Author's Note: I've always wondered what happened at Kent that would make Darcy so certain of Elizabeth's interest. I like to think that somehow her words and actions, though misinterpreted by him, would have encouraged him rather than his just having a conceited sense of his worth such that any woman would have to accept him. Here is my interpretation of a possible interaction.
Mr. Darcy," announced Martha.
Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Maria curtsied as Mr. Darcy came into the room. Charlotte offered Mr. Darcy a seat. "I hope you are well, sir," she said as she noticed a slight flush to his face.
"Thank you. I am. And you?" He made his reply to Charlotte, but he looked towards Elizabeth as he remained standing.
"I am well, thank you. And how is the Colonel, today sir?"
"He is quite well. He is taking a ride in the countryside."
"And your aunt and cousin?"
"They too are well. It is on my aunt's business that I am here today." He paused. "Mrs. Collins, would you, Mr. Collins, and your guests join us for dinner and cards this evening?" Although he addressed his aunt's request to Mrs. Collins, his gaze was still fixed on Elizabeth who did not notice his interest. "Perhaps Miss Bennet would be so kind as to play some music this evening."
"Not I. Not after the abuse I suffered yesterday." She turned toward him and said assuredly, "I shall stick to cards this evening."
How Elizabeth wished she had not been so adamant about playing cards. When the tables were brought out, she found herself sitting across from Mr. Darcy. Their opponents for quadrille were Maria and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Mr. Collins was busy attending to Lady Catherine while Charlotte sat dutifully by his side, dividing her time between conversing with Lady Catherine and now and again observing the happenings at the card table.
After winning three sets straight, Elizabeth commented, "How well we play together Mr. Darcy? It is a shame we are such sworn enemies."
"Then perhaps we might start again, as if we had just met this evening." Perhaps, he thought, I might not be so distracted by her charms, were this to be our first evening in each other's company.
"Oh, no. I know you too well, Mr. Darcy. Our opinions of each other would not change in the least. Certainly, a well-played game of cards is not the standard on which I would have you create your first impressions of me. I would venture to say that you would feel the same."
"You are correct. There are many other activities which are better suited so as to illustrate our characters."
Fitzwilliam cleared his throat. "I must beg you to stop your repartee. If you should continue to win this way, I will have to think that you two have developed some kind of special code!" As Fitzwilliam turned his cards over in a loss once again, he said, "Darcy, I think your partner would make you a worthy opponent. Shall we switch sides?"
But Elizabeth answered, "No, I have had enough of cards this evening. I will honor your earlier request, Mr. Darcy, and play now. However, you must promise not to distract me with your harsh stares. We both know that my talents are lacking indeed." Fitzwilliam rose and offered his arm. Mr. Darcy followed at a short distance.
As Elizabeth looked at the music before her, she noticed a crisp new sheet. She carefully lifted it and noticed the title Voi Che Sapete * ." "This has always been a favorite of mine. How did you know?" she exclaimed as she turned towards the Colonel.
"Do not thank me. Though I would be most happy to hear you play it. Perhaps there is another ...," he said as he glanced towards Darcy.
Mr. Darcy interrupted. "It was found by Mrs. Jenkinson this morning." He did not add that he had sent to London for the piece the day before, and that it had just arrived that morning. Or that he had conveniently placed it with Mrs. Jenkinson's correspondence, and that when she commented on finding it, he had taken it and placed it at the pianoforte without a hint to its appearance.
"Very well," returned Elizabeth. "Let us hope I can do the Italian justice," she said as she quickly studied the piece.
But Mr. Darcy was not to enjoy the music as much as his cousin, for as soon as Elizabeth began to play, his aunt cried, "Darcy, come here this instant. It is imperative that you translate this for your cousin Anne, our guests, and myself. You know neither Anne nor I have knowledge of Italian." To her other guests she commented, "Had Anne not been so ill or had I the inclination, you would not have heard any better Italian phrasing, why not even in all of Italy. But we must rely on Darcy instead." She shook her head. "It puzzles me as to how we would even have such music. I do not enjoy listening to that which I do not understand."
Elizabeth's clear soft voice was echoed by Darcy's slow deep one. Charlotte noticed that he faltered quite a few times as he translated Lizzy's words into the story of an unrequited love. It seems to have some personal meaning to him, she thought. Although there was no doubt that he was not thinking of Anne as he recited the words, Charlotte could not be sure that he spoke of her friend either. He rarely glanced her way, but at the same time seemed lost in her words. He stared into an unknown distance and spoke to no one in particular.
Who know what love is,
See if it is
What I have in my heart.
All that I feel
I will explain;
Since it is new to me,
I do not understand it.
I have a feeling
Full of desire,
Which now is pleasure,
Now is torment.
