Has it been a month already? Time for the next excerpt from my short story, but if you are new to these posts, here are links to the previous posts:

What if?, What if? Part II, The Letter, Elizabeth’s Perspective, and A Walk at Rosings.

Are you ready to hear Mr. Darcy’s explanation?

They walked a bit farther down the lane and Mr. Darcy had yet to speak. Elizabeth’s patience began to wear until she spotted a structure of some sort through the trees. As they neared it, she realized it was an old folly that had seen better days but provided a place to rest. Once Mr. Darcy had used his handkerchief to wipe away debris from one of the benches, he motioned for her to sit, and she did so.

Still, he did not immediately reveal the contents of the letter, which now felt as though it might burst into flames in her hand. Instead, Mr. Darcy paced in front of her, much in the same manner as he had the previous evening before making his unexpected announcement. Once more, her impatient nature raised its head, but she inhaled deeply and bit her tongue.

Finally, he stopped his pacing but remained facing away from her. “Forgive me,” he said in a soft voice which lacked the assuredness he had previously exuded. “I fear the words which filled the paper last night refuse to coalesce in my mind today.”

“Shall I read the letter?” she asked hesitantly and saw him nod.

Elizabeth broke the seal and began to unfold the paper, but Mr. Darcy turned about and stopped her.

“I pray you will read it with an understanding of my . . .” He seemed to search for words once more and she took pity on him.

“You must certainly have been under an onslaught of emotions, much as I was last evening. I am impressed that you were able to compose a letter, as I am certain my thoughts were entirely too chaotic to follow.”

He nodded and gave her a tentative smile. “You understand then.” He motioned towards the paper lying in her lap and she began reading.

“Rosings Park

Dear Miss Elizabeth Bennet,

Be not alarmed on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing further avowals of my affections which were last night so surprising to you. I write to humble myself and beg forgiveness on two parts, while warning you of potential danger on a third.”

Elizabeth’s eyes grew wide, and she lifted her head to meet his gaze. “Danger?”

Mr. Darcy dropped down beside her. “Not to you. Once the truth is revealed, I trust you will no longer be under his spell, but I fear Mr. Wickham may have nefarious reasons for seeking you out.”

Her heart beat a bit faster as she lowered her gaze and read on. Fear now forced her to quickly read through his apology and explanation regarding Mr. Bingley in a rush to learn the truth regarding Mr. Wickham. All the while, Mr. Darcy sat at her side, his bouncing right leg betraying his discomfort. Finally, Elizabeth came to the passage she most wanted to read.

On the matter of Mr. Wickham, I can only refute his accusations by laying before you the whole of his connection with my family.

The account, aside from the dissolute behaviour Mr. Darcy claimed to have witnessed in Mr. Wickham, followed what Elizabeth had already been told by the lieutenant––he was the son of the older Mr. Darcy’s steward and that gentleman’s godson, had been supported at school and Cambridge by Mr. Darcy, and had been promised a valuable family living if he took orders––until it did not.

There was also a legacy of one thousand pounds. His own father did not long survive mine, and within half a year from these events, Mr. Wickham wrote to inform me that, having finally resolved against taking orders, he hoped I should not think it unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniary advantage, in lieu of the preferment, by which he could not be benefited. He had some intention, he added, of studying law, and I must be aware that the interest of one thousand pounds would be a very insufficient support therein. I rather wished, than believed him to be sincere; but, at any rate, was perfectly ready to accede to his proposal. I knew that Mr. Wickham ought not to be a clergyman; the business was therefore soon settled–he resigned all claim to assistance in the church, were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it, and accepted in return three thousand pounds.

“But that is four thousand pounds in total!” Her hands fell to her lap, and she stared at Mr. Darcy who nodded solemnly.

“That was four years ago. I heard little of him for about three years, but on the decease of the incumbent of the living which had been designed for him, he applied to me again by letter for the presentation.”

“And you refused him, as you should have.”

Mr. Darcy smiled. “Yes, I did. I am glad you approve.”

“Had he spent it all? The entire four thousand pounds?”

“Yes. He assured me his circumstances were exceedingly bad. He had found the law a most unprofitable study.”

An unladylike snort escaped Elizabeth, and she blushed. “Perhaps, had he actually applied himself, it would not have been so.”

“Indeed.” Mr. Darcy’s smile slipped away. “Eli–Miss Bennet, I must share a circumstance with you which I would wish to forget.”

Elizabeth laid her hand upon his arm. “You need not, sir. I see that Mr. Wickham is not to be trusted and am loath to think on how easily he manipulated me; how quick I was to think so ill of you.”

“Mr. Wickham is a practiced seducer; my own father was thoroughly fooled by him, and he is amongst the wisest men I have known.” He lowered his gaze to where her hand rested upon his arm. “I gave you no reason to think well of me. It is unsurprising he was able to use my poor behaviour to his advantage.”

Elizabeth slowly withdrew her hand and placed it back in her lap. “Why do you say he is a potential danger?”

“I fear he recognized my interest in you when we met in Meryton. What I have not yet told you is that after I denied his request for the living, he conspired with my sister’s companion to convince Georgiana that she was in love with him and agree to an elopement so that he might gain her thirty thousand pounds.”

Elizabeth gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. “No! Your poor sister! Pray assure me it did not occur, that she was not harmed, beyond a broken heart.”

“I arrived a day or two before the intended elopement.”

“And you could say nothing in Meryton lest Miss Darcy be exposed.”

“But I should have said something. I have purchased Wickham’s debts in Derbyshire, London, and Cambridge. I should have put him in debtor’s prison years ago but could not bring myself to do so as he was a favourite of my father.”

Elizabeth huffed. “He said he could not expose you for love of your father, but he did the moment you left the area and still I thought better of him than I did of you.” Her watery eyes met his. “How much more proof do you require to see that your admiration was misplaced?” A single tear slipped down her cheek and Mr. Darcy gently wiped it away.

“Never. You lead with your heart. I have seen how you care for those you love, how you cared for your sister. Georgiana has never known the love of a sister. I have often imagined you encouraging her and how she would gain confidence from your influence.” He smiled as he lowered his hand. “I have longed for that love for myself.”

Elizabeth felt a hitch in her breathing and quickly looked away. “But you have not explained how this all places me in danger, sir.”

“You are correct.” Mr. Darcy stood and began his pacing once more.

Sorry, that is all I have room for this month. Working towards a conclusion as quickly as I can.

Please share your thoughts.

12 responses to “A Walk at Rosings Pt II”

  1. Glynis Avatar

    Talk about cliffhangers! But I do love that Darcy and Elizabeth are actually talking about it instead of her just reading his letter after he’s gone. Hopefully his explanations and her remorse will lead to better things before they leave Rosings? How many more posts are there?

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      I am so glad you are enjoying this, Glynis. There are a few more to go, but I think you will enjoy them, as well.

  2. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    Did I ever mention how I despise cliffhangers? Well, done, my friend.

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      tee hee hee.

  3. Riana Everly Avatar

    Another excellent chapter! I’m looking forward to next month’s instalment!

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      Thank you, Riana!

  4. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    Great chapter! Can’t wait to read the ending and see if there is a happily ever after!

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      Thank you, but you know there must be a happily ever after! Can I promise it will happen at Rosings . . .? Maybe not.

  5. jeanstillman Avatar

    Wow! I really look forward to reading this book!

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      Thank you!

  6. iskustva Avatar

    I have hopes for them since dealing with their issues via the letter and talking must help them learn about each other — at least there is hope.

    1. Bronwen Chisholm Avatar

      Yes, talking things out is definitely fueling hope.

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