The Writer's Block
June 19, 2013, 09:26:06 PM
The Writer's Block
Teatime with Austen
Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
Topic: Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park (Read 1137 times)
Happily ever after comes true
Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
March 28, 2012, 09:01:24 PM »
Maria Lucas's First Impressions of Hunsford and Rosings Park
by C. Allyn Pierson
Maria gave up and pulled off her mittens so she could nibble on her fingernails. The excitement was just more than she could bear as the coach trundled up the road past the palings of Rosings Park. Charlotte’s home must be very near. This was the first time she had traveled away from home and she had tried so hard to be a young lady instead of a girl just released from the schoolroom, but her nerves had finally overcome her.
It was so strange to think of Charlotte married after all these years…and her husband, worthy though he was, just did not fit into any sort of romantic context…at least not any romance that Maria had read. The thought of…sleeping next to Mr. Collins…it did not bear thinking about. She shuddered.
At last! The coach pulled onto a trim graveled entry and pulled to a stop. When Mr. Collins pulled down the steps of the coach, Maria helped her father hoist himself up, groaning all the while about how stiff he was from the travel. As he straightened himself out and greeted Mr. Collins and Charlotte, Maria looked up at the house.
Really, it was very pleasant! A moderate-sized house, very trim and neat, with beautiful flower borders and a picket fence. The house was not as big as Lucas Lodge, but then there was not a quiver full of children living in it either!
Charlotte escorted Maria and Miss Elizabeth Bennet upstairs while Mr. Collins went on and on about how serviceable the staircase was. The inside of the house was not large, but there were several parlours and the colours were pleasant; the furniture, while not elegant, was attractive and comfortable. Maria decided that her long stay in Hunsford would be very pleasant, but it was not until Charlotte took the two ladies upstairs that she realized that she was to have her own room! This was a luxury if great import to a girl who came from a large family of limited income, and as soon as Charlotte left her to change out of her travel clothes Maria threw herself on the bed to enjoy being able to stretch out as far as she wanted.
Maria remained in this happy state during the unpacking and settling in and it only faded when Mr. Collins brought back an invitation to dine at Rosings Park. All she had heard of Lady Catherine had given her a healthy fear of her ladyship and the idea of eating in such a rich setting make her stomach fill with butterflies. She caught Lizzy going upstairs and whispered to her, “What shall I wear to dinner at Rosings? I don’t have anything suitable, Lizzy, and I am afraid that I will look like Charlotte’s poor relation.”
Lizzy smiled at her kindly and answered, “Mr. Collins assures me that Lady Catherine likes to maintain the distinction of rank and so would be insulted if you wore gowns as rich as hers and Miss de Bourgh’s. Just choose the best gown you have, my dear and it will be suitable.”
“I will wear my pink muslin then, shall I?”
“Perfect! You will look charming Maria.”
In spite of the resolution of the gown question, Maria was very apprehensive during the walk to Rosings Park while Mr. Collins informed them of how much it cost to build the manor and how many windows it had. Her apprehensions were nothing, however, compared to the reality. Lady Catherine sat them down in the drawing-room while she sat on what could only be called a throne set in front of a ten foot high painting of a hunting scene showing a pack of dogs ripping apart an embattled boar while the humans sat on their horses in the background and watched. It was not something that enhanced her appetite, and Lady Catherine’s catechism of each of her visitors, and her forthright statements of her opinion really almost terrified Maria to the point of being physically ill.
The dinner table was set with eight pieces of silver flatware at each place and Maria was kept on her toes (metaphorically) watching the others so she would not use the wrong utensil for each dish. By the time dinner was over and Lady Catherine had forced them to play whist (or cassino, in the case of the younger ladies) Maria was exhausted and ready to tumble into bed.
While she shivered in her bed, in spite of the nice warming the housemaid had given the sheets, Maria reviewed the two days since her arrival. Perhaps, she decided, her sister’s comfortable future was earned at a rather high price.
Mr. Collins' Cucumber
by Mary Simonsen
Engaged to Mr. Collins? Impossible!
Lizzy winced at the memory of her reaction to Charlotte’s engagement to her cousin. She had known that, without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always been Charlotte’s object. So why should she not marry Mr. Collins? Once Lizzy accepted the fact of the engagement, she understood the reason: It was the only honorable provision for a well educated young woman of small fortune, and now here she was in Kent to observe the union of these two dissimilar souls in close quarters.
Weary from a day of traveling, Lizzy looked forward to her bed, but before saying good night, the parson had extracted a promise that his cousin tour the gardens the next morning. After a hearty breakfast, Lizzy followed Charlotte and Mr. Collins into a large plot, handsomely fenced, adjacent to the parsonage. To Lizzy’s mind, it looked very much like the vegetable garden at Longbourn and Lucas Lodge and every other house in the Meryton neighborhood, but that was before Mr. Collins mentioned his cucumber.
“Have you ever seen a cucumber of such size, Cousin Elizabeth?” he asked, pointing to the lengthy gourd at her feet, and Lizzy admitted that she hadn’t.
“Her Ladyship has encouraged Mr. Collins to tend to his garden so that we might have sufficient vegetables for our table,” Charlotte explained.
Mr. Collins nodded in agreement with Her Ladyship’s decree. “Lady Catherine visits regularly. She has been as captivated by this plant as I have, watching it grow, inch by inch by inch, until it has reached its present length. If stood erect, I am sure it would reach a length of nine inches.”
“Mr. Collins, I am speechless,” Lizzy said, trying to suppress the urge to laugh. She very nearly lost the fight when Charlotte mentioned that the enormous oblong vegetable was planted next to her husband’s radishes, also of a goodly size.
After Mr. Collins retreated, Lizzy asked her friend how she had kept a straight face throughout the exchange. “Because he shows me his cucumber at least twice a week, usually on Wednesday and Saturday.” And, finally, with Mr. Collins out of earshot, the two ladies had their laugh.
Anne de Bourgh Stops at the Hunsford Garden Gate
by Nina Benneton
“Jenkinson, tell me what you noticed about Mudsworth baby.” Anne de Bourgh braced her right slipper against the footboard of her phaeton and leaned forward. She flicked the whip at the ponies’ rumps. No response. Lazy beasts! She half-stood and whipped harder. Still no response. Their tails swung side to side with the same maddeningly unhurried pace. Her strenuous effort merited no more than a blink from them.
Beside her, Mrs. Jenkinson said, “Would you allow me to take the reins, Miss de Bourgh?”
“No,” Anne said, crossed the woman had dared to ask.
No one takes the reins from a de Bourgh!
“I do not want you to become too fatigued, trying to get the ponies to go faster.”
Anne put her whip down and glared at her servant. “I do not need them to go faster. I was simply trying to swat at some flies.”
Mrs. Jenkinson coughed. “I see.”
“You did not respond to my command about the Mudsworth baby.” Anne settled back against the seat, tired from her effort to get the beasts to increase their speed. “Always respond when I command.”
Mrs. Jenkinson stared straight ahead. “I did not see anything wrong with the baby’s foot.”
“Foot? What was wrong with his foot?” Anne had only seen that the baby’s face was full of spots. She worried about being infected with the pox. Though she knew she was not a great beauty, she took great pride in her unblemished—if admittedly occasionally too pallid—complexion.
“I believe Mr. Mudsworth’s father was the younger brother of Mrs. Mudsworth’s father.”
A gust of wind blew and a chill sliced through Anne. She shivered. “What has that anything to do with the baby’s foot?”
“We are near Hunsford Parsonage.” Mrs. Jenkinson pointed at a distance ahead. “Shall we stop there for a rest and some warmth?”
“No,” Anne said. “Did I not command you to give me a reply, Jenkinson?”
With some show of reluctance, Mrs. Jenkins answered, “Baby Mudsworth has six toes on his left foot.”
“Is that all?” Anne almost laughed aloud. “You make such a fuss about a baby with six toes? All the great families have children with an extra digit or two.”
“As a poor curate’s daughter, Miss de Bourgh,” Mrs. Jenkinson said. “I am not acquainted with great families, except yours. If what you say is true, then I’m certain…”
“Certain, what?” Anne suppressed the urge to pick up the whip and swat at Mrs. Jenkinson’s head. “Pray, continue.”
“When you and Mr. Darcy get married, I hope your children will be blessed with many, many extra digits.”
Anne glanced at her companion’s face, trying to detect any note of impertinence, but the old lady’s expression was unreadable. Anne turned her attention back to the road. Cousin Darcy had convinced her mother to purchase this open carriage for Anne. Lightweight yet stable, a low phaeton with four wheels using ponies instead of high-spirited horses was easy enough for a gentle, delicate lady to handle, that was Darcy’s opinion. Anne wished he had restrained himself and not taken the trouble. Mother had taken it to mean he was hinting the future mistress of Pemberley should begin to visit tenants. And that was why Anne was now out with Mrs. Jenkinson making calls on spotted babies with six toes on their left feet.
Jenkinson said, “I wonder if Mr. Collins has had any success with getting his cucumbers to grow bigger. They are rather stunted and deformed, a failed attempt at cross-breeding, I am of the opinion. The seeds he used came from too familiar, too close a source—”
“Fine,” Anne interrupted, exasperated. “We will stop at Hunsford so you could have you discourse with Mr. Collins about his cucumbers.”
Once they reached Hunsford, Anne stopped the phaeton at the garden gate. She declined the Collins’ repeated invitation to alight from the phaeton and be introduced to their visitors. She was not in the mood that day to bestow any great favour. Besides, it gave her no small pleasure to keep Mrs. Collins out of doors in the wind, and to watch Mrs. Collins’ father–a knighted nobody–stand at his station by the doorway.
After ten minutes of watching Sir William Lucas bowing and scraping each time she looked his way, greatly diverted and feeling generous, Anne issued an invitation to the whole Hunsford Party to dine at Rosings the next day.
Lady Catherine's Easter
by Diana Birchall
The wished-for proposal did not come. The green sarsanet, the primrose silk, the floral printed gown with the fichu, were all cunningly constructed so to give Miss de Bourgh’s figure consequence, and accordingly worn with her best French ringlets and hair decorations. None of these things, nor all of them, brought Mr. Darcy to a declaration. To Lady Catherine’s mortification, Darcy was invariably polite, and listened to her deliver strictures and dictates with commendable patience, but he seldom seemed to even notice that Miss de Bourgh was in the room at all.
Darcy and Fitzwilliam had arrived with promptitude, just when they were expected, in the week before Easter; and they were welcomed with all the festivity that was at the command of Lady Catherine in doing the honours of her own house. She had hoped that Anne might be equal to charming and entertaining at least one of her cousins, but Anne said very little, and whether from embarrassment or from pique, remained a silent stick in the corner each evening, despite Lady Catherine’s grossest and most urgent attempts to bring her forward.
“I do wish Anne could play to you. She has such taste! Mr. Collins the other day said that never did he see a young lady with more real musical ability, who did not know how to play, and that her preference for Mozart over Haydn showed her taste to be very nearly divine.”
There was nothing to say to that. Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam looked at each other, and Fitzwilliam consulted his pocket-watch. It still lacked an hour to supper.
“We do miss hearing some good music,” Fitzwilliam finally offered. “Do you know, Lady Catherine, to-day we walked over to the Parsonage, and the young lady guest there, Miss Bennet, is said to play rather well. Perhaps,” he hinted, “the family there might make up an evening party.”
That was not to Lady Catherine’s purpose. She could not wish the tame vicar and his female entourage to be the prime entertainment offered to the young men, or for the prettyish Miss Bennet to perhaps be a distraction to prevent Darcy from making the proposal so ardently desired by mother and daughter. Yet to her chagrin, she had to confess to herself that the visit was not going altogether as she would wish. Both Darcy and Fitzwilliam loved Rosings immensely, she knew, and had nothing but the greatest respect for herself and her daughter; but still, they were young men, and in this bleak, not-quite-spring weather, there was not much for them to be doing outdoors, no hunting, no field sports. They liked their walks, and she had already observed that nearly every day one or both walked through the park of Rosings and past the palings to the Vicarage, and generally spent all the afternoon there, not returning until nearly time for the evening meal. Dull, plain Mrs. Collins could not be the attraction, nor yet her insipid sister who was as silent as Lady Catherine’s own daughter. No, it was with some displeasure that she suspected it was that Miss Bennet they crossed the park to see; and as this must be discouraged, she took the step of planning a very fine supper and inviting some of her grander neighbors of the county.
On the whole this was the worst failure of all. Lady Metcalfe and her red-nosed old husband, who fell asleep over the fire with his port, and the Lassiters of Saddlefield Place, who liked to quarrel as soon as they picked up a set of cards, and the Munnings, with their three spinster daughters in their forties, giantesses who liked to talk about their ailments, were not the most enlivening society. The talk and the food were heavy alike, and both Darcy and Fitzwilliam, though their manners were perfectly proper, were anything but animated. Fitzwilliam found less to say than usual, and Darcy never opened his lips except to eat the oysters and the ragout.
After the guests rolled away in their carriages, and the two young men went to their rooms, Darcy pleading a headache and Fitzwilliam fatigue, Lady Catherine hopefully tried to assure Anne and Miss Jenkinson that all had gone well.
“Well! I must say that was a delightful occasion. One of our successful soirees. Rosings is a house made for hospitality. That is what Mr. Collins always says, and it is true.”
“Mr. Collins was not here,” Anne pointed out dryly.
“No, I thought that he and the ladies of his household would have felt rather out of their element, in such a noble society as this. Sir George Metcalfe a baronet, and the Munnings related to the Duke of Beaufort.”
“Mrs. Collins’s father is a knight,” said Anne.
“Pah! A creation within memory, and only as a reward for civic duties, at that. He is quite vulgar, Anne, quite, though there is no real harm in the man. No; they were not to be made uncomfortable. Our guests to-night were more in Darcy’s rank of life.”
“He did not seem to enjoy their company so very much, Mama. He barely spoke.”
“That was the head-ache, to be sure, nothing more. I sent him to bed with a posset. He was most grateful for the attention. ‘Lady Catherine,’ he said, ‘thank you.’”
“I thought he did not eat his dinner very well, either,” put in Mrs. Jenkinson. “He only ate three oysters, and did not touch the salad.”
“He asked to be helped to the ragout twice,” began Lady Catherine repressively.
“Oh, Mama! You make the best of it, but the evening was not a success. Such company as the Lassiters and the Munnings are no pleasure for two such young men. They are all so old.”