I freeze, then I feel
My spirit all ablaze,
And the next moment
Turn again to ice.
I seek for a treasure
Outside of myself;
I know not who holds it
Nor what it is.
I sigh and I groan
Without wishing to,
I flutter and tremble
Without knowing why.
I find no peace
By night or day,
But yet to languish thus
Is sheer delight.
Who know what love is,
See if it is
What I have in my heart."
(*this is the translation from Mozart's piece played in episode 5 of P&P2)
As she finished the last bars, Elizabeth sighed deeply. "I feel that I shall never know a love such as that. I have always been of a skeptical and practical nature and I find I do not give my heart very easily." She inadvertently glanced towards Mr. Darcy as she said, perhaps a little too loudly, "I cannot help but think that practical issues often take precedence over what is in one's heart." She looked at him definitively as she commented to the colonel. "It is most unfortunate, however, when one has the power to make others happy in love, one abuses that power for one's own gain." She paused. "But, Colonel Fitzwilliam, I am too somber, and a somber mood will not do for the other pieces we have before us. Please choose the next."
"Do you always walk this way Miss Bennett?" The morning was sunny and bright as Mr. Darcy walked toward Elizabeth who was standing under a tree abloom with fragrant blossoms.
"As a matter of fact, I do. Perhaps you should make a note of it. In the future, you may not want to risk clouding over a day as beautiful as today by engaging in a debate with Miss Elizabeth Bennett. We shall see enough of each other in the evenings to satisfy your penchant for argument. Let us not ruin the few hours we have of spring sunshine, dewdrops, and blossoms."
He smiled slightly as they turned to walk. She caught a glimpse of his face and felt satisfied that indeed she knew his character well. He had not heard the truth in her words! His pride had made it impossible for him to consider that she might like her solitude far more than his arrogant company! At the same time she was relieved. They would spend enough time in each other's company over the next evenings that she should feel very uncomfortable had he ascertained her true feelings.
"Do you plan to stay at Rosings long?" she asked in an effort to make conversation.
"It depends. I visit my aunt every spring and always plan to stay for about a fortnight. I was fortunate to be able to bring Colonel Fitzwilliam along on this visit. It is possible we will stay longer."
"Do you mean to say that were the Colonel to ask you to stay or if Lady Catherine were to implore your extended company, that you might be persuaded to stay? Perhaps even without a lengthy, well considered argument from either?"
"No, not at all. I have taken care of the majority of my business in the city. Though it is possible that some circumstances may arise that will need my attention, my steward knows where to get in touch with me if it is something he cannot handle on his own. I should be able to send instructions to him via post." He stopped and then added, "The most important business arose summer last and that has been attended to satisfactorily."
"It must be a comfort to know there are those whom you can trust." With your fortune, Elizabeth added silently.
"Yes, it is," he returned with an almost imperceptible sigh.
And what of George Wickham, she thought. Whom could he trust? Elizabeth was about to mention George Wickham, but something in Mr. Darcy's countenance as he made his reply made her catch herself. They walked on in silence. It is moot, she thought. Mr. Wickham no longer needs Mr. Darcy. With Mary King's small fortune, any man of worth would be able to earn a respectable living. In a very few years, one could even purchase a small manor. Mr. Wickham would never again be beholden to Mr. Darcy and he should rejoice in his good fortune. Although at one time, Elizabeth could have wished herself in a position to share in those labors and fruits, that time had long passed. Yes, his manners were pleasing and his demeanor gentle, but she was not in love with Mr. Wickham.
With these thoughts occupying her mind, Elizabeth did not notice a fallen branch in her path. As she clumsily stumbled forward, a strong arm caught her elbow and steadied her.
"You are not hurt?" she was asked as she looked up into concerned eyes.
"No. Just embarrassed," she said as she straightened herself and reclaimed her arm. "I pride myself on being an excellent walker. Had I not been lost in my reverie, this would not have happened. I must think less of what's going on in my head and more about what's going on at my feet. I thank you for your quick action. It most certainly saved me from a wretched fall."
"My pleasure, madam."
Elizabeth was suddenly overcome with a sense of awkwardness. How quick Mr. Darcy had been to come to her aid and how gentle was his touch on her arm. She could still feel a slight tingle on her elbow. In contrast, she did not register any lingering sensation in the foot that had kicked the branch so forcefully. How could this be? With the sudden knowledge of both her embarrassment and gratitude, Elizabeth started. "Ah, there is the parsonage. I must be off, for I promised Charlotte I would help her with some pies to be delivered to the parish poor. I must be late already. Will you excuse me Mr. Darcy?"
He bowed as she began running towards the parsonage.
