Knowing Him Better
Author's Note: I have seen the movie at least 20 times and read the book twice. One line had always stood out as not Lizzy. The other night I finally figured it out. This story is my version of what that line means. Thanks to Lou for the excellent estimations to help ensure this story's "accuracy."
"It has been coming on so gradually that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley."
She has said it with a smile as though she was being impertinent, however there was more truth in it than she cared to reveal to her sister. Elizabeth's thoughts reminded her just how significant it had been. Unlike so many others, she had not been interested in Mr. Darcy's ten thousand pounds. Many a young lady and many more mothers of young ladies had tried to estimate the house, lands, moneys, etc. Not Elizabeth. Not until she arrived at Pemberley and then not in the same manner as any other.
She reflected back to the ride from the Lambton inn to Pemberley just a few months ago. She was impressed with grounds; she never expected such vast property. As they rode toward the house she had wondered to herself how many tenants lived on the land? Thirty? Fifty? A hundred? And not just the farmers but their wives, children and other family members. All these people depended to a certain degree on Mr. Darcy and his abilities.
As the house came into sight, she was at first impressed with the beauty of both the structure and its situation in the surrounding prospect. It was a beautiful house and the grounds surrounding it were impeccably kept. This was not a surprise to Elizabeth. The house reflected its owner.
After taking in the scene, Elizabeth reflected on the household staff. How many people must be employed to maintain the house, not to mention the gardeners and stable staff? Altogether, perhaps another fifty people employed by Mr. Darcy.
Elizabeth, having spent much time with her father, was acquainted with the management of her small household. While Mr. Darcy's income may be five times that of her father, it was obvious that his responsibilities must be fifty times those of her father.
Fifty times the responsibility on a man so young, just eight-and-twenty! Elizabeth began to realize that Mr. Darcy's manner, his pride, his formality, his seriousness were simply required of the man responsible for all that she surveyed. Or at least some of it could be excused in this way.
She recalled a conversation about the library at Pemberley that occurred while she was at Netherfield. She recalled the sense of pride in duty Mr. Darcy exuded when he spoke. At the time she had dismissed it as just Mr. Darcy's arrogance. She was beginning to see, even more clearly, how her prejudice had clouded her perception.
While seeing the estate had peeled away one layer of Lizzy's prejudice, Mrs. Reynold's praise of Mr. Darcy's management style had removed more. 'The best landlord and the best master' had been her words. Could he be benevolent? She had not witnessed it, except in his relationship with Mr. Bingley. He had certainly not shown it to her. However, from all that she seen and heard at Pemberley thus far, she was sure that there was some regard for others within his character. Even those not his equal. Perhaps she had not observed it because she had not wanted to. "More likely I called it something else at the time," thought Lizzy to herself.
Of course the series of events following Lizzy's arrival at Pemberley changed her opinion to an even greater degree. She was amazed at how much meaning was contained in her statement, "I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." Pemberley would always hold a special place her heart. It was at Pemberley that Elizabeth removed the veil of prejudice that had clouded her vision for so long. She was then able to get to know Mr. Darcy, the true man, the man she fell in love with.
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