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Dearest Anne 4B

August 26, 2020 01:25AM
Dearest Anne 4B Sorry, I skipped a chapter!

As Elizabeth Bennet entered the children’s garden of Braemar Castle she was greeted by the welcoming smiles of several of the other nannies and governesses who had come to know and admire her. The children too were fond of her, for she was always willing to give them her attention and took their games and questions most seriously. She stopped here and there to say hello to one lady or another as she made her way to her favorite spot, a shady bench under a large elm whose solid bows bore the weight of several swings— Jonathan’s favorite!

She had bent to admire little Marianne’s doll and, on straightening, noticed Georgiana Darcy already seated on the bench waiting for her. To her great astonishment, she saw Mr. Darcy standing behind his sister, intently watching her approach. She hesitated, casting her eyes down for a moment. Then gathering her courage she raised her chin to look at him, gazing directly into his face. She was instantly rewarded and reassured by what she saw there. In the depths of his dark brown eyes was the warmth and admiration that had held her mesmerized at Pemberley. There was such love and longing there—yet uncertainty, as well. Disconcerted, she knew not what to make of it or how to proceed. She had seen him with Anne and her mind reeled with confusion.

“Miss Darcy, Mr. Darcy, how lovely to see you here,” she said softly. “I hope you’ve not been waiting long?”

“Not at all,” murmured Darcy, not taking his eyes off her for a moment. “It is a pleasure to see you again, Miss Bennet.”

“You see, Miss Bennet, I was right! My brother was so anxious to see you that he insisted on joining us. And we selfishly kept our plans secret from the Colonel so that we could have you and Jonathan all to ourselves,” said Georgiana, bending to smile at the excited little boy balanced on Elizabeth’s hip. “So this is your little man! He is beautiful! And such a happy baby! May I hold him? Do you think he will come to me, Elizabeth?”

“Yes, I think so; he is a very easy-going child. Here, allow me to introduce you,” she said, picking him up in her arms. “Master Jonathan, this is Miss Georgiana Darcy, and she would very much like to play with you. Miss Darcy, this is Jonathan Bennington, who simply adores the swings. Now if you hold him on your lap and push off gently with your feet, he will be happy to stay in your company for some time. That’s right,” said Elizabeth, helping to get them both settled. “He insists on holding onto the ropes himself, so you can just hold onto his little hands.”

“Won’t he slip off, Elizabeth? I’m afraid I’ll drop him!”

“Then I could bind him to you with my sling if you like, but it will wrinkle your gown, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, I don’t mind. I wouldn’t miss this experience for the world! I love to swing myself, you know! Jonathan and I already have a great deal in common,” she laughed.

When the sling was tied tight and the baby was eagerly kicking his little legs, Darcy came to give his sister that first gentle push. Georgiana took up the rhythm with her legs.

“Now that he is tied to you, you needn’t be afraid, Georgiana. You can go as high as you like—the higher the better, as far as Jonathan is concerned,” called Elizabeth.

Darcy watched the precious little scene and his mind raced wildly. What should he say? What should he do? All this anxiety, this suppressed and hidden panic was making his life a misery. He had to know, definitively, where he stood. It was time to take the risk. He had never expected another chance with Elizabeth but he had been blessed with it, and so was determined to make the most of it. No skirting around, no subtle implication, no fear of humiliation. If he was to lose her forever, so be it. He had lived with that devastating thought long enough.

“He’s a little dare-devil then?” asked Darcy, motioning for Elizabeth to come and sit beside him on the bench.

“Yes, his father loves to rough-house with him, so he knows no fear. But then I suppose that is a good thing.”

“Indeed it is—for now,” said Darcy.

They sat in silence for a moment, awkwardly searching for a safe topic of conversation. Elizabeth was grateful that Darcy took the initiative.

“I must say that this fresh Highland air seems to suit you, Miss Bennet. You are looking exceptionally well.”