Lady Catherine was thoughtful for a moment, and adjusted her purple satin bandeau over her forehead in an absent way. “They do go to the vicarage daily,” she admitted. “I cannot presume to conjecture what merit they find in the society there, but perhaps we ought not to avoid giving the invitation to the Collinses any longer, after all. I did hope…”
“That I would get a proposal?” demanded Anne, tears beginning to show themselves.
“My dear!” cried Mrs. Jenkinson, going over to the sofa where she sat and enfolding her in her arms.
“Now, Anne, there is no call to be blaming yourself,” said Lady Catherine with some distaste. “Heaven knows, I am sure, we did everything. The lace round your neck tonight, and that locket…well, well. If only you could be a bit more animated…”
“I cannot be forward, Mama!” cried Anne, putting her fists to her eyes. “Some girls can but I cannot. Have you not taught me that forwardness was common, unladylike behavior? And common is just what I can never, never be.”
“No, certainly not,” answered her mother uncomfortably. “Well, there’s nothing for it then. After church, on Easter Sunday, we shall ask Mr. Collins and the ladies to come to Rosings. They can come in the evening, you know, when Darcy and Fitzwilliam seem most to have the wish for company.”
“We would have to invite them anyway, would we not?” asked Mrs. Jenkinson practically. “Mr. Collins is the clergyman and will have just given his Easter sermon that morning.”
“Exactly so,” nodded Lady Catherine. “It is a very proper attention indeed.”
On the Easter Sunday evening, then, Mr. Collins, rather tired after his exertions, was pleased to spend his time looking over an album of horse engravings in Lady Catherine’s best sitting-room. Mrs. Collins, showing herself to be truly well bred, sat between Miss de Bourgh and Mrs. Jenkinson, trying to converse, and admiring their bead-work.
Mr. Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam were leaning over the pianoforte as Elizabeth played to them, so that their lively conversation was not audible, over the music, to the ladies seated across the room. Lady Catherine made one or two attempts to call out and ask what they were speaking of. She gave her opinions on her and her daughter’s taste in music, with many instructions on how necessary practicing was to Darcy’s sister. With each attempt, however, the conversation quickly moved away from her, to her displeasure, and nothing was heard in the intervals between songs but the intimate, congenial murmur of Elizabeth talking with the two young men.
There was something Lady Catherine did not like at all, in the intent way Darcy was looking down at Elizabeth, and when she heard Darcy’s words “You have employed your time much better,” she took alarm and called out once more to require them to tell the subject of their conversation. Elizabeth immediately began playing again. Lady Catherine tried some further remarks on Anne’s taste, with expressive gesturings toward her daughter, but Darcy barely turned his head in their direction. Elizabeth, still playing, thought to herself that she saw no symptom of love in Mr. Darcy toward his cousin, nor any likelihood of their supposed marriage.
In a still more open attempt to remove her nephew from his absorption in Elizabeth, Lady Catherine rose to her feet, approached the piano, where she stood in state, and proceeded to take apart her performance.
“Do you not see, Miss Bennet, that your fingering is too heavy in that arpeggio? Cramer is meant to be played adagietto there. I fear you have not the light touch requisite for the classical form.”
“I think Miss Bennet plays very well,” said Fitzwilliam warmly. “The Scotch airs particularly. Won’t you play us some more of those?”
“Yes, I think you are right, Fitzwilliam – simple, peasant music is best for such a beginner,” said Lady Catherine condescendingly.
Mr. Darcy looked angry and shot a look at Fitzwilliam, that would urge him to speak for both of them. “On the contrary,” Fitzwilliam countered, “the lovely simplicity of the best Scottish songs takes confident playing, and great taste. Miss Bennet has them both. What would you like her to play, Darcy?”
“I liked those airs by Burns,” he said reluctantly, and would say no more.
“Burns! Dreadful man,” exclaimed Lady Catherine. “I wonder you can tolerate him, Darcy.”
Col. Fitzwilliam’s eyes twinkled. “I think my cousin would like you to play and sing ‘My Love is like a Red, Red Rose,’ Miss Bennet,” he said. “Isn’t that right, Darcy? Why, man, you are blushing as red as a rose yourself.”
“Blush? Darcy? Surely not. I see nothing of it. What do you mean, Fitzwilliam?” rapped out Lady Catherine.
To forestall further comment, Elizabeth began to sing.
“0, my love is like a red, red rose,
that’s newly sprung in June.
0, my love is like a melody,
that’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair thou art, my bonnie lass,
so deep in love am I,
And I will love thee still, my dear,
till a’ the seas gang dry.”
Her eyes caught and held Darcy’s, in spite of herself. He was fathoms deep in love by this time, and moved forward, holding out his hand, with what gesture in mind no one could tell, for Lady Catherine at once intervened and said with asperity, “Well! We will have no more of that immoral ploughboy! Some instrumental music, Miss Bennet, if you please, and no more of that coarse singing. It is not at all the thing among the gentry, though you might be forgiven for not knowing that.”
Mr. Darcy was moved to speak. “Aunt Catherine,” he objected with some heat, “Miss Bennet, in my opinion, marries good breeding and good taste to perfection. You will oblige me to not speak of her in such a way.”
Lady Catherine lost her temper. “I do not know what you mean in the least, Darcy. Miss Bennet has not a trace of the breeding and taste of Anne.”
Mr. Collins heard the strident tones and hurried across the room, anxious to forestall trouble. “Perhaps my cousin has sung long enough, Lady Catherine,” he said anxiously, “we do not wish to tire you, of all things. Shall I place the card tables? Would Miss Anne care for a game of Cassino?”
“Yes,” came her faint voice from the sofa. “I should like that. Will you not play with me, Mr. Darcy?”
“Another time,” he replied shortly, not turning around to look at her. “Now we are having the pleasure of listening to Miss Bennet. Will you play ‘Ae fond kiss,’ Miss Bennet? That is another favourite of mine.”
She played the first few notes. “Who would have thought, Mr. Darcy,” she said with an arch look, “that you would be a person of such romantic sensibility? You would think that Burns had a heart, after all. It is such a sad song.”
“Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.”
“Yes, a sad song, yet it makes me happy,” he observed at its conclusion, low.
No one heard his words but Fitzwilliam, standing next to him, who looked surprised, but Lady Catherine saw or thought she saw enough to say tartly, “I consider that it is surely time for this evening to draw to an end. If you must have Robert Burns, Darcy, then let Miss Bennet sing Auld Lang Syne.”
Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 09:06:13 PM by Sharon Lathan
Happily ever after comes true
Re: Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
Reply #1 on:
March 28, 2012, 09:15:30 PM »
Charlotte and Elizabeth Discuss Marriage
by Susan Adriani
It was with a sigh of relief that Elizabeth watched Charlotte close the door to her own private parlour, effectively silencing Mr. Collin’s frantic rambling as he made his way with haste through the narrow hall and out of the front door to pay his daily call upon the occupants of Rosings Park.
The room was small, but inviting in appearance, with a plush carpet and delicate floral wallpaper. A comfortable looking sofa sat before the fire, flanked by two end tables, and, positioned before the lone window, several cushioned chairs. Sunlight streamed through the sheer curtains, lending the room an air of cheerfulness and flooding it with natural light, making it an ideal location for reading, letter writing, or needlework. Elizabeth smiled to herself. Though Lady Catherine had apparently done much with the rest of the house, Elizabeth could see no sign of Her Ladyship’s condescension here, only her friend’s simple, yet refined taste.
Elizabeth made her way to the window and pushed the curtains aside. She had a bird’s eye view of Mr. Collins’s garden and, when she looked toward the far side of it, could easily make out his prized cucumber along the fence. She immediately let the sheer fabric fall back into place, momentarily grateful that she would not have to hear him regale her with another story of his noble patroness’s praise for its large size and impressive girth. She feared she had heard quite enough talk of Mr. Collins’s cucumber to last her a lifetime. Shaking her head, Elizabeth moved to stand beside her friend. “It is a lovely room, Charlotte. I can see why you chose it for your own.”
Charlotte smiled warmly. “The light at this time of day does make it a very inviting place to pass the time, not to mention practical. Mr. Collins’s study is in the front of the house, and has three windows, all of which afford him a perfect view the road. If he cannot be found in his garden, he is usually there, where he is well able to spot the residents of Rosings Park, should they happen to drive by.” She held her hand out to her friend and both ladies settled upon the sofa. “An entire day can pass,” Charlotte mused, “when we have not spent more than a few hours in each other’s company.”
Elizabeth raised her brow. That was a happy situation, indeed. “You must enjoy being mistress of your own home.”
Charlotte folded her hands upon her lap and said cryptically, “There are advantages, to be sure, though some might come at a higher price than others.”
Elizabeth did not doubt it one bit, for one only had to look upon Mr. Collins to imagine what Charlotte had to endure daily. It was difficult enough to watch him eat, but to imagine passing any deal of time in his company beyond a few days was something she dared not think about. “You have a very attentive neighbour in Lady Catherine,” she said, recalling her cousin’s reverence whenever he had spoken of his patroness. He had spoken of her often.
“Yes,” Charlotte agreed. “Lady Catherine is a very attentive neighbour, and she condescends to visit us often. My husband could not be more delighted.”
The corners of Elizabeth’s mouth quirked. “And you? Are you delighted with her as well?”
Charlotte gave her friend a knowing look. “As you may have observed, nothing is too trifling for Her Ladyship’s notice, and Lady Catherine kindly takes it upon herself to instruct me on many issues from the management of my household accounts, to the acceptable number of chickens to keep.”
“How lucky for you that she has an opinion on every subject!”
Charlotte smiled. “She also encourages Mr. Collins in his duties, so her solicitation, I have found, on occasion can be very beneficial.”
“So you are truly happy, then?” Elizabeth asked, studying her friend.
Charlotte inclined her head. “I have very little to repine, Lizzy. I always believed that happiness in marriage is entirely by chance, and I confess I find myself as content with my situation as I always expected to be. Mr. Collins is not unkind, and treats me with much consideration.” She gave her friend a sly look and lowered her voice. “Of course, it does not hurt that he is often from home attending to matters of the church, or waiting upon Lady Catherine, or, like I said, tending to his garden.”
“So,” Elizabeth said, coyly, tilting her head to the side, “you do not mind Mr. Collins showing you his cucumber twice a week?”
Charlotte shook her head. “In the grand scheme of things, being subjected to such a thing is a small price to pay for marital felicity, and as long as I offer several well timed compliments it is over quickly enough and I can go about my business as though I had never been inconvenienced in the slightest.”
Elizabeth giggled and shook her head with an unladylike snort.
Well placed compliments, indeed!
Mr. Collins' Cucumber Goes Missing
by Mary Simonsen
Charlotte and Elizabeth were returning from the village when they saw Mr. Collins coming down the lane. Because he was frantically waving his black parson’s hat as if hailing a London cab, it was apparent the man was in distress.
“Charlotte, you must come! Come quickly!”
“What is the matter, dear,” Charlotte said, quickening her pace.
“My cucumber has gone missing.”
After a quick glance at his breaches, Mrs. Collins informed her husband that his cucumber was still there. Lizzy, stifling a giggle, hinted that Mr. Collins was referring to the cucumber in his garden.
“Oh, of course,” Charlotte said, blushing.”
The two ladies hurriedly made their way to the garden where the theft of the ten-inch gourd, pinched off at its root, was confirmed. After Mr. Collins informed Charlotte and Lizzy that he had already interrogated the staff to make sure that they had not pilfered his plant, he asked if they knew of its whereabouts. Both shook their heads in unison. But then Lizzy pointed to footprints embedded in the path, revealing the culprit to be a female. After following in the thief’s path, they arrived at the gate that fronted the road to the village. It was there that they discovered tracks made by a carriage, the get-away conveyance of the thief.
After careful study, it became apparent that the carriage was of a good size and drawn by four horses. Obviously, the person who had nicked the gourd was somone of considerable means and not some hungry passerby.
“Dare I say it, Mr. Collins,” Charlotte said in a gentle voice, “the only person in the neighborhood who owns such a conveyance is Lady Catherine.”
“Lady Catherine!” the parson croaked. “Impossible! She has her own garden. Why would she want to take hold of my cucumber?”
“I suspect it is cucumber envy,” Elizabeth said. “Did you not say just a few evenings ago that you imagined that no one could look upon your cucumber with anything less than admiration? I suspect Lady Catherine was one of those who were envious of your accomplishment in growing such a lengthy vegetable.”
“My dear, I must agree with Elizabeth,” Charlotte added. “I think when Lady Catherine was on her way into the village, a vision of your cucumber appeared, and being a wee bit jealous of its size, stopped her carriage and grabbed the gourd.”
“But that would be stealing!” a shocked Mr. Collins answered.
Charlotte shook her head and explained that because Lady Catherine actually owned the parsonage and the acres surrounding it, including the garden, she probably saw it merely as taking possession of something that already belonged to her. “I am sure by this time, your cucumber has been sliced, diced, and served up on a platter for supper.”
In an attempt to comfort her grieving husband, who compared the loss of his cucumber to losing a vital organ, Charlotte mentioned his huge radishes. Unfortunately, it was then discovered that those, too, had gone missing. But wasn’t it to be expected? In order to have a satisfying salad, the one was as necessary as the other in achieving the desired result.
Darcy Discovers Elizabeth is at Rosings
by Regina Jeffers
One evening just Darcy and his sister dined at his London townhouse. Mrs. Annesley had been given the evening off to visit a beloved nephew. They took a light repast together and casually enjoyed each other’s company in the drawing room. Uncharacteristically, Darcy partook of more brandy than he should; he was not drunk, but the warmth of the liquid lowered his defenses.
“Will you travel to Kent to see our aunt at Easter?” Georgiana asked as she casually flipped the pages of the book she held.
“I will; our cousin arranged a leave from his military duties so we will be able to tackle our aunt’s many business issues together. It is not a trip to which I look forward. Our aunt can be so…”
“Demanding,” Georgiana added maybe a little too quickly.
Darcy arched an eyebrow at his sister’s response; Georgiana had become more opinionated of late although she never expressed those opinions beyond her brother’s hearing. “Our aunt can be very solicitous. Has she said something to you, my dearest?”
“It is just her usual reproofs to practice my music and to maintain the proper manners. Sometimes I resent her constant remarks. I know I should not feel these things about a beloved relative, but, honestly, Fitzwilliam, her rebukes are very upsetting.”
“I am well aware that our aunt can irritate even the most devout, but I would not encourage you to be rude to our mother’s only sister. However, I would say it was permissible to overpass many of Lady Catherine’s sentiments.”
