As promised in my last blog, here is the continuation of Darcy’s plight. Initially, I thought to write the letter in this blog, but realized it could not be done for more than one reason. First, because of the changes I had made, it was clear the letter would not be as long as the original. In addition, I decided not to go into quite the detail which the original provided regarding Wickham as most of you, I am sure, can recite what was already said so elegantly. The problem was, I was left with little reason for him to even write the letter. The “dreadful bitterness of spirit” just was not there. Instead, I hope you will enjoy this next scene.
The parsonage door closed behind him, and Darcy made his way back to Rosings from habit as his mind was otherwise occupied. The idea that Elizabeth Bennet had been completely unaware of his feelings, let alone his struggles, left him in utter bemusement. As he struggled not to raise her expectations in Hertfordshire, she had taken his near constant stares as him judging her and finding her wanting. When he asked her and only her to dance, not once but three times, she truly thought he was mocking her as she had stated at Netherfield during his second request. How was it possible that he had hidden his feelings so well from the object of his affections? So much so that she believed Wickham’s lies and saw Darcy as the lesser man. A groan escaped his lips.
Startled from his thoughts, Darcy raised his gaze and found his cousin watching him from the staircase, a look of concern transforming Philip’s normally cheerful expression. Darcy looked about and discovered he was in his aunt’s entryway; the butler stood before him, his hand extended to receive his outerwear. With little thought, he removed the articles and thanked Braxton for his assistance before returning his attention to his cousin.
Philip had finished descending the stairs and was now standing before him with his arms crossed over his chest. Before Darcy could say a word, his cousin looked about, grabbed Darcy’s arm, and pulled him through the nearest doorway into a small morning room their aunt disliked and rarely entered. Once inside, Philip looked about the entryway again before closing the door.
The room fell into darkness and Darcy heard his cousin curse before fumbling his way across the room towards the fireplace, obviously expecting a tinder box or such to be there. The absurdity of the normally nimble man bumping into random objects momentarily lifted Darcy from his previous confusion, and he reached back to open the door. As a sliver of light spilled across the room, Philip reached his destination and cursed once more.
“For the love of God, why is there nothing here to light a lamp?”
“Perhaps because it is a morning room and one would expect light to be entering the windows when it is in use.” Darcy chuckled.
The absurdity of the moment, following so closely on the equally bizarre scene at the parsonage, robbed him of what composure he had thus far retained. The chuckle morphed into a laugh which quickly brought tears to his eyes as he was thoroughly overcome by his confusing mirth. The befuddled expression upon Philip’s countenance only added to his amusement, and he fell back against the wall as his vision blurred.
A moment later he was in a chair, his cousin on the edge of its companion, and a candle which must have been removed from a sconce in the front hall sat on the table between them. The lone flickering light cast shadows over the men and the room, giving life to eerie shadows and ending Darcy’s hysteria.
“Darcy?” Philip asked again, though this time his tone and expression displayed unease.
“Fear not, Philip, I have not lost my mind.” He leant forwards, his elbows upon his knees and his face in his hands.
“I had just come from your rooms when you entered the house. Aunt Catherine has been asking for you.”
Another moan escaped him before he lifted his head and looked pleadingly at his cousin. “I fear I am not so recovered as to be able to be in company.”
“What is it? We did not hear of an express arriving. Is someone ill? Has some calamity occurred?”
A harsh laugh tore from Darcy’s throat causing his cousin’s brow to rise, though he relaxed when it was not followed by a repeat of the previous nature.
After reviewing the events of the evening, Darcy still found himself at a loss, but Philip was due some response. “No. No express was received, and no one is ill. The worse that has occurred is my eyes being opened to my own shortcomings.” Before his cousin could ask more, Darcy rose, and Philip followed. “Pray tell my aunt I am indisposed but shall attempt to join you for dinner.”
“I will tell her you are indisposed and join you in your rooms as soon as I am able.”
Darcy nodded, and the men left the room after Philip checked once more to be certain no one was about. Shortly after Darcy entered his rooms and dismissed his valet, Philip entered with a full bottle of scotch in his hand. Once settled in the sitting area, each holding a well filled glass, Darcy reluctantly laid out the events of his evening while adding pertinent information from his time in Hertfordshire.
At the end of his disclosure, Philip released a low whistle and shook his head. “I knew you liked Miss Bennet, even suspected more than liked, but I never would have thought you could make such a hash of it, Darce.”
Exhausted by his confession, Darcy stretched out as best he could with one leg across the settee, calf hanging off the edge, and the other bent before him. He still held his glass in one hand, though it was no longer as full, and the other arm lay across his forehead. “Neither did I.”
“Tell me again why you insulted her at the assembly.”
Darcy sighed and sat up. “I had just come from Pemberley and Georgiana. Upon arriving, Bingley informed me we would be attending an assembly. I could not refuse as I was his guest, though it is now clear I should have done so. Bingley would have forgiven me my rudeness.”
“Perhaps, but Miss Bingley would have insisted they all remain behind with you.” Philip raised his glass to his lips but did not drink. “Or she would have found a way to remain behind while the others attended the assembly.” He sipped the scotch while Darcy shivered at the thought.
Philip set his glass upon the table and leant forwards. “There are two parts of your story I must address. The first is Miss Bennet’s statement that you separated her sister from your friend.” He paused and took a deep breath. “I fear it was I who told her of your interference with Bingley.
With a slight lift of his shoulders, Darcy assured his cousin, “That was simply my most recent sin in her eyes.”
Philip nodded. “And the second is Wickham. Why was Miss Bennet not told of his pension for lies when you discovered his presence in the neighbourhood?”
“I could not––”
“Do not say you worried for Georgiana’s reputation. You know he is a greedy coward; he would say nothing without first approaching you for funds to keep him from it.”
Darcy hung his head.
“You understand that is what you must address first. She must know he is not to be trusted.”
“How? She will believe nothing I say.”
Philip tipped his head to the side. “Do you honestly believe that? Miss Bennet is an intelligent lady. If you present the truth of your relationship with him, she will see the inconsistencies in his tale.”
“And if she will not speak to me? I must be the last man in the world she cares to see at the moment.”
A sly smile slipped across Philip’s countenance. “Then write her a letter.”
So I fear you must wait another month to find out what Darcy actually does write.
Please share your thoughts below, you might inspire a bit more of this unexpected story.
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