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Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 5 Part Two

May 27, 2017 07:39PM
Chapter 5 – Accepting Self (Part Two)
Rosings Park, Kent April 1812

As the weeks passed, Elizabeth found herself more and more at ease and at home in the parks surrounding the parsonage. She had found out that they were a part of Rosings Park and that the Parsonage actually sat on the edge of the property and was part of it during a visit with Anne.

“Miss Elizabeth, I know that these weekly meetings concerning the tenants can be somewhat boring for you. If you wish, you do not need to feel obligated to come” Anne offered, and realizing that she had just implied she did not want her to joining Charlotte, cried “Oh! That came out wrong! I just meant that –”

Elizabeth laughed and held up her hand and said, “I understood what you meant, Anne. There was no offense. I will admit that some of the time I am intrigued by your conversation, but you are right, for the most part, I do not know half the people you are speaking of.”

Anne offered, “I understand you are enjoying our woods, I do not believe that you are aware, but the parsonage is not next to Rosings but rather part of Rosings. It is one of the reasons Mother feels compelled to make changes to it. Rosings is perfect to her and she must have an outlet somewhere.”

Elizabeth laughed, “Yes, Mr. Collins showed me some of her…improvements.”

“If you refer to the shelves in the closets, I tried to stop her from sending the carpenter on that one.” All the ladies laughed at Anne’s dry tone.

Elizabeth smiled and replied, “Yes, Grandfather found it particularly amusing as well.”

Charlotte cried, “I have completely forgotten about your grandfather. How is he faring? You have not spoken of him in a while.”

Elizabeth smiled and replied, “He has been traveling these past weeks and will return to London in about two more. Some friends of his took a bit of a holiday visiting their children and he accompanied them. Our letters, at best, keep passing each other.”

“I have noticed you have been anticipating the mail more than your usual, dear Elizabeth,” stated Charlotte.

Anne cried, “How many people do you normally correspond with? I had thought the amount you had been getting quite a bit. Of course, not equal to my cousin’s but then, his contains many letters of business.”

Elizabeth only smiled and replied, “Normally, only two: my grandfather and Aunt Madeline. However, I have been getting less from Grandfather, and Jane has not been her normal diligent correspondent. I will also admit, I am normally not so long from her company. I simply miss Jane.”

Charlotte cried, “I am sorry! Here you are lonely, and all I do is drag you to meetings.”

“I am not lonely,” Elizabeth replied.

“Really Elizabeth, if you would rather take longer walks that Charlotte informs me you are fond of, please do so. While she is here with me or visiting the parishioners is the perfect time. Neither of you will feel as if you need to entertain each other. Besides, Elizabeth” Anne said with a twinkle, “I highly recommend the solitude. It does miracles allowing one’s thoughts to sort themselves out.”

“I will take you up on your offer!” said Elizabeth. Already she was looking forward to a long morning walk the next day. The rest of the visit was spent speaking about places to visit on the estate. Even Charlotte was intrigued by some of Anne’s descriptions.

As Elizabeth remembered the conversation, she had to agree. It had been a few weeks since the conversation and since Charlotte went on calls throughout the week multiple times, she found she had more than ample time to explore the wood. The only damper on her interest was that Mr. Darcy seemed to show up whenever she walked toward her favorite spot near a creek. I have told him I love going there, can he not take a hint and ride someplace else? She thought that morning, but as she had told him before, her courage always rose with any intimidation, and she set off to the spot.

When she arrived, she was quite pleased to see that Mr. Darcy apparently had taken her comments to heart and she found herself quite alone. She was pulling out Jane’s latest letters to re-read when she heard a great commotion in a bushy area next to her spot. As a huge black horse head popped through, her shock turned to irritation. She had recognized the horse even before Mr. Darcy appeared from the other side of the brush.

She was further irritated when after exchanging good mornings, Mr. Darcy got down off of his horse and tied him across the lane from where Elizabeth sat.

Elizabeth rose to retreat and said, “Mr. Darcy. It seems I have inadvertently come across your private time this morning. I apologize; allow me to find a different shady area.”

Mr. Darcy looked at her curiously and stated, “Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth, Miss Bennet. It is I who has intruded upon your peace. Allow me to partake of my rest elsewhere.” With a disappointed air, he turned to leave.

Elizabeth felt bad for her actions and stated irritably, “It is of no matter. I believe I am only irritated at my letters from Jane.”

He returned and stood looking out over the stream. After quite a few minutes of silence, Mr. Darcy asked, “How is your cousin doing? Has she returned to Hertfordshire yet?”

“No. She is still in London.” She then stated, “Not all people quit the places they are at after a short duration.” Upon seeing his recognition of whom she was speaking she added, “However, you have friends that are still in London, do you not? Did you leave the Mr. Bingley and his sisters well?”