He noted how his sister bit her bottom lip in anticipation. “Fitzwilliam,” Georgiana began tentatively, “was not Mr. Bingley satisfied with his estate in Hertfordshire?”
Darcy felt the caution shoot through him. “Why do you ask, my Dear?”
“Mr. Bingley quit the estate on impulse it seems. Did something happen?”
Darcy felt a bit uncomfortable knowing his part in removing Bingley from Netherfield. He shifted his weight, gulped down the last of the brandy, and poured himself another.“Bingley is such an impetuous young man,” he extended an explanation.
“It is just,”Georgiana began shyly,“he speaks well of his short time there and expresses a fondness for the company of Miss Jane Bennet.”
Darcy said prudently, “Does he now?”
Georgiana continued, “He seems so downcast. Is Jane Bennet not the sister of Elizabeth Bennet? Your letters from Netherfield mentioned her several times. I hoped when I read your letters if Mr. Bingley remained at Netherfield that I could visit also. I thought I might like to meet Miss Elizabeth. It would be nice to have a friend such as you described. Do you think Miss Elizabeth could have seen me as an acquaintance she might like to make?”
“I am certain of it,” Darcy began slowly. “I often considered the possibilities.”
Georgiana’s interest perked up. Leaning forward and giving him her full attention, she asked, “Would you tell me about Miss Elizabeth?”
Darcy held his glass of brandy to his lips, but he did not drink. Impressions of Elizabeth Bennet came so easily to him, as if he had seen her but five minutes earlier, rather than it having been nearly eleven weeks. He began slowly, guarding his words, fearing to betray his susceptibility to the woman.“I believe I described Miss Elizabeth physically previously. Miss Elizabeth’s features are not as refined as her sister’s, but they tend to be more classical. Her eyes are the key to her soul, a quick note of what she really thinks. She says she loves to laugh, and I find her humor to be teasing in nature at times. I have not found many women with a more agreeable character. Everything is united in Elizabeth Bennet: she possesses a superior intelligence and good understanding; generally correct opinions, which she often expresses without regard to the time or the situation; and a warm heart. She demonstrates strong feelings of family attachment, without calculating pride or insufferable weaknesses. Miss Elizabeth judges for herself in everything essential.” Darcy stopped himself at this point, fearing he said too much.
Georgiana sighed heavily when he paused. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet appears the perfect mixture of sense and judgment. I hope some day I have the opportunity to make her acquaintance. I always wanted an intimacy such as you describe.”
Leaving his reason behind, Darcy said wistfully, “It would be pleasant to have Miss Elizabeth’s company again.”
Images of Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana together at Pemberley invaded his dreams that evening.The images instantly created happiness without the misery, but when awake, Darcy could only dwell on the misery of such happiness.
Late February brought signs of spring, and Darcy, Georgiana, and Mrs. Annesley returned to Pemberley. He had buried himself in the his estate work, explaining his plans to increase the production of crops to his tenants. His steward, Mr. Howard, was a respected overseer, and they spent many hours planning a four-crop rotation among the farmers.The system, developed by the Second Viscount Charles Townsend, had been successful in the Americas since the early 1700s. Pemberley used a three-crop rotation for many years, usually wheat, barley, and the third field left to fallow. Yet, the land was being used up too quickly, and production decreased, leaving many of Pemberley’s tenants unable to maintain their farms.
Darcy had hoped the four-crop rotation plan would save his estate and the livelihood of his tenants. Nitrogen-rich legumes would be used to put back into the soil the nutrients the grain crops used, and the grain crops put back the minerals the legumes used.They fed each other; it was a simple plan; now, he had to convince his tenants of the necessity of the changes. Mr. Howard would examine each farmer’s soil makeup and decide who would plant which crops.
The excitement of getting back to the land had relieved Darcy of the agitations of his mind. He had not thought about Elizabeth Bennet more than a couple of times over the past few weeks.Then he received a letter from his aunt.
My dear Nephew,
I am anticipating your upcoming visit; your cousin Anne is most anxious to renew your relationship. Her health seems much improved; I am certain you will notice the difference. I hoped to introduce you to my new curate Mr. Collins and his wife, but much to my chagrin, I find you met them both while you were in Hertfordshire with Mr. Bingley.
Darcy’s heart stopped. Mr. Collins married someone from Hertfordshire. Pictures of Mr. Collins’s attentive behavior to Elizabeth flashed across his eyes. The man had danced with Elizabeth at the Netherfield Ball, and after supper, Collins had adamantly refused to leave Elizabeth’s side, leaving her in misery and unable to dance with other gentlemen.
Please, God, do not allow Elizabeth to be married to Mr. Collins!
he prayed. Mrs. Bennet would marry Elizabeth off to Collins just to be rid of one of her daughters. Collins kissing Elizabeth—the thought brought a murderous rage to Darcy’s heart. With shaky hands, he returned to the letter.
Charlotte Lucas has made Mr. Collins a reasonable match. Her temperament is most pleasing, and I assured Mr. Collins of my approval in his choice.
Darcy’s breath came in ragged bursts.
Charlotte Lucas! It was not Elizabeth!
He nearly cried with relief. Although Collins would provide Miss Lucas with a steady income and a protective home, he hated to see any woman’s attentions wasted on such a supercilious arse, as was Mr. Collins. Even without her being Elizabeth’s special friend, Darcy actually liked Charlotte Lucas. He would not wish Collins upon anyone.
Mrs. Collins’s father and sister have come to stay at Hunsford. Sir William spoke highly of you, as was natural, and of making your acquaintance in Hertfordshire; the younger Miss Lucas is quite pretty, in a plain sort of fashion, and I find her very attentive to my advice. I am certain she gets no such direction at home, and I plan to spend some time with her.
Good! His aunt’s reproofs could be directed toward someone besides Georgiana. He made a mental note to speak to his cousin about Lady Catherine’s censure of Georgina; Darcy did not like anyone interfering in his sister’s life.
There is another member of the Collins’s party at the Parsonage. Mrs. Collins’s friend Elizabeth Bennet has also come for a visit.
Darcy reread that line several times to be certain his eyes did not play tricks on him. Elizabeth? His Elizabeth? Could she really be at Rosings Park residing within an easy walk of his aunt’s house? Reading on, Darcy realized his eyes did not deceive him. His aunt actually spoke of Elizabeth.The irony of it all! Elizabeth Bennet stayed on his aunt’s estate.
I understand you also made the acquaintance of Miss Bennet. My pleasure in introducing you has been lost. I will forego that pleasure with you, but, at least, it will still be my honor to introduce the Collins’s party to your cousin, the colonel.
Miss Bennet, I find, is a very outspoken young lady. She has been allowed to run free with little reproach from her parents. She offers her opinions without regard to station in life; this is most unusual for one so young. I cannot say I approve of her manners or her upbringing. She is one of five daughters, as you know. Her parents saw no benefit in exposing any of them to the masters. None of them draw; Miss Bennet’s talents on the pianoforte are limited. I told her she could only improve with more practice. Besides having no governess to supervise her upbringing, the worst offense I find in her parenting is all five daughters are out in Society at the same time.The youngest are out before the eldest has married. When I expressed my disdain, you would not believe what Miss Bennet said.
Darcy laughed out loud for the first time in months.Without being told her response, he could just imagine Elizabeth’s retort, which was likely accompanied by the “flash” in her eyes, a shift of her shoulders, and the hint of a mischievous smile. His sister could learn much from Elizabeth Bennet; he realized quickly that Lady Catherine did not intimidate Elizabeth.
Her reply was very disrespectful. She seems to exist under the ill-abused conception that having all five daughters Out at the same time is perfectly acceptable. Miss Bennet believes her younger sisters deserve their share of Society and amusement as much as does she and her elder sister. She indicated it was not equitable for her younger sisters to be denied their share of fun and courtship just because neither she nor her elder sister have had the means or the inclination to marry. Miss Elizabeth does not feel it would be “very likely to promote sisterly affection nor delicacy of the mind.” I was astonished by this response. I hope to temper her rough spirits before she leaves Hunsford.
His aunt may wish to temper the lady’s spirits, but he knew Lady Catherine was no match for Elizabeth Bennet.
Miss Bennet simply needs an example of proper society to complement her undeveloped genteel attributes. Sir William, I am afraid, will depart before your arrival, but the ladies will remain another month.We will invite them to Rosings if you so wish to renew their acquaintances.Your cousin Anne and I look forward to your and Edward’s stay at Rosings.
Elizabeth Bennet, possibly the first to have done so, obviously, had dared to challenge the dignified impertinence of Lady Catherine. So, Elizabeth stayed at Rosings; he was glad to know prior to his arrival. It would be a good test of how well he had recovered from her charms. In thinking such, Darcy did not acknowledge the swirl of his emotions when he feared Collins married Elizabeth as being anything more than a true concern for her well-being and happiness. He would be able to meet Elizabeth again as indifferent acquaintances; Darcy was certain of that fact.
His cousin Edward Fitzwilliam came to Pemberley on the eighteenth. He would spend a few days with Georgiana before they departed for Rosings. Along with Darcy, the good colonel served as Georgiana’s guardian, and he adored her nearly as much as did Darcy.
“Cousin, Georgiana has told me about Elizabeth Bennet,” Edward teased.“Now, I am most anxious to meet our aunt’s visitors. At first, I was not looking forward to meeting a ‘country miss with poor manners,’ but Georgiana seems to feel you hold Elizabeth Bennet in some esteem. If she impresses Fitzwilliam Darcy, she must be something extraordinary, I dare say.”
“Pull in your tendrils, Edward,” Darcy cautioned.“Miss Elizabeth is not for you. As the younger son of an earl, you need to find a woman of wealth to keep you in style. I am afraid although Miss Elizabeth is a gentleman’s daughter, she has no wealth of which to make her a person of interest for a man in your position.” Darcy did not believe he could tolerate the idea of Elizabeth with his cousin. She would be family, but not his to touch.
“I see,” Edward began. “That is my bad luck. Some day I will find a wealthy woman with whom I might also find affection. I do not want to just marry for money; some level of affection is not too much to ask is it, Fitz?”
“I never knew you felt that way.” Edward’s words stunned Darcy.
“Oh, well, at least,” Edward said with resignation, “Miss Elizabeth may help brighten our time at Rosings, can she not?”
“Miss Elizabeth, I found, can brighten most any room,” Darcy whispered to himself.
(This scene comes from Chapter 6 of my first Austen-inspired novel,
Happily ever after comes true
Re: Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
Reply #2 on:
March 28, 2012, 09:26:21 PM »
A Fortnight at Hunsford
by C. Allyn Pierson
Elizabeth sighed and folded away her embroidery. Charlotte and Maria had gone to town to visit an ailing parishioner and take her soup and tea, and Elizabeth had decided to stay at the parsonage and enjoy the peace and quiet for a short while. Mr. Collins was at Rosings Park visiting Lady Catherine and the morning chores were done, so the house was silent except for the faint buzzing of the bees coming through the open window at her elbow. Early as it was in the spring, Mr. Collins’ efforts in the garden gave her a fragrant and soothing background to her stitching.
Two weeks she had been at Hunsford. Sir William Lucas was already home and Elizabeth and Maria had settled into a quiet routine of walks and domestic concerns between long talks with Charlotte. Her friend, unlikely though it might be, seemed to be happy in her marriage and Mr. Collins was proving to be a conformable husband. The park at Rosings was lovely and had many pleasant walks and she went out and enjoyed them daily when the weather allowed her.
Still, life was a bit dull in Hunsford. Lady Catherine had informed them that Mr. Darcy and his cousin would be coming for Easter, and Elizabeth was not quite sure how she felt about that. The gentlemen would certainly add interest to their evenings at Rosings, but she could not think of anyone she would not prefer to Mr. Darcy as company. Well…perhaps Mr. Collins would be of less interest. She hoped that Darcy’s cousin, who was called Colonel Fitzwilliam, would have better manners and more interesting conversation than Mr. Darcy.
What was wrong with the man, anyway? She had never met a man so difficult to understand as Darcy, or so severe in countenance. Still, she would be in Hunsford for a number of weeks and even a reserved and rude man was an improvement on Lady Catherine’s “conversations,” which bore a great resemblance to lectures. Only last evening she had criticized Maria’s gown as dowdy and poorly tailored, reducing her nearly to tears when she had to admit that her sewing skills were not adequate to correct the flaws. Unfortunately, she had also acquired just a bit of mud on her hem on the walk from the parsonage and this, too, was cause for criticism. Poor Maria was trembling with fear and completely inarticulate by the time Lady Catherine had finished. Fortunately, Mr. Collins asked Lady Catherine about a problem with one of his parishioners and deflected her “helpful” lecture away from his sister-in-law. Bless the man. Stupid Mr. Collins might be, but he was not an evil man.
Ah well. Perhaps the early rain had dried enough for her to take a walk now. She gathered her pelisse and bonnet and pulled on her gloves, then set out towards Rosings Park.
Fitzwilliam and Darcy on the Road to Rosings
by Jack Caldwell
Colonel the Honorable Richard Fitzwilliam of the ___rd Light Dragoons was trying to make himself as comfortable as possible in the rocking carriage—a mighty task, for the fineness of the Darcy coach could not make up for the ruts in the road through Kent. The other gentleman in the carriage had more success.
The colonel was just thirty years of age. Other than that, he was most unlike his companion. Fitzwilliam was of moderate height with a ruddy complexion and sandy-reddish hair. His lean body sported broad shoulders due to his profession. He was not particularly handsome, but his character was friendly and open. He liked people very much. Usually easy-going, his patience was stretched to its limits that day.
“Blast!” Colonel Fitzwilliam cried as he cracked his head against the side of the carriage. “I knew I should have ridden my horse! I knew it!”
His cousin and great friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, rapped on the roof with his walking stick. “A more moderate speed, if you please, Edwards,” he said. He did not shout, but his forceful tone carried over the noise of the road. There was a muffled affirmative answer and the vehicle slowed. Now it simply rolled alarmingly from side to side.
“Oh, that is so much better! Thank you, Cuz.”
“No need to be sarcastic, Fitz. The winter was beastly. It is no wonder the roads are in such a condition.”
“The weather was just as bad in Derby, but you will not find the roads to be like this; my father would not stand for it.”
“My uncle takes a prodigious interest in his roads.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam laughed. “All because the old man likes his feet warm and bum comfortable!”
Darcy glanced at him, trying to hide a smile. “I have missed you, Fitz. I am happy you are back from Spain.”
