My Dear Aunt....
Mr. Darcy knew the moment could not be delayed any further. The letter must be written soon, before word of his recent engagement could reach Rosings through other means. Although he felt no great love for his aunt, the duty he owed her, as a gentleman and her nephew, required him to write and imform her what he knew would cause her great displeasure and severest reproofs.
He sat down at his desk and selected a clean sheet of paper. He had been considering for some time how best to approach this; - it could not be done without giving some thought as to its reception, and after pausing for a moment longer, he dipped his pen and began:
"MY DEAR AUNT,
It is not without some trepidation that I sit down to write this letter, since, though the information contained herein gives me much joy, your reaction on receiving this I cannot predict - except to say that after your visit to me in town recently, it is my thought that you will not welcome such news as I have to give with any great pleasure. Further delay can only result in your hearing of this through other means, of which it would be remiss of me to allow another to relate what is my sole duty to inform you. -With this said, I have attempted to the best of my ability, to prepare you for what follows, and will now endeavour to make it as painless as it is within my power to do so; - I know it cannot be by much.
As you are no doubt already aware, when I visited you at Rosings I was previously acquainted with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, due to my spending the summer at Netherfield with Bingley and his sisters; - a mere three miles from Longbourn where she and her family reside. In the time since I have known her, I have come to respect, value, and to even admire, her intelligence, wit, and lively conversation; - and it has been several months since I have come to regard Miss Elizabeth as among the highest women of my esteem. When you called on me in London, I was as yet unaware of the rumour surrounding Miss Bennet and myself; that it was thought by the general neighbourhood in Hertfordshire that we would be soon engaged to be married, nor did I believe that any of my actions had given rise, - or even had the potential to give rise, to such an expectation. The concerns you related regarding an alliance with Miss Bennet or her relations, did not go unheard, nor were the objections you raised so easily dismissed from my mind - as they first occurred to me several months ago, and I own it was the work of many weeks to reconcile them - but such it may appear to you and to those who have not been intimately acquainted with my thoughts on the matter. Be that as it may, I have long since discarded the likelihood of there being any material obstacles - not the least of those being a prior claim by your daughter; of which I will address further on - and I dismissed any subsequent objections raised, as being of little or no consequence when faced with my emotional well-being, and a life of certain misery were I to ignore the claims on my heart. However, let me state before I proceed further, that it has been never my intention to unjustly cause you pain; nor at any time was it my thought to wilfully deceive or mislead you, and I offer my apologies for any misconceptions I might have given as a result of your visit - it was most unconsciously done. I am grieved to know that any action of mine would incur your disapprobation and censure, however, in this situation it cannot be helped. In short, - if you have not already surmised - Miss Elizabeth Bennet consented to be my wife not less than a few days ago. - Forgive me, I know this cannot be easy for you to hear. It is my belief that no other woman is better suited to my temperament, and I am convinced that she is the only woman who could make me truly happy - any other would pale by comparison. Elizabeth has long since held my deepest affections, and my regard stems from no mysterious bewitchment, other than an attachment which naturally proceeds from two like-minded persons, who find they respect and value each others opinion; - neither, as I am sure some will undoubtedly claim, was any consideration in her acceptance of my addresses, given to fortune and the respect she would gain as mistress of Pemberley. It was never my intention to deceive you when you called on me in London, I am aware you disapprove of my choice, and that, from your words to me on the subject, you must feel that it is only appropriate for you sever any connections with myself and disassociate yourself with the whole affair. If this is your decision, I am sorry for it. - I would be grieved indeed, to lose your good opinion of me, however I do not regret my decision and can only reiterate my apologies for any misconceptions that arose from the matter.
As to the matter regarding your daughter, I can only say that I was not aware that any formal contract had been entered into by either parent, and that to my knowledge, there was no binding agreement on my part, either then or now. - Nor can I find that it ever was the specific wish of my mother that we marry, only that it was a thing talked of as a possible match - should we feel so inclined - being neither certain nor inevitable. That you desired the match and planned it from my infancy had not escaped my notice, however, my mother's wish that I marry your daughter was not stipulated in her will, nor was it once mentioned to me by my father, who led me to believe that, should I feel inclined to marry elsewhere, I should be free to do so. After the death of my most beloved father, it was my belief that I was not restricted solely to your daughter, and I was secure in the knowledge that I was free to choose a wife from any woman among my acquaintance. Any subsequent arrangement was made without my knowledge or consent, which I believe is required for an engagement to become official. If you, or Miss de Bourgh, believed matters to be otherwise, I can only state that the deception was not of my own devising. My recollection of events is such that, at no time was a preference for your daughter encouraged by myself in any way, shape, or form, and any mistaken impression leading to believe I held a preference for Miss de Bourgh that has since arisen, has not been of my own devising; for that you must look elsewhere. It is my hope that, in time, you will find it within yourself to forgive me, and may even, given time, begin to esteem and value my future wife as much as I do myself. Although I know this day cannot arrive any time in the near future, I await it with anticipation that we may not always be at odds with one another. I will only add, that I wish you and your daughter the best of health and happiness. Your's &c.
Once the ink had sufficiently dried, Darcy sealed the letter with some relief that the deed was done, and delivered it to Foster with the instructions that it be on the next available post. He could well imagine the consternation with which it would be greeted, and did not look forward to its reply, should Lady Catherine deign to respond to it. That, however, would not be for some days yet, and he could enjoy some few days respite until then.
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