Today, I simply want to share one of my favourite scenes from To Love and Cherish. The scene takes place in Mr. Darcy’s study, where he and Lord Paisley have a very honest conversation about Georgiana. Of course, there is a lot of romantic declaration in the scene, but the reason I like this scene is that it allows the reader to be part of the two gentlemen’s private conversation, to watch them struggle with their anger and emotions, and to celebrate their friendship with them.
In Jane Austen’s novels, on the most part, we get to read the female protagonists’ point of view. We read a lot about the ladies’ conversations during their walks, their private tete-a-tete at a ball, or when they’re visiting one another. But we don’t get to see what the gentlemen are up to, what they talk about, what they share with one another. I think that is one of the elements that makes Austen’s male protagonists seem more mysterious and interesting. Because we simply don’t know much about how they feel or what they think.
In my novels, however, I actually like to show the gentlemen’s point of view. I have always found gentlemen’s conversations fascinating and I like writing scenes where the men are together, away from the women, sharing their thoughts over a drink. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and let me know what you think.
It was hours later when Lord Paisley returned. He was dusty and tired from the ride, but he needed to do something before he lost his resolution. He entered his friend’s study to find Darcy standing by the window.
“Ah, Julian,” Darcy said. “Come in.”
“I apologize for my appearance, Darcy,” Lord Paisley said as he closed the door behind him. “You must be surprised I am sure—”
“On the contrary,” Darcy said, his voice firm, “I have been expecting you for some time now.”
“You have been expecting me?” Lord Paisley asked incredulously, taking a step forward.
Darcy gestured for him to be seated across from him. “You have been behaving rather oddly, Julian. One might even say you have been distracted.”
“I have been struggling with a personal matter. I have come to inform you that I must leave Pemberley tomorrow.”
Darcy stared at his friend for a long moment, his eyes scrutinizing the younger man’s features. “I see. I hope you are not disappointed with Pemberley.”
“Not at all. It has been an honor to stay at Pemberley and to spend time with you and your family. But there is a delicate matter that obliges me to return to Paisley Court.”
“I understand,” Darcy said with a tone that prompted Lord Paisley to look up at him. “Well, whatever this matter is, I wish you success.”
Lord Paisley nodded his thanks, feeling uncomfortable under his friend’s steady regard. There was something in the other gentleman’s knowing look that unnerved His Lordship. He felt guilty for dissembling, although he was certain the alternative would be much worse for Darcy to bear. How was he to tell his friend that he had fallen in love with his sister? He was certain that Darcy would not be pleased by it. It was better to leave Pemberley before he was obliged to admit his feelings. But he was still uneasy about Lord Barton’s attentions. He had tried to warn Georgiana, which he now regretted greatly. He should have come to Darcy with his information directly.
“Darcy,” Lord Paisley said, not willing to lose the opportunity, “are you aware that Lord Barton has come to Pemberley with the intention of putting himself forward to Miss Darcy?”
Darcy raised an eyebrow at Lord Paisley’s words. “How did you come to know about it?”
“My valet is a very friendly man.”
“Lord Barton pays Miss Darcy too much attention,” Lord Paisley said.
Darcy did not reply.
“I believe he will make his intentions known to you soon,” Lord Paisley said, growing incensed by the other gentleman’s calm.
“I most certainly hope so,” Darcy said, as he looked Lord Paisley straight in the eye. “It would seem to be the honorable thing to do.”
“But Miss Darcy is not out yet. She cannot entertain offers of marriage from any gentleman.”
“That is true.” Darcy conceded. “But that does not follow that I cannot be approached and taken into confidence by the gentleman.”
Lord Paisley had an uncomfortable feeling that they were no longer discussing Lord Barton. Darcy’s words seemed accusatory. “You will not grant him permission to offer for her, will you?” Lord Paisley asked, refusing to capitulate.
“That will be a conversation between Lord Barton and myself, Julian.”
“Darcy, you cannot allow him to offer for her,” Lord Paisley argued, his ire rising.
“I most certainly can. Lord Barton comes from a respectable family. He is intelligent and has honorable aspirations. When Georgiana is ready to receive offers of marriage, Lord Barton can certainly offer for her. The decision is hers.”
“He will not make her happy,” Lord Paisley said and began pacing the length of the room. “He simply cannot.”
“Why not?” Darcy asked with raised eyebrows.