The colonel stretched. “For a time. Wellington does not need much in the way of cavalry to lay siege. After our
coup de main
at Ciudad Rodrigo in January*, I am allowed a few months leave in the loving bosom of my family.” Darcy frowned, and Fitzwilliam noticed. “Do not glare at me, Darcy! You know of what I speak!”
Darcy’s chin rose. “It is our duty to visit Lady Catherine at Easter.”
“It is your duty to review Lady Catherine’s accounts and meet with the steward at Easter,” Fitzwilliam returned. “It falls to me to play court jester for the amusement of my aunt and cousin. By the way, could you condescend to spend some time with Anne this year? The way you ignore her is disgraceful.”
Darcy looked away, his face flushed. “You know why I cannot.”
Fitzwilliam grew a little angry. “You choose not! That poor girl suffers and not just from her ailments. Cooped up at that overdone mausoleum of a house with only Aunt Catherine and her companion to keep her company, no wonder she is ill! I know well our aunt’s wishes. Lord, the whole family does! No one supports her in this. If you and Anne choose not to marry, the family would stand by you.”
Darcy was unfazed. “I must act as I see best, Fitz. Anne understands.”
Fitzwilliam grimaced at his friend.
Oh, Cuz—one day that famous Darcy pride will get you in trouble!
He changed the subject. “How is Georgiana getting on? Truly?”
Pain flashed over Darcy’s features. “Not as well as I had hoped. She has not yet recovered from Ramsgate.”
Fitzwilliam cursed. “If only I had been there instead of in Spain! There would be one less rascal in the world, I can assure you!”
“Then it is well you were not, for there would then be one less reckless colonel serving the king,” Darcy shot back. “You would do Georgiana no good being hung for the murder of George Wickham.”
Fitzwilliam crossed his arms. “It is better to pay him off?”
“I only covered his debts—he got nothing more from me.”
Darcy shook his head. “There will not be a next time. Wickham has shot his bolt. He cannot talk of Georgiana, for he still thinks to make his way in the world by marrying into society. Should word of Ramsgate get abroad, he would be shunned.”
“It would not do Georgiana any good, either.”
“Do you not think I know that?” Darcy shouted.
Fitzwilliam grew alarmed. Darcy never lost his temper. “Of course, of course. Easy, old man—”
Darcy’s face fell into his hands. “You have no idea, Fitz! No idea at all how this whole affair haunts me! I failed her—I failed the person I love best in the world.”
Fitzwilliam placed a hand on his cousin’s shoulder. “Come now, none of that. You did nothing wrong. The blame must be borne by those responsible: Wickham and that Younge woman—”
“I should have investigated her references more thoroughly.”
You are crying over spilled milk, old friend
, Fitzwilliam thought. Aloud he said, “You did the best you could. I am sure her references were of the highest quality. They usually are. Deceitful people are expert at obtaining such things.”
“I should have done better.”
Fitzwilliam shook his head.
What will bring you low first, Darcy—your pride or your habit of taking too much upon yourself? You cannot yet deal with the whole truth—that Georgiana bears some of the responsibility for this near-debacle
. He had to change the subject again.
“Tell me of Town. I understand our friend, Bingley, is moving up in the world.”
Darcy looked up. “Yes. I spent the bulk of last summer with him, after… well, after that. He leased a place in Herefordshire and wanted my opinion of the place. I think he will give it up when the lease runs out.”
“Something wrong with it?”
“No. Netherfield is a fair prospect, and with improvement should prove to be profitable.”
“Then, why? Gentleman farming not up to snuff for Bingley? Or should I say Miss Bingley?”
“It is Hertfordshire and the folk who reside there that Miss Bingley finds lacking.” Darcy paused. “I was relieved to return to London before December.” He looked out the window.
“Missed Georgiana, I dare say. Did you enjoy the Season?”
Darcy turned and gave his cousin a look. “Have I ever enjoyed the Season?”
Fitzwilliam laughed at Darcy’s incredulous expression. “I see—just the same! Still fighting off mercenary mamas and their insipid daughters.”
“Not me this time, but I had to help an acquaintance of ours.”
“Really? Who was it? Knightley? I have never understood why he has not married by now.”
“Or maybe Bingley? He falls in love at the drop of a hat.”
Darcy held up his hands. “I shall not reveal names. But I must congratulate myself for saving a friend from a most imprudent marriage.”
“When was this? You said you have not been in Town long this year.”
“Oh, it was last year. There were very strong objections to the lady, particularly her family.”
“It must have been bad.”
“Bad enough. But pray keep this to yourself. It would be unpleasant indeed if this became known to the family involved.”
Fitzwilliam raised his hands in protest. “I shall be discretion itself.”
“That would be the first time.”
“Darcy, you wound me! Am I likely to meet with this unnamed family in any case?”
An unreadable look came over Darcy’s face. “No—it is not likely at all.”
Fitzwilliam had no time to contemplate Darcy’s countenance. “Ah! Rosings! We are here!”
Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam Call at Hunsford's Parsonage
by Regina Jeffers
On the morning after their arrival at Rosings, Mr. Collins presented himself to the gentlemen, and as Lady Catherine was making calls on some of her tenants, Collins fawned and preened before Darcy and his cousin. With Edward affable personality, the colonel found the man’s obvious insincerity amusing.
“Do you return to the Parsonage?” Darcy asked, trying to sound nonchalant, when, in reality, his heart raced with anticipation.
“Indeed, Sir, I do.”
“Then may my cousin and I join you? I would like to offer my congratulations to Mrs. Collins, and the colonel has not had the pleasure of your wife or your cousin’s acquaintance.
Collins was beside himself with self importance. “You do my household a great honor, Sir. We would deem it our pleasure to share our humble abode with two gentlemen of such consequence.”
“Then it is settled,” Darcy retrieved his gloves from a nearby table. “Come, Edward, we are to Hunsford to pay our respects.”
Without turning his head, Darcy felt the total disbelief that colored his cousin’s countenance. Never had Darcy considered it necessary to pay his respects to anyone of such asinine tastes before—he might have shown disdain, but respect—that was out of the question. He felt it too. What in the world was he thinking to place himself within Miss Elizabeth’s presence again? He should come up with an excuse to extricate himself from this impetuous act, but when his cousin said, “Yes, I am looking forward to the pleasure of the acquaintance,” Darcy knew he must see it through. With both anticipation and dread, Darcy followed Collins to Hunsford Cottage–to the dubious pleasure of being in the same room as Elizabeth Bennet again.
The doorbell announced the three gentlemen. Collins led the way into the room, followed closely by Colonel Fitzwilliam; Darcy came last. He schooled his gaze not to look directly at Elizabeth as soon as he entered the room, but it was not easy; steadying his nerves, he took on his usual reserve and first offered compliments to Mrs. Collins, and then with an appearance of composure, which belied his actual thoughts, he likewise did the same to Elizabeth. It had been so long since he had beheld beauty of her imperfect features that for a moment all he could do was stare. Their eyes locked, and he noted the usual flash of curiosity, but Elizabeth merely curtsied to him without offering a word of greeting.
Edward stepped forward saying, “Mrs. Collins and Miss Bennet, it is with great pleasure that we finally meet. My cousin has spoken most fondly of his time in Hertfordshire. It is pleasant to be able to put faces to some of his stories.
“Did he now?” Elizabeth began, and Darcy anticipated more, but her friend’s grasp on Elizabeth’s arm stifled what Darcy had hoped with be her first words directed to him.
Edward permitted the tone of her brief remark to pass. “Yes, indeed,” he added quickly. “Mrs. Collins, your improvements to the Parsonage are duly noted. I have never seen it look so well. Do you not agree, Darcy?” he prompted.
“Yes, Mrs. Collins, the place has taken on a new life,” he stammered. “It is as if I am seeing it for the first time.” Darcy could not recall ever having called upon the Parsonage before. He felt so foolish; could he not hold a conversation in the woman’s presence without guarding his every word and thought?
Darcy noted the humorous smirk gracing his cousin’s lips. Likely, he would question Darcy extensively when they returned to Rosings. He would face that situation when it occurred. For now, he would simply enjoy the smell of Miss Elizabeth’s perfume, a fragrance he had sorely missed. And he would watch the way her lips twitched with delight when she thought no one took note of her double entendres and the glint in her eye when her cousin did something horrendously gauche. He wished he could think of something clever to engage her in conversation, but Darcy would simply have to be satisfied with feeling her energy coursing through him.
Eventually, Elizabeth interrupted his thoughts. She said sweetly, “Come, Colonel, tell us more of you. I fear Mr. Darcy shared little of your service to King and Country or of your obviously close relationship.”
Without realizing how it happened, Darcy’s agitation increased. He did not like the situation; Elizabeth gave her attentions to someone else. Again. Her attention to Mr. Wickham was one thing, but not to his cousin. For years, he had played second to Edward’s affability, but he would not lose Elizabeth Bennet to his cousin. He held the longer acquaintance.
He allowed himself to appear in control as he watched his cousin engage Elizabeth with his usual readiness while Darcy made small talk with Mr. and Mrs. Collins, but, try as he may, Darcy spoke very little to anyone. He could not stop staring at his cousin and Elizabeth; his response dwelled on anger, but he really had nothing of which to be angry. Elizabeth did not belong to him; she was free to choose whomever she pleased, but he did not think he could tolerate her choosing his cousin. She would then be a part of his family, but he would never know her sweet intimacy. In fact, the thought of her choosing anyone else repulsed him. If Elizabeth could not be his…, he started, but he could not finish the thought.
The sound of soft laughter emanated from the corner in which Darcy watched his cousin entertain Elizabeth. It was that delightful gurgle of hers, which he so enjoyed. Wanting to be a part of what they were saying, he found himself moving toward them. Not sure how to begin, he offered up the required pleasantries. “May I inquire, Miss Elizabeth, as to the health of your family?”
“My family was well, Sir, when I left Hertfordshire,” she answered in the usual manner. “Thank you for asking.” Then he watched as a thought flashed through her eyes. “My eldest sister has been in Town these three months. Have you never happened to see her there?”
Panic filled his chest. Did she know his involvement in separating Bingley and her sister, or was she just making conversation? Either way, her words chilled Darcy to the bone. His attempt at engaging her in conversation diverted to his prejudice toward her connections.
He faltered, “Regrettably, Miss Elizabeth, I did not have the good fortune as to meet Miss Bennet while in London.” And as quickly as he moved to speak to her, Darcy withdrew. He could not betray Caroline Bingley, nor could he truly explain his objection to Charles Bingley’s aligning himself with the Bennet family. Obviously, Charles had less to lose than did Darcy, and here he was drooling over a woman far below his station in life.
Soon enough, his cousin indicated it was time to return to the great house. Feeling the elation of his hopes draining into the hard Kent soil, Darcy set his feet in action. They made their farewells and were well away from the cottage before Edward said, “Would you like to explain to me what all that was about?”
“Nothing,” Darcy grumbled. “I simply called upon former acquaintances.” As they walked the well-worn path in silence, Darcy cursed himself for getting caught up in the unknown that was Elizabeth Bennet. Being near her made him feel he was on trial; did she take such great joy in tormenting him? He nearly showed himself; he had flirted with his own destiny. He had vowed to be rid of Elizabeth, and this was to be his test. First Elizabeth and then his cousin had waited for his response. Could they read his countenance? Had he shown them how he had foolishly succumbed to the idea of making Elizabeth Bennet his? Decidedly brutal honesty needed to prevail: He could never make Miss Elizabeth his wife, and the sooner he accepted that fact, the better. Darcy could not soften the truth: The lady was too far below his family’s expectations for the future Mrs. Darcy.
(This scene comes from Chapter 7 of my first Jane Austen-inspired novel,
Darcy is Seen at Church on Good Friday
by Susan Adriani
Though Colonel Fitzwilliam had been a regular visitor at the parsonage since his arrival in Kent several days prior, Mr. Darcy was not seen again until Good Friday, when the family from Rosings entered Hunsford Church. He was difficult to miss, elegantly attired in a rich blue dress coat, dark breeches, and gleaming black top-boots. Handsomely dressed, handsomely mannered, and handsome in general seemed to be the consensus of the women assembled throughout the small congregation. Their whispered words and admiring glances made Elizabeth’s lips quirk indulgently. Though she could not deny that Mr. Darcy was, indeed, physically attractive, she had become too much acquainted with his manners during his stay in Hertfordshire to share any other sentiments uttered in her midst. To Elizabeth Bennet, the master of Pemberley, even in his regal blue coat, looked every bit as proud and disagreeable as ever.
Sitting composedly in one of the pews in the back, Elizabeth bowed her head and clasped her hands upon her lap as Mr. Darcy strode swiftly into the church from the vestibule, his head held high as he removed his hat and tucked it and his cane neatly beneath his arm. She observed him through lowered lashes; the way his body stiffened as he approached her; the way his eyes scrutinised her before he trained them forward once more, quickening his pace.
His response to Mr. Collins’ simpering welcome had been everything Elizabeth had expected of the master of Pemberley. She could hardly blame him, she supposed, for her cousin’s overt gestures of subservience had reached new heights since the arrival of Lady Catherine’s distinguished nephews. After Mr. Darcy’s abrupt dismissal of Mr. Collins’ attentions, however, Elizabeth was pleased to see that he at least possessed manners enough to exchange the distasteful expression on his face for one of civility as he greeted Charlotte, who wore a polite smile despite any mortification she must have felt at the moment for having such a husband.
Colonel Fitzwilliam’s manners were infinitely superiour. While Elizabeth suspected the smile he wore—especially as he addressed Mr. Collins—was indeed well practiced, it did not come across as forced or unnatural. What a far cry from the dour expressions and general rudeness of his aunt and two cousins! Not for the first time was she left wondering how such an entirely agreeable gentleman as the colonel could possibly be related to Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine, and her droll, sickly daughter.
The illustrious party reached the front of the church, and Elizabeth continued to watch Mr. Darcy with keen eyes. According to Mr. Wickham, Mr. Darcy was destined to marry Miss de Bourgh, so it came as quite a surprise to her when the master of Pemberley did not, in fact, take a seat beside his intended, but gestured instead for Colonel Fitzwilliam to do so. While his good-natured cousin rolled his eyes in an exaggerated fashion, the expression on Lady Catherine’s face showed anything but amusement. She levelled both men with a look of immense dissatisfaction, and even went so far as to swat the colonel’s shoulder with her cane, commanding him to make way for Mr. Darcy. Before the colonel could comply with his aunt’s demand, however, Mr. Darcy’s hand was upon his other shoulder. Colonel Fitzwilliam sat down heavily. Mr. Darcy released him and claimed the seat at his side, at the very end of the family pew.