"Perfectly so, I thank you."

Elizabeth was curious about why his face continued to go white each time she mentioned his friend and so sought to find out if he had anything to do with his friend’s abrupt removal. She asked, “I think I have understood that Mr. Bingley has not much idea of ever returning to Netherfield again?”

"I have never heard him say so; but it is probable that he may spend very little of his time there in the future.” After a moment, he realized that answer did not satisfy Elizabeth and said, “He has many friends, and is at a time of life when friends and engagements are continually increasing.”

“I see,” she said. There was no indication that Mr. Darcy was involved with Mr. Bingley’s continued absence from Netherfield so she put her suspicions out of her mind and stated, “If he means to be but little at Netherfield, it would be better for the neighborhood that he should give up the place entirely, for then we might possibly get a settled family there.”

"I should not be surprised," said Darcy, "if he were to give it up as soon as any eligible offers are presented." Darcy was becoming increasingly uncomfortable speaking of his friend and so sought to change the topic and commented, “The parsonage seems quite different now that your friend has come. I understand she is having quite the positive influence on the neighborhood as well.”

“Yes,” Smiled Elizabeth, “She is doing quite well here. I for one am pleased.”

"It must be very agreeable for her to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends."

"An easy distance, do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles."

"And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day's journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance."

"I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match," cried Elizabeth. "I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family."

"It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire. Anything beyond the very neighborhood of Longbourn, I suppose, would appear far."

“If you mean that I would be upset to be so far from Jane, you are correct.” Then thinking about her future separation from her dear cousin, she added, “But life has a way of changing things. Indeed, I know I will not be at Longbourn forever, and it begs the question as to where Jane will be.” The she added with a smile, “However, you are correct, 50 miles is not a far distance if one has the means to travel in in comfort and make frequent journeys. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Mrs. Collins and I do not believe she would call the distance between her and her family near.”

She was taken back by the abrupt change of conversation after she finished her case when Mr. Darcy responded, “Are you pleased with Kent?”

After she responded in an agreeable manner, they only spoke for a few more moments before Mr. Darcy made his excuses and left. When she made it back to the parsonage, Charlotte was shocked by Elizabeth’s comments on their conversation.

“Elizabeth! He must be in love with you! To single you out so. You said yourself he meets you on your walks even after you warned him against it!” cried Charlotte.

Elizabeth laughed at the thought and replied, “No indeed, for I am sure he dislikes me as much as I do him. No. I will think no more of it.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Darcy made it quite impossible for her to think no more of him as he continued to show up on her daily walks. During each interlude, Elizabeth felt herself become more and more confused. She learned some of his views on literature, art, and even music and found they matched her own preferences quite easily. He was solicitous and even kind when disagreeing with in their discussions. Elizabeth was horrified when she found herself actually agreeing with him. Unfortunately each time she did, Elizabeth would remember Mr. Wickham saying, “He can please who he wishes when he chooses to; some may even call him amiable” and her opinion would once again be fixed: Mr. Darcy was not a man to trust.

However, her heart kept warring with her mind and as the weeks passed, Elizabeth felt herself becoming even more confused by his character. If he could please who he chose, it was apparent to Elizabeth he was choosing to please her. Why and for or what purpose? Could he know about her inheritance? No, absolutely not, she thought, surely there has to be another reason. Maybe his presence is simply coincidence; he surely could not be seeking me out.

The constant presence of Mr. Darcy intruding upon her solitude had Elizabeth at her limit. One morning, about a week before she was to leave, when she set out on her morning walk, she decided against her normal path. She simply was not in the mood for Mr. Darcy. She had received a missive not only from Jane, but also from her grandfather, and Catherine. Having hit quite the treasure trove, when Elizabeth walked out bearing all three, she wished to read and reread each in peace.

When she found a shady spot in the middle of the grove, she sat down to read and pulled out Jane’s letter first. Knowing it would be filled with veiled attempts at a positive attitude, but sorely lacking Jane’s normal happy countenance, Elizabeth opened the letter. Any hope that Jane was starting to get over Mr. Bingley was shortly dismissed. Jane’s letter was full of outings she was taking with Madeline, stories about the children, and projects she was working on. However, Elizabeth could tell her dearest cousin was not well.

It was confirmed when she read her grandfather’s letter. After arriving in London a good three weeks before Elizabeth would find herself there, James wrote of his concern for Jane.

I would not have you believe that I am spying on her, at least not for my sake, but rather for yours. If she finds out I am intentionally checking on her for you, my dear: she will be quite put out with you for sending me. I, of course, will be seen with compassion, as we both know Jane will do. That aside, I must conclude, she is very down hearted indeed. I am starting to believe that your and Madeline’s intentions, where they may have been heartfelt, have actually harmed the poor girl.

