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Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

June 25, 2018 04:37PM
Nights in White Linen
Regency ~ E ~ one-shot ~ COMPLETE

Blurb: Back in London, Darcy contemplates his ill-delivered proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. A P&P short story.

DNA: Greetings, folks. The following bit came to mind when I heard that the Moody Blues were FINALLY getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame. Enjoy. RA

~*~*~


Nights in White Linen
by Jack Caldwell


May, 1812: London

FITZWILLIAM DARCY SAT AT the small desk in his chambers in the early evening, the light in the room fading as the sun dipped below the houses in Mayfair. In the gathering gloom, dressed in his shirtsleeves, he held his head in his hands, a glass of brandy at his elbow. Another day—another long, empty day—was spent. And for what? Nothing that could rid his soul of despair.

He was exhausted. Days and nights were endless. He was miserable. He lived in anguish. Her words haunted his waking mind—and his sleeping mind too.

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.”

He tried—oh, how he tried—to put her rejection behind him. To forget. To continue on with the business of living.

He had many weighty concerns. His investments. His people. Pemberley. Georgianna. They all depended upon him. So many people’s happiness relied on his undivided attention and understanding.

But he could not concentrate. Important letters of business lay incomplete near his inkwell, but nothing could be done. He was restless and drained at the same moment, filled with useless energy. He felt confined in his fine, linen shirt—too tight, choking him.

“You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.”

Darcy sat back, ran his hands over his unshaven face, and glanced out the window at the park across the street. In the fading light, he could observe a few figures yet walking along the manicured paths. A young couple was scandalously hand-in-hand—obviously lovers—slowly strolling without any thought to anything save themselves. They caught the attention of an elderly couple sitting on a nearby bench—their expressions were not censorious but wistful. Perhaps, Darcy thought, they remembered what it was to be young in the first bloom of love.

Would he ever know such a thing?

“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.”

No! Such thoughts led to madness. He moaned, raked his fingers through his hair, and struggled for equanimity.

The stack of invitations in one corner of the desk caught his eye. The Season was winding down, but there were still dinners and dances and musical soirées planned before the ton escaped the stench of London in summer and settled at their estates where visits and parties were planned. He had refused them all. Darcy was in no state to make merry.

He had no diversion. His club was no refuge. The few friends that would be in attendance would demand his attention, promote their sisters, gamble too much money, and drink to excess. The members of his fencing club refused to fight him, his anger being such that he was nigh unbeatable. He had no ear for concerts, no stomach for opera, no patience for plays.

“From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others.”

His black mood had not gone unnoticed by those closest to him. Georgianna was almost beside herself over his unmistakable grief, no matter how many times he assured her his temper had nothing to do with her—nothing to do with Ramsgate.

Richard, who knew all, had tried to help. His other Fitzwilliam relations—his uncle the earl, his aunt the countess, his cousins Lord Andrew and Lady Henrietta—were ignorant about the source of his sufferings but would be ready and willing to comfort him, he knew, if he would only allow it.

But, how could he? How could anyone ease his pain? His uncle was occupied cooing over his grandson, courtesy of Andrew and Lady Eugenie. His aunt and Henrietta would fill his ears with the names of available debutantes, while Andrew and Richard would encourage other immoral diversions to purge his disappointment.

What he was going through was past all their understanding. To the Fitzwilliams, marriage was for status, money, or political influence. That the earl and countess grew fond of each other was a happy surprise—not something that should be sought for or expected. One need only look at Andrew and Eugenie for an example of wretchedness in arranged marriage.

Darcy took a deep breath. He was a lonely man yearning for love, and he had shattered all possibility for it by his own hand.

“Your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others.”

Not once had he thought of what Elizabeth wanted. Her desires, her dreams never entered his mind. He was certain she wanted, desired, expected his addresses. He never dreamed she would reject him.

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.”

Repeatedly, her words rang in his mind like the bells of St. Paul’s. He was rude. He was unfeeling. He was arrogant. He was selfish. He was ungentlemanly.

“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.”

Time passed. His glass emptied as the moon rose in the night sky. The cold, pale light filled his chambers, augmenting the pitiful glow from a single candle. The colors of the room faded to grey and white. Coldness was within and without.

Darcy shook his head. The illusion was gone. Everything he thought was true was not. There was no place for anything in his soul but three stark truths:

– He never really knew Elizabeth. She was not who he supposed her to be. True, Wickham had deceived her, but so had almost everyone who came in contact with that reprobate—his father, his sister, even himself. In spite of her mistaken belief, Elizabeth was true to herself. She was strong and honest.

– He loved her. Oh, how he loved her!

– He would never have her.

With those thoughts cemented in his mind, Darcy staggered over to the bed and threw himself on top of the cool, crisp linen sheets. There was nothing to look forward to but another lonely night never reaching the end.

~*~*~


Dedicated to Justin Hayward and Graeme Edge




Jack Caldwell
Ramblings of a Cajun in Exile
SubjectAuthorPosted

Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

Jack C.June 25, 2018 04:37PM

Re: Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

Shannon KJune 26, 2018 01:42PM

Re: Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

EvelynJeanJune 26, 2018 05:14AM

Re: Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

ShannaGJune 25, 2018 11:12PM

Re: Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

LucieJuly 06, 2018 02:37AM

Re: Nights in White Linen - COMPLETE

June GJuly 26, 2018 02:18AM



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