves. I hope as I have not allowed myself to hope before. Elizabeth’s disavowal to Lady Catherine is the sign I thought I would never see. She must have changed her mind about me! She might not hold Wickham’s seduction of her sister against me. With that courage I have so often admired in her, she stood up to my Gorgon of an aunt.

“The wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.” That is what she said. She never would have uttered those words if she still despised me.

But that does not mean she likes me enough to marry. Liking is not love, and I must have her love.

Bingley, for once, quickly responded to my express, begging his hospitality in Hertfordshire. Still, I have been in agony for three days! Three days of packing and waiting and traveling. And by the time I reach Netherfield, it will be too late to call on Longbourn. I must wait until tomorrow.

Another dreaded night looms before me—another night of hoping and despairing, of dreams and nightmares. Added to my anxiety is the knowledge that my fate shall be finally decided tomorrow. Tomorrow shall settle whether my future is full or empty.

***

To be continued…



Jack Caldwell
Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile
SubjectAuthorPosted

Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 13

Jack C.July 17, 2015 11:14AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 13

Melissa ReneeJuly 19, 2015 03:23AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 13

LucieJuly 19, 2015 02:56AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 13

Lucy J.July 19, 2015 02:50AM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 13

Shannon KJuly 17, 2015 11:33PM

Re: Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version) – Part 13

ShannaGJuly 17, 2015 05:25PM



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