A Celestial Conjunction
Elizabeth had left her father one half hour ago. After some time alone to reflect and compose her feelings, she returned to the parlor, went straight to her chair, picked up her needlework and began to sew busily. After a few minutes, when she felt herself capable of meeting Darcy's eye, she stole a glance at him. He returned her gaze with a half smile and raised an eyebrow inquiringly. She gave a slight smile in return and, blushing furiously, returned to her work, not trusting herself to look at him and maintain their secret--her father had given his blessing to their union.
Darcy, who wanted to be alone with Elizabeth above all else, resolved himself to action, and rising, walked past Mary, exhibiting on the pianoforte, to where Mrs. Bennet was playing cards with Jane, Bingley and Kitty. He addressed Mrs. Bennet and asked, "Do your grounds afford a good southern view of the night sky?"
Mrs. Bennet looked up, annoyed, and said distractedly, "Yes, it does..."
"I ask because I am a student of astronomy and there is a particularly fine conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter this evening, but one needs to view it from the south."
"You are most welcome to stroll around the back of the house and find such a view." Mrs. Bennet was anxious to get the hated Mr. Darcy out of the house where he could not infect Bingley with his arrogance.
Darcy feigned ignorance and asked, "And I would get there by going...?"
Mrs. Bennet loudly said, "Lizzy, please take Mr. Darcy round the back of the estate to the meadow where he may view his planets."
Elizabeth, with uncommon alacrity where her mother's commands were concerned, quickly said, "Yes, Mama." And with eyes downcast to hide her smile, she left the room with Darcy. They wordlessly donned their coats, left the house, and walked along the side of the building.
When Darcy was sure they were out of sight of all windows, he took Elizabeth's hand and, with a smile of immense satisfaction, placed it in the crook of his arm.
After a few moments he asked Elizabeth, "How did your talk with your father go? "
Elizabeth gave an exasperated sigh. Startled, Darcy quickly asked, "What is it my dear? Did he not give his consent to our marriage?"
Elizabeth hearing the concern in his voice sought to ease his mind by saying quickly, "Oh no, it is not that. Father gave his consent, it is just..."
"Dearest, what is it?" Darcy was beginning to worry.
Chagrined, Elizabeth blurted out, "Oh! How I wish I had been more temperate in my former opinion of you! That I had held my tongue regarding my dislike for you!"
Darcy relaxed as he smiled down at her.
"No one believes me when I tell them how much I..." Elizabeth stopped, blushing, "...how much I care for you. It took a great deal of explanation before either Jane or my father believed me. They are the two people who know me best, if they do not believe how much I feel for you, then what of everyone else in Meryton? Why, they will all believe that I am marrying you for your money!"
By now, they had reached the meadow south of the house, which was bordered by large elm trees. While standing beneath a great overhang of branches, Darcy suddenly stopped, faced Elizabeth and took her hands in his.
"My dearest Elizabeth. I am sure that once our engagement is announced and people see us together, there will be no doubt as to the sincerity of our feelings for each other."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, " Darcy replied smilingly, "That your feelings for me are so plainly written on your face that no one can help but see it. When I look into your eyes and see such undeserved love looking back at me, I can scarce catch my breath. I know that it is totally unmerited and that I am the most fortunate of men. It is all I can do to keep from taking you in my arms."
His actions belied his words as he enfolded Elizabeth in his arms. Elizabeth, though surprised, relaxed against his body, resting her head on his broad shoulder as Darcy let out a quiet sigh of utter contentment.
After a few moments, Elizabeth raised her head, and looking up at Darcy said, "It is I who feel overpowered by the look in your eyes. Right now, at this moment, it seems to me as if your eyes are looking into the very depths of my soul, and I can only marvel that we have found each other after all we have been through."
"Yes, it is miraculous. This is exactly where I have longed to be for so many months now...holding you in my arms, feeling your heart beating against mine... My skin," he said, caressing her cheek with his hand, "against yours... My lips," brushing his lips across her forehead, "against your lips....."
His lips found hers as he dropped several gentle kisses on her mouth. She reached up to run her hand through his hair, pulling him towards her as his arms tightened around her and they were locked in a dizzying embrace. The moments turned into minutes as they revelled in each other, oblivious to all until they heard in the distance,
"Lizzy? Mr. Darcy? Are you there?" It was Jane and Bingley coming in search of them, as it was long past the proper time when Bingley and Darcy should be leaving.
Reluctantly they parted, each looking deep into the others eyes, which such a look as made their knees quiver. When she regained her power of speech, Elizabeth called out, "We are here, Jane." As she hastily adjusted her hair, Elizabeth's playful mood returned as she asked Darcy,
"Sir, is there even a conjunction of the planets tonight or has this all been an elaborate fabrication to get me alone?"
"Madam! How could you doubt me? I always speak the absolute truth!" Darcy asked in mock consternation. "Yes, there is such a conjunction of the planets." He turned to the southern exposure and pointed out the two bright planets which were closer to each other than they had ever been before. Elizabeth, caught up in the beauty of the sight said in great awe,
Darcy, looking down at his future wife, murmured, "Yes, beautiful indeed!"
© 1997 Copyright held by the author.