Lady Catherine appeared furious, and Elizabeth suspected, had they not been in church, that Her Ladyship would not have hesitated to give her nephews quite a tongue lashing for their defiance; but neither man so much as glanced in her direction. Lady Catherine pursed her lips and faced forward, striking her cane sharply upon the floor for emphasis, causing more than her daughter to jump in alarm. For better or worse, both Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam continued to ignore her. They had produced their prayer books and appeared to be studying them with devoted interest.
Lady Catherine narrowed her eyes at them and struck her cane upon the ground once more, making Miss de Bourgh jump a second time. Mr. Collins hurried to his pulpit, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste. Colonel Fitzwilliam, who had looked up from his prayer book just in time to witness the parson’s gracelessness, snorted. With a grin, he leaned toward Mr. Darcy and whispered in his ear. Mr. Darcy turned his head a fraction of an inch and elbowed him in the ribs. Colonel Fitzwilliam, an affronted look upon his face, elbowed him back. Lady Catherine cracked her cane upon the floor thrice more in succession, her countenance positively dangerous. Miss de Bourgh startled a third time, emitting a small squeak.
Elizabeth saw the spectacle unfold before her with incredulous eyes. At the moment, the two impeccably attired gentlemen seated with their pensive cousin and angry aunt bore far more of a resemblance to ill-behaved little boys than they did respectable, grown men. She found herself biting her lip in an effort to keep from laughing, lest Lady Catherine turn her disapproving glare upon her, instead of her wayward nephews.
Easter Sunday at Rosings
by Abigail Reynolds
It had started at church, which had been the usual affair of attempting to disguise the fact that he could not stop stealing glances at Elizabeth combined with utter disdain for Mr. Collins’ foolish sermon. Easter and rebirth – he had that much right, but the ridiculous ramblings that followed would have been laughable had they not been so dreadfully dull. Darcy had already steeled himself to the knowledge that he would not have the acute, painful delight of seeing Elizabeth again until the next week’s service, when he heard Lady Catherine invite Mr. Collins and his party to join them at Rosings that evening.
He wanted to be dismayed by the news. It was better to limit his exposure to Elizabeth to once a week at church, where he could remember why he could not have her as his own, but no matter how well he knew he should stay away from her, he could not find the least trace of regret in his heart that he would have another hour in her company, another hour of feeling alive, that evening.
Anticipation of her visit haunted him throughout the day, making him unusually restless. Colonel Fitzwilliam even commented on his preoccupation, which brought Darcy back to the present for a few minutes, but the colonel could not compete with the bewitching Elizabeth who filled his thoughts.
After all his agitation, her arrival was anticlimactic. Since Lady Catherine insisted upon monopolizing his attention with her incessant demands, he could only watch her from across the room while his cousin was fortunate enough to seat himself by Elizabeth and enjoy her lively smiles. Darcy could only make out fragments of their conversation, but they conversed with such spirit and flow that he could not deny to himself that she seemed to be enjoying Colonel Fitzwilliam’s company more than she ever had his. It did not matter, though. Neither of them could ever have her, so there was no point thinking about it – and certainly no call for obsessing constantly about it.
It would be beneath him to feel jealous of his landless, often fundless cousin. He tore his gaze away from them and tried to focus on his conversation with his aunt, monotonous as it was, until out of the corner of his eye, the noticed his cousin leading Elizabeth into the next room, presumably to the pianoforte. The sound of their laughter floated through the opening between the rooms.
He was certainly not jealous, but he did not choose to be deprived of the opportunity to rest his eyes on Elizabeth’s loveliness, so he excused himself and stationed himself where even the colonel would realize that he commanded a full view of them.
Elizabeth must have noticed as well, since at the first convenient pause, she turned to him with an arch smile, and said, “You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? But I will not be alarmed though your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.”
What was it about her teasing that intoxicated him so and sent the blood racing through his body? He smiled slowly before offering his rejoinder. “I shall not say that you are mistaken because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know, that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own.”
Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam, “Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character, in a part of the world where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire—and, give me leave to say, very impolitic too—for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out, as will shock your relations to hear.”
He smiled, confident that her teasing could have no malice. “I am not afraid of you.”
“Pray let me hear what you have to accuse him of,” cried Colonel Fitzwilliam. “I should like to know how he behaves among strangers.”
“You shall hear then—but prepare yourself for something very dreadful. The first time of my ever seeing him in Hertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball—and at this ball, what do you think he did? He danced only four dances! I am sorry to pain you—but so it was. He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner. Mr. Darcy, you cannot deny the fact.”
Why should he deny it? “I had not at that time the honour of knowing any lady in the assembly beyond my own party.”
“True; and nobody can ever be introduced in a ball room.” This time her tone had some bite. “Well, Colonel Fitzwilliam, what do I play next? My fingers wait your orders.”
His mind whirled. Why was Elizabeth taking aim at him? Perhaps she had misunderstood what he meant. “Perhaps I should have judged better, had I sought an introduction, but I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers.”
“Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?” said Elizabeth to Colonel Fitzwilliam. “Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in the world, is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?”
“I can answer your question,” said Fitzwilliam, “without applying to him. It is because he will not give himself the trouble.”
They had both turned on him, and in the most painful way. His cousin knew how he had failed to achieve acceptance in certain circles, that same success that came so easily to the colonel. “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess, of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done,” he said stiffly.
“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault—because I would not take the trouble of practicing. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman’s of superior execution.”
Relief flooded him. She understood, more than he had ever imagined she would understand, how he struggled to avoid giving offense, yet failed again and again – and she was showing him in the best possible way that it was not necessary to be perfect to be appreciated. He smiled and said, “You are perfectly right. You have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you, can think any thing wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers.”
Here they were interrupted by Lady Catherine, who called out to know what they were talking of. Elizabeth immediately began playing again. Darcy watched her in a daze, his world shifting under his feet. He had seen Elizabeth as witty, amusing, attractive – oh, so attractive! – and temptation personified, but this was a side he had never known existed. How had she known so perfectly what he needed to hear when just at that moment?
He had forced himself to ignore his desire for her, but this new realization showed him she was more than just a bewitching woman. She was vital to him.
Family and duty be damned. He was going to marry Elizabeth Bennet.
Happily ever after comes true
Re: Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
Reply #3 on:
June 12, 2012, 07:00:12 PM »
Darcy Begins His Campaign to Win Elizabeth’s Affections
by Regina Jeffers
This scene follows the evening at Rosings Park in which Lady Catherine criticizes Elizabeth because of Elizabeth’s poor performance on the pianoforte. This scene comes from the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8 of my first Jane Austen-inspired novel, Darcy’s Passions.
Darcy lay under the counterpane, stretching his limbs to relieve the tension the evening’s entertainment had brought. He had spent the last few months declaring his freedom from Elizabeth Bennet, but the evening had persuaded him to reevaluate his feelings. It seemed since Elizabeth Bennet had entered his life, Darcy had spent numerous hours debating about whether he could legitimately succumb to her charms. He realized that he was forever lost to her; Elizabeth Bennet would be the mark by which he would judge all other women. Yet, he still could not justify the necessity of pursuing Elizabeth with the aligning of his family name with her poor connections; however, Darcy could also not give her up. Unless he did something soon, the quandary in which he found himself would further rob him of his sleep, as well as his waking sanity.
If he could not rid himself of his obsession, then Darcy had to rationally plan how he could achieve Elizabeth’s regard and limit his association with her family. Of course, that may not be achievable. If so, he would have to determine how best to soften Elizabeth’s liabilities. He thought he could tolerate the company of Miss Bennet and probably their father. Would regularly seeing those two be enough for Elizabeth? Pemberley was a good distance from Hertfordshire, and it would not be easy for Elizabeth’s family to visit. He could arrange business in Town when Mrs. Bennet and the younger sisters descended upon his estate. In addition, he would have to be diligent in overseeing those connections’ having too much influence on Georgiana.
It would not be ideal, but the Bennets could be brought to Pemberley when others were not expected. It could be achieved, and the trouble involved would be worthwhile if Darcy could earn Elizabeth’s love. A few moments of intolerable disdain would be pale indeed to all the pleasures of Elizabeth’s company. The gift of Miss Elizabeth’s love and devotion had been a prayer he had recited more than once over these last few months. “The prayer the Devil answers,” he chuckled out loud as the darkness enveloped him. With a renewed resolve, he fell asleep. Images of Elizabeth at the pianoforte frequented his dreams, and her smile was all for his pleasure.
Dawn came early for Fitzwilliam Darcy; he found himself wrapped in the bedclothes and turned askew; his battle with himself and sleep had taken its toll, but he had made a decision during those long waking hours. Pushing himself from the mattress, Darcy swung his legs over the bed’s side and reached for the bell cord to call his man. Today, he would seek out Elizabeth’s company; today, he would begin to win her heart; although she probably held no knowledge of its depth, he knew Elizabeth to be, at least, aware of his interests. Now, Darcy would demonstrate to the lady that despite his concerns with her family, he would apply himself to winning her love.
Today would be the first day of the rest of his life. Following his morning ablutions, Darcy carefully created, in his dress, the appearance of a gentleman open to new possibilities. He set out through the parklands surrounding Rosings, but his destination was not to be the park itself; he planned to call on the Parsonage. The little over a quarter mile path was short lived, and before he knew it, he stood outside Hunsford. For a few painful seconds, he thought to turn around and return to the manor house. Yet, his heart said he must see this through; he could not alter his course. His entrance into the gate at the Parsonage would be well known. So noted, Darcy rang the bell, and a servant soon admitted him to the inner room. He had expected the Collinses to be at home, but he found only Elizabeth in attendance. Having planned to engage the household’s occupants in conversation, his apprehension increased. He had rehearsed what he would say to each of the cottage’s occupants. And although it was a pleasant surprise, it was necessary for him to shift his emotional being to face Elizabeth one-on-one.
“Mr. Darcy, what a surprise!” she began, sounding a bit uncertain.
“Miss Elizabeth, I apologize for invading your privacy,” he stumbled along trying to sound uneventful, but feeling aroused by her closeness. “I understood the Collinses were within. I pray I have not interrupted your solitary pleasures.”
“An interruption does not necessarily have to be unwelcome, Sir,” she curtsied. “I am afraid Mrs. Collins and her sister have gone into the village. I hope your appearance here does not mean your family at Rosings has taken ill. Are Lady Catherine, Miss de Bourgh, and your cousin, the colonel, all in health?”
“Do not know distress, Madam; their health is well,” he returned her bow, while all the time thinking, She welcomes my company!
“Then, please be seated, Mr. Darcy,” she offered politely, while gesturing to a nearby chair. “Would you care for tea, Sir?”
“No, thank you, Miss Elizabeth. I am quite content.” For several minutes, Darcy stared at her; he was so fascinated by her beauty that he nearly forgot the need for conversation. He looked up to observe Elizabeth’s questioning gaze. He cleared his throat. “May I ask of your journey from Hertfordshire.”
“Quite pleasant, Sir. Miss Lucas and Sir William thought the scenery delightful,” she said with her usual sardonic attitude.
Darcy’s breathing relaxed. They would hold another of their stimulating conversations. “And you did not, Miss Elizabeth?”
“On the contrary, Mr. Darcy, I enjoyed the beautiful landscapes, but I fear I do not possess Sir William’s way with words. His descriptions of Kent and of Rosings are likely to be legendary in Meryton by the time of my return.”
“And the weather?” he said with enthusiasm.
Elizabeth chuckled, “As we both know, England is famous for its weather. Even Sir William Lucas would be at a loss for words in describing God’s grace in Kent. But please be assured that I found it very comfortable.”
“And Mr. Bennet? Is your father in health?” He thought it best to speak of those within her family of whom he held some respect.
“My father is well. He lives to read and to make sport for our neighbors.” Darcy was not certain that what Elizabeth saw as an endearing quality in her father was one that he would admire, but before he could inquire further, she said, “And what of Mr. Bingley? Is your friend likely to return to Netherfield?”
He had not expected Elizabeth to bring up the subject of Bingley and Netherfield so quickly, but Darcy had anticipated her comment, especially after her mentioning Miss Bennet’s presence in London. As casually as possible, he assured Elizabeth of the unlikeliness of that situation. “I have never heard Mr. Bingley say so; but it is probable that he may spend very little of his time at Netherfield in the future. He has many friends, and he is at a time of life when friends and engagements are continually increasing.”
He noticed her frown, but he hoped this explanation would temper her curiosity. Darcy changed the text of their conversation. “This appears a very comfortable house. Lady Catherine, I believe, did a great deal to it when Mr. Collins first came to Hunsford.”
“I believe she did—and I am certain she could not have bestowed her kindness on a more grateful object,” Elizabeth said with a smirk.
He cautioned, “My aunt is an excellent benefactor for Mr. Collins; such improvements are the exception rather than the rule.” Elizabeth simply nodded. Yet, it was not of the house he wished to speak; he wished to know of her thoughts on marriage. He began, “Mr. Collins appears to be very fortunate in his choice of a wife.”
“Yes, indeed, his friends may well rejoice in his having met with one of the very few sensible women who would accept him, but in a prudential light, it is certainly a good match for her.”
Elizabeth did not appear to favor the match despite her friend’s sensibility of marrying for monetary advantage. Darcy took her words to mean wealth was important, but Elizabeth wanted a loving relationship for herself. That was acceptable situation to him; he wanted to replicate his parents’ partnership; he had the necessary wealth, and he would wholeheartedly love Elizabeth if she would accept him.
Darcy added, “It must be very agreeable to Mrs. Collins to be settled within so easy a distance of her own family and friends.”
A bit shocked, Elizabeth replied, “An easy distance, do you call it? It is nearly fifty miles.”
A challenge was before him; they would engage in their usual verbal swordplay. “And what is fifty miles of good road? Little more than half a day’s journey. Yes, I call it a very easy distance,” he remarked as he leaned forward, as if offering a challenge.
Elizabeth shifted her weight, straightened her shoulders, and leaned in as she countered, “I should never have considered the distance as one of the advantages of the match. I should never have said Mrs. Collins was settled near her family.”
Darcy could detect the lavender scent that was her favorite; it was all he could do not to caress her face. “It is a proof of your own attachment to Hertfordshire. Anything beyond the very neighborhood of Longbourn, I suppose, would appear far.” He smiled while thinking of her at Pemberley and realizing the additional distance between his home and her home and how it would give them relief from her connections.
