Mr. Darcy Doesn’t Get It – Part II by Mary Simonsen
It’s been a long, hot summer, and my muse is on vacation (hopefully someplace cool). In July, I shared Chapter 1 of a story I’ve been working on for about a year, Mr. Darcy Doesn’t Get It, a time-travel novel, in which Mr. Darcy arrives in Baltimore in 2011, seeking the advice of Austen expert, Chris O’Malley. Here is a much abbreviated Chapter 3, beginning with a conversation between the still disbelieving Chris and Mr. Darcy. I hope you will let me know what you think.
“For the sake of moving this along,” Chris said, “let’s say I believe you come from the nineteenth century. Even so, I still don’t understand what you, Mr. Darcy, want from me.”
“It is a long story, so please be patient,” Darcy began. “Upon arrival at the Greenwich Observatory, Mrs. Caswell [the time traveler from the future] inquired as to the whereabouts of Miss Jane Austen, someone [astronomer] Joseph Priestley had never heard of. After providing Priestley with a detailed description of the plot of Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, the scientist informed Mrs. Caswell that he was in a position to introduce her to the very real Fitzwilliam Darcy. Believing me to be a creature of the author’s imagination, Mrs. Caswell was astounded by the revelation. As proof, Priestley arranged for a meeting with me at my house in town…
“In my conversation with Mrs. Caswell, I listened to a plot summary of Miss Austen’s novel, and I informed her that I had never heard of the person of Elizabeth Bennet, and from her description, had no interest in doing so.”
“Why not?” Chris asked, interrupting.
“Because Elizabeth was not my equal in rank and moved in a society far beneath my own. In addition, she appeared to be impertinent and overly fond of her own opinions. Such behavior might amuse the readers of Miss Austen’s books, but I disapprove of romance novels as they plant ridiculous notions in the fertile ground of the female mind.”
“I guess you wouldn’t want to read my manuscript then?” Chris asked, dripping sarcasm.
“Most definitely not.”
Chris closed her eyes and shook her head… “You just keep digging yourself in. I have to admire a man who travels with his own shovel,” Chris mumbled. “As you were saying…”
“Mrs. Caswell declared that I must meet Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn Manor, stating we were one of literature’s great love stories. Because I was acting as host to a visitor from the future, I agreed to attend the assembly at Meryton…”
The events that happened at the assembly and its aftermath closely mirrored the plot of Pride and Prejudice, including Fitzwilliam Darcy going to Lucas Lodge and Elizabeth nursing her sister at Netherfield Park. Darcy spouted, almost verbatim, the drawing room dialog that included the tense discussion of pride versus vanity and Elizabeth not being a great reader.
“So what’s the problem?” Chris asked. “That’s how things are supposed to go.”
“I understand. But because Pride and Prejudice has not as yet been published, I did not know the sequence of events in the novel.”
“So what happened?” Now, Chris was interested.
“When Bingley quitted Hertfordshire and returned to London, I did not go with him. Instead, I went to Longbourn. Much to my surprise, I made an offer of marriage to Miss Elizabeth.”
“What do you mean ‘much to your surprise?’”
“I had no intention of doing any such thing; therefore, the offer was not my best effort.”
“What you are not saying is that your proposal was so obnoxious she refused you.”
“I take issue with your calling my offer of marriage ‘obnoxious.’ Everything I said to Miss Elizabeth was true.”
“Just because something is true, doesn’t mean you have to say it,” Chris said, rolling her eyes. “So what exactly did you say? No, let me guess. You mentioned the inferiority of her rank, the disapproval of your friends and family, the inappropriate behavior of the mother and younger sisters, and although you loved her, the benefits were all on her side.”
“I did not stipulate that all of the benefits were on her side.”
“You’re a prince among men, Darcy,” Chris said, standing up. She started to walk along the grass trying to think of a way to remedy his interference with a timeline that was set in stone or at least in print. But after ten minutes, she finally gave up. “I can’t think about this right now as there is a session I don’t want to miss.”
“What is this session about? It is possible I shall be able to answer your questions.”
“The topic is the serving class.”
“Why would you want to attend such a session?” Darcy said with a laugh. “Very dull topic if you ask me.”
“Well, I’m going to the session anyway,” Chris answered. “Why don’t I meet you in the lobby tomorrow afternoon at 3:30? I’ll be finished by then, and maybe I’ll have some ideas for you. In the meantime, try not to eat your weight in fast food at Harborplace [a Baltimroe shopping mall]. And while you’re there, pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice.”
After telling Darcy she would see him the next day, Chris made her way back to the Inner Harbor Hotel, hoping, whoever the man really was, he would just disappear.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Mary