The condition on being in London, so close to those who you thought were your friends, and whom you thought yourself in love with must be considered harmful to one’s health! She always had a good figure, but my dear, she pushes her food around her plate and only eats what is necessary. She has scheduled her time to the fullest, I imagine so that she does not think about her former friends, and finds barely any time to rest. Jane even told me that she finds that she has to find the time to write to you! What was once a pleasure is now a chore! It is good that you will be coming to retrieve her in a few weeks’ time. I know you will be able to help her heal and for God’s sake: SLOW HER DOWN!

I myself am only a little upset I will leave before you arrive in London. Mr. Gardiner informed me of your plan to arrive not three days after I leave. If I did not have an appointment with some people at Heythrop I would delay my departure. I console myself that I will have a great deal more of your time in the autumn. By all means, invite Jane if she is still not over this chap who so callously broke her heart. I have never met the man but have already decided he lacks taste for giving up our dear girl so easily.

As Elizabeth finished the letter, she found herself thinking that maybe Catherine would bring better news to her ears. Fortunately, Catherine had much to say about the family and what had been happening at home. By the time she finished Catherine’s letter, she found her own mood lifting.

It was with a smile on her face and laughter to herself that Colonel Fitzwilliam approached slowly and greeted her, “And what has you so amused, Miss Bennet?”

Startled, Elizabeth hastily put her letters away and rose, “Colonel Fitzwilliam you scared me! I was reading a letter from my cousin Catherine.”

Colonel Fitzwilliam’s eyebrow rose at the mention of the name and said, “Catherine?”

Smiling, Elizabeth explained, “We call her Kitty, but yes, she is a Catherine and not at all like Lady Catherine.”

“Is this the cousin that only plays or only sings, or is idle?”

Laughing, Elizabeth asked, “Either you have been speaking with Lady Catherine or you have been gossiping with Anne.”

With a fake affronted look, the Colonel said, “I am an officer in her Majesty’s army: I do not gossip” then with a smile he added, “If Anne wishes to divulge information on her new friends, it is my duty to listen.”

Elizabeth smiled and said, “Of course. Catherine paints and draws splendidly. In fact, I had just finished reading a description she gave of my aunt being accosted by a frog in one of the stores. Apparently, one of the local boys had put it in the fabrics for fun and Aunt Fanny was the recipient.”

Laughing, the Colonel replied, “I remember Darcy and I doing something quite like that to Lady Catherine, only it was in her bed.”

At the mention of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth felt her irritation grow. She allowed silence to descend upon them. It was the Colonel who spoke, “I have been making the tour of the park, as I generally do every year, and intend to close it with a call at the Parsonage. Are you going much farther?"

"No, I should have returned in a moment."

After walking a short distance, Elizabeth stated, “I understand you are for London tomorrow.”

"Yes—if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges the business just as he pleases."

Yet again, another example of his officiousness, she thought. To the Colonel she replied, "And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least pleasure in the great power of choice. I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy."

“To be sure, he likes his own way, but then so do we all. It is only that he has better means of having it than others,” he replied. “For myself, I must choose self-denial and dependence more often than not. Although I do not know how much of that is attributed to my second son status or my status as a soldier for her majesty.”

Elizabeth offered, “The younger son of an earl can know very little of either. Seriously, when have you ever actually known self-denial or been so dependent on another?”

“I can say that I have suffered hardships of those sorts. But the great matter of weight should definitely be in want of money. Younger sons simply cannot marry where we like, unless we are fortunate to have a lady of large fortune fall in love with us.” He continued, “Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money."

Elizabeth thought to herself, amused, Is this for me? If only he knew. To the Colonel she responded, “And how much is the usual asking price for a younger son of an earl? Thirty thousand pounds? Forty? No! Fifty!”

He laughed and responded, “Of course, I bow to your better knowledge of a man’s worth.”

After a few more moments of walking in silence, Elizabeth stated, “I imagine you were brought down chiefly for the sake of having someone at the disposal of Mr. Darcy. I wonder that he does not marry. It would secure a lasting convenience of that kind. Perhaps his sister does well for the present. As she is under his sole care, he may do what he likes with her.”

“No,” stated Colonel Fitzwilliam, “I am joined in guardianship with him of Miss Darcy.”

A little surprised by this admission, Elizabeth said, “Are you indeed? What sort of guardians are you? Does she give you much trouble? I remember being her age, and know that ladies around the young womanhood ages tend to be difficult to manage. If she has the true Darcy spirit, she must like her own way.”

As surprised as she was by Colonel Fitzwilliam’s part in Miss Darcy’s guardianship, she was as equally surprised by his reluctance to answer. Instead of replying directly, he asked, “What has been said regarding her? If there are rumors, I must know about them!”

