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Timing is Everything - Chapter 15

June 11, 2019 05:20AM
AN: Only one more post to go! Thank you to everyone that has encouraged me. Here's the next chapter!

Timing is Everything

Chapter 15

Mr. Bingley continued to join Darcy on his visits to Longbourn. In trying to determine the best way to court Miss Bennet, he decided that each day he would tell her a decision he had made since the last time he saw her. When he was shown into the drawing room on the first day after their discussion on his indecisiveness he announced, quite loudly (and without explanation), that he had chosen his own clothes that morning. When Jane blushed, and Lydia and Kitty burst into giggles, he realized he should probably not have announced it quite so loudly. His visit to Longbourn that day was rather short, but he did not give up.

The next day, after being shown into the drawing room he sat down close to Miss Bennet.

“I will show you that I can be my own man,” he said quietly. “Every day, I will tell you about a decision that I have made.”

“That is not necessary,” Jane replied. “I hope to be able to see by your actions that you are more decisive.”

“Nevertheless, I am determined,” Bingley said. “And today, I want to share with you that I have signed the papers to renew the lease on Netherfield Park.”

“You are certain that is what you want?” Jane replied. “Right now, I cannot guarantee that you will be successful.”

“I am determined,” Bingley confirmed. “I will be here until you send me away.”

Although Jane was not certain that Mr. Bingley would stick to his determination, she was pleased each day that he came and sat by here to tell her something that he had decided upon. Some things were small, like a change to the items being served at breakfast to be more aligned with his tastes instead of Caroline’s. Some were larger, like ordering repairs on the roof of a tenant house. Most importantly, he was consistent. There was always something for him to tell her.

Time passed quickly. Each day, Darcy suggested a walk, attempting to catch a little more time alone with Elizabeth. After seeing the results of their first solitary walk in Longbourn’s gardens, Jane was determined not to leave them alone for too long. In this she found a willing ally in Mary, as long as her chaperoning duties did not interfere with her piano playing or reading. Wanting to gain the favor of their very generous future brother, Lydia and Kitty decided to divert Jane and Mary as much as possible. As Lydia and Kitty inevitably intervened in a way that made them giggle, Jane did not mind. Not only was it refreshing to see her younger sisters regaining their joy, Darcy was always so embarrassed by the giggling that he would not attempt further intimacy with Elizabeth that day.

It did not take long for the purchase offer on the Great House at Stoke to be accepted. With some prompting from Elizabeth, Darcy invited Mrs. Bennet to view the house before any renovations were made. He was a little surprised when she was delighted with the small parlor on the south side of the house. Her only request was that she have a comfortable chaise lounge placed by the window that overlooked the front of the house.

Mrs. Bennet was happy with the renovations that would leave her with one larger drawing room, as well as a larger music room and dining room. When Mrs. Bennet first expressed disinterest is moving the library to the small west drawing room, Darcy thought that she was more interested in books than Elizabeth realized. He quickly saw his error when Mrs. Bennet instead suggested that they only keep so many books as could comfortably fit in the study, and leave the west drawing room as it was.

“But, I thought the west drawing room was too small?” Darcy asked.

“Yes, it would be if it were the only drawing room,” Mrs. Bennet replied. “But, we’ll have the large drawing room on the east side of the house. I’ll have my small parlor at the front of the house. The other girls can fit up the west drawing room as a small sitting room to entertain a few of their friends at the time. It really will be quite delightful.”

It was only later, while Darcy and Elizabeth were reviewing the topic while walking through Longbourn’s gardens (with Mr. Bingley and Jane trailing behind), that Darcy gained a better understanding.

“But, what about the books?” Darcy asked, perplexed.

“Many of the books at Longbourn will stay with the estate,” Elizabeth replied. “My father regularly added to his collection, but I do not know how many of them would be considered part of the estate, and how many would be considered personal property. I do not think that my mother desires to delve into the difference when books were one of the points of contention between her and my father.”

“But, might his favorites not bring her comfort later?” Darcy asked.

“Perhaps, but mama has never overly concerned herself with which books were his favorites.”

Caroline Bingley was loving Lyme.

Shortly after they arrived, they attended a ball hosted by an acquaintance of theirs. While there, Caroline was at first alarmed when she overheard her sister telling others that they soon expected to be more closely connected to the Darcy family. As Louisa explained that Mr. Darcy was engaged to the sister of their dear friend, Miss Bennet, Caroline had to bite her tongue to stop herself from contradicting Louisa in front of others. As Louisa went on to explain that they fully expected an announcement from their brother and Miss Bennet as soon as she was out of mourning, Caroline accidently crushed her fan.