“He does not know her,” Lord Paisley said, no longer heeding his words. “He does not understand her. Miss Darcy is intelligent. She is a thinking woman, one that questions and challenges. She is not docile and conforming. He will not understand that. He will clip her wings before she learns to fly. He does not love her as she deserves to be loved.”
“And you think you do?” Darcy asked, his eyes challenging Lord Paisley.
Lord Paisley came to a halt. So, Darcy knows. Lord Paisley returned his friend’s scrutiny. There was no reason for pretense anymore. There was no point in denying what he had no wish to deny anymore. He loved Georgiana Darcy and if her brother knew, so be it. He would meet with Darcy’s wrath if need be, for he no longer cared for anyone or anything except for her. “You know.”
“I am neither blind nor stupid, my friend,” Darcy said. “That you would think so little of my intellect as to believe me ignorant of what goes on in my own house offends me greatly.”
“I did not think you ignorant, Darcy.”
“And yet, you are surprised by my understanding.”
“If I am surprised,” Lord Paisley said, “it is only because you seem to understand what I myself failed to comprehend until recently.”
“I did not comprehend it either. At least, not at first. I never imagined that you…well…but I could not ignore the signs either.”
“You broke Mr. Green’s arm, Julian!”
Lord Paisley raked his fingers through his hair. “I do not know what came over me, Darcy. I have never been a violent man. You know me. But I know I would have done him a greater injury had Miss Darcy not stopped me.”
Darcy could not blame his friend for something he himself would have done. He studied Lord Paisley’s features and could see the signs of strain and rage at the remembrance of that day. “Have a seat.” Darcy gestured toward the chair again, as he poured them both a drink.
“No, thank you.” Lord Paisley shook his head, his knuckles whitening as he opened and closed his fingers.
“Sit down, Julian,” Darcy said, with a commanding voice that brooked no objection.
Lord Paisley took a seat and accepted the drink. Both gentlemen seemed lost in their thoughts as they drank. Darcy was the first to break the silence.
“It seems to me,” Darcy began, “you have somehow found yourself in the distressing position of finding my sister charming.”
Lord Paisley looked up at Darcy’s words.
“Georgiana is a lovely, young woman.” Darcy continued. “I suppose I should have expected it.”
“That you would find her attractive. I am glad that you have chosen to leave Pemberley, as that is the best course of action under the circumstances.”
“Under what circumstances?” Lord Paisley asked, his ire rising.
“After all, this is nothing but a passing fancy and I am certain—”
“A passing fancy?” Lord Paisley spat in exasperation. “Is that what you think I feel for her? A passing fancy?”
“What else can it be, Julian?”
“I love her, Darcy,” Lord Paisley said, shocking Darcy to silence. “This is not a passing fancy. It is not a mere inclination. I love her and I mean to marry her. If I am leaving Pemberley, it is not because I want to forget about her. I am leaving because she cannot receive any offers of marriage. Because my honor will not allow me to declare my feelings to her yet. I am leaving to protect her from me, from a marriage that she may regret if she is rushed into. I want her to experience her first season, to receive the attention she deserves, and to make a mindful decision. I am not running away from my feelings anymore, Darcy. I will declare myself when Miss Darcy is ready to receive an offer from me.”
Darcy’s eyes grew wide with apprehension. To say that he was distracted would not do his feelings justice. Hearing Lord Paisley’s open declaration was difficult to bear. “I knew,” Mr. Darcy said, “that as Georgiana’s older brother, I would receive visits from young gentlemen desiring to court her. But I confess I never imagined that it would happen before she entered society and I never dreamed that you would be amongst those gentlemen.”
“I know that my declaration is unexpected,” Lord Paisley said, looking up at his friend, “but, I had hoped that it would not be unwelcome.”
“You cannot possibly expect me to consider you a suitable husband for Georgiana, Julian.”
“Am I so objectionable, Darcy? I thought perhaps, by virtue of knowing me, you would be favorable of such a match.”
“It is because I know you so well, that I cannot favor such a union. How can I when, on the first evening of your arrival, you told me, in no uncertain terms, that your only reason for ending your bachelorhood is to produce an heir. Do you think any consideration will induce me to allow you to marry my sister knowing your views on love and marriage?”
“I am aware, that in view of the things I said to you that evening, my present declarations seem insincere. But if you remember, you said to me, that my views on marriage may change should I be fortunate enough to find a partner I love and respect.”
“You cannot possibly expect me to believe that you have formed such deep affection and respect for my sister in the space of a few days.”
Lord Paisley shook his head, looking at his friend hesitantly. “In the last few days, I have finally come to admit to myself the depth and strength of the feelings I have been denying for a long time.”