Elizabeth found her visits with the Colonel quite interesting. There had passed between them a mild flirtation, but her instincts told her that they were friends and nothing more. That is why Elizabeth was exceedingly puzzled by the turn her conversation with Mr. Darcy had taken. They had met near the poplar, heading in opposite directions. Mr. Darcy turned and walked beside her.
"I hope you have enjoyed your visits to Rosings."
"How could one not with such grand windows and fireplaces? And the gardens are so well-manicured. And my, what tapestries and furniture! There is a history in each piece."
"I would not have thought that you would like such order in a garden. I thought perhaps you took these walks to escape such confines," he said questioningly.
"You are correct in that estimation. There is something quite refreshing in a brisk walk through the glories of a natural setting. I like hearing the chirps of birds and the hum of insects. I like the textures of the grass, the clover, and even the stones beneath my feet. The breeze carries such beautiful scents. And the brilliant colors of the trees and flowers on a sunny day cannot be duplicated in any painting. Surely you must notice these things, too?"
"Hmm. But the gardens at Rosings do have some beauties. When the roses are in full bloom, one can smell the scent during your cousin's Sunday morning sermons. The vision of those roses is like an ocean abloom."
Elizabeth considered his description an accurate one. Yes, Rosings did have its beauties.
"You have not seen the library at Rosings, have you? It is a large, dark room with books stacked to the ceiling. The Greek and Roman classics are on the far wall. Mathematics, history, and philosophy fill fully one third of the shelves. On the north shelf near the corner, there are the contemporary essays, poetry, and some fiction. If you wish to finish the piece you started at Netherfield, it is there. You may return it on your next visit here. Or, there are others from which you may wish to choose."
"Why thank you." Elizabeth politely responded, all the while wondering why she was being given such complete information on the contents of Rosings' library. But she was even more surprised when Mr. Darcy continued to describe the layout of the upstairs.
"The upstairs at Rosings is much brighter than the downstairs and each room on the west side has a full view of these hills. In the room I presently occupy, there is a large cherrywood desk that would be well-suited for your correspondence. You will find that the end room on the left side has the best light for intricate work such as you might do with your needlepoint. There are fireplaces in several of the rooms for your comfort during the winters."
Elizabeth was puzzled with his use of the word "you." Was he speaking in more general terms? It was more likely that he was trying to vex her with feigned familiarity, for he knew quite well that she would never become intimate with such surroundings. With this surmise, she replied, "Considering my humble beginnings, I am sure that the lighting and the scenery at Longbourn are quite sufficient for my needs."
They saw the Colonel approaching them. "What a fine morning for a walk! The Spring is quite beautiful this year. Everything is green, yet there has been but a few days of rain," he said cheerfully. "Darcy, you look exceptionally well. And Miss Bennett, you could not be lovelier."
"We were just discussing the merits of Rosings. Would you care to add any?" Elizabeth teased.
"I think the less said about Rosings, the better. Had you not been here on this visit Miss Bennett, I am sure that all the riches and finery of Rosings could not have persuaded me to stay for more than a week."
"Mr. Darcy has shared some of his descriptions of Rosings and its environs. Shall you do the same?"
"Mine is a memory more than a description. One of my foremost memories of Rosings from when I was younger also includes Darcy. Would you care to hear it?"
"We had just come from school on a short break. Anne had recently gotten over a third illness in three months and our aunt insisted that we stay indoors for our entire stay. It was on a sunny day such as today and being young lads of about fifteen, it was most difficult for us. Darcy and I could no longer stand the confinement, so he came up with a plan to steal out during tea. Unfortunately, it had rained the day before and it was still very wet. We stole away and had a grand time exploring these very same hills. About an hour later, we were preparing to sneak back in when we realized how muddy we both were. To make matters worse, I slipped in a rather large puddle on the way in and Darcy, here, could hardly hold back his laughter. We made it in fine in our just our underclothes. And Darcy, whose grand idea it was, promised that he himself would wash the mud out of our clothes. That is when I had my chance to laugh, for you never saw so much soap and mud. The servants were exceedingly grateful and our aunt was never the wiser. I had new respect for my cousin's daring and integrity. Since then, I have never hesitated to follow his lead."
"Would you still consider him daring?"
"Darcy very rarely makes rash decisions; he is exceedingly exact in his business dealings. Yet he has long been responsible for a great many things. His sister, Georgiana, is of his particular concern. No, whilst he still retains his integrity, I would not call him daring."
"Would you agree, Mr. Darcy? Are you no longer daring?"
"The risks I took as a child, would have had little effect on anyone other than myself. Even in the incident related, the consequences would not have been great. Yes, it has been a long time since I would have called myself daring. Yet, sometimes I wish I were more apt to make at least some decisions more quickly. It can be agonizing to wonder if you have indeed considered the most material aspects of a situation."
