P&P 200: Miss Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet
Miss Darcy alighted from the dusty carriage carefully; she did not want to soil her gown and embarrass her brother by appearing disheveled in front of his guests. After greeting Mrs. Reynolds, she retired to her room to change out of her traveling gown and freshen up. It was a delight to be alone after the long days of traveling with Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley. She knew that her brother would not associate with unworthy or ill-bred people, but she had to admit that she did not like Mr. Bingley’s sisters. How her brother could tolerated Miss Bingley’s odious fawning was beyond Georgiana’s understanding, and Mrs. Hurst followed where ever Miss Bingley led in the matter of gossip.
Miss Bingley fawned over Georgiana, as well, but she could tell that the attention was all for her brother’s ear- Miss Bingley constantly glanced at Mr. Darcy and made sure that her affectionate conversation with Georgiana was carried on in his presence.
Before she had proceeded further in her ruminations, Georgiana heard a scratch on her door. Her maid admitted Mr. Darcy and then he sent her off. He pulled a chair up to Georgiana’s dressing table, where she was seated, and took her hand.
“Georgiana, my dear, I know that you have just arrived and are probably needing a rest, but I wonder if you could do something for me?”
Georgiana was surprised, but responded immediately, “Of course, brother! What do you want me to do?”
He looked down at her hand as he caressed it soothingly, then, with a look grim fortitude said, “I-I would like you to drive into Lambton with me. I want you to meet someone.”
He fidgeted with his cravat and straightened his cuffs. “It is Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle. They visited Pemberley yesterday while touring Derbyshire and I would like to introduce you. They are friends of Bingley’s…and mine.”
She was still more astonished! Her brother had never behaved so in her entire life! Obviously, this Miss Bennet was special to her brother in some way. She looked at him for a moment, then said, “Could they not come to Pemberley? Surely Mr. Bingley will want to see them also.”
He flushed a little. “I do not wish to have you meet them in a crowd of people. I want Miss Bennet to be able to talk to you without being interrupted or without having to carry on several conversations at once.” He smiled at his shy little sister. “I do not want you to be able to hide in the corner, my love.”
His blush and his words gave her quite a different picture of her brother’s motivations in this affair. Could he, perhaps, actually be in love with Miss Bennet? She answered the question in his eyes. “Of course, dear brother! I am ready to go at any time! But how will we leave without revealing our plans to the Bingley’s?”
“I have the carriage waiting by the stables…we will leave through the kitchen. We will return before our guests even know we are gone.”
They executed this plan, but it did not turn out quite the way they expected. When they came down the back stairs from Georgiana’s room they ran into Bingley, who was looking for his man.
Darcy sighed quietly and gave in, explaining their errand to Lambton. Bingley insisted on accompanying them, even offering to wait downstairs until they had sought Miss Bennet’s approbation for his visit. Darcy ordered tea for Miss Bingley and the Hursts when they came down, and the three of them sneaked out through the back door.
It did not take long to reach Lambton as it was only four or five miles from Pemberley. Darcy and Bingley kept up a light, effortless conversation during the first part of the drive, but as they approached the inn at Lambton Darcy fell silent. Bingley also seemed wrapped in his own thoughts and Georgiana could see tension in both the men’s faces. How very odd!
When they stepped out of the carriage, Darcy and Georgiana went upstairs to the Gardiners rooms and were announced by the innkeeper. Georgiana hardly heard her brother’s introduction…Miss Bennet was lovely and had a beautiful, low-pitched voice. Georgiana curtseyed and spoke with her, while watching her brother out of the corner of her eyes. As Miss Bennet talked he seemed to relax his stiff stance, and he talked calmly with Mr. Gardiner, a genteel, well-dressed older man.
The visit went quickly, and Georgiana was not surprised when, while Bingley was renewing his acquaintance with Miss Bennet, her brother asked her to invite them to dine at Pemberley. She did so, rather awkwardly, but the Gardiner’s did not seem to see any flaws in her manner, so she was reassured.
They were all quiet on the ride back to Pemberley. Georgiana did not know what her brother and his friend were thinking, but she was very full of speculation. It seemed that her brother had finally fallen in love…not surprising when Miss Bennet was so beautiful and kind. She would watch him carefully while the Gardiners and Miss Bennet dined with them!