Elizabeth argued, “One would need more fortune than the Collinses possess in order for the distance to be an easy one. It is comfortable for you to consider distance from a different perspective, Mr. Darcy. Where there is fortune to make the expense of traveling unimportant, distance becomes no evil. But that is not the case here. Mr. and Mrs. Collins have a comfortable income, but not such a one as will allow frequent journeys.”
Darcy had the financial stability to make her travel wishes a matter of choosing in which carriage she wished to traverse the distance. He could offer her so much; obviously, Elizabeth would learn to love him. Darcy drew his chair a little toward her and said, “You cannot have a right to such very strong local attachment. You cannot have been always at Longbourn.” His feelings for Elizabeth caused Darcy’s breath to be ragged and shallow; they locked eyes momentarily, and he saw an image of her uncertainty. He quickly realized he must check himself; he had moved too fast. Despite wanting to scoop her into his arms and to carry her off to Pemberley, he reluctantly moved his chair back. There was a newspaper lying on the table, and as he picked it up, he said nonchalantly, “Are you pleased with Kent?”
Elizabeth leaned back casually in her chair. The intensity between them subsided, and small talk remained. When Mrs. Collins and Miss Lucas returned, Darcy explained that he had thought all the ladies of the house were at home when he had called upon the cottage. After a series of civilities, he begged their leave and returned to Rosings Park.
It was a beginning, he thought as he made his way along the well-worn path. Elizabeth must, obviously, recognize my intentions; now I must determine if she will willingly accept me as her husband. The possibility thrilled him while, at the same time, it sent a shot of pure panic through him.
Over the next several days, Darcy continued to call at the Parsonage; sometimes he came with his cousin; other times he came alone. To his chagrin, his former reluctance to speak easily reappeared when others were about. He realized that he must find a way to engage Elizabeth privately again. Eventually, having eavesdropped on her conversations with his cousin, Darcy had lighted on an idea. Miss Bennet chose a particular path at Rosings to be her favorite; he would arrange a rencontre. They would walk together and become more thoroughly acquainted; tomorrow Darcy would embark upon the second stage of his pursuit of Elizabeth Bennet.
Fitzwilliam and Darcy Visit the Hunsford Parsonage Again
by Jack Caldwell
“Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam,” the servant announced.
The party ensconced at the Hunsford Parsonage stood about the small parlor. Colonel Fitzwilliam quickly took in the scene: Mr. Collins, tall and stocky, was literally bowing from the waist.
the colonel thought.
I am not my father, the earl.
Mrs. Collins, plain and pleasant, stood next to her husband, her slight curtsey all that was correct for a woman of her station and that of her guests. Closest to the fireplace was Mrs. Collins’ young and awestruck sister, Miss Lucas. By the table was her pretty friend, Miss Bennet.
“Mr. Darcy! Colonel Fitzwilliam! You honor us most acutely by your presence! That you would lower yourselves to once again enter this humble abode! Not that this house is so very humble, for what parsonage in all of England could boast of the careful attentions, generosity, and taste of Lady Catherine de Bourgh! Such approbation! Such compassion to my relations! But who could expect less from the nephews of my most generous patroness?”
In this manner, Mr. Collins continued, and Fitzwilliam was hard pressed to hide his smile completely at the man’s foolishness. He managed it by smiling as he greeted the ladies. In short order, he found himself seated at a small table with Miss Bennet, while the others attempted to attend to Darcy.
Darcy was behaving as he usually did, his cousin noted. Uncomfortable in any social situation away from his close friends and family, the man fell back into cold politeness and taciturn statements. Fitzwilliam was accustomed to it and hardly noticed, but the same could not be said for his fair companion.
“I am sorry all sport is done, Colonel,” she said.
“I did not know that ladies paid any great attention to gentlemen’s pursuits, Miss Bennet.”
“Oh! You are severe on us!” Her smile took away any bite to her words. “We ladies do talk of things beside lace and finery. Gentlemen’s activities are always of great interest to us, for it is said that a man grows ridiculous without an occupation, and the follies of our fellows are the very heart of gossip.”
The colonel laughed heartily. “How well you know us! Indeed, sloth is abhorrent to me and my friend, too.”
Miss Bennet’s eyes darted to Darcy. “I have heard it said of your cousin that he dislikes quiet Sunday afternoons.”
“I cannot say that is an accurate description of Darcy.”
“I must bow to your superior knowledge, sir. But to defend myself, I was told by a very good source that there is no more awful object than that gentleman at his own house on a Sunday evening, when he has nothing to do.”
Fitzwilliam laughed again. “Now that is true! Darcy always wants to do something useful, particularly for someone else. He has not accepted the idea that he must rest like us mere mortals!”
“Are people always dependent on his advice and efforts, then? He sounds very much like his aunt.”
Fitzwilliam glanced about the room. It was a small, modest house, but Lady Catherine had seen to improvements. The furniture might be sparse, but it was of good quality, castoffs from the last redecoration of Rosings. The paint and wall coverings were relatively new and fresh, and Fitzwilliam could see his aunt’s hand in the sensible arrangement of the furnishings.
Knowing my aunt’s attention to detail, the Collinses are probably frightened out of their wits to move any of this more than an inch without prior approval!
“I would say that both my aunt and my cousin take a prodigious interest in the concerns of those under their care.”
Although for dramatically different reasons! Darcy truly cares for his servants and tenants, like his father and mine, while Lady Catherine only desires to exercise control over the lower classes.
Miss Bennet nodded to herself as if the colonel’s words had reinforced a previously held opinion. She glanced again at Darcy, and Fitzwilliam could see that he was staring at her.
Darcy is showing unusual attention to my pretty companion. I believe there is some admiration in it. Is the lady’s teasing a sign that she is aware of it and approves? I cannot tell. Her wit is so sharp I wonder if she means to tickle or wound.
Tea was then served, which gave Miss Lucas an excuse to join the pair. Mr. Darcy remained on the sofa, an unwilling recipient of Mr. Collins’ insipid conversation.
Twenty minutes later the cousins were walking back to Rosings.
“Darcy,” cried Fitzwilliam, “I know you can be reserved to a distressing degree, but if you insist on continuing to call on the Collinses, at least you could actually carry on a conversation with them.”
Darcy shook his head. “I believe I talked as much as ever.”
“You hardly talked at all!”
Darcy looked over at his friend. “Compared to you, anyone would seem struck dumb—” he paused dramatically, “save Mr. Collins!”
“Too true. There, you see! You do have a wit! You should show it if you mean—”
Fitzwilliam held his tongue. If Darcy was attracted to Miss Bennet, he would never admit it anyone until he was ready. Besides, the colonel reminded himself that he might be mistaken.
“If you mean to show yourself to good advantage,” Fitzwilliam finished lamely.
“Show myself to good advantage? To whom, Fitz? A foolish country parson, one who is suitable to no one save my overbearing aunt?”
“Darcy, that is harsh!” At Darcy’s raised eyebrow, he added, “But true!”
They walked on for a little while. Upon beholding the front door of Rosings, Darcy blurted out, “We should visit the parsonage again tomorrow if the weather holds.”
Well, I say! Darcy is lost to the charms of Miss Bennet!
Darcy Hints that Elizabeth Would Find Rosings Park More Welcoming If She Returned There as His Wife
by Regina Jeffers
This scene comes from Chapter 7 of my first Austen-inspired novel, Darcy’s Passions.
He awoke early and left Rosings’s warmth behind to brave a chilly morning and to wait for Elizabeth’s company. Darcy had thought that he knew which path she had described to Edward, but after a half hour’s stay, he questioned the information. Reasoning that Elizabeth likely assisted Mrs. Collins with the lady’s household duties, he gave himself permission to wait another quarter hour before he would return to the manor house. To his relief, he finally spotted Miss Elizabeth as she approached the roughly hewed clearing where he awaited her. By design, wishing the appearance of an accidental meeting, Darcy stepped into the shadows.
Not expecting to encounter anyone along the pathway, Elizabeth started when Darcy appeared before her. “Mr. Darcy,” she gasped and clutched at her chest, “You surprised me, Sir.”
“Miss Elizabeth,” he feigned surprise, “as you did me.” He bowed properly, but he searched her countenance for Elizabeth’s real feelings at encountering him. “I did not realize you too preferred solitary walks. They are most pleasant, are they not?”
“You know me to be a person who is not afraid of a healthy walking distance,” she appeared a bit unnerved by the mischance of their meeting.
Darcy brushed away the reluctance she displayed. Instead, he said, “Are you nearing the end of your preamble?”
“Yes…yes, Sir,” she stammered. “I believe I will turn back.”
“Then allow me, Madam,” he said, doffing his hat, “to escort you to the Parsonage. I would be remiss in my duty if I permitted you to return alone.” He liked the way this scenario had fallen into place. Everything was as he had imagined.
Elizabeth flashed a questioning look in his direction, but she accepted his extended arm as her support. Darcy resisted reaching out and placing his free hand over hers; the warmth of her fingers tantalized his senses. They walked for a few minutes in what he considered to be companionable silence; yet, he did not want to waste the precious time he would spend with her so he forced himself to offer up observations about the beauty of Kent. “It has been many years since Kent has sported early blooms and greenery. The temperate weather has been kind to the parklands.”
“Yes, it is quite beautiful,” she said softly. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my walks.”
Elizabeth’s response he barely heard, being so consumed by the moment, but he caught enough of the words to realize she found Kent to be very pleasant.
“Would you consider returning for another visit?” he ventured.
“Such would be a pleasurable sojourn,” she turned to look unexpectedly up at him. He prayed that she would know his affections soon. Darcy glowed with the hopes that Elizabeth would think it more pleasurable if he were in Kent, as well.
“How do you find Rosings Park?” he questioned, engrossed in her closeness.
“It has a pleasant prospect when one first takes in its beauty,” Elizabeth began. “Its many wings confuse me, however. Lady Catherine has offered use of her library, but I must admit I found the billiard room instead. It is a bit amusing upon recollection.”
Darcy caught the glint of a smile, and he joined in her ease. “I am certain if you were to return as a Rosings’s guest, the likelihood of making such a mistake would be greatly reduced.”
The ambiguity of his words was not lost on Elizabeth, and that pleased Darcy. He wanted her to think of him in a different role. To realize that he was much more than she imagined. She glanced at him briefly and shook her head. The movement of her bonnet caught his attention, and Darcy partook of the flush of her cheeks and of her thick eyelashes.
The walk was coming to an end, and they drifted into silence once more. Approaching the gate, he loosen the latch with his free hand. In reality, he truly disliked parting from her company, and he walked with her to the door of the Parsonage. “Thank you, Mr. Darcy,” her eyes rose to meet his.
“It was my pleasure, Miss Elizabeth. Your presence made the walk more agreeable.” Before she could respond, he offered her a quick bow and strode away. Waiting until he was certain no one at the Parsonage could observe his reactions, Darcy finally gave himself permission to stop, lean against a tree, and replay the reflections of the last half hour.
It was another beginning. Darcy would like to think this was another step in his winning Elizabeth’s regard when, in reality, most of his beginnings were faltering attempts. Accustomed to being the prey, not the pursuer, he knew what to do to sustain an interest once it began, but Darcy had never met a woman such as Elizabeth Bennet and had never initiated a relationship. Yet, he felt more hopeful; Bingley, and especially his sisters, had thwarted Darcy’s attempts at Netherfield; here at Rosings, his cousin frustrated his designs. Darcy realized he needed privacy to secure Elizabeth’s affections; the solitary paths of Rosings would permit him the means and the mode to win the lady’s heart.
Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 07:03:10 PM by Jack Caldwell
Happily ever after comes true
Re: Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
Reply #4 on:
June 12, 2012, 07:15:22 PM »
Darcy Is Determined to Make Elizabeth His Wife
by Regina Jeffers
This scene comes from Chapter 8 of my first Austen-inspired novel, Darcy’s Passions.
On the third day that Darcy met Elizabeth along her favorite path, he encountered some resistance on her part, but he had prepared himself for her reluctance. “Miss Elizabeth,” he began upon meeting her accidentally for the third time in as many days, “I have purposely sought you out.” His words registered a mild shock upon Elizabeth’s face. “After leaving you yesterday at the Parsonage, I recalled a particularly pleasant prospect I believe you would enjoy. I came today in hopes of having the pleasure of showing it to you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy,” she countered, “that shall not be necessary.”
He said apologetically, “I understand if you are too tired. I should have thought better than to intrude upon your time.” He retrieved his gloves from where they lay upon a bench. “I had only thought of how much you have enjoyed the park while we have kept each other company. The walk I had thought to share was one of my late mother’s favorites. I had forgotten about it until Lady Catherine reminded me.” He prayed that such a small prevarication would not come back to haunt him. “I simply thought you might find it a pleasant choice for a solitary walk.
Elizabeth hesitated briefly before saying, “If it is not too far, I would take delight in seeing it, Sir. Thank you for considering my pleasure.” She rested her gloved hand on his proffered arm.
Walking along the narrow, winding path, Elizabeth often moved closer for support, as the footing was a bit bumpy with tree roots. Lost to her closeness, Darcy considered the pleasure he would know by lifting Elizabeth into his arms and carrying her along the path. To feel her clinging to his chest would be pure bliss, but he resisted any rash impropriety.
In less than ten minutes, they emerged from the thick-trunk, tree-lined path into a clearing painted by the sun. Darcy pushed aside some branches and permitted Elizabeth to step into a field of vibrantly colored wildflowers—primroses, bluebells, wild hyacinths, and anemones. He enjoyed the gasp she emitted upon seeing what the clearing had to offer.
“Mr. Darcy,” she exclaimed, “this is magnificent!”
He could not stop the smile erupting upon his lips. As Elizabeth stepped away from him and scampered toward the field, Darcy reluctantly released her. He watched as she stopped suddenly, spread her arms wide, and turned around and around, looking skyward with joy. He did not expect such unencumbered pleasure, but he could not turn his head. She was the most exquisite creature that he had ever seen.
She walked through the field at several angles, stopping to enjoy the various flowers; then she strode purposely toward him. “Mr. Darcy, you have honored me by sharing this clearing. I cannot understand why you chose to do so, but it will be a treasured memory of my trip to Rosings.”
“My mother loved nature, Miss Elizabeth. I believe she would have been pleased to know you approved of her favorite refuge,” he offered. Realizing he could not press her too quickly, he said evenly, “Are you prepared to return to the Parsonage?”