“A long time? What are you saying?” Darcy asked.
“My feelings for Miss Darcy are of longer standing than you believe, Darcy,” Lord Paisley said hesitantly.
“Is it possible that you are referring to two years ago?” Darcy asked, his color rising. “Georgiana was a child. You had better explain yourself quickly, Julian, so help me God.”
Lord Paisley placed his drink on the table and began pacing again. He stopped a few times and faced his friend as if ready to speak but, unable to form his thoughts into coherent sentences, he resumed his pacing. Finally he stood by the empty fireplace, leaning his hand against the mantle. He continued to stand thus for a long time, while Darcy tried to ignore the similarities he saw in his friend’s behavior to his own on the day he had proposed to Elizabeth at the parsonage. He knew Lord Paisley was struggling to form his feelings into words. Despite his barely disguised anger, Darcy remained quiet, allowing His Lordship time to prepare for a confession that was sure to be a trial for both of them.
“Have you ever felt your entire world shift in a moment?” Lord Paisley finally spoke. “As if nothing else matters except for that particular moment, and no one else exists except for one person? Have you ever felt that within minutes, all you have ever been and all you will ever become is rendered insignificant until you are in her presence? That you are willing to give everything you possess only to see her happiness, to be of service to her, to be worthy of her?”
Darcy stared at his friend with a mixture of discomfort and newfound understanding. He was touched by His Lordship’s words and could not deny the honesty of his words.
“On that fateful afternoon, when you and the colonel left Darcy House for Kent, I went to your house to take my leave of the ladies before I joined you. Miss Darcy was alone in the drawing room. She was playing the pianoforte. Enchanting music. Like a siren’s call. I know I should have made my presence known. I know I should not have invaded her privacy. But I could not help myself. I was mesmerized. I could not look away.”
“Georgiana was a child, Julian.”
“I am aware that it was highly improper for me to be attracted to a girl so young, but it could not be helped. My affections were engaged before I knew what I was about. But I swear to you, as soon as I knew of my attraction, I knew I had to protect her. My only course of action was to leave and to stay away.”
“Is this why you refused my previous invitations to Pemberley?” Darcy asked.
Lord Paisley nodded. “I could not possibly come to Pemberley. But the last two years have been nothing but futile struggle. I swear to you, Darcy, I tried to deny my feelings, to fight them, to forget them. But it was to no avail. I tried to throw myself in my estate affairs, to amuse myself with hunting, society balls, and beautiful women. But nothing helped. No one would do but her.”
“Why have you come to Pemberley now?”
“I had hoped that this long separation had lessened my regard for her, that what I had felt for her had been nothing but my own imagination. I thought if I saw her again, after two years, I would overcome this…attachment.” Lord Paisley paused, and then shook his head and smiled wryly. “I was such a fool! The moment she came upon me on the lane to Pemberley, I knew that all my denials were for naught. She was everything I remembered, and so much more.”
Darcy looked away uncomfortably. He knew his friend to be in earnest. His description of his feelings could not be taken for anything other than love. But his protectiveness overruled his sympathy for his friend. He was not ready to give in yet. “You speak eloquently, Julian. But I am not convinced. How can I be certain that what you say is of a lasting impression? Georgiana is beautiful. I can imagine that you, like any other young man, may find yourself attracted to her.”
“It is not like that, Darcy.” Lord Paisley shook his head. “I have seen my share of beautiful women. Miss Darcy is undeniably amongst the most beautiful women I have known. But it is not her beauty that moves me. She consumes me, Darcy. Every fiber of my being becomes alive when I am near her. She is everywhere I go, in every thought, in every dream. I do not know what this feeling is, if it is not love. I am in agony but I do not want it to ever go away. I do not want to be free of her. Ever.”
To say that Darcy was pleased with his friend’s words would be complete falsehood. In fact, he felt quite the opposite. He now knew that his friend was in love with his sister. The feelings he had expressed resembled Darcy’s own feelings for Elizabeth when he had first discovered his love for her. He understood the agony Lord Paisley spoke of.
Darcy had never loved a woman other than Elizabeth. She was the great love of his life. For him, there was never any other, and there would never be any other woman. Lord Paisley, however, had a past that could not and would not be ignored by Darcy. Lord Paisley had loved another woman. As his close friend, Darcy had been acquainted with every sordid detail of that love affair. He had seen his friend’s love and dedication to the lady, had watched the couple through their first blush of love, had heard of the lady’s betrayal and eventual marriage to another gentleman, and had watched, in dismay, His Lordship’s downfall as he experienced outrage, fury, and despair. Lord Paisley had become a cynical man. Now this man sat before Darcy, declaring his deep love for Georgiana. What if he still had affections for that woman? He could not allow Georgiana to be with a man who pined for another.