“Thank you, sir,” she replied, a little embarrassed and uneasy. What is he about? she wondered. He kept Georgiana in the dark about our meeting yesterday, and yet now he is here paying me the most particular attention. Remembering that dreadful morning, she thought it best to get her apology out of the way.

“Allow me to apologize for running off so quickly the other morning, Mr. Darcy. It was terribly rude of me, and I…”

“But of course you had to get inside and out from the sun. You were clearly overheated and near exhaustion. I hope you retreated to your room and rested a while, Miss Bennet. The Colonel and I were very concerned about you,” he said, the warmth of his smile only increasing the thoughtfulness of his words.

“You are most generous, Mr. Darcy,” she replied, looking away in embarrassment.

“I must say that I find you looking quite a bit thinner, Sir. I hope you’ve not been ill?” she said with genuine concern.

“No, no! I’ve not been ill, though under some strain, perhaps.”

She looked at him questioningly, but he did not elaborate. Instead, he took a letter out of his pocket, unfolded it and said, “I had a letter from Charles Bingley just before we left town, and I happened to have left it in my coat pocket. I thought you might find this part amusing.” He looked at her as if to ask her permission to begin, and she nodded, a bit stunned, but obviously eager to have him read it.

“Ah, yes, this is the part I thought you’d enjoy:”

My dearest Jane is even more of an angel than I first imagined! I find that I love her more each day and cannot understand how this is possible. Is there any other man in England as happy as I? Were it not for the daily visits of my mother-in-law, I would think we were living a dream. We have actually begun to talk of finding an estate a bit farther from Longbourn. I suggested Derbyshire, but Jane felt it was too far.”

Elizabeth’s lips parted in astonishment. Her face paled.

“Have I offended you, Miss Bennet? Perhaps it was wrong of me to share such a private letter. But Georgiana mentioned that you were awaiting news from Netherfield, and I thought that Bingley’s expressions of love for your sister would gladden your heart. If I’ve upset you, I am deeply sorry. I had hoped to amuse you and instead have made you uncomfortable. Please forgive me,” he said, inwardly raging at his stupidity.

“Not at all, Mr. Darcy,” she replied, inadvertently bringing her hand to rest on his sleeve. “It warmed my heart to hear it, and I did find it amusing until you came to the part about Derbyshire.” Here Elizabeth looked directly at him, her eyes moist. “Please don’t encourage him to take my sister so far away from me, Mr. Darcy,” she whispered. He felt his stomach tighten.

“I promise you I shall not, Miss Bennet,” he said, covering her hand with his.

She startled and drew away from him, pretending to search for a handkerchief with which to wipe her tears. He offered his, and she accepted it.

“Elizabeth,” he now murmured, moving closer. “I cannot let this opportunity slip away without asking you directly if you have, with the passing of these many months, been able forgive me…even a little. Do you think that you could ever find it in your heart to do so? I know I am to blame for your family’s misfortunes and wish you to believe that not a day goes by that I do not regret my selfishness. I wholeheartedly accept my culpability in the matter. But my feelings for you have not changed. If anything, they have deepened and I must know from your own lips whether there is still a chance that you could consider...” There he stopped, for the look on her face stunned him, and he was afraid of what was to come.

“But Anne! I saw you with Anne. I thought that surely you were to wed. You cannot deny your strong feelings for her! I saw you together!” said Elizabeth accusingly. Darcy’s look of surprise and subsequent amusement confounded her further, but made her realize with horror the impertinence of what she had just said. Though deeply embarrassed, she kept her eyes intently fixed on his, waiting for his reply.

“Yes, you are quite right, Miss Bennet. I have come to genuinely love Anne—but only as a sister, a cousin, a dear friend. You see, it is only recently that I have come to appreciate what a wonderful person she is—nothing at all like she would have us believe. Her silence and disinterestedness are a sham to prevent her from clashing with her mother. You must believe me, Elizabeth; it is you that I love, you that I need, you that want for my wife!”

Elizabeth’s lips trembled as she shook her head in disbelief. “How could you leave me then and keep your distance all these months? Had we not met here so unexpectedly, would you have sought me out again? I think not, Mr. Darcy.”

