As all must know, by now, I prefer “what if” stories when it comes to our dear couple. One I have considered several times but have not actually published is “What if Elizabeth had interrupted Darcy during his proposal?” For your enjoyment, here is one take I have played with over the years. (Please forgive any typos, it is unedited.)
“In vain have I 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.”
At his momentary hesitation, Elizabeth Bennet cried incredulously, “I beg your pardon. You what?”
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s eyes widened, not expecting such a harsh question following his passionate declaration. “I love you.”
The lady’s jaw fell open, but she quickly recovered. “And were there signs of this extraordinary affection toward me?”
“Well, yes.” He nodded, but with a hesitant uncertainty.
“Truly?” she snapped. “Was it the insult to my appearance you delivered upon our first encounter? Or perhaps the constant disapproving stares while we were in company in Hertfordshire? No, I know what it was. You separated your trusting friend from my dearest sister and thoroughly broke her heart.”
His jaw working like a gasping fish, Darcy attempted to make sense of what she was saying and finally grasped upon one thin thread. “I never looked at you disapprovingly.”
A most unladylike snort escaped her before she made to imitate his intense glare which had been settled upon her whenever and wherever they had met the previous autumn. “Do I look as though I hold you in great affection, sir?”
Darcy frowned. “Most times when we were in company, I was in deep thought regarding you.” His voice was low, and his fingers twitched for want of a piece of paper to shred or something to wring. “You must understand my position is far beyond yours and your family.”
Before he could continue, Elizabeth held up her hand, her fingers splayed. “It was clear from the moment you entered our assembly you thought yourself above the inhabitants of Meryton and the surrounding area, but I care not who your aunt, uncle, or grandfather might be. You were raised a gentleman, sir, but I have seen very little of it in your interactions with others. My lowly relations in trade are more amenable and approachable than you have ever been. My uncle who lives within sight of his warehouses is more charitable.”
Standing even taller, Darcy raised his chin. “I beg your pardon, madam, but how would you know of my charity.”
“Precisely. I know nothing of you other than your wealth, family, and pride. If you love me as you say, I would expect you to have revealed more to me, unless such is all there is. Mr. Wickham gave me a clearer understanding of your character and charity than you ever did.” She rose and walked to the door.
She was about to open it when Darcy called, “Wickham?”
“Yes, sir.” She turned to face him once more. “Mr. Wickham’s recital of his interactions with you revealed more of your character than you ever did in our few conversations.”
A fire began to burn within him, and Darcy realized any response from him now would only further deteriorate the situation. Taking a deep breath, he lowered his shoulders and bowed his head. “Forgive me for having taken so much of your time and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.”
He stepped toward her but paused before grasping the doorknob and looked into her eyes which still flashed with anger. He wanted to say something, anything, which would turn her feelings toward him, but realized this was not the time. Instead, he bowed more formally, hoping she would read his respect for her in his actions, then slipped from the room.
I picture him wandering back to Rosings in shock and writing his letter with a bit less “dreadful bitterness of spirit.”
After this post, there were enough comments to encourage me to continue with another scene. I’ll post that in the coming weeks. Please share your thoughts on what you’ve read so far – perhaps it will inspire more. 😉