"Now I am quite different," said Elizabeth proudly. "I often go with what I feel or with what I am comfortable. For example, the piece of music the other day was one that I had never played before. Yet, I did not hesitate in my execution of it. Yes, I worked my way around the difficult parts, but if we had waited for me to intently consider all its nuances, why we would still be waiting for me to play!"
"Very good, Miss Bennett," exclaimed Colonel Fitzwilliam. "There is an art to using one's intuition."
"An art indeed," retorted Mr. Darcy. "True, you handled the piece very well, Miss Bennett, but you cannot compare playing the pianoforte to making decisions that literally affect the well-being of hundreds of people?"
"You misconstrue my meaning, sir," Elizabeth said coldly. "I was merely trying to convey the fact that one would essentially be paralyzed if one could never come to a decision to take some action. You said as much yourself."
Fitzwilliam quickly tried to change the subject and soon he and Elizabeth were talking about the weather. Mr. Darcy followed at a short distance. He was carefully rethinking Elizabeth's argument and wondered if perhaps it was not near the time for him to conclude his considerations and act.
"So we meet again, Mr. Darcy."
"May I join you on your sojourn?"
"Be my guest. I promise I will not trip this time!"
Mr. Darcy smiled. It would not have been a problem if she had. They walked on for several minutes in complete silence. Elizabeth was considering her continued misfortune in her nearly daily meetings with Mr. Darcy, while Mr. Darcy was considering how delightful and refreshed Elizabeth looked at each meeting and how he wished he might greet her every morning.
They wandered into a new area of the park that Elizabeth had never seen before. "Why this is enchanting? What part of the park is this?"
"This is the south end. There is a small brook on the other side of that hedge. I remember spending many a Spring here," he stopped abruptly.
"What is it?"
"I rarely visit this part of the park. I remember very clearly a time when I was here with my dear mother before she died. That is all," he said quietly.
"You must have many special memories of her."
"Yes. That Spring was most special however. I remember being here with my cousins. Fitzwilliam was here, too. My sister was but a baby and my mother sat with her under that tree over there. I was playing with my cousins when we came racing over that hill," he said as he pointed in the distance. "My shirt was flying in the breeze and my aunt got very upset, 'Remember who you are, Darcy. You should be ashamed of yourself!' But my mother defended me. 'He will need to grow up soon enough. Let him play Catherine.' I should have listened more clearly to what she was saying. She already knew that she would have no more Springs at Rosings."
Elizabeth looked intently at where he had last pointed. This way her face was turned away from him and she could better choke back a tear. She could not understand how someone with so warm a memory could be so cold. She was exceedingly puzzled by her perceptions of him. They had turned and continued walking in silence as she contemplated this new information.
He stopped and turned toward her. "Miss Bennett, I must apologize in advance for my absence tomorrow. It seems I will be unable to join you in the park. I have some business to attend to before I leave for London."
"You are leaving? So soon?" She had to long admit that the company of the Colonel and Mr. Darcy was much more interesting than that of Lady Catherine.
He felt encouraged by the tone of her voice. "It depends on whether certain other issues can be successfully resolved from here. Again I am sorry that I will not be able to join you. Perhaps Colonel Fitzwilliam can accompany you."
Mr. Darcy had walked up to the parsonage door with Elizabeth when Mr. Collins called out from his garden. Had it been the Colonel who was about to be accosted by her cousin, Elizabeth may have stepped in to avert such an imposition. But not with Mr. Darcy. It gave her a secret pleasure to see his discomfort with Mr. Collins.
"Ah, sir," Mr. Collins said as he bowed low. "It does me great honor for you to treat my cousin with such condensation. We are but humble people, and any attention from you and yours only serves to demonstrate your stature in this parish. You set an example only few could hope to follow. Please give my humble thanks to your kind and generous aunt for the sumptuous dining she allowed us to partake in last evening. It is a meal that is sure to last forever in my memory. Thank her also for the especial condensation that she has shown to my cousin Elizabeth. She will be forever grateful for the opportunity to perform on such a grand instrument. Such an instrument would make even a child sound like an angel. Lady Catherine is indeed most kind and generous. Again convey my unending gratitude to your aunt. And it is with great indebtedness that I thank you for your acknowledging my humble abode with your presence."
Mr. Darcy listened patiently to Mr. Collins' gushing. "I will convey your gratitude to my aunt," he said curtly and any change in Elizabeth's perception of him was nullified. Even so, throughout the evening she found herself coming back to Mr. Darcy's short description of his mother's last spring. There must be some feeling in a man such as that. Perhaps it would be good for her to walk with the Colonel tomorrow. There was much she was interested in knowing.
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