He was observing her earnestly and Elizabeth guessed she had gotten somewhat close to the truth and stated, “You need not be afraid of the rumor tree. I have never heard any harm of her. From what I have heard, she is a docile creature. She is the great friend of a few acquaintances of mine: Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley.”

“Ah, yes. The Bingleys. I understand Mr. Bingley is a great friend of Darcy’s.”

“Oh! Yes,” said Elizabeth dryly, “Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley, and takes a prodigious deal of care of him.”

“Yes, I really believe Darcy does take care of him! I have reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him. But I ought to beg his pardon, for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant. It was all conjecture.”

As he spoke, Elizabeth got a tickling fear and glanced at her most recent letter from Jane and asked, “What is it you mean?”

“I believe Darcy does not wish it to be generally known.”

Realizing what he was about to say, Elizabeth replied emphatically, “I certainly will not mention it.”

“Remember, I do not know for certain that it was Bingley. Darcy merely told me that he had lately saved a good friend from the inconvenience of a most imprudent marriage. He mentioned no names, and I only suspect it being Bingley because he has saved him from that sort of scrape before,” stated Colonel Fitzwilliam without knowing the anger that was brewing in his walking partner.

Silently seething, Elizabeth asked, “Did Mr. Darcy give you reasons for this interference?”

“I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady.”

A clipped question came almost immediately, “And what arts did he use to separate them?”

“He did not talk to me of his own arts,” said Fitzwilliam, smiling. “He only told me what I have now told you.”

Elizabeth made no answer; her anger was so acute she felt if she did speak it would be to give away her relationship with the lady in question. They walked on, her heart swelling with indignation. After watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful.

"I am thinking of what you have been telling me," said she. "Your cousin's conduct does not suit my feelings. Why was he to be the judge?"

"You are rather disposed to call his interference intrusive?"

"I do not see what right Mr. Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend's inclination, or why, upon his own judgement alone, he was to determine and direct in what manner his friend was to be happy. But," she continued, recollecting herself, "as we know none of the particulars, it is not fair to condemn him. It is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case."

Laughing a little at her summary, Fitzwilliam said, "but it is a lessening of the honor of my cousin's triumph very sadly."

By this time, the couple had reached the parsonage. Elizabeth welcomed him inside but added, she felt she had walked too far and felt a need to go lie down. He apologized for walking her too far and stated the call could wait until both her host and she were well enough to visit.

Upon entry to the parsonage, Elizabeth immediately sought out Charlotte to inform her she was not feeling well and would not be able to go to dinner that night at Rosings. Once she had Charlotte’s agreement, she immediately retreated to her room, where she spent the next few hours attempting to rein in her temper.

There were very strong objections to the lady, thought Elizabeth, to Jane herself there could be no objection. He could only be referring to Madeline and Edward. He has not even met them! Grandfather is a Duke and he approves! The audacity, the arrogance, the conceit of such a man! Jane is all loveliness and goodness. She is intelligent, and her manners are captivating. Uncle Thomas could certainly not be the reason; he is an intelligent man, and a landed gentleman. No! It has to have been his pride in his own self-importance that has him persuading his friend against the most gentle and kind creature ever to live!

Her anger being held in and her frustration for her beloved cousin had Elizabeth developing the very headache she had complained to Charlotte about. As she watched her host and hostess leave for Rosings that evening, she took out her letters and headed downstairs. She needed to spend some time deciding if she would inform her cousin of the unknown injuries toward herself.

However, her evening of contemplation and evaluation were soon interrupted. Not an hour after her hosts left, a maid showed in Mr. Darcy. Still very angry with the man, Elizabeth attempted to be civil. However, her civility started to be tested as Mr. Darcy started pace around the room.

“Mr. Darcy, you know my hosts are at Rosings, this evening, surely you will be late for dinner,” she said in a clipped manner, “I assure you I am quite capable of eating by myself. The civility you show in your concern for me is admirable to be sure, but completely unnecessary. I simply have a headache, and need nothing other than quiet.”

Mr. Darcy acted as if he had not even heard her. Elizabeth could feel her anger mount at he continued to pace. As Elizabeth rose from her seat to show Mr. Darcy out, he finally chose to speak.

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

The words echoed in the empty house and rattled in Elizabeth’s head. Surely, he is not, proposing, she thought. Her silence encouraged him to continue and Elizabeth watched in astonishment as Mr. Darcy continued to offer for her.

“Certainly you have been aware of my sentiments. Your marked presence in the same spots during our walks here in Hunsford was most assuredly a source of encouragement to me,” he stated. Mr. Darcy continued to speak as he paced the small parlor at the Parsonage.