“Yes, Sir, I believe I am.” He extended his arm, and anticipating the pathway’s unevenness, she took a firmer grip than previously. Her rich, mellow hazel eyes sparkling as she turned around and around in the field had filled Darcy with happiness. He loved Elizabeth Bennet; the realization of admitting his feelings flashed through his being; no more would he say he loved her eyes or loved how she spoke her mind; no longer would he think of his feelings being only a strong attraction; Darcy loved Elizabeth. It was as simple as that: he loved Elizabeth. Finally openly acknowledging his devotion for her to himself, Darcy wanted to scream it to the world. Instead, he forced himself to swallow hard and say, “I am pleased my intrusion was not unpleasant, Miss Elizabeth.”
“I believe I told you earlier not all intrusions are unwelcome, Sir.”
“Our acquaintance has been long enough for us to know something of the other’s preferences.” She looked at him with questions hidden behind her eyes; Darcy realized that Elizabeth would now expect him to make known his intentions: He shared his mother’s favorite refuge with her, and he had told her of his wishing to share precious parts of his life with her. The lady could no longer doubt his purpose.
Broken only by occasional civilities regarding the weather and of books recently read, the companionable silence returned between them. As customary, he left her at the Parsonage’s door, but this time as he strode away he allowed himself the pleasure of turning for a final look at her; Elizabeth stood transfixed and looking toward where he brought up; he touched the brim of his hat to bid her farewell and strolled away. After he turned toward Rosings the second time, he did not see her grimace, nor did he observe her perplexed stare.
Tomorrow—he thought as he made his way along the path; tomorrow he would offer his hand to Elizabeth. He would depart from Rosings in two days; therefore, tomorrow would be the day. The prayer the Devil answers, he reminded himself. Let the Devil beware, Darcy thought. He would declare his love for Elizabeth; she would accept; and then Darcy would deal with those whose censure would surely come. Tonight he would prepare a proper proposal; he would tell Elizabeth how his regard for her had grown despite their differences. He imagined her happiness at his declaration. That evening Darcy slept well with the knowledge that on the morrow Elizabeth Bennet would be his.
Colonel Fitzwilliam Meets Elizabeth Bennet in the Woods
by Jack Caldwell
Colonel Fitzwilliam was not in the best of spirits as he left the main house. He loved Darcy like a brother, but there were times when his cousin’s high-handedness drove the colonel to distraction. The reason for today’s irritation? Darcy had hinted that he might extend his visit to Rosings. Again.
Blast and damnation!
cursed the colonel.
I have little more than a month left to my leave, and then I must return to Spain. I had hoped to spend some of this time with my family and Georgiana. As fond as I am of Anne, I do not want to spend what little time I have in England trapped in Kent!
Fitzwilliam brooded, trying to determine Darcy’s real reasons for staying at Rosings, when he spied a likely motive. Miss Elizabeth Bennet was walking towards the house, perusing a letter in her hand. Fitzwilliam’s countenance lightened as he began to contemplate the mystery of the level of acquaintance between Darcy and the lovely young lady from Hertfordshire.
Miss Elizabeth looked surprised when she glanced up and saw him. Putting away the letter immediately and a smile gracing her face, the lady shared the usual greetings with the gentleman.
She added, “I did not know before that you ever walked this way.”
“I have been making the tour of the park,” the colonel replied, “as I generally do every year, and intend to close it with a call at the parsonage. Are you going much farther?”
“No, I should have turned in a moment.”
And accordingly she did turn, and they walked towards the parsonage together. “Do you certainly leave Kent on Saturday?” said Miss Elizabeth.
“Yes, if Darcy does not put it off again. But I am at his disposal. He arranges the business just as he pleases.” Fitz tried to hide any irritation he felt.
“And if not able to please himself in the arrangement, he has at least great pleasure in the power of choice. I do not know anybody who seems more to enjoy the power of doing what he likes than Mr. Darcy.”
“He likes to have his own way very well,” replied Fitzwilliam. “But so we all do. It is only that he has better means of having it than many others because he is rich and many others are poor. I speak feelingly. A younger son, you know, must be inured to self-denial and dependence.”
Miss Elizabeth’s fine, mocking eyes flashed. “In my opinion, the younger son of an earl can know very little of either. Now, seriously, what have you ever known of self-denial and dependence? When have you been prevented by want of money from going wherever you chose or procuring anything you had a fancy for?”
Fitz was forced to grin. “These are home questions—and perhaps I cannot say that I have experienced many hardships of that nature. But in matters of greater weight, I may suffer from the want of money. Younger sons cannot marry where they like.”
“Unless where they like women of fortune, which I think they very often do,” the lady teased.
Fitzwilliam shrugged. “Our habits of expense make us too dependent, and there are not many in my rank of life who can afford to marry without some attention to money.”
His companion colored at the idea, but recovering herself, said in a lively tone, “And pray, what is the usual price of an earl’s younger son? Unless the elder brother is very sickly, I suppose you would not ask above fifty thousand pounds.”
Fitzwilliam was surprised that she had mentioned the exact amount of Anne’s fortune.
How could she have heard of it? Her cousin, the parson, perhaps? He knows all too much of my aunt’s business
. He hid his disquiet well, however, answered her in the same style, and the subject was dropped.
After a period of quiet, Miss Bennet ventured, “I imagine your cousin brought you down with him chiefly for the sake of having somebody at his disposal. I wonder he does not marry to secure a lasting convenience of that kind. But perhaps his sister does as well for the present, and as she is under his sole care, he may do what he likes with her.”
“No,” said Colonel Fitzwilliam, “that is an advantage which he must divide with me. I am joined with him in the guardianship of Miss Darcy.”
“Are you, indeed? And pray what sort of guardians do you make? Does your charge give you much trouble? Young ladies of her age are sometimes a little difficult to manage, and if she has the true Darcy spirit, she may like to have her own way.”
The lady’s playful speech alarmed Fitzwilliam. For an instant he wanted to shake her—make her tell him of what she had heard of Georgiana.
Had Wickham talked of Georgie? I will KILL him!
He controlled his temper, however, but only barely. “I am curious as to why you suppose my cousin likely to give uneasiness to anyone.”
“You need not be frightened,” she directly replied. “I never heard any harm of her, and I dare say she is one of the most tractable creatures in the world.”
Fitzwilliam relaxed as the lady continued. “She is a very great favorite with some ladies of my acquaintance—Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. I think I have heard you say that you know them.”
So relieved was Fitzwilliam that he did not mind his next words well. “I know them a little. Their brother is a pleasant, gentlemanlike man. He is a great friend of Darcy’s.”
“Oh, yes!” said Miss Elizabeth drily. “Mr. Darcy is uncommonly kind to Mr. Bingley and takes a prodigious deal of care of him.”
“Care of him!” Fitz laughed. “Yes, I really believe Darcy
take care of him in those points where he most wants care. From something that he told me in our journey hither, I have reason to think Bingley very much indebted to him.”
Suddenly, the colonel realized that he might have said too much. “But I ought to beg his pardon, for I have no right to suppose that Bingley was the person meant. It was all conjecture.”
“What is it you mean?”
Fitz saw no harm in continuing. “It is a circumstance which Darcy, of course, would not wish to be generally known, because if it were to get round to the lady’s family, it would be an unpleasant thing.”
“You may depend upon my not mentioning it.”
“And remember that I have not much reason for supposing it to be Bingley! What he told me was merely this: That he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage but without mentioning names or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort and from knowing them to have been together the whole of last summer.”
“Did Mr. Darcy give you his reasons for this interference?”
In a gossipy tone, he said, “I understood that there were some very strong objections against the lady.”
“And what arts did he use to separate them?”
“He did not talk to me of his own arts,” said Fitzwilliam, smiling. “He only told me what I have now told you.”
Miss Elizabeth made no answer and walked on. After watching her a little, Fitzwilliam asked her why she was so thoughtful.
“I am thinking of what you have been telling me. Your cousin’s conduct does not suit my feelings. Why was he to be the judge?”
Fitzwilliam heard displeasure in her voice. “You are rather disposed to call his interference officious?”
“I do not see what right Mr. Darcy had to decide on the propriety of his friend’s inclination, or why, upon his own judgment alone, he was to determine and direct in what manner that friend was to be happy!
“But,” she continued, recollecting herself, “as we know none of the particulars, it is not fair to condemn him. It is not to be supposed that there was much affection in the case.”
“That is not an unnatural surmise,” said Fitzwilliam after a self-conscious chuckle, “but it is lessening the honor of my cousin’s triumph very sadly!”
The lady did not seem to enjoy Fitzwilliam’s jest, and therefore, abruptly changed the conversation. The two talked on indifferent matters till they reached the Parsonage, where the colonel took his leave.
As he returned to Rosings, he was uneasy.
Miss Elizabeth was decidedly unhappy. Could I have offended her?
A ridiculous question! Of course not.
Darcy Plans His Proposal
by Susan Mason-Milks
Fitzwilliam Darcy was a man whose entire life was about responsibility and duty. Since boyhood, he had always done what people expected of him. His parents, his relations, and his friends all knew he would eventually marry a young lady from the highest circles. In addition to her beauty, she would have impeccable manners and breeding and would have been training all her life to fulfill the role of mistress of a great house like Pemberley. They would be the perfect couple in the eyes of the ton.
The longer he waited to select a wife, the more intensely society mothers competed to gain his attention for their daughters. His friends, acquaintances, and even strangers began to enter their bets in the book at White’s as to when Fitzwilliam Darcy would finally decide to marry and who the fortunate young lady might be.
Darcy always believed he would follow the path set out for him since birth – then he met Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Last fall, she had taken him completely by surprise, upsetting his regulated, well-ordered world in ways he could never have imagined. She was unlike anyone he had ever met before. Though only the daughter of a country gentleman, she was enchanting, enticing… yes, even bewitching. Almost from the moment he met her, he began to comprehend he was in serious danger. The more time he had spent in her company, the deeper he fell under her spell. In order to keep his feelings under strict control, he had endeavored to limit his interactions with her, but the pull to be near her had sometimes proven more powerful than his resolve.
Unlike other women of his acquaintance, she never tried to gain his attention. Even more unusual, she appeared unimpressed by his wealth and social standing. At first, he thought her apparent lack of interest might be part of a game to attract him, but very quickly, he realized she was completely lacking in pretense. The more time he spent in her presence, the more difficult it became to became to resist her.
In spite of the ache he felt for her, he knew it was impossible to consider making her an offer of marriage. Because of her family’s lack of connections, she would never be considered an appropriate wife for a man of his standing. A lifetime of training in duty and responsibility to his family name told him he must forget her. And so last fall, he had left Hertfordshire, certain he would never see her again.
During the winter months, she had haunted his dreams in spite of his diligent efforts to blot her from his memory and remove her from his heart. When he arrived at Rosings to spend Easter with his aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he was not prepared for the shock of finding Miss Elizabeth also in the neighborhood visiting with her friend Mrs. Collins. Was it chance or a cruel joke of the gods to put her in his path once again? Wrestling with his feelings every night, he found sleep elusive. Each morning he arose with dark smudges beneath his eyes, and his patience in short supply.
A few nights ago over the pianoforte, his beautiful Elizabeth taken him to task, and at the same time, artfully let him know she understood his struggles to overcome his shyness in conversing with people. When she suggested he should practice the art of conversation, he hoped she was hinting she would be his tutor in this endeavor. He could see clearly how her natural charms would help him through those socially difficult situations in which he usually floundered. To this marriage, he would bring his social standing, old family name, and wealth, while she would bring her sincere and caring nature, her talent for witty conversation, and her innate understanding of people. Together, they would be a formidable couple. Logic was nothing compared to the desire he felt for her — he must have her as his wife.
After that encounter, Darcy knew he must act. Late at night, sitting alone in the library with only the tick of the mantle clock for company, he considered what to say in his marriage proposal to her. The problem was he was not practiced at expressing his admiration to young ladies. In fact, thus far, all of his efforts had involved finding ways to fend them off. As a result, he knew he must plan and rehearse his speech in advance because when he looked into her dark, expressive eyes, he invariably lost the ability to form a coherent sentence.
First, he would declare how ardently he admired and loved her. That seemed a good start. Then, he would add emphasis to the strength and depth of his feelings by describing his struggle to overcome the many objections and obstacles to their union. He would say, that in offering for her, he was going against the wishes of his family and friends, and in truth, against his own better judgment, but emphasize that where she was concerned logic had no place. The inferiority of her family’s connections, which should be of concern to him, was unimportant when compared to the joy of having her as his wife.
Yes, this was the correct approach. His lovely Elizabeth had an intelligent mind and would appreciate knowing how he had struggled with this decision. She would understand, that in the end, reason and logic had given way to love.
Feeling satisfied with his plan, he retired for the evening. In a dream that night, he walked with her in the grove. He saw himself taking her hands in his and reciting his proposal. As he spoke, her eyes grew warmer, and she smiled up into his face. “Yes,” she said, “I would be honored to marry you.” Raising her hand to his lips, he kissed it softly. More kisses followed until they were suddenly at Pemberley in his room, in his bed.
Darcy awoke with a start in a tangle of linens, confused and disappointed to find he was still at Rosings. The delight of holding her soft form in his arms lingered, creating an aching need inside him. At least, he could take comfort that after today it would not be much longer until she was with him in reality, not just in a dream.
After dressing with great care, he left the house praying she had kept to her usual morning routine of walking in the grove. As he approached the area, he saw her, but she was not alone. She was walking with his cousin. Blast that Fitzwilliam for getting in his way again! His irritation grew as he thought about how often his charming cousin had monopolized Elizabeth’s attentions in the past few weeks. Now he would have to find a way to speak to her later in the day. Frustrated, he turned on his heel and stalked back to the house feeling very put out that his plan had been thwarted.
Later that morning at the breakfast table, Darcy learned from his cousin Anne that the Hunsford party was coming early that evening to drink tea at Rosings. He hoped that at some point during their visit, he would be able to quietly ask Elizabeth for a private audience, either later that evening or the following day, but when the parson and his family arrived, Elizabeth was not with them. Darcy could barely refrain from rolling his eyes as the ridiculous Mr. Collins bowed and bobbed and begged Lady Catherine to accept the apologies of his cousin Elizabeth, who had stayed behind with a headache.
Frustrated, Darcy excused himself from the group and went into the library to rethink his plan. Was she truly suffering or could it be possible she had invented the headache in order to stay behind and create the opportunity for him to be alone with her? In either case, he must go to her immediately.
All the way to the parsonage, he went over and over his speech. Upon arrival, he was pleased to discover she was in the parlor and could receive him. Entering the room, he was so distracted by the scent of lavender that he almost forgot to inquire after her health. When he did, her answer was polite but cool, and she seemed slightly uneasy. He brushed it off, confident he had been correct in his assumption she had invented a reason to stay behind in the hopes he would visit her.