Darcy felt suddenly ill. The conversation had taken a painfully dangerous turn and he knew that their happiness depended on his answer. He took her trembling hand in his and pressed it. “You are right, Elizabeth. I left Hertfordshire too quickly—too impetuously. But when I saw you that horrid afternoon, you did not seem at all happy to see me. Indeed, you would not allow me to catch your eye. You turned anxiously away and made no attempt to speak to me. I felt foolish for even returning! I literally ran from Hertfordshire believing you wanted nothing more to do with me and only stayed away because I believed it was what you wanted. Please tell me it isn’t so!”

She gasped, her breaths coming in short spurts now, her head shaking ever so slightly. “I…I was very nervous about seeing you; it is true. But what else could I have been?” Her eyes searched his for understanding. “I alone knew to what lengths you had gone to save my sister’s reputation, and I was at once both grateful and ashamed.” He grimaced, but said nothing to interrupt her. “What I could not know was how you, yourself, felt about associating with my family. I could not bear to face you—not directly. And after your aunt’s admonitions, I was sure you had been forced to give me up—whatever your feelings.”

“My aunt’s admonitions?” said Darcy more loudly than he had intended. They both glanced quickly about to see if they had drawn attention to themselves, but only Georgiana had looked up at them. She immediately turned her attention back to the baby, pretending not to hear, singing to him softly as they swung together.

“My aunt wrote to you?” Darcy inquired with a pretense of calm.

“She paid me an unexpected visit,” replied Elizabeth. “Did she not tell you that she had come to see me?”

“No! I knew nothing of it…till now. I cannot believe…” he began to say, and then, “…oh, yes I can! Good G-d, what horrid things did she say to frighten you off?” True understanding now dawned in his eyes. “So you believed that I had relinquished your love for the sake of my family and only returned to make amends to your sister! Elizabeth!” he said, nearly overcome with emotion, “I’ve been such a fool!”

“Oh dear!” came Georgiana’s sudden cry. “Fitzwilliam, look!”

They both turned to see Lady Catherine de Bourgh rushing towards them, making no attempt to hide her very great displeasure. “Fitzwilliam! Georgiana!” she cried. “You are needed immediately. Come at once! Your uncle wishes to make a short tour before dinner and everyone is assembled and waiting for you!”

“This is most sudden Aunt!” said Darcy, indignant and extremely irritated.

“Don’t argue, Darcy! Just come away this instant! Georgiana, relieve yourself of that child and come with me at once!”

Elizabeth instinctively rose to assist Georgiana, but Darcy stayed her hand. “Miss Bennet,” he now said loudly enough for his aunt to hear, “It seems I am needed by my family and must leave you for now. But pray, would you be so kind as to grant me an interview tomorrow morning? There is something very particular I wish to ask you—after breakfast, perhaps, when you’ve returned from your rambles?”

Elizabeth cast nervous glances at both Georgiana and Lady Catherine. Then summoning her courage once again, she straightened and replied, “Of course, Mr. Darcy. That would be a most convenient time.” She smiled shyly and blushed. Turning to Georgiana, whose cheeks were crimson with humiliation, she simply said, “Enjoy your outing, Miss Darcy. It has been a lovely afternoon and I hope we shall have the opportunity to do it again.”

Georgiana let out a happy sigh and came towards Elizabeth to kiss her. “Thank you Miss Bennet, I look forward to it very much.” And with that she handed Jonathan back to her and took her brother’s arm. Grinning broadly, brother and sister followed a seething Lady Catherine out of the garden.

Dearest Anne 4B

Gaby A.August 26, 2020 01:25AM

Re: Dearest Anne 4B

BTroisiSeptember 02, 2020 11:08AM

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Gaby A.September 02, 2020 02:28PM

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SaraleeAugust 29, 2020 02:26AM

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AntonellaMTCAugust 29, 2020 04:28AM

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Gaby A.August 29, 2020 06:24AM

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MichaAugust 26, 2020 10:49PM


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