The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles
Mr. Darcy’s P&P POV (the abridged version)
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Chapter 32 –
I arise early, as is my wont, and have an abbreviated breakfast in peace—thank heavens Fitzwilliam sleeps late during his visits to Rosings. I am in no mood for his jests today. I am on the edge of a momentous decision, and I must focus all my facilities to that resolution.
As usual, Anne remains above stairs, and I take this opportunity to speak with her. Aunt Catherine only arises at fashionable hours, and as Anne’s companion knows to keep silent, this interview should escape my aunt’s notice. I find my cousin in her private sitting room, attended by her companion, but besides a short greeting she says nothing. I attempt to engage her in conversation and am awarded with little more than monosyllabic responses. I soon take my leave, to her palpable relief. This is consistent with her behavior on all of my previous visits, and I am satisfied Aunt Catherine has failed to raise her expectations. I do not know what Anne wants, but I am secure in the knowledge that it is not marriage with me.
I am outside, the day is fine, and I should enjoy a ride about the park, but I spy the parsonage. Hmm…I really must call upon the ladies. Riding can wait.
Well, that went well—not.
I admit I was taken aback to find Elizabeth alone, but more surprising was my reaction—how strange that her mere presence can so discombobulate me. All I could manage for the first half of my call was polite inquires about her family in Hertfordshire and some inane observation about the parsonage! Gad, I attended Cambridge! Top marks for logic and debate! One look at Elizabeth’s pretty face, and I am a blubbering idiot. I am no better than Bingley!
I got my footing back when we spoke of the expectations of marriage—when a lady must leave her father’s home for her husband’s. Ah, her saucy look when she said, “I do not mean to say that a woman may not be settled too near her family. The far and the near must be relative, and depend on many varying circumstances. Where there is fortune to make the expense of traveling unimportant, distance becomes no evil.”
I could not help myself. “You cannot have a right to such very strong local attachment. You cannot have been always at Longbourn.” I caught myself—at least I did not smile. But a surprised Elizabeth took my meaning, I am sure she did.
I changed the subject to safer topics, using the newspaper to hide my heightened emotions. By the time Mrs. Collins and Miss Lucas arrived, I was tolerably composed. I stayed for a few minutes more before excusing myself.
On the walk back to Rosings, I wrestled once again with the subject that has preoccupied me since I arrived in Kent: Should I offer for Miss Elizabeth Bennet?
Chapter 33 –
Over the remainder of the week, I haunt the woods of Rosings, hoping to meet Elizabeth as she rambles about. More often than not, I am successful, and we stroll about in companionable silence. What good fortune to find a lady who does not demand constant conversation! We talk intermittently about seemingly inconsequential things—the woods, the weather, things of that nature. What is not said is how comfortable we are in each other’s company. Occasionally, Elizabeth flirts a bit, making one of her delightfully ridiculous statements. Her teasing is music to my ears. I know I could be happy forever with her by my side, hand-in-hand, walking the grounds of Pemberley.
I sometimes make to speak to let her know my feelings, but I catch myself in time.
I know, and she must know, that a union between us would not be without consequences. Managing Pemberley is a hard business, but I am confident that Elizabeth could learn her duties in short order. After all, I shall be there to guide her. That is better instruction than could be gained at Longbourn!
And therein lies the problem. Her family—her ridiculous family—must be considered an evil. How in Heaven’s name can I introduce them to London society? My family would be rightly scandalized— and that is before they learn of the mother’s roots in trade! Mrs. Bennet is one of the silliest women I have had the misfortune to meet. The middle girl—Mary, I think—is a sanctimonious bluestocking. The two youngest children are spoiled and juvenile. But worst of all is Mr. Bennet, for he has allowed his wife and children to run wild.
Then I think of Elizabeth and her sister, Miss Bennet. Both are every inch a lady. No shame can be fairly connected with them, save their unfortunate relations. They both must possess great presence of mind—Elizabeth certainly does. The masterful way she handled my obnoxious aunt speaks well of her ability to withstand the slings and arrows sure to come our way.
The advantages to Elizabeth are manifold. She grows more beautiful in my eyes every day. Her laughing, dancing eyes, her wavy, rich tresses, her plump, luscious lips, her light and pleasing figure—gad, it is a wonder I can sleep at night! I want to hold her, possess her, love her—
My God, I am in love with Elizabeth.
Now what do I do?
It is tea time, and the Collinses and their guests are expected. I make my valet brush off my blue coat—silly, I know, but I cannot help but want to show myself to best advantage. Elizabeth deserves no less.
I go below stairs, nervously tugging at my lapels. Is everything in place?
Calm down, man! It is not like you are going to offer for Elizabeth right in the middle of Aunt Catherine’s parlor!
Just as I sit down, I jump up. The Collinses have arrived. I look for my dearest. There is Miss Lucas, but where is Elizabeth?
What did Mrs. Collins just say? She remains at the parsonage? She is Ill? My Elizabeth is ill?
Before I know it, I am out the door, heading for Hunsford Parsonage.
TO BE CONTINUED…
It takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story.