As the evening continued, Caroline was surprised at the attention she received. Even she could see the pattern. Two or more matrons would hold a whispered conversation, glancing furtively in her direction. Sometimes, a gentleman would leave the card tables, where Mr. Hurst was ensconced, in order to talk to his wife. After either type of conversation, the matron would collect her son, and ensure he asked Caroline to dance. Caroline had never danced so many sets in one evening. She quickly pushed to the back of her mind any thought that she owed the Bennet sisters for her success, as she once again confirmed that she was intimate friends with the future Mrs. Darcy’s sister, and that she fully expected an announcement from her brother and her dear friend as soon as Miss Bennet was out of mourning.

Three months after the death of Mr. Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Collins arrived at Longbourn. By this time, the renovations on the Great House at Stoke were well underway. Mrs. Bennet was reluctantly preparing herself to move to the guest chamber when Mrs. Collins informed her that she and Mr. Collins would stay in the guest chamber while some changes were made to the master suite. If anyone questioned why it took a few months to change the wallpaper and drapes in the master suite at Longbourn, while major renovations were able to be accomplished at a much swifter pace at the Great House at Stoke, they did not voice them out loud.

Both Jane and Elizabeth were happy to have Charlotte back in the neighborhood, though they all wished it were under different circumstances.

One day shortly after the Collins’ arrived, Darcy asked to speak with Mr. Collins in his study. As Mr. Darcy was occupied, Jane did not overly concern herself when Elizabeth walked out of sight on her way to Oakham Mount. She was so busy enjoying her conversation about the merits of Mr. Bingley choosing to ride his horse to Longbourn instead of taking his carriage that she did not see when Mr. Darcy set off in the same direction fifteen minutes later.

When Darcy crested the top of Oakham Mount, he stopped momentarily to watch the woman he loved. Elizabeth had her eyes closed, with her face raised to the sun. She looked peaceful. He did not think he had ever seen a more beautiful sight. As Elizabeth opened her eyes and turned toward him, Darcy could not describe the feeling of joy in his heart as she smiled.

“I am glad you found me here,” Elizabeth said, quietly.

“I have wanted to return here with you for some time,” Darcy admitted, stepping closer to her. “I just did not want to come with any of your sisters in tow.”

“Do you think we will be able to avoid the woodpecker this time?” Elizabeth asked.

“My hope is that you will allow me to hold you without the impetus of needing protection,” Darcy replied.

“But you do provide protection, and not just from nesting birds,” Elizabeth replied, stepping closer to Darcy. “I do not know what we would have done without your support and assistance these last few months.”

“Mr. Gardiner would have still helped you,” Darcy replied. “You would not have been left completely desolate.”

“But it would not be the same,” Elizabeth replied. “You have provided for us in ways that Uncle Gardiner never could have done. I am thankful for that.”

“I do not want your thanks,” Darcy replied.

“If not my thanks, then what do you want?” Elizabeth asked.

“Do you think you will ever grow to love me? I know that there is a reason you have not yet said the words.”

Elizabeth studied Darcy’s face. His eyes were full of love and concern.

“Do you want to know what I was thinking about when you found me?” Elizabeth asked.

“If you would like to tell me.”

“I was thinking about you. I was thinking about the last time that we were together here on the top of Oakham Mount. I was thinking about everything that you have done for me and my family. I was thinking about all the quiet ways you have supported me over the last three months. I was thinking that it has been a very long time since we have had time alone together, and how badly I wanted that to change. Then, I was asking myself why I wanted to be alone with you.”

Elizabeth paused. Darcy was growing concerned that she would not continue when she started speaking again.

“I have never considered myself in love before. I have never felt that my happiness relied on another. But, when I look into the future and imagine it without you there, my heart aches. I can no longer see a happy future without you in it. You have become a part of me.”

“I would never leave you,” Darcy said fervently. “I love you more than I know how to express.”

“I do not know when it began, or why I have been so blind to it in the past, but I also love you. It runs deeper than I understand, and is growing every day,” Elizabeth replied.

The kiss that followed was not as chaste as the one they shared in the garden of Longbourn. As Darcy opened his eyes to look for a convenient fallen log or rock to sit upon, he caught some motion out of the corner of his eye. Turning in that direction, he saw the backside of Kitty and Lydia as they fled from the top of Oakham Mount, laughing.

When Darcy and Elizabeth returned to Longbourn, Kitty and Lydia were waiting for them at the end of the path.

“Jane need never know,” Lydia whispered with a giggle as she quickly fixed Elizabeth’s hair before they returned to the house.

At dinner that evening, most of the women were able to tell that there was a change in the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. On the other hand, neither Mr. Collins nor Mr. Bingley noticed anything. Mr. Collins because he was not a very observant gentleman, and Mr. Bingley because he was too distracted by Miss Bennet.

Mrs. Bennet rested easier that night than she had since before the death of Mr. Bennet. She was no longer concerned that Mr. Darcy would tire of Elizabeth before they made it to the altar. Elizabeth had secured their futures.

Timing is Everything - Chapter 15

BethWJune 11, 2019 05:20AM

Re: Timing is Everything - Chapter 15

EvelynJeanJune 12, 2019 03:00AM


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