Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Today’s post goes along with the last one, which can be found here.
We are still at Netherfield, and Darcy is all tied in knots over Elizabeth and must make a decision. There is a bit that happens between the last post and this one that I don’t show you here. We find out today that Elizabeth is not the Bennet sister Darcy insulted in this book, but she’s the one that got angry, regardless.
I have decided to post only parts of chapters here on the blog. My Patreon patrons will get entire chapters (likely two or three a week, based on how much/fast I write.)
Did you know that for a monthly pledge of as little as $1 at Patreon, you can have early access to all my blog posts, including my Thursday ones? Patrons also get a free copy of each of my books once it is complete.
“As I said, I have changed my opinion of Miss Elizabeth. She is … enchanting, tantalizing ….” Darcy trailed off, then began again. “I confess that she fascinates me. She is almost everything I would wish for in a wife.”
Bingley lowered the glass he was raising to his lips. “Almost? What is lacking?”
Darcy shoved to his feet and began to pace. Almost without thought the debate he had with himself in his bath spilled from his lips. “She has all the social graces. She is well-read and intelligent; she is able to hold her own when faced with your sister’s insults. You know as well as I that Caroline’s behaviour is typical of the ladies of our circle. I know Miss Elizabeth would do well there.” Darcy spoke the last forcefully.
“But?” Bingley promoted his friend to explain the problems he saw.
“But, her family, her connections. That mother!”
Bingley grimaced. “Yes, Mrs. Bennet is a challenge, I grant you. However, if you married Miss Elizabeth or I married Miss Bennet, we would not be tying ourselves to their mother but to them.” When Darcy did not reply, Bingley asked another question. “You say your feelings have changed. What made them do so? What was it about her that made you realize that she is someone you could love?”
Darcy had stopped at the window, leaning against it and gazing out at the gardens that ran alongside the house. At Bingley’s question, Darcy straightened and turned. “When I insulted her sister at the Assembly … do you remember?” When his friend nodded, Darcy continued. “I said her sister was not tolerable and refused to dance with her. Miss Elizabeth approached as I was speaking and sat beside her. I believe it was Miss Mary whom I insulted. Miss Elizabeth listened to what Miss Mary had to say and stood, glaring at me like a warrior princess ready to slay one who had hurt someone she cared about.” Darcy’s tone took on a far-away quality filled with wonder. “She urged her sister up and held her arm close to her side. Then, she marched the pair of them past me and though she said not a word, I could feel her anger. She was never incorrect in her words or deeds, and yet, I felt as low as a worm.
“Then, days later we were at Lucas Lodge and I thought she would refuse to dance with me, but she did not She told me then that her sister had chosen to forgive me and that she would follow suit. She smiled at me.” Darcy stopped speaking, staring over Bingley’s head as he remembered that moment. “It was as though an arrow had been shot straight into my heart.” He shrugged. “It is ridiculous, but true.” He walked over and dropped into his chair, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, and clasped his hands together. “I cannot stop thinking about her, and to have her here, at Netherfield, and so close to me is almost torture.”
“You are in love with her.” Bingley did not seem to be the least bit surprised. His voice was strong and firm. “I had suspected as much. I feel the same about Miss Bennet.”
“I am,” Darcy admitted in a voice so soft he wasn’t certain Bingley could even hear him. “But her family.” He sighed. “I suppose I could take her away and not bring her back. Derbyshire is a long way from Hertfordshire. It would be easy to excuse ourselves from visits.”
“That is a possibility, though I am not so sure it is the correct choice.” Bingley cocked his head as his eyebrows raised well above his eyes.
Darcy noticed his friend’s expression of doubt. Feeling a bit defensive, he responded sharply. “It is either that or I give her up. What would you do?”
“I would accept her family.” Bingley stood. “As you said, you live far from Longbourn. It does not follow that you must cut off all contact.” He paused. “My connections are far below yours. I plan to pursue Miss Bennet. Do you feel she is an inappropriate choice for me, as well?” There was a note of challenge in his voice.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment for me! <3