After Elizabeth came back from her walk with Colonel Fitzwilliam, she found herself worked up into such a state that she felt unfit for company. As such, she had begged off meeting Lady Catherine and the Rosings party for dinner. Charlotte had recognized something was wrong and had allowed it.. Elizabeth listened to Mr. Darcy proclaim his feelings in the most arrogant and conceited manner she had ever witnessed, she felt a headache starting.

“Your connections or lack thereof, is certainly of no concern to me. I have plenty of connections to make up for the both of us. As to your dowry, well, I really have no need of it and therefore will not give it another thought. It was the obstacle of your family, however, that did cause me to pause in my pursuit of you. In the end, my love won the struggle against my head, and here I am requesting your hand in marriage.”

Even though he spoke well, Elizabeth felt her anger rising. It was obvious as he continued in his own monologue that like Collins, her answer was being taken for granted. When he finally finished and allowed her to speak, she stated calmly but extremely coolly, “It is natural that I should feel some obligation. If I could feel gratitude I would now thank you. But I cannot. I have never desired your good opinion and you have certainly given it unwillingly. I am sorry to pain anyone, even though unconsciously done. Those feelings of reluctance you informed me that have been of a long duration will have very little difficulty in overcoming your desire. I will not marry you.”

To say Mr. Darcy was shocked at her refusal would be an understatement. After he found his voice, barely concealing his anger, he said, “Is this all the explanation I have the honor of expecting? Would you care to inform me as to why, with so little endeavor at civility, I am rejected?”

Elizabeth responded in a raised voice, “I might also inquire as to why, with so many ardent feelings, you seem focused on insulting me. If I was uncivil, I had provocation. Had my feelings not already been decided against you, do you truly believe that I would accept a man who was responsible for ruining the happiness of my most beloved cousin?”

As she spoke, Darcy’s face changed colors from paleness of guilt back to red in anger. He listened in silence as she continued her accusations. “I have every reason in the world to think ill of you. No motive can excuse the unjust and ungenerous part you acted there. You cannot deny, that you have been the principal cause of her misery.”

“I have no reason to deny my part in separating my friend from your cousin.”

Before he was allowed to speak, however, Elizabeth continued, “However, it is not only this affair upon which I founded my complete dislike for you. Your character unfolded in the circumstance I was informed of in your treatment of Mr. Wickham.”

“You take an eager interest in that gentleman's concerns,” said Darcy, in a less tranquil tone, and with a heightened color.

“Who that knows what his misfortunes have been, can help feeling an interest in him?”

"His misfortunes!" repeated Darcy contemptuously, "yes, his misfortunes have been great indeed."

“They are of your infliction!” exclaimed Elizabeth, “You have reduced him to such a state of poverty simply by withholding the advantages which had been designed for him!”

Mr. Darcy interrupted at this point with a dangerously low voice, “This is your opinion of me! I thank you for explaining it so thoroughly. My faults are heavy indeed. Perhaps these offenses might have been overlooked, had not your pride been hurt by my honest confession of the scruples that had long prevented my forming any serious design. But disguise of every sort is my abhorrence. Nor am I ashamed of the feelings I related. They were natural and just. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections or in the fact that you might not even have any connections? Should I congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?”

Elizabeth felt her own anger bubble up as she attempted to restrain herself from correcting his estimation of her family as well as her position in society. Instead she said in a clipped voice, “You are mistaken sir: the mode of your declaration only spared me the concern I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.” When she saw Mr. Darcy visibly flinch at this statement she added, “You could not have offered to me in any possible way that would have induced me to accept you.”

His astonishment was complete, but unfortunately Elizabeth was not done. She concluded by stating, “From almost the very first time we met on the road to between Longbourn and Netherfield, your manners, the full belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, formed the groundwork of my dislike. I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

"You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness." And with these words he hastily left the room, and Elizabeth heard him the next moment open the front door and quit the house.

Elizabeth found herself unable to sleep that night. In an effort to avoid the scrutiny of Mrs. Collins and the foolish comments of Mr. Collins, she escaped before breakfast was even being served, and wandered around the park. Lost in her own thoughts for quite some time, she was surprised when she encountered Mr. Darcy. Hesitant to approach him, she waited to see if he would even notice her.

Unfortunately, he did and came near. He held out a parchment to her and said, “If you would do me the honor of reading this letter ma’am.” After she took it from him, he disappeared as quickly as he had come.

Elizabeth had no expectations of actually enjoying reading the letter. She was curious as to what it might say, to be sure. When she refused Collins, after much persuasion he took himself off to lick his wounds elsewhere. It was only later that they found out that Charlotte was helping him. Only for a brief moment did she even consider not reading the parchment. However, her curiosity was too strong, before she had made it the entire way back to the Parsonage, Elizabeth found a stump and opened the envelope.

