Darcy had gone for what he hoped would be an enjoyable ride in the park but was, to his chagrin, joined by Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst. He was not in the mood for their acid tongues but had to be as polite as possible and hope that they would soon leave him. As they rode, they began to talk of the art exhibition which they had attended the day before.
"Perhaps we should tell Mr. Darcy of one of the paintings we saw," cooed Mrs. Hurst, "the one with the fine eyes."
They both laughed and Miss Bingley continued, "I could swear that she was Miss Elizabeth with her hair flying wildly around her head and her pelisse billowing." She looked out of the corner of her eye at Darcy but he kept his face impassive not wanting to give her any satisfaction. "Do you think we should tell him where this fine portrait is displayed," she said coyly to her sister.
"Only if he asks prettily," replied Mrs. Hurst.
"Would you like us to reveal where we were Mr. Darcy," said Miss Bingley.
"Why should you think it would concern me," replied Darcy, since he knew which gallery they were speaking of. "If you ladies will excuse me, I have to meet my cousin," said Darcy, as he quickly rode away unable any longer to stand their patter.
Darcy knew that Miss Bingley would be leaving town along with her sister to visit friends in Sheffield in a few days, so he thought it prudent to wait until they were gone before visiting the gallery himself. As soon as the Bingley sisters were out of town, he went to the exhibition to see for himself. His heart thudded in his chest as he stood before the portrait of a young woman with long dark curls flying around her face, the face of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. When the artist approached him he told him that she reminded him of someone.
"I doubt that you would know her replied the painter, she is a young woman from Hertfordshire.
"How did you come to paint her in such a manner," asked Darcy.
"Oh she didn't know that I was there," replied the artist. "I had gone there to paint the beautiful scenery and was hidden from her view. She came to the hilltop where the wind was blowing and removed the combs from her hair and shook it out into the wind, I had never seen anyone so beautiful, so I sketched her quickly before she left, and painted her from the sketch. I fell in love in one moment and had no problems catching her beauty, though I found out that she was but sixteen at the time, her face is with me yet. I have never again seen anyone so alive as she."
"Name your price," said Darcy.
"She is without price," replied the painter, "she is not for sale at any price."
© 1997 Copyright held by the author.