“You are a man of the world, Julian. Georgiana is timid and innocent. You—”
“I would remind you that you had your share of worldly experience before your marriage as well.”
“You cannot begin to comprehend the depth of my devotion to Elizabeth,” Darcy said furiously.
“And you seem to underestimate mine for Georgiana.” Lord Paisley spat back.
Darcy’s eyes, ablaze with fury and shock upon hearing Lord Paisley’s use of his sister’s Christian name said, “You will refer to my sister as Miss Darcy or I will show you out of my house this instant.”
Having two younger sisters himself, he could readily understand Darcy’s protectiveness of his sister. He doubted he would have shown as much restraint and tolerance as his friend had.
“I understand your need to protect your sister,” Lord Paisley continued in a soft voice. “But you do me disservice by accusing me of sins you know I will not commit. My conscience, my honor, and my heart will never allow me to injure one that is most dear to me. I have no desire to find love and happiness with anyone other than her.”
“And what about Lady Petershaw?”
Lord Paisley’s steel gray eyes met his challenge with equal force.
“What of her?” Lord Paisley asked, his voice low and guarded.
“What of your love for her?”
“My love for her?” Lord Paisley asked incredulously. “Are you truly asking me about my feelings for her? You who knows of my past, of all my struggles, of my dark days and nights?”
“I would never have asked you,” Darcy said, his voice slightly softer than before, “if it were not for Georgiana’s sake. But as you stated, I know perhaps better than anybody else what you have been through because of your love for that lady. It is because of her that you decided to stay a bachelor, and it is because of her that you claimed to never fall in love again.”
“Good god, Darcy!” Lord Paisley said as he sat on the chair again. “Are you going to punish me for a love that is so far in my past?”
“Is it, Julian? Can you honestly tell me that you no longer have feelings for her?”
“I do not love Lady Petershaw,” Lord Paisley said firmly as he faced Darcy, looking directly at him. “I will not deny that I loved her years ago. It was calf love, and I felt the pain of her betrayal most acutely. But she no longer has any power over me. She lost that privilege a long time ago.”
Darcy, feeling that he had derailed his friend enough and, convinced of his candor, nodded gently.
“I am sorry, Julian,” Darcy said. “I am Georgiana’s brother and I have a duty to protect her from anyone or anything that may threaten her happiness. And I will not shy away from my duties even it means guarding her against a man I have called my friend for years.”
“You will never have a need to protect her from me, Darcy. I perfectly understand your position. And I hope you understand mine. My only reason for leaving Pemberley is to protect her. I know that if I stay, I will declare myself.”
“Or cause Barton bodily harm,” Darcy said, smiling good-heartedly at his friend for the first time since His Lordship had entered his study.
Lord Paisley looked up with no little surprise and noting the mirth in the man’s eyes, chuckled and shook his head.
“No, no,” Lord Paisley said, raising a hand. “I have already injured enough people in Derbyshire. I shall leave Miss Darcy’s protection in your capable hands while I am away.”
“I fear I have to caution you, Julian, I have not given you permission or blessing to court my sister.”
“I know you have not, Darcy.” Lord Paisley smiled. “I have not asked for either your blessing or your permission. Yet.”
“I am certainly glad to hear that,” Darcy said, shaking his head at his friend’s smile. “To think that we have been talking for so long, while you had no intention of asking for my permission, and I had no intention of granting it!”
“Yes, but Darcy,” Lord Paisley said, once again his old playful self, “consider, when I am ready to ask for your blessing, how much time we have saved by virtue of having had today’s conversation.”
“Not to mention how much more practiced I am now in fending off undesirable suitors due to today’s conversation,” Darcy countered.
“Always glad to be of service, Darcy.” Lord Paisley bowed to Darcy, prompting both gentlemen to laugh.
“Miss Darcy will be surrounded with young men fighting for her love and attention during her first season. And you will have your hands full protecting her from fortune hunters and social climbers.”
“And you?” Darcy asked with a raised eyebrow. “What will you be doing?”
“Everything I possibly can to become worthy of her,” Lord Paisley said, looking grave once again and leaving Darcy in no doubt of his sincerity.