Rosings, Kent
April 10, 1812

Miss Elizabeth Bennet

Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, there will be not renewal of those offers which you found wholly disgusting to you last evening. I write without intending to pain you, or to humble myself in your eyes. I know for the happiness of both of us, the wishes I expressed last night could not be too soon forgotten. However, I feel compelled to defend myself against those accusations you called out last evening.

There are two offenses, of different nature but equal magnitude that you laid at my feet. The first was that regardless of the sentiments of either party, I separated your cousin from my friend Mr. Bingley. The second offense was that I am the means of Mr. Wickham’s current circumstances.

First, the charge of separating your cousin from my friend without thought to their mutual affection could not be more incorrect. I had not long been in Hertfordshire, when I, along with most of the good people of Hertfordshire, saw that my friend preferred Miss Bennet’s company above all others. I thought nothing of this until the ball at Netherfield: Bingley mentioned to me that his feelings for Miss Bennet. I was a little surprised to realize that his affections were deeper and more serious; I have seen him fall in love before. However, during that dance when we were interrupted by Sir Lucas, I realized that Bingley’s actions had given not only your cousin expectations but also the general populace of Meryton.

The rest of the evening I watched my friend’s behavior as well as that of your cousin. I could then perceive that his partiality for Miss Bennet was beyond what I had ever witnessed in him. Your cousin I also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard, and I remained convinced from the evening's scrutiny, that though she received his attentions with pleasure, she did not invite them by any participation of sentiment.

If you have not been mistaken here, I must have been in error. Your superior knowledge of your cousin must make the latter probable. If it is so, if I have been misled by such error to inflict pain on her, your resentment has not been unreasonable. However, I did not wish for her to be indifferent; the opinion was created by an observation made on an impartial conviction.

My objections to a possible marriage between us were not merely those which I stated last evening. It is not only the situation of your aunt’s family that I found objectionable. It was more the complete and frequent want of propriety shown by your younger cousins, your aunt, and even on occasion your uncle. You cannot expect me to rejoice in my friend connecting himself with such a family.

But I assure you, my reservations regarding your cousin’s family was not what finally convinced Bingley to stay in London. You remember he left the following day on business that after which he was planning on returning to Hertfordshire and essentially to your cousin; his decision to remain was based upon an observation that your cousin’s heart was not as engaged as his was.

He informed me the evening we arrived in London that he wished to make his relationship with your cousin more…permanent. The respect I hold for Bingley allowed me to do no less than tell him my honest opinion: that I had not perceived that your cousin held my friend in any more interest that other men in the area. It was this observation that led Bingley to rethink his decision to stay in London. I offer no apology for this: I have no wish for my good friend to be trapped in a marriage of unequal affection.

There is but one part in this whole affair, I do not reflect on with satisfaction; I saw your cousin leaving the Hurst’s town house and concealed it from Bingley. Perhaps this concealment was beneath me; it is done, however, and it was done for the best. At the time, I had no wish to cause further pain to my friend who was already hurting by his belief in her indifference. On this subject I have nothing more to say, no other apology to offer. If I have wounded your cousin's feelings, it was unknowingly done and though the motives which governed me may to you very naturally appear insufficient, I have not yet learnt to condemn them.

On your second accusation, I offer no apologies. I can only refute it by laying out the whole of his connection with my family. Of what he specifically accused me, I know not. However, for my part, I can produce more than one witness who can be completely believed.

It is true that Mr. Wickham was the son of my late father’s steward. Old Mr. Wickham died the year after we both started Cambridge. My father had always been fond of his steward and continued to pay for the current Mr. Wickham’s education. Old Mr. Wickham had earned the trust and respect of both my father and me; I could only wish that the younger Mr. Wickham would rise to such integrity.

My own excellent father died five years ago; and in his will he particularly requested that I continue to assist the current Mr. Wickham in his advancement in society. He stipulated that if Wickham continued to take orders, I was to provide not only a legacy of one thousand pounds, but also the closest valuable family living that became available.

Mr. Wickham came to visit me and insisted that since he had resolved not to take orders, he hoped I would assist him in his quest to study the law. He stated that one thousand pounds was certainly not enough to do that. Knowing Mr. Wickham as I did, I agreed that a religious life was not for him, and only wished him to be truthful about studying the law. At any rate, I agreed to his proposal; he resigned all claim to the church and accepted three thousand pounds in its stead. It seemed that all connection between us was now dissolved.

You can image my surprise after three years of absolutely no communication between us that he applied to me again. His circumstances, he assured me, and I had no difficulty believing it, were exceedingly bad. He found the law unprofitable, and was resolved on taking orders again, as long as I gave him the living. He stated that as it had come available at that time, I certainly could not have forgotten my father’s will. You can hardly blame me for refusing his request. His resentment was in proportion, I believe, to his circumstances. At this point, I dropped the acquaintance. How he lived I know not. Once again it seemed as if he was out of my life forever. However, it was not to last: this past summer, he intruded upon my notice once more in a much more painful manner.