When he looked into her lovely, expectant face, his resolve nearly failed. Sitting down, he took a moment to gather his thoughts and review what he planned to say. Then he rose, and taking a deep breath, he began, “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam Takes His Leave of the Parsonage
by Jack Caldwell
“Are you comfortable, Colonel?” asked Mrs. Collins.
“Perfectly, madam,” he replied.
“Of course Colonel Fitzwilliam is comfortable, Mrs. Collins!” cried Mr. Collins. “Did not Lady Catherine de Bourgh herself pick out these very chairs? I assure you, my dear colonel, that your most excellent aunt arranged this room just in this manner, and we have taken pains so see that nothing is out of place, even by an inch! Surely, Lady Catherine’s condescension knows no bounds!”
“Certainly you are right, Mr. Collins.”
“Such a fine, fine lady. Always thoughtful and punctual. Unlike others— but I should hold my tongue…”
“Yes. Mr. Collins,” said his wife. “Do you see Eliza yet?”
Colonel Fitzwilliam relaxed in his chair in the parlor of the Hunsford parsonage. He was seated next to a window, and the morning sun felt good on his shoulders as he visited Mrs. Collins and Miss Lucas, all the time wondering where Miss Bennet could be. Mr. Collins apparently felt the same—he was staring out the window for the misplaced young lady, muttering apologies.
The colonel’s calm demeanor and pleasant conversation gave the lie to the excitement at Rosings over the last eighteen hours. When Fitzwilliam walked out the day before and met Miss Bennet in the park, he had just come to terms of spending another week as a guest at Rosings. But a little while later at tea, an agitated Darcy stormed in late and announced that he was to quit Kent the next morning.
What an uproar that announcement caused! Lady Catherine raged and cajoled, and even Anne begged Darcy to stay, but it was to no avail. The man would not be moved. He was very sorry, but he was determined to return to Town.
“I hope you have enjoyed your stay, Colonel,” said Mrs. Collins. “I am sorry that Mr. Darcy is unwell.”
“I thank you for your concern, but do not distress yourself. A trifling headache will not lay my cousin low for long,” Fitzwilliam assured her.
Later in Darcy’s rooms, Fitzwilliam tried to learn the reason for Darcy’s extraordinary demand. There were times his friend and cousin could be high-handed, but this behavior was well beyond anything Darcy had ever done before. By then his cousin had calmed down, but he refused to speak of it. Darcy apologized for the inconvenience, which took a bit of the sting out of Fitzwilliam’s ill-treatment, but would say no more. He requested, politely but firmly, that he have some privacy for the rest of the evening.
Fitzwilliam had no recourse but to agree. He knew Darcy could be as stubborn as a mule when he put his mind to it.
“Colonel,” said Miss Lucas timidly, “I have been meaning to ask you… but—oh, it is silly.”
Fitzwilliam smiled kindly. “What do you wish to know, Miss Lucas?”
The girl was nervous and blushing. Finally she declared, “Why do you not wear your uniform? All the officers back in Meryton are in uniform all the time!”
“But I am off duty,” Fitz explained. “It is not right to wear one’s uniform when one is off duty.”
“But they are so handsome!” The girl blushed as she clamped her hands over her mouth. “Oh, I should not have said that!”
Fitzwilliam bit back a laugh. “I thank you for the compliment, Miss Lucas.”
Darcy did something unusual again the next morning. Fitzwilliam was at table, eating his early breakfast, when Darcy came in—not from the passageway that led to the stairs, but from the front hall. The man had been outside, and at such an early hour! Fitzwilliam demanded to know the reason for it, but Darcy remained mute. He took coffee and very little else and requested that they take their leave of the parsonage ere they departed from Kent.
Once there, they learned that Miss Bennet had yet to return from her morning walk. Fitzwilliam was disappointed; he had grown to like the pretty, rather impertinent young lady. But Darcy, who had already shown signs of tension, became downright distracted. He walked up and down the parlor for a moment, then to Fitzwilliam’s bewilderment, paid the meanest of farewells to the Collinses and Miss Lucas before making for the door.
Fitzwilliam, of course, had to say something. “Darcy” he hissed in a low voice, “what are you about? This looks very bad.”
“Forgive me … please,” said his cousin, who to a person that knew him well, appeared distressed. “I must leave.”
“Are you well? Have you a headache?”
He would not look at the colonel. “Make my apologies. I must return to Rosings. Do not hurry. We will leave when you are ready.”
Fitzwilliam was so astonished at this civility he said nothing as Darcy went away.
“More coffee, Colonel?”
Fitzwilliam waved her off. “No, thank you, Mrs. Collins. I should be off, as I am sure my cousin is waiting for me. Allow me to take me leave of you.”
Mr. Collins turned from the window, uncharacteristically with a scowl on his face. “Please accept my humble apologies for detaining you, my dear colonel! That you would grace my humble abode for such a length of time is condescension beyond even my noble—”
“Indeed you are correct, Mr. Collins,” cut in his good wife, as she extended her hand to the colonel. “We have enjoyed meeting you, Colonel Fitzwilliam.”
“It was an honor, ma’am.”
“Oh, my dear, dear sir! It is we who are honored by your august presence!”
“Mr. Collins, this is too much—”
“But I do not know where my cousin has gotten to. I should speak to her upon her return.”
“Pray do not, my good sir. The woods of Rosings are so delightful that one can hardly tear one’s self from them. I do speak from experience.”
“True, true—very true! Your most excellent aunt spends a prodigious amount on the care of them, does she not?”
“I cannot say. Good bye, Miss Lucas.”
“Colonel,” said she, blushing furiously. “I hope we should meet again.”
Fitzwilliam felt regret about this. Apparently he had failed to guard his tongue around Mrs. Collins’ young and impressionable sister. The lovesick look she bestowed on him made him guilty. He smiled and made his way out of the parsonage as quickly as possible.
Two hours later, Colonel Fitzwilliam was again with his cousin in the Darcy carriage, this time leaving Kent.
“Darcy, will you stop sitting there like a lump of coal? What the devil is the matter with you?”
“There is nothing the matter with me.”
Fitzwilliam shook his head. There was nothing for it—Darcy would either tell him or not. The man was as stubborn as a mule when he wished to be. The colonel settled back and thought of what he could do during his visit to raise the spirits of his dear Georgiana.
He certainly could do naught for Darcy!
Elizabeth Reads Darcy's Letter
by Susan Mason-Milks
This scene is adapted from the opening scene of a work in progress. Working title is “Please, Mr Darcy” although the name may change before it’s published.
Elizabeth stood in the grove and watched Mr. Darcy walk away. In spite of how much she disliked him, she could not help but admire his fine figure and the way he carried himself. It was unfortunate that someone with so much to recommend him was also so decidedly unpleasant.
Looking at the letter in her hand, she was in conflict with herself. Even accepting the letter from him – from any man – was highly improper, but it had all transpired so quickly she had been unable to think of a polite way to refuse. Considering her biting words of the day before, perhaps she owed him at least the courtesy of reading whatever explanation he might wish to offer, although nothing he had to say could possibly take away the anger she felt – or the pain of receiving such an offensive marriage proposal.
Mr. Darcy’s declaration had taken her completely by surprise yesterday. If only he had stopped after the part about how ardently he admired and loved her, she would have been able to refuse him politely, but he did not. He deemed it necessary to point out to her that he was asking for her hand even though it was against his better judgment to do so! He had continued to raise her ire by reciting a list of the objections against their union. In other words, he asked her to marry him, and then grossly insulted her!
She had been so disturbed by his words at the time that now looking back, she could scarcely remember how she had managed an intelligible response. Through the fog of emotion, she had a vague recollection of accusing him of not behaving in a gentleman-like manner, and then there was something about his being the last man in the world she would ever consider marrying. She could not feel sorry for what she said. He deserved every barb she had shot his way.
Thinking back to when he handed her the letter, she remembered that for just a moment his mask of control seemed to slip, and she thought she saw sadness in his eyes. Was it real? Was she truly so important to him, or was it simply that his pride had been injured by her refusal? She did not imagine there were many times when Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy did not get what he wanted.
Finally, opening the letter, she reluctantly began to read, and with each line she became more and more agitated. Several times she gasped audibly and was thankful no one was nearby to hear her exclamations. Her immediate response to each part was disbelief. Once she finished the letter – with some parts reviewed several times – she rose with the intention of walking, so she could mull over what she had just learned. After only a few steps, she wavered, her legs too uncertain to hold her up. Immediately, Elizabeth looked for a new place to rest. Then unfolding the pages, she read the letter yet again.
After studying it for some time, she accepted some parts with equanimity, while others reignited her feelings of anger and resentment. At first, she could not actually believe he thought Jane indifferent to Mr. Bingley’s attentions, that her sister’s heart remained untouched. Then, after reviewing the incidents she remembered, Elizabeth reluctantly allowed Mr. Darcy could have made an honest mistake because he did not know Jane well enough to recognize the indications of her feelings. Ironically, she remembered how Charlotte had warned her Jane should make it more clear to Mr. Bingley how she felt in order secure his affections. It added to the irony that Mr. Darcy had been no better at discerning her sister’s feelings for Mr. Bingley than she herself had been at perceiving Darcy’s for her.
At the references to her family’s improprieties, her anger flared again, but even as she smoldered, she knew, sadly, most of it was true. The boisterous, unbridled behavior of her mother and her younger sisters had been an embarrassment to Elizabeth since childhood. Many times she would see her mother ready to launch into another mortifying speech or action, but she was rarely able to stop it. Mrs. Bennet just did not know how to take a hint. For the most part, Elizabeth took the same attitude as her father by simply ignoring their silliness.
On the other hand, her family was certainly no worse than Lady Catherine, who was controlling, opinionated, and often, simply rude. Because she had an old family name and money, her behavior was tolerated. Elizabeth shifted uncomfortably as she remembered the evening Lady Catherine had offered to allow her to practice on the pianoforte in the room of her daughter’s companion, as she would be “in nobody’s way” in that part of the house. At the time, Elizabeth thought she had noticed Mr. Darcy cringing at his aunt’s tactless statement, but she had not been sure. Now considering what she had learned about his attachment to her, she thought her impression had most likely been correct.
The new information about Wickham enveloped her in confusion and then left her dismayed. Darcy turned everything Wickham had told her on its head. Could it be true Darcy was the party who had been wronged and not the other way around? So much of what Wickham told her was almost the same as the events Darcy had related in his letter, but in each case, it appeared Wickham had twisted the facts just enough to make himself the victim who was deserving of her sympathy.
How could she have been so taken in – she who prided herself on being such a good judge of character? Why had she missed the signs that must have been so clearly before her from the beginning? When she overheard Mr. Darcy call her ‘tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt him’ on the first night they met, she had been both hurt and amused. Had his rude behavior in general and his insults to her personally made her predisposed to believe the worst of him? Although she liked to think of herself as more impartial than that, if she was completely honest with herself, she had to admit it could be true. Wickham must have sensed this weakness in her and taken advantage of it for his own purposes. Had he singled her out for attention because he sensed Darcy’s interest in her and wished to hurt his old enemy in still another way? How could Wickham have detected something that had completely escaped her notice?
As she considered the situation, she chastised herself for missing from the very start the indications of Wickham’s duplicity. She had not thought to question the impropriety of his sharing very personal information with her when she was little more to him than a new acquaintance. Over and over she had missed the clues of Wickham’s subtle plot to undermine Darcy’s credibility and character. For that grievous error, she reproached herself harshly. Most of all, Elizabeth flushed with embarrassment at having been taken in by Wickham’s charms. How could she ever have been favorably impressed by him? What had happened to her good judgment?
The most shocking part of the letter dealt with Wickham’s near seduction of poor Miss Darcy. Her heart went out to this innocent girl who was just about the same age as her own youngest sister, Lydia. Thankfully, Mr. Darcy had been able to avert disaster and save his sister’s reputation before any damaging rumors could begin. The explanation of Miss Darcy’s close escape and Wickham’s part in it must be true, or Mr. Darcy would not have offered to have his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, verify the story for her.
Could this be part of the sadness she had seen appear on Mr. Darcy’s face from time to time when he thought no one was looking? If he was truly the honorable man reflected in this letter, then he must blame himself for his sister’s situation. That would be a very heavy burden indeed to bear. It did not escape her notice that Mr. Darcy trusted her enough to tell her about Wickham’s deception of his sister.
Elizabeth wandered the lane for almost two hours, reading and rereading the letter, walking as she turned the facts over and over in her mind. The emotion of this effort left her drained of energy, but she could not bring herself to face anyone yet. If she had only known Mr. Darcy would be here visiting his aunt at Easter, she would have arranged her visit for later in the spring.What an insufferable, arrogant, irritating man!
Finally, she realized if she did not return to the parsonage soon, Charlotte might begin to worry. Reluctantly, she prepared for the inevitable challenge of looking calm when there was a storm raging inside her. If her friend knew how upset she was, she might ask questions Elizabeth would rather avoid having to answer.
After apologizing to Charlotte for any concern she might have caused by being away from the house for so long, Elizabeth excused herself to her room. Finally, exhausted, she lay down on the bed and fell asleep, awaking mid-afternoon. This short period of rest went a long way in helping her to regain her good humor. After splashing water on her face, she joined Charlotte in the parlor. Just as she knew it would, the topic eventually turned to Mr. Darcy.
“So what do you think about Mr. Darcy now, Lizzy? I still maintain he has taken a keen interest in you,” said Charlotte.
Elizabeth turned red to the tips of her ears. “Oh, no, Charlotte, I cannot believe it. If Mr. Darcy truly had an interest in me, do you not think he would invent some excuse to extend his visit to Rosings?”
Charlotte considered this and then went back to her embroidery. Elizabeth hoped she had diverted her friend enough to allay her suspicions. Several times during the evening, Elizabeth found her thoughts turning to Mr. Darcy again. Whenever this happened, she put her hand in her pocket to touch the letter, as if to ensure it was real.
After staying up late that evening studying the letter, Elizabeth finally went to bed but slept very little in spite of being emotionally and physically exhausted. The next morning as she lay in bed, she heard a carriage pass by the house. Jumping up and running to the window, she saw the coach with the Darcy livery passing by headed in the direction of the main road. Elizabeth realized she felt both relieved and disappointed.
“It is over,” she told herself. “I am grateful I will never have to face him again.” At that thought, she sat down on the bed and cried.
Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 07:07:43 PM by Jack Caldwell
The Writer's Block
Teatime with Austen
Part 6: Springtime at Rosings Park
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