I have no doubt of your secrecy as I tell you of a situation that I would most gladly be able to forget, if it were possible. My sister, who is ten years younger than I, was left to the guardianship of my cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and myself. About a year ago, I removed her from school and set up an establishment for her in London. Last summer, Georgiana and her companion, a Mrs. Younge, took a trip to Ramsgate. Unknown to me, Mrs. Younge was an acquaintance of Mr. Wickham, and therefore he followed them to the sea. It was there, where my fifteen-year-old sister was convinced by her companion and Mr. Wickham that she had fallen in love with Mr. Wickham.

You will, of course, excuse her of the circumstances. She was young and very much under the influence of a companion who should have been able to protect her rather than put her into such a harmful situation. I am so grateful that she was so opposed to the idea of marrying without me present that she wrote me an express herself.

At this point you can image how I felt, and how I acted. It was only the threat of my sister’s public exposure that has kept me from exposing Wickham myself. Mrs. Younge was, of course, removed from my employ. Mr. Wickham’s chief object was my sister’s fortune, which is a considerable sum: thirty thousand pounds. I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me was as much a motive as the money. His revenge certainly would have been complete.

I hope after reading this message, you are able to acquit me of any charge Mr. Wickham has laid against me. If you need further proof or a witness to these narratives, you may call upon Colonel Fitzwilliam who has been privy to each circumstance. I have no idea what falsehoods he has told you. Ignorant as you were of everything concerning our relationship, it was not in your power to detect the falsehoods; and suspicion is not in your nature.

You may wonder why I did not tell you these tales last evening. I can say that I was not in control of my emotions well enough to know what could or ought to have been revealed. However, after some reflection, I can only believe that you need to know the history as I have written it, thus this letter was born.

I will only add, God bless you.

Fitzwilliam James Darcy

Elizabeth spent a few hours reading and re-reading the missive from Mr. Darcy. When she returned to the parsonage, Elizabeth was immediately accosted by Charlotte and Mr. Collins.

“Cousin Elizabeth! You must mind the time! You missed lunch! Now, you will not be able to eat until we go to Lady Catherine’s this evening! Really, you must be more mindful of those around you! What would Lady Catherine think if you fainted in her soup?” cried Collins.

Charlotte looked at Elizabeth’s pale face and turned to her husband and said, “My dear! If you wish to inspect your garden before you get ready to go, you are running out of time.”

“Oh dear me! I did so want to pull the weeds from the herbs today!” he exclaimed as he hustled off to gather his gardening supplies.

Charlotte turned to Elizabeth and asked quietly, “Now, dearest Elizabeth. What is wrong? You are five shades of white! Where on earth could you have been for so long? You missed breakfast and lunch! You even missed Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy taking their leave for London.”

After reading Mr. Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth had spent much time wandering the grove: hoping to find some sort of scheme to relieve her of the guilt and shame she felt upon reading it the letter the first time. Unfortunately, the longer she contemplated not only Mr. Darcy’s actions, but also her own, she felt her own embarrassment only too keenly. As much as Elizabeth wanted to confide in someone, she felt she could not confide in Charlotte and simply said, “I believe I have walked a bit too far today. Would you mind terribly if I lay down until dinner?”

“Of course not, my dear! You are also probably starving; I will have a light tray sent up as well.” Charlotte offered.

“Thank you.” Elizabeth said distractedly as she hurried to her room.

Once safely away from the people down below, Elizabeth felt too skittish to sit down. She was still pacing when the maid brought up the tray for her to eat. It was then that Elizabeth realized how hungry she was. As she ate, Elizabeth felt herself calming down slightly.

It was thirty minutes later that she sat sipping her tea and thought; I need to speak with someone! Oh, if only my Jane were here. No! That would not do! It would only cause her more pain to read the letter. I have always relied on Madeline to help me discern my thoughts and feelings, but no: she tried to warn me that I should have asked Mr. Darcy his side of the story. She was completely right! But my pride has taken such a blow I do not know if I could speak with her about this. I would speak with Uncle Thomas about his proposal, except he would focus on making fun of Mr. Darcy! I certainly do not want that!

With sudden clarity, Elizabeth rose and retrieved her stationary and started writing:

Hunsford, Kent
April 10, 1812

Dear Grandfather,

I write this with trembling hands. I have been so foolish and have acted despicably. I, who prided myself on my discernment! If only I had been more like Jane, who seeks to find the good in everyone, I may have avoided my own ignorance and pride.How humiliating is this discovery that my infallible powers of discernment are completely fallible!

Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one and offended by the neglect of the other from the very beginning of our acquaintance I have allowed my ignorance to drive reason away. Till this moment I never knew myself.

But I am getting well ahead of myself. I write to inform you of another marriage proposal I have received, this time from a gentleman that I have abused before as ungentlemanly and arrogant. How wrong I have been! It was just last evening, here in Hunsford, while visiting Charlotte, that I received it.

I know that I have made you previously aware of my dealings with Mr. Bingley’s friend from Derbyshire. Well, that man has been visiting his family in the area. I mistook his meeting me on my walks as accidents. How shocked I was last evening when he declared he was not only in love with me but ardently so. I endeavored to remain calm as he proceeded to tell me of the deficiencies in my Bennet family. I charged him with separating Jane and Bingley, and also his ungentlemanly conduct in regards to Wickham. To this, he answered me and defended himself most ably in a letter this morning.

As Elizabeth wrote her thoughts down, she consulted Mr. Darcy’s letter itself. She absently wondered if her grandfather had ever met the man and was a good acquaintance of his. Surely, if he had, Grandfather would have said something by now. I have mentioned him enough, she thought as she picked up Darcy’s letter one more time. When she got to the portion regarding Jane and Bingley again, Elizabeth immediately felt her ire again.

Please do not be upset with his ungentlemanly act of writing me a letter. We, both are so incapable of speaking rationally with each other, had he attempted to speak with me, personally, to defend himself, I do not believe I would have allowed him. My prejudice and pride would not have allowed me to.

I found, even though I do not agree with his reason sings, I cannot fault him for any of his actions. His reasons for separating Jane from Bingley were simply false and based on his own observations rather than seeking the truth from the parties involved. Something, I feel it would hypocritical of me to condemn him for, especially after my own recent self-revelations.

I could forgive him for not seeking Jane’s from herself; that certainly would have been awkward. However, at no point did he seek to affirm it from those closest to her and instead chose to listen to the ramblings of Aunt Fanny! Foolish, foolish man!

Elizabeth stopped writing for a moment and remembered a conversation she had with Charlotte well before the ball. She recalled Charlotte asking her whether or not Jane was as pleased with Mr. Bingley’s attentions as he was with hers. When she had responded in the affirmative, Charlotte told her that Jane should respond with more feeling. As she recalled the entire confirmation, Elizabeth felt her anger move slowly toward shame and thought, Jane is so calm and serene, it is apparent to myself who has known her almost all of our lives, but it is completely understandable that those who are not as acquainted with her character would see her as disinterested.

However, I can forgive him for not being able to read Jane’s angelic countenance, but definitely not his complete disregard and disrespectful comments towards Jane’s family! I cannot deny the charge of my aunt, and youngest cousins acting with such lack of propriety. Have I, myself, not attempted to avoid their actions on a number of occasions?

Elizabeth felt the tears welling in her eyes as she continued to write.

If I excuse myself for believing Wickham’s stories about him, that allows me to repent; but at what cost? I have been so verbal in my beliefs of the man’s character that everyone from Meryton to Derbyshire surely will believe that he is the monster and not Wickham.

It causes me to think of my own actions. In my own ignorance I was so rude, so vicious, and completely impertinent and disrespectful. I cannot think upon my actions without abhorrence. But what is done is done. I cannot undo it. And since I find it very hard to believe that he will ever lower himself to graciously allow me to ask for his forgiveness, I must move on, and think of the past as it gives me pleasure. I do not know what pleasure I can take from such occurrences that have happened, but I shall try.

I have determined, that there is nothing more than anyone can do on the situation, other than learn from our mistakes and move on. I know, I for one, have and will continue to sit down and take a hard look at my own behavior and seek to amend it. As to whether or not, he will ever forgive me for being so malicious and vicious, I do not know. I can only seek to change my own actions.

Elizabeth was not given to melancholy, and she had enough that day to last her for a while. As she completed the letter to her grandfather, she found that it was quite easy to understand how both her ignorance and his ignorance had caused so many problems. By the end of the letter, she was finding the humor in the situation.

Grandfather, he asked if he should rejoice in the inferiority of my relations, and lack thereof. Oh, how I wanted to laugh at his ignorance! For your sake, I refrained. It is best that he is for London and I am for Hertfordshire. If I meet him again in London, it will be as an indifferent acquaintance, I am sure. We will let this be the end of the matter.

Your Granddaughter,

Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 5 Part Two

MarciMay 27, 2017 07:39PM

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Lucy J.May 29, 2017 04:54AM

Some random thoughts

Sabine C.May 28, 2017 08:06PM

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MarciMay 30, 2017 11:16PM

Re: Some random thoughts

Sabine C.May 31, 2017 06:31AM


Sabine C.May 31, 2017 01:14PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 5 Part Two

AJOMay 28, 2017 05:17PM

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DorisMay 29, 2017 12:34AM